Sites in the forest

Resources » Sites in the forest

 

The sites, buildings, and other objects recorded in the Dean Forest Database and presented in these pages is an eclectic mix. The collection of records has grown in an organic way, as the individual records reflect the personal interests of the contributors. The only criterion for the choice of subject for inclusion in the database is historical relevance, although we would ultimately like to try to cover as broad a range of subjects and localities as possible, relevant to the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley.

The entries in the Database are categorised under the following subject headings:

Mines & Quarries; Transport; Industry; Agriculture and Forestry; Religion; Other Buildings

You can either use the "search" facility at the top of this page to find an entry, or browse through the whole collection, or 'filter by category' to narrow your browsing choice.

If you would like to add an entry to our Database, please complete the feedback form to send us a photograph of, and/or information, about any site, building or other object which is associated with the history of the Forest of Dean or Wye Valley.


Dark Hill Colliery

The Dark Hill gale was awarded to David Mushet in 1841, and by 1847 he had also obtained the neighbouring Shutcastle gale. Dark Hill (or Darkhill) level was close to the Severn and Wye Railway's Milkwall (later Coleford) Branch, and after about 1875 was served by Fetterhill Sidings. It worked the Coleford High Delf Seam (6 ft thick) at the base of the Pennant Group (middle Upper Coal Measures). On Mushet's death in 1847, the colliery, together with his Darkhill Ironworks and Shutcastle Colliery, were put up for auction, but did not sell and passed to his three sons, soon being held by David Mushet (Jr) alone. Dark Hill was worked intermittently thereafter, only 4206 tons of coal being produced in 1880. It was bought by Thomas Bennett Brain in 1899. Little work seems to have been done after his death in 1914, although the gale continued to be worked from several adjoining gales. Very bad. The site is heavily overgrown and only a few foundations may possibly survive. The concrete foundations just to the west alonside the Milkwall-Parkend road are probably part of the Darkhill Brickworks. (Dec. 2002)

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Darkhill

In 1818 David Mushet, of Coleford, built a cupola for metallurgical experimentation at Darkhill., where a year or two later Moses Teague found a way to 1818 David Mushet, of Coleford, built a cupola for metallurgical experimentation at Darkhill., where a year or two later Moses Teague found a way to make good iron with the coke of local coal. The location of the ironworks, set as it is some distance from the local villages, was reputedly picked to avoid rival iron makers from discovering Mushets methods. During the next 20 years David Mushet perfected the making of superior quality refined iron that was more malleable and suitable for tinplate making. At Dark Hill David Mushet built a second furnace before 1845, when he handed over the works to his sons William, David and Robert. Robert Mushet became manager in 1845 and later developed self hardening steel. The ironworks were sold before 1874 to the Severn & Wye Railway who constructed an embankment across the east end of the site to carry the Coleford Railway. The visible remains which can be seen from the adjacent public footpath, which follows the line of the abandoned railway, include the site of brickmaking drying sheds, kilns, smiths shop, charging incline, blast furnace and blowing engine house. In 1999 the FODLHS together with Forest Enterprise placed a monument at Darkhill commemorating the achievements of the Mushets at the site.

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Dilke Hospital, Cinderford

Following the death of the Forest's Member of Parliament (Sir Charles Dilke) in 1911, fund raising commenced to establish a local community hospital. Subsequently The Dilke Memorial Hospital was built as a permanent memorial to the popular M.P. on a site near to Lightmoor Colliery, Cinderford. The hospital first opened its doors in 1923 and was funded until 1949 by public subscription and fund raising events.."The Dilke", as it is popularly known, still provides a range of hospital services to the local communities. Read more about the history of “The Dilke” by downloading Nick Oldnall’s extensive article[/assets/PDF/The-Dilke-Hospital-by-Nick-Oldnall.pdf].

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Dog Kennel Bridge

Dog Kennel Bridge carried the Coleford Railway, which ran from Wyesham Junction, near Monmouth, to Coleford, over a minor road between Whitecliff and High Meadow Farm. Construction of the line began in 1880, the contractors being Reed Bros & Co. of London, and it was opened on 1 September 1883. In common with other underbridges on the line, Dog Kennel Bridge is predominantly of stone, but the arch is made of brick. It has massive stone abutments and wing walls. The smaller stone bridge abutments of the Monmouth Railway, which the Coleford Railway replaced, are still visible about 100 metres up the lane (SO 56321007) where the old tramroad crossed the valley on a much sharper curve. The GWR’s Coleford Branch closed as from 1 January 1917, most of the track soon being lifted for the war effort. Evidence: structure.

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Duck Colliery

Duck, or Broadmoor, Colliery was on the Broadmoor Engine gale, which formed part of Bilson Colliery. It was probably working by the early 1800s, as the Churchway High Delf Seam (Supra-Pennant Group) was worked out by 1841, when the Lowery Seam was being exploited. A 22-inch condensing engine was working in that year, when about 10500 tons of coal were produced. The colliery had the same owners as the nearby Winning Colliery, passing from Edward Protheroe, through the Goold family, to the Bilson and Crump Meadow Collieries Co. Ltd in 1874, but it remained in production for much longer. It was on the Whimsey Branch of the Forest of Dean Tramroad, later the Great Western Railway’s Forest of Dean Branch, and sidings were provided. The engine house was damaged by fire in 1911 and a new one was erected in 1915. It is not clear when the colliery ceased production, but a brickworks, to utilise material from the tips, was established on the site by the Lydney and Crump Meadow Collieries Co. Ltd in 1922.

