Sites in the forest

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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.

Howbeach Colliery

Howbeach was galed to Moses Teague in 1831. The colliery was also known as Howbeach (or Howbitch) Engine and Dr Teague's Pit. It had a rail connection from 1868 when the Forest of Dean Central Railway opened. However, development was slow and little coal appears to have been won until the 1890s. The 305 ft shaft passed through the Pennant Group (middle Upper Coal Measures) to prove the Yorkley (2 ft thick) and Coleford High Delf (3 ft 6 in.) Seams. About 40000 tons were raised in 1893, but the colliery closed in 1895 owing to water problems and a depressed market. Some production seems to have occurred in the early 1920s, after which the colliery closed for good. Very bad. Only a few concrete foundations and a filled-in shaft survive. (May 2002)


Joyford Baptist Chapel

Originally built to seat around 50 people the chapel was surrounded on three sides by farmland with the Coleford road to the front. Among founder members were the Hawkins and Cullis families whose names were written on a piece of paper, sealed in abottle and placed beneath the foundation stone. The chapel became a branch of Coleford Baptist church in 1902. Difficulties in running Joyford chapel forced Coleford Baptist to reliquish control in 1957 after which a small congregation kept Joyford going for a further 5 years before it was forced to close.


Lightmoor Colliery

The gale was awarded to Moses Teague and William Crawshay in 1841, although work had begun in about 1832, and there were two shafts by 1835. Pumping and winding engines were working by 1841 and there were four shafts by 1854. Further expansion included deepening of the shafts (to 936 ft) and acquisition of adjacent gales, and the colliery became one of the largest in Dean, producing 86508 tons in 1856 and 800-900 tons/day in 1906. 594 persons were employed underground, with 110 on the surface, in 1899. The colliery worked the top of the Upper Coal Measures (Supra-Pennant Group), which includes the Twenty Inch, Lowery, Starkey, Rocky, and Churchway High Delf Seams, mainly household coal. Lightmoor had an early tramroad connection with the Forest of Dean Tramroad at Ruspidge, replaced by a private line to the Forest of Dean Branch near Cinderford in 1854; there was also a connection with the Severn and Wye Railway's mineral loop. In later years there were problems with water, leading to the purchase of Speech House Hill and (jointly with Foxes Bridge) Trafalgar Collieries. Closure came on 8th June 1940, and for a time the buildings were used for military purposes. Poor. The stone pumping engine house (now roofless), the last to survive in Dean, some offices, the tip and a pond remain, and the site is now used as a sawmill. The pre-1830s beam engine is preserved in the Dean Heritage Museum.


Littledean Camp

This earthwork Norman Castle was built in the late 11th or early 12th century. It was called 'the old castle of Dene' in the mid-12th century and gave the name Dean to the Forest. Its purpose was to protect the surrounding towns and villages of Newnham, Westbury, Littledean and Mitcheldean and their lands from raids from the imperfectly subdued Welsh, and it was well placed to command the main approach from Gloucester. It is a scheduled ancient monument.


Littledean Gaol

Littledean Gaol, just outside Littledean on the Littledean to Elton road, was designed by a leading prison architect of the day on lines suggested by one of the greatest prison reformers, Sir George Onesiphorus Paul (1746 -1820). It was built in 1791 on the site of an old ironworks, and is a remarkable building architecturally, with the fine classical lines of the 18th century. Much of the gaol is still in its original form.


Lower Forge Lydney

Lower forge may have been in existence by 1606, but it is reasonably certain that by 1632 Sir John Winter controlled a double forge at Lydney Pill. By 1633 Winter wa producing 600 tons of iron bars from his forges at Lydney. In 1718 Lady Winter sold the estate to mortgages who sold on to Benjamin Bathurst in 1723. Bathurst himself was not an iron master, so he and his family leased the Lower Forge in turn to the people described in the associated people field. c 1800 the Pidcocks had completed a navigable canal from the Upper Forge via Lower Forge to the New Storehouse near Lydney Pill. By 1810 Lydney Furnace had ceased production but Lower Forge, with puddling and balling furnaces and iron helve was being used as a plating forge, thus starting the long association between Lydney and tin plate production. An 1844 inventory described 'Lower Forge & Rolling Mills' as having a large water wheel driving a rolling machine, another for the blowing machine, another for the cold rollers, a hammer wheel and hammer, together with wash house and scouring rooms for turning the plates, annealing rooms, workshops, carpenter shop, and five labourers houses. The Lower Forge site ultimately passed into the hands of Richard Thomas & Sons who ran a successful tin plate production works for many years.


