Cinder Hill is a continuation of the High Street which leads up the hill to High Nash at the south of Coleford. The site of the Red Lion is now occupied by Brunsdon Doctors’ Surgery, a distinctive round building, just up from the Fire Station. The landscape has changed completely over the years as views from the back of the pub would have once overlooked the railway with views over towards Coalway. At one time the Red Lion in Cinder Hill had a malt house, brew house, stables for travellers’ horses and a garden used for fetes.
In February 1900 the local ‘Forester’ newspaper gave the following account:
‘On Thursday last the Midland and Great Western employees at the two stations in Coleford met at the Red Lion Inn to partake of supper together, a few friends also being invited. About 40 sat down to partake of the good things provided by host and hostess Whittington, to which, needless to add, full and complete justice was done. Mr William Morris, ex station master, who is jocularly designated the ‘perpetual chairman’, was unanimously voted to preside over the proceedings, and after the removal of the cloth the loyal and patriotic toasts were heartily drunk. The chairman then gave the toast of ‘the railway companies of the town’ coupling with it the names of Messrs. Dowdeswell and Collins, the respective station masters. The chairman said that it was some 23 years ago since they sat down to their first railway supper in that house (1877). They all knew they were possessed of two very good station masters, and he was sure that they would drink to their healths in a hearty manner. In reply, Mr Dowdeswell said he had been in the GWR service for 26 years, and for the past six years had resided in Coleford. Mr White submitted the health of the ‘draymen and porters’ and the ‘host and hostess’ and ‘the press’ were the remaining toasts, and the rest of the evening was devoted to conviviality, some capital songs being rendered. All too soon the hour for departure (12 o’clock) came, the Coleford bench of magistrates having generously granted an hours’ extension for the proceedings.”
In the 1891 and 1903 Gloucestershire licensing books the Red Lion is tied to John William Watts who operated a wine and spirit business in St. Johns Street. The Red Lion is categorised as an alehouse with an annual rateable value of £14.8s.0d. (Closing time 11 pm). When John Watts died in 1921 his estate was put up for sale and the Red Lion was described as a ‘stone built and slated double fronted premises situate fronting the main road to Lydney, close to the Railway station’. The inventory of sale went on to describe a ‘front bar, private bar, living room and back kitchen. Good underground cellars, club room and four bedrooms. Attached is a useful yard with premises recently used as a carpenter’s shop, malt houses, stabling for four horses and piggeries. There is a small garden attached and a good pump is on the premises, the whole now let to Mr Albert Edmunds on a Quarterly Tenancy at a rental of £25.0s.0d. per annum.’
The Stroud Brewery Company eventually acquired the Red Lion to add to their tied estate, and ownership subsequently passed to West Country Breweries and Whitbread. The Red Lion is included in the third edition of Gloucestershire CAMRA’s ‘Real Ale in Gloucestershire’ published in 1977 when the pub was selling Whitbread PA on handpump. The Red Lion gets a brief mention in the 1990 CAMRA publication ‘Pubs in Gloucestershire’ but may had already closed by then. There was a campaign to try and stop the Red Lion from closing and regulars managed a ‘stay of execution’ by appealing to English Heritage for preserving a centuries old building but the bulldozers knocked down the pub in 1992.
Lydney Observer. Friday November 1st 1985 – Pub Opening Hours (edit): … “Trade is on the down at the moment and the (current) opening hours certainly are not helping” commented Mr Dave Squire of the Red Lion, Coleford. Claiming that many licensees were going broke, he said “We are being forced to open our pubs at ours when the public don’t want them.” Licensees did not want to be open for 24 hours a day, “we just want to be able to offer a service to the public and at the same time make a living.”
Footnote: Ifor Squire and his son Mark took over the running of the Market Tavern in the town centre (see White Horse) and changed the name to the Red Lion as a nod to Ivor’s father Dave who was landlord of the Red Lion in Cinder Hill.
Landlords at the Red Lion include:
1732 William Morgan
1775 John White
1830,1842 Thomas Grindell (in 1842 Thomas Grindell is also listed as a stone merchant)
1852 James Newmarch
1857 Mrs M.A. Bright
1870,1876 Milson Harris (also listed as a butcher in 1876. See the Plume of Feathers)
1885,1891,1903 John Whittington
1906 Mrs John Whittington
1914 Mrs Caroline Whittington
1919 Mrs Charlotte Whittington
1921 Albert Edmunds
1927 Hy. Evans
1939 John H. White
1976 Colin George Wilkinson (transfer May 1976)
1985 Dave Squire