The history of brewing in the Forest of Dean is inextricably linked with the Wintle family. The first Thomas Wintle was born in 1800 and, later in life, became the landlord of both the White Horse and the Red Lion in Mitcheldean. Married to Sophia they had two sons, Alfred and Thomas, who both pursued a career in brewing in the Forest of Dean.
Records are sparse but it is thought that Alfred John Wintle (born 1837) had established a small brewing (?) concern at Bill Mills at Pontshill near Ross on Wye. The venture was probably short-lived as by 1868 his older brother, Thomas (born 1833) had begun brewing at Mitcheldean. At just 35 years of age this must have been a very bold business venture, no doubt financed by a very generous bank loan. In the same year Thomas had a son, Francis. Thomas must have certainly experienced the stresses of life.
On the face of it Mitcheldean is not an obvious place to erect a substantial brewery. Thomas Wintle was a man of vision and constructed his brewery with red sandstone cut from the Wilderness Quarry at the top of Plump Hill – an interesting logistical challenge. Just two years after the brewery opened a large malt house was erected on the site. To secure permanent outlets for the beer several pubs in the Forest of Dean were also purchased.
However, the first few years were beset with problems. In November 1870 Thomas Wintle wrote to the Gloucester Journal to complain that a report that he had been fined a sum of 150 shillings for adulterating beer at his brewery was “made by some maliciously disposed person, with a view to the injury of my recently established Brewing Trade and damage to my reputation generally.” Outraged by the false accusations he offered an unprecedented £1000 to any charitable institution in the county if any competent analyst could find trace of any ingredients in the “whole stock of beer on my premises (over 20,000 gallons) if any ingredient other than the legitimate ones can be found.”
Thomas died in 1888, aged just 55. After only twenty years in the business, it is questionable whether he saw any financial gain from the brewery.
His son, Francis, then took on the running of the brewery. As a young and enthusiastic businessman, he built on the reputation of the Forest Brewery and in its heyday, it supplied between sixty and seventy public houses, many owned by the brewery itself. A contemporary account of the brewery in Edwardian times gives a detailed account on the strenuous efforts to maintain absolute cleanliness at the brewery. It described the walls as being of white glazed brick and ‘absolutely germ proof’. The article also states that the “site of the brewery is exceptionally favourable as it is several miles away from any factory of any kind – an important point, as it is well known that fermentation can be brought to perfection only in an absolute pure atmosphere.”
In March 1923 Francis Wintle, then aged 55, put the family business up for auction. By this time, he was suffering from ill health (he eventually died in 1943). A reserve price of £200,000 for the brewery and its 72 tied house was not reached. The failure to sell may be partly attributed to a proviso in the sale that clearly stated that any prospective purchaser had to continue brewing at Mitcheldean for a period of three years, and a restrictive covenant to the value of £10,000 was in place to secure this obligation. After some deliberation it was decided to sell the business to a Mr K.O. Homfray for £175,000 who promised to maintain the brewery at Mitcheldean thus securing the jobs of about 50 employees. In September 1923 Mr Homfray became managing director and the brewery continued trading as Wintle’s Brewery Co. Ltd.
In 1926 the malt house at the brewery was devastated by fire, which was so fierce that the entire top floor of the building was destroyed and had to be demolished. Four years later it was announced that the Cheltenham Original Brewery had purchased the Forest Brewery for a sum in the region of £250,000. Mr Homfray relinquished his position of Managing Director in March 1930.
From the outset it was obvious that the Cheltenham Original Brewery had purchased the Mitcheldean Brewery with the intention of closing it down. They already owned several pubs in the Forest of Dean following their acquisition of the Arnold Perrett Brewery in Wickwar in 1924. Despite hollow promises of continuing brewing at the old Wintles Brewery the Cheltenham Brewery closed it down c.1937.
In 1940 British Acoustic Films (BAF), manufacturer of strategic aviation parts, moved to the redundant Wintles Brewery from London to avoid German bombing. In 1948 BAF was taken over by the Rank Organisation and became part of Rank Precision Industries. In 1956 the Rank Organisation and American based Haloid-Xerox formed the jointly owned company Rank Xerox. The Xerox plant finally closed in February 2010. The old brewery premises is now called MEWS – Mitcheldean Enterprise Work Shops.
