An article in the Gloucestershire Chronicle, dated 29th January 1870, made reference to the Royal Foresters at Littledean Hill ‘near the Causeway Mine Works’. It was to be let on the 17th March 1870 and was described as a ‘fully licensed old established house with a good garden and about one acre of meadowland adjoining.’ Applicants were asked to enquire for details on the premises. It seems that the Alton Court Brewery of Ross on Wye may have been the successful bidder as it was one of their tied houses twenty-one years later in 1891. Beer drinkers at the Royal Foresters were able to enjoy Alton Court Beers for a further 65 years – the Alton Court Brewery was acquired by Stroud Brewery in 1956. The annual rateable value of the Royal Foresters in 1891 and 1903 was £25.0s.0d. and the alehouse closed at 11 pm.
In April 1938 a local newspaper reported on a drink-driving case: ‘Ivor Knight of the Causeway, Cinderford, a Private in the Second Gloucestershire Regiment, was charged with driving a motor car while under the influence of drink without a licence. Stanley Williams, collier, of Littledean Hill Road told the court that he was in the Foresters pub and noticed that Private Knight was a little merry. Police spoke to Mr Knight after the vehicle he was driving, ended up on its side in the middle of the road, to ascertain how much he was under the influence. They asked him to touch his nose with his finger and pronounce certain words to see if he could get his tongue around them. One was ‘Constantinople’ and the other was ‘Idiosyncrasy’. The subsequent results of this test was comical to say the least.’
The landlady of the Royal Foresters in 1967, Nan Worgan, came second in the competition held in that year to find Gloucester’s Most Glorious Granny! When Nan was selling beer at the Royal Foresters it was still selling Stroud Brewery / West Country Ales – probably Gloster Keg – but was soon to become a Whitbread pub.
The Citizen. Wednesday, June 12th, 1991 – Pubs for sale. Six more pubs have been added to the Whitbread brewery for sale list. The pubs are being sold in response to Government requirements following the monopolies and mergers commission report. Whitbread have named the following Gloucestershire pubs which will be sold: Duke of York, Chalford Hill, Stroud; New Red Lion, Chalford Stroud; Plough Inn, Corse Lawn, Staunton; Rising Sun, Ruspidge; Royal Foresters, Littledean Hill, Cinderford; Yeoman Hotel, Southgate Street, Gloucester.
The panoramic views of the River Severn as it majestically sweeps around the Arlingham horseshoe bend with the vista of the City of Gloucester and the Cotswold Hills forming the background are idyllic viewed from Littledean Hill. The Royal Forester pub benefited from probably the finest view to be enjoyed anywhere in a Gloucestershire pub garden. In 2009 Forest of Dean District Council objected to the benches and tables in the pub garden on the grounds that customers had to cross the road in front of the pub and the entrance to the garden was too close to a very sharp bend! Health & Safety Regulations gone mad!! The landlord was also told to remove a smoking shelter from immediately in front of the front of the pub – a wonderful place to sit at night to see the distant lights of both Gloucester and Bristol. A spokesman for the council said that the access to the pub garden contravened highway safety. The smoking shelter was claimed to overlook neighbouring properties.
A petition to retain the beer garden gained the support of 500 signatures, and in January 2010 many councillors were adding their weight to save the garden. The smoking-shelter, however, was found to be contravening planning regulations and the owner was asked either to remove it or replace it. Meanwhile an application was submitted in May 2009 for outline permission to build four two-bedroom dwellings on the car park. On the advice of Gloucestershire Highways another planning application was submitted to block up an existing access road and form another one.
Gloucester Cider Company was based in Wickwar (which was previously the premises of the Arnold, Perrett & Co Brewery). They produced a cider called GL. When Bulmers bought the Gloucester Cider Company in 1948 the GL brand was transferred to their Hereford Cider Works. GL cider was very popular in the Forest of Dean. Officially called Gold Label Cider, but affectionally known as Gloucester Lager, the product was finally phased out in 2009. The last few barrels were ordered by the Royal Foresters and the final pint of GL was served at the pub on St Patrick’s Day in 2010. With true Forest humour the last barrel of GL was buried in the beer garden with the epitaph ‘In Loving Memory of GL Cider. Died 17th March 2010’. Two years later the GL brand was re-launched by Much Marcle cider makers Westons. The Royal Foresters was chosen as the venue to promote the revitalised Westons GL Cider. Unfortunately the sales of the brand were disappointing and the product has since been discontinued.
An intelligence-led operation aimed at stamping out the sale and suspected illegal use of drugs on licensed premises prompted a drugs raid on the Royal Foresters in July 2012. Dozens of police stormed the premises and arrested two DJ’s who were setting up for a private party in a function room. The landlord was not impressed, telling the ‘Forester’ newspaper, ‘Our pub was shut for around three hours while they were here and it turned out to be a total waste of time for the police.’ He added, ‘We lost about £1,000 in takings which is disastrous for any pub nowadays.’
A planning application was submitted to Forest of Dean District Council in September 2012 for the ‘change of use from public house (Class A4) to children’s nursery (Class D1) with the installation of fire escape and associated development. The Royal Foresters called ‘last orders’ for the very last time on Sunday 3rd February 2013. Landlord Ian Martin told the ‘Forester’ newspaper, ‘Pubs are finished. It’s been on the market for three years and we’ve only had one viewing. Only around five customers live within a half-mile radius and there are six or seven other pubs and clubs within a mile, so it will not be a loss to the local community.’ An auction of the pub’s memorabilia, including some brewery mirrors and a giant Kung Fu panda, was held at the same time as a recruitment event for the Little Pebbles nursery.
The Childcare Business at the Royal Foresters had closed by October 2014 and the property was put up for sale with a guide price of £345,000. The sale particulars described a wealth of versatile accommodation, good sized gardens, large car park, two independent LPG heating systems and views towards to River Severn. It was bought by Cinderford-based developer Keith Bell. An application was submitted for plans to turn the building into four apartments and create three terraced homes and a pair with two bedrooms – with car parking and landscaping. The application was debated by Cinderford Town Council in May 2015 and no objections were raised to the scheme although it was thought to be disappointed that the building could not be run successfully as a pub or restaurant.
In August 2017 an application was submitted to Forest of Dean District Council for the ‘outline application for erection of one dwelling at the former Royal Foresters Inn.
Landlords at the Royal Foresters include:
1885 William Dawson
1891 Arthur Jones
1902, 1906 Thomas Hawker
1919,1927 James Meek
1939 Osborne James Meek
1967 Mrs Nan Worgan
2000 Tony and Angie Milliner
2008 (March) Ian Martin and Joan Sorensen