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1950s aerial shot (cropped) TEMP.jpg

HOLLY HOUSE and
THE FOUNTAIN LODGE.

The two houses next the Fountain Inn have a long connection to the pub. 

 

Holly House.

 

In 1911 the Fountain Inn's owner, George Gunter, bought a parcel of land between the pub and Cannop Brook, from the Commissioner of Woods. After receiving permission in 1913, he built a slaughterhouse there. Later, the building also served as a warehouse and distribution point for meat brought into the Forest on the railway.

Its construction formed part of a wider expansion of George’s farming operations in Yorkley and at around the same time he also built a meat-store and butcher’s shop in the east wing of the Fountain Inn, The store is now room 9 and the shop is room 8.

The slaughterhouse and shop were run by three of George and Margaret’s sons; Harry, Grantley and Frank, and they were trading as Gunter Bros from at least 1918; although Grantley Gunter was away at this time, serving in the First World War. According to David Gunter (Grantly’s grandson) the three Gunter brothers had all worked on the farming side of the family business from an early age.

 

We don't fully understood how the slaughterhouse functioned within the family business, but it seems that, at around the time of George's death in 1932, the three brothers went their separate ways - although it's clear they did continue to maintain a close working relationship. Harry left to run a dairy farm at Breams Cross, followed by Grantley, who moved to Cowmeadow Farm near English Bicknor (David Gunter still runs the farm there). Frank continued to run the butcher's shop at the Fountain Inn, and also leased a farm at Badham's Field in Yorkley, which his father and grandfather had also run before him.

The Fountain Lodge.

 

In 1949 one of George’s sons (we're not sure which one) applied for planning permission to extend the slaughterhouse, by adding a ‘shed for the storage of implements’. Permission was received and the extension was constructed in 1950; although it does not appear that he actually owned all the land it was built on. It was brick built and open-fronted, with steel trusses and a corrugated asbestos cement roof.

It appears that both wings fell out of regular use just a few years after the extension was built. In the 1970s and '80s the original stone building was used as changing rooms for Parkend Football Club and the extension was in occasional use as a vehicle workshop.

 

In 1986, both wings were bought by Fordwater Pumping supplies and converted into 3 units. The original building was divided into two units; which were let as a kitchen revival shop (upstairs) and tearooms (downstairs). The 1950 extension was the third unit, and was let as a warehouse.

 

When the buildings were being renovated in 1986, a large number of abattoir hooks, called gambrels, were recovered from the property and are now hanging from a beam in the Fountain Inn. When we first displayed them Rob Wilkins told me that, when he was a child, he and his friends used to work there and his story says a lot about early twentieth century attitudes to children. A live pig would be hung up using the sharp hooks on a gambrel, which were pushed between the tendons in its hinds legs. Its throat was then cut (in front of the children) who had to collect the blood in a bucket and stir it continuously until it cooled; to stop it coagulating. It was used to make black pudding and there was a pudding-boiler in the bottom corner of (what is now) the rear car park. The children were paid in meat, which they took home to their mothers.

The building also underwent extensive alterations in 1993. After struggling to find suitable tenants, the two units in the original building were converted to a hostel, called The Fountain Lodge, which opened in 1994. The lower unit continued to be let as a warehouse until it was converted to become an extension of the hostel in 1997. As part of the conversion a doorway was knocked through to connect the original building and the 1950 extension.

Declining popularity of shared dormitory accommodation and higher customer expectations resulted in the hostel becoming increasingly unviable. In March 2020 it closed due to the Covid pandemic, but did not re-open. The whole building was in need of refurbishment and, to avoid further deterioration, a new roof was installed on the 1950s extension in November 2020 - although its future use was still undecided at the time.

 

In March 2023 planning permission was received to convert the original building to a residential house (now Holly House) and the 1950s extension to a holiday-let property (which retains the name, The Fountain Lodge). 

During the alterations, it was discovered that the 1950s extension is constructed of PRC bricks. In most Forest of Dean coal mines, the coal seam lies near, or even next to, layers of clay which needed to be removed in order to access the coal. Rather than waste this incidental resource, some pits used it to make bricks. PRC stands for Princess Royal Colliery, which was located in Whitecroft, although the brickworks was located a short distance away in Saunders Green. They began producing bricks in the 1930s, but contrary to popular belief, very little of the clay actually originated at the Princess Royal Colliery, and most of it was bought from other pits. The brickworks closed early in the early-1950s.

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