Wintles’ Forest Brewery Tied houses
Alma Inn, Linton, Herefordshire
Angel, High Street, Ruardean (1891,1903)
Barleycorn Inn, Barleycorn Square, Cinderford (1891,1903)
Bell Inn, High Street, Cinderford (1891,1903)
Bell Inn, Pleasant Stile, Littledean (1891,1903)
Bridge Inn, 138 Valley Road, Cinderford (1891,1903)
Britannia Inn, High Street, Newnham on Severn (leased 1903)
Carpenters Arms, Coed y Paen, Monmouthshire
Cross Keys Inn, Lansoy, Monmouthshire
Cross Inn, Dursley Cross, Longhope (1903)
Crown Inn, Aston Crews, Herefordshire
Crown Inn, Hawle Hill, Ross on Wye, Herefordshire
Duke of York, Grosmont, Herefordshire
Forge Hammer, 115 Victoria Street, Cinderford (1891,1903)
George Hotel, Star Pitch, Mitcheldean (1891,1903)
George Hotel, Ross on Wye, Herefordshire
George Inn, Broad Street, Littledean (The Belfry) (1891,1903)
Globe Inn, 115 High Street, Cinderford (leased 1891, owned 1903)
Green Dragon, Brookend, Ross on Wye
Greyhound Inn, High Street, Mitcheldean (1891,1903)
Goat Inn, Llanthony Road, Gloucester
Harp Inn, Alton Street, Ross on Wye, Herefordshire
Jovial Colliers, Parish of East Dean (1891 – A.J. Wintle)
Jovial Colliers, Mill End, Mitcheldean (1891,1903)
Jovial Colliers, Nailbridge – possibly Ruardean Woodside (1903)
Kilgwrwg Arms, Kilgwrwg, Monmouthshire
Kings Head, Bream (1891,1903)
Kings Head, 1, Abbey Street, Cinderford (1903)
Kings Head Hotel, Bridstow, Ross on Wye, Herefordshire
Lamb Inn, Abenhall (1891,1903)
Lamb Inn, New Road, Mitcheldean (1903)
Lion Inn, Trellick, Monmouthshire
Lord Wellington, Upton Bishop, Herefordshire
Mariners Arms, Ladybellegate Street, Gloucester
Masons Arms, Parish of East Dean (1903)
Miners Inn, Parish of East Dean (1891,1903)
Mitre Inn, Steam Mills, Cinderford (1891,1903)
Mount Pleasant Inn, 13 St. Whites Road, Cinderford (1891,1903)
Nelson Arms, Parish of Ruardean (1891)
Nelson Inn, Morse Road, Drybrook (1891,1903)
New Bridge Inn, Parish of East Dean (1903)
New Inn, Drybrook (1891,1903)
New Inn, Hyde Road, Newnham on Severn
Oakle Street Hotel, Oakle Street, Churcham (1891,1903)
Old Engine Inn, Steam Mills, Cinderford (1891,1903)
Plough Inn, 91 Alfred Street, Gloucester
Plough Inn, Monmouth Road, Longhope (1903)
Plough Inn, Ross on Wye, Herefordshire
Point Inn, Plump Hill
Prince of Wales, Ross on Wye, Herefordshire
Railway Hotel, Station Street, Cinderford (1903)
Railway Hotel, Lea, Herefordshire
Railway Inn, Nailbridge (1891,1903)
Red Lion, Blaisdon (1891,1903)
Red Lion, 44 Flaxley Street, Cinderford (1903)
Red Lion Inn, High Street, Mitcheldean (1891,1903)
Royal Forester, Parish of West Dean (1903)
Royal Oak, The Cross, Drybrook (1891,1903)
Royal Oak, Mitcheldean (1891,1903)
Royal Oak, Much Marcle, Herefordshire
Royal Oak, Market Place, Newent (1891)
Royal Oak, Parish of West Dean (1891,1903)
Royal Union, 8 High Street, Cinderford (leased in 1891, owned in 1903)
Speech House Hotel (leased in 1891)
Stockwell Inn, Stockwell Green, Cinderford (1891,1903)
Swan Hotel, High Street, Cinderford (1891,1903)
True Heart, The Cross, Drybrook (1891,1903)
Upper Bilson Inn, 30 Valley Road, Cinderford (1891,1903)
Victoria Inn, Victoria Street, Cinderford (1891)
Vine Tree Inn, Walford Road, Ross on Wye, Herefordshire
Weston Cross Inn, Weston under Penyard, Herefordshire
White Horse (or possibly House), Union Street, Hereford, Herefordshire
White Horse Hotel, High Street, Mitcheldean (1891,1903)
Wye Valley Hotel, Tintern, Monmouthshire
Yew Tree, Huntley
Yew Tree Inn, Peterstow, Herefordshire
I am grateful to Paul Best for the following meticulous research into the Wintle family.
1841 Thomas Wintle senior
Dwelling; High Street, Mitcheldean.
Thomas Wintle. Age 58. Publican.
Sophia Wintle. Age 37.
Alfred Wintle. Age 3.
Jack Clark. Age 37. Servant.
William Preece. Age 30.
James Jacob Berlan. Age 61. Solicitor.
Samuel Wheeling. Age 34 Labourer.
Note; Although the public house name isn’t mentioned it should be relatively easy to determine as the building next to it was the Police Station.
1851 census Thomas Wintle.On the night of this census Thomas, along with his younger brother Alfred John Wintle (age 13) are staying overnight at their grandmother’s house. Thomas’ occupation at the time was given as an Accountant. His grandmother was Elizabeth Grarsley a 67-year-old Grocer of Mitcheldean.
1861 Census Thomas Wintle.Thomas Wintle (age 27) was an overnight visitor in the home of Mary Jane Coleman (age26) at Leonard Stanley, his occupation described as Miller & Maltster
1871 census Thomas Wintle.Dwelling; Merrin Street, Mitcheldean.
