The White Hart is an imposing brick–built building on the banks of the River Severn at Broadoak. The original frontage of the pub faced the main A48 Gloucester – Chepstow road but access is now gained from the side of the building via the pub car park. Over the years the White Hart has been considerably enlarged.
In 1891 and 1903 the annual rateable value of the White Hart was £21.10s.0d. Stroud Brewery Company were the owners of the alehouse which, in 1903, is documented as closing each night at 11 pm.
Indeed, the White Hart had a long association with the Stroud Brewery. It seems likely that the company took advantage of the opening of the Severn Railway Bridge in 1879 and acquired pubs in the Forest of Dean area soon afterwards. The White Hart became a West Country Breweries house in 1958 when the Stroud and Cheltenham breweries merged and subsequently became tied to Whitbread. A reminder of its past heritage is a West Country ‘Best in the West’ ceramic plaque still in situ.
Dean Forest Mercury: Friday, February 16th, 1973: High Price for Broad Oak Inn – Sidney Phillips & Son, Chartered Surveyors and Specialist Property Auctioneers and Valuers report the sale privately of the White Hart, Broad Oak, Newnham on Severn, Glos., prior to the auction advertised for today Friday. The purchaser is Mr C. Anderson from near Royston, Herts, who is understood to have paid a price approaching £30,000. The White Hart was offered for sale on behalf of Mr. M.P. Haines, Receiver for Mr and Mrs S.C. Buttfield.
Forest of Dean & Ross-on-Wye Pubs. A critical guide by Jon Hurley (booklet, 1991): A nautical inn on the main road beside a wide sweep of the River Severn, which can be peacefully viewed through great expanses of glass. Newish stonework pointed up to look olde-worlde with log fires, heraldic (1570) covered seating and lots of boating pics on the walls. A varied range of food may be sampled including, on the snack menu Pies and a popular Cold Table which attracts retirees like honey to a flower garden (sic). There is an interesting range of excellent brews including Pompey, Toby and Tartan, wine by the glass and bottle, plus a vast range of other beverages. In the spacious restaurant the seafarin’ theme is accentuated with a painted lady from the prow of an old boat staring woodenly from above the tables. My companions marked down the public address system (some in number 146, your Cod ‘n’ Chips is ready) but overall a good commercial, well run pub catering for a wide range of customers. A plastic lid covers and reveals at the same time, an ancient well in the bar.
It seems incredible today that in 1997 the White Hart was in the news for voluntarily introducing a smoking ban from just part of the bar and eating area. Under the headline “We’re backing the smoke-free pubs” the ‘Citizen’ reported on 20th September, David and Hazel Piner of the White Hart said “The pub is much more pleasant and trade has actually increased since we decided to have smoke-free areas. I used to be a smoker and when I realised what a horrible anti-social habit it is, so in December we banned cigarettes from part of the bar and our eating area and it has done us no harm.”
A year later David and Hazel were in the news again when they entered a Pub Garden of the Year award. The White Hart was positively bursting with summer colour cascading from the roof, hanging baskets and flower beds. David told the ‘Citizen’ in August 1998 that despite never reading a gardening book and finding television gardening programmes boring, he had planted more than 50 troughs, boxes and pots and 20 hanging baskets at the White Hart. “The money I spent getting the garden into shape was a drop in the ocean compared to the extra trade it has generated. Many people pop in after work for a bit of liquid refreshment and that has resulted in a large increase in turnover – all thanks to my flowers”.
In 2007 the White Hart was owned by Greene King of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. In October 2008 the landlord decided to make the menu more upmarket and specialised in seafood dishes. Chips were definitely off the menu. Some of the regulars were not made welcome which prompted the landlord to tell the local newspaper: “We aren’t a typical boozer. It isn’t the kind of place to come if you want to stand around and drink. People don’t like the fact we don’t want to entice that kind of person to the pub.” The newspaper made an analogy with the TV series ‘Fawlty Towers’. A remark in the letters page a week later said: “they only seem to cater for lottery winners”.
The White Hart is now (in April 2019) part of the portfolio of Quality Inns, who run five other pubs in Gloucestershire and two in Dartmouth, Devon. The county pubs are the Frocester George, the Salmon at Wanswell, the Bell Inn Frampton, George Inn Cambridge and Fagins in Brookthorpe.
The White Hart website says: ‘Our bar has a license until 1.00 am and it is well stocked with premium lager, real ales, traditional cider, fine wines and many of your favourite spirits and gins. Our restaurant now offers all the traditional favourites such as haddock and chips, chicken stack with cheese, bacon in barbeque sauce or many of our Meat Grills such as 8 oz surf & turf with our chefs specialising in using all the best of local produce. We also have a dog friendly dining area!’ ‘The White Hart boasts a large patio and garden area to the rear of the pub. This spacious area delivers superb views of the infamous (sic) River Severn and in turn has beautiful sunsets set across the landscape. We have a covered area if it gets chilly and many nautical curiosities spread throughout the garden and pub. We even have our own lighthouse!’
A fifteen feet tall chainsaw sculpted dragon is now a prominent feature in the pubs car park. Helen Price previously ran the Cross Keys Inn at Goodrich where the dragon was once displayed and on moving to the White Hart in April 2015 the sculpture travelled with her on a flat bed lorry.
Landlords at the White Hart include:
1856 John Knight
1876 William Knight
1885,1919 Edwin King
1927 Alice Mary King
1939 Geo. Jn. Taylor
- Frank and Kate Sheen (Frank died aged 73 in June 1985. He had moved to Canada to live with his son when Kate died)
1972 Stanley Buttfield
1973- 1996 Andy & Valerie Anderson
1996,1998 David and Hazel Piner
2002 Ian and Christel Hole
2007 Robbie Vickery
2008 Simon and Rachel Date
2008 (Dec) Mark Green and Sarah Smith
2015 Helen Price