Lydbrook Colliery

Lydbrook Colliery comprised three gales (Lydbrook Deep Level, Birchen Grove and Pluds'), the history of which are complex. Theophilus Creswick began work on Scotts and Lydbrook Deep Levels in 1862, and the Lydbrook Deep Level Collieries Co. Ltd, incorporating all three gales, was formed in 1866. The colliery exploited the Yorkley and Coleford High Delf Seams in the Pennant Group (middle Upper Coal Measures). A siding on the Severn and Wye Railway's Lydbrook branch had been laid by 1877, and a bridge to carry coal tubs from the Deep Level over the railway to a loading point on the siding was constructed in 1885. A new shaft, Pluds', was sunk in 1892-3 and reached the Coleford High Delf Seam (4 ft thick) at a depth of 394 ft, but still it proved difficult to make the colliery pay. It had a number of owners and lessees between 1866 and 1912, finally being closed by the British Red Ash Collieries Co. Ltd in 1917. Very bad. Little remains on the site today, part of is now built over. The bricked-up entrances to Scotts and Lydbrook Deep Levels may still exist. (Dec. 2002).


Lydbrook Deep Level Free Mine

The original Lydbrook Deep Level (SO 606154) was part of Lydbrook Colliery (1866-1917), but a free mine of this name was worked by Mervyn Bradley, who moved to Monument Mine in Bixslade in 2000. An inclined drift probably worked the lower part of the Pennant Group, which includes the Coleford High Delf Seam. Fair to poor. One adit entrance survives in good condition, but, apart from a shed, most the associated buildings have been removed. (March 2002)


Lydbrook Railway Viaduct

Lydbrook viaduct was situated on the Lydbrook branch of the former Severn and Wye Railway, which ran from Serridge Junction, between Parkend and Cinderford, to Lydbrook Junction on the Ross and Monmouth Railway. Designed by George W. Keeling, it was begun on 9 November 1872, and completed and ready for goods traffic on 26 August 1874. The masonry work (three arches at the southeastern end, two arches at the northwestern end, and two intermediate 90-foot piers) was carried out by contractor J.E. Billups. Three girder spans (120, 150, and 120 feet in length) were manufactured by the Crumlin Viaduct Works Co. Lower Lydbrook station was near the southeastern end of the viaduct. The branch opened to passenger traffic on 23 September 1875, but services were withdrawn on 8 July 1929. Final closure to goods trains came on 30 January 1956, although there had been little or no traffic for over three years. The viaduct was demolished in 1965. Viaduct Cottage and Viaduct House in Lower Lydbrook were originally almost beneath the viaduct. Very bad. Only overgrown parts of the abutments remain. (Oct. 2001)


Lydney Tinplate Workers' Cottages

In the early years of the 19th century as the parish of Lydney began to benefit from it's docks and tinplate works, the population of Lydney increased by two and a half times. Two short rows of cottages, one of them on the site of an old warehouse, were built early in the 19th century near the old head of Lydney Pill, just north of the later S. Wales railway line. An auction notice for the tin plate works of 1810 mentions 1 clerks house and 19 workmans houses as part of the inventory of the tin plate works at that time. In 2001 the cottages were still occupied.


Meadow Cliff Colliery

Roberts Folly gale was granted to Henry Roberts in 1843, but it appears to have already been well worked over (hence the name) and was surrendered in 1848. The gale passed through a number of owners, who seemingly had little success, until the Meadow Cliff Colliery Co. Ltd was formed in 1915. The colliery worked the Crow Delf and Twenty Inch Seams (both 1 ft 6 in. thick) of the Supra-Pennant Group. A siding connected to the Churchway branch of the Great Western Railway’s Forest of Dean Branch was laid at about this time. Coal production had reached 120 tons per week by February 1923, but financial problems continued and the plant was sold off in 1924, the company being wound up in 1927. The last, similarly unsuccessful, attempt to work the gale was by Ernest Tremain in 1928-1936.


Milestone Coleford Centre

The milestone has carved on the left hand panel the legend ' Coleford to Gloucester 19 miles, To London 124'. Carved on the right hand panel is the legend 'Coleford to