Thomas Wintle. Head. Age 37. Brewer, Maltster & Miller. Born, Mitcheldean.
Mary Jane. Wintle. Wife. Age 36. Born, Leonard Stanley.
Sophia Wintle. Daughter. Age 6. Born, Mitcheldean.
Kate Wintle. Daughter. Age 4. Born, Mitcheldean.
Thomas Wintle. Son. Age 2. Born, Mitcheldean.
Alice Trigg. Servant. Age 17. General Servant. Born, Drybrook.
1881 census Thomas Wintle.Dwelling; Merrin Street, Mitcheldean.
Thomas Wintle. Head. Age 47. Brewer, Maltster & Miller. Born, Mitcheldean.
Mary Jane Wintle. Wife. Age 45. Born, Leonard Stanley, Glos.
Frances Wintle. Daughter. Age 7. Born, Mitcheldean.
Sophia Barnard. Servant. Age 18. Domestic Servant. Born, Mitcheldean.
1888 Probate Thomas Wintle.
28th January. The Will with a Codicil of Thomas Wintle late of Mitcheldean in the County of Gloucester, Corn Factor, Miller, Maltster and Brewer, who died 21st October 1888, at Mitcheldean was proved at Gloucester by Alfred John Wintle of Ryeford House, Ross, in the County of Herefords, Miller and Maltster, the Brother the surviving Executor.
Personal Estate £40,805 19 shillings and 2 pence.
1891 census Mary Jane Wintle.Dwelling; Merrin Street, Mitcheldean.
Mary Ann Wintle. Head Widow. Age 55. Living on own means. Born, Birmingham.
Francis Wintle. Son. Age 22. Brewer, Maltster & Miller. Born, Mitcheldean.
1901 census. Francis Wintle.Dwelling; Forest House, Mitcheldean.
Francis Wintle. Head. Age 32. Brewer, Maltster & Miller, Employer. Born, Mitcheldean.
Ann E. Wintle. Wife. Age 31. Born, Gloucester.
Bessie Harbage. Servant. Age 23. Governess Domestic. Born, Burton Hill, Norwich.
1943 Probate Francis Wintle.Wintle Francis of Long Orchard Lea Herefordshire died 13th March 1943. Probate Gloucester 31st July to Lloyds Bank Limited George Okell Solicitor and Tom Clark Wintle, retired Mineral Water Manufacturer.
Effects £517,296 6 shillings and 9 pence.
Alfred was the younger brother to Thomas Wintle deceased.
1861 census Alfred John Wintle.Dwelling; Billmills.
Alfred J. Wintle. Head. Age 23. Corndealer, Maltster & Miller. Born, Mitcheldean.
Sarah Cook. Servant. Age 59. House Keeper. Born, Gloucester.
Charles Evans. Servant. Age 24. Servant. Born, Mitcheldean.
1871 census Alfred John Wintle.Dwelling; Billmills.
Alfred John Wintle. Head. Age 33. Miller & Maltster. Born, Mitcheldean.
Ellen Ann Wintle. Wife. Age 35. Born, Birmingham.
T. Clark Wintle. Son. Age 4. Born, Weston Herefordshire.
O. Alfred Wintle. Son. Age 2. Born, Weston, Herefordshire.
Sarah Treanter. Servant. Age 21. Servant Domestic. Born, Herefordshire.
Rebecca Martell. Servant. Age 13. Nurse. Born, East Dean.
1881 census Alfred John Wintle.Dwelling; Billmills.
Alfred John Wintle. Head. Age 41. Miller & Maltster, master employing 7 men. Born, Mitcheldean.
Ellen Ann Wintle. Wife. Age 41. Born, Birmingham.
Wallace H. Wintle. Son. Age 5. Born, Weston Under Penyard, Herefordshire.
Elizabeth Elsom. Servant. Age 23. Born, Weston Under Penyard, Herefordshire.
1891 census Alfred John Wintle.Dwelling; Ryeford House, Ross.
Alfred John Wintle. Head. Age 54. Corn Merchant. Born, Mitcheldean.
Ellen A. Wintle. Wife Age 55. Born, Birmingham.
Tom C. Wintle. Son. Age 24. Mineral Water Manufacturer. Born, Weston Under Penyard, Herefordshire.
Osman A. Wintle. Son. Age 21. Miller. Born, Weston Under Penyard, Herefordshire.
Albert J. Wintle. Son. Age 18. Miller. Born, Weston Under Penyard, Herefordshire.
Jemma Jenkins. Servant. Age 27. Domestic Servant. Born, Wolferton.
Annie Brown. Servant. Age 21. Domestic Servant. Born, Yatton, Herefordshire.
1895 Probate Alfred John Wintle.Wintle Alfred John of Ryeford House, Ross, Herefordshire, Miller and Corn Factor died 16th November 1895. Probate Hereford 5th March to Tom Clark Wintle and Osman Alfred Wintle Corn Factors and Millers.
Effects £8,973 9 shillings.