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East Slade Colliery

Sinking of East Slade Pit was begun around 1832 by George and James Meek, who assigned their rights to the Cheltenham and Forest of Dean Coal Co. In 1841 there was a 210 ft shaft with a high-pressure engine, but the colliery was idle. By 1850 the colliery, which worked the 5 to 6 ft thick Coleford High Delf Seam (Pennant Group), had four shafts and a tramroad connection with the South Wales Railway’s Churchway Branch. The tramroad from the colliery was later replaced by a rope-worked incline down to screens situated on the sidings at Churchway. By 1872 the colliery was in the hands of the New Bowson Coal Co. Ltd, who also worked the Britannia and Favourite gales through East Slade pits. The colliery worked until 1899 when the East Slade and Woodside gales were almost worked out. It closed in May that year, having produced 497199 tons of coal since 1872. The Woodside and East Slade gales were surrendered in 1904 and 1905, respectively.

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Eastern United Colliery

The Eastern United Colliery gale was one of seven areas into which the deep gales of the coalfield were amalgamated by the 1904 Dean Forest (Mines) Act. It was acquired by Henry Crawshay & Co. Ltd in 1907. Driving of two sloping adits or 'dipples', the larger 10 ft wide by 7 ft high, on the site of the old Findall Colliery began in 1909, but the Walmer's shaft was retained for ventilation. The object was to work the lower part of the Upper Coal Measures (Pennant and Trenchard Groups), containing mainly steam coals, including the Coleford High Delf Seam. Sidings connected to the Great Western Railway's Forest of Dean Branch were completed in 1909, and the first coal was sold in 1910. However, it was not until 1916 that serious geological problems were overcome: the seams were lost in the main headings due to monoclinal folding of the strata and were only re-located by driving lengthy cross dipples. The larger dipple was used for tub haulage, using a steam-powered endless rope system (electric locomotives were later used in some parts of the mine), and electric pumps were installed. Coal output increased from 58038 tons in 1920 to 239747 tons in 1930 and 283666 tons (the peak) in 1937, by which time new screens had been installed. Thereafter, costs rose due to declining production (112187 tons in 1955), geological difficulties, and water ingress. The colliery closed from 30th January 1959. There are plans to rework the tip for coal and stone. Poor. The site is now used by light industrial firms. The brick pithead baths building (across the Cinderford-Blakeney road), tips, and embankments survive, as does a two-storey house by the site entrance which was originally the mine offices. (April 2002)

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Ellwood Lodge

In the early 19th century, when the royal demesne of the Forest was replanted, 24 small lodges were established to house woodmen to guard and maintain the new inclosures. For Shutcastle Inclosure near Ellwood, a cottage on an old encroachment was purchased. The lodge is shown on Sopwiths Map of the Forest of Dean, 1835.

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Fairplay Iron Mine

The most extensive remains of fairplay Mine are of a Cornish underbeam engine house over a masonry shaft about 350 feet deep. They are extremely well built and are well preserved, standing up to about 15 feet above ground level (photo). The date of construction of the engine house is uncertain, but sinking of the deep pit appears to have begun by 1856. About 100 yards to the east are the filled-in remains of an air shaft with a draught opening or flue connecting the shaft to the base of an associated ventilation chimney, complete with hearth. These were conserved in 1980 and now stand about 6 feet high (photo). To the south of the shafts are three small reservoir ponds for boiler water, now nature resrves. The object of the venture appears to have been to exploit iron ore in the Drybrook Sandstone or Crease Limestone, but there is no evidence for any significant production. The mine machinery was sold in 1907.

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Fairplay Iron Mine Engine House

The most extensive remains of fairplay Mine are of a Cornish underbeam engine house over a masonry shaft about 350 feet deep. They are extremely well built and are well preserved, standing up to about 15 feet above ground level (photo). The date of construction of the engine house is uncertain, but sinking of the deep pit appears to have begun by 1856. About 100 yards to the east are the filled-in remains of an air shaft with a draught opening or flue connecting the shaft to the base of an associated ventilation chimney, complete with hearth. These were conserved in 1980 and now stand about 6 feet high (photo). To the south of the shafts are three small reservoir ponds for boiler water, now nature resrves. The object of the venture appears to have been to exploit iron ore in the Drybrook Sandstone or Crease Limestone, but there is no evidence for any significant production. The mine machinery was sold in 1907.

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Favourite Mine

Favourite Mine is a free mine which worked coal seams in the Pennant Group (middle Upper Coal Measures) via a drift. It is distinguished by a small carving of St Kieren, patron saint of Cornish miners, which was produced in 1976 by Vanilla Beer. The carving is on the rock face to the left of the drift entrance.

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Flaxley Abbey

Flaxley Abbey was originally a Cistercian monastery built in the vale of Castiard to commemorate the spot where, in 1143 in the reign of King Stephen, Milo Fitzwalter, Earl of Hereford and Constable of St Briavels Castle, had fallen while hunting. He had been shot by an arrow, it was said, at the instance of a political enemy. In the following years various gifts of land to the religious order built up a large estate. The monks ran an ironworks and a forge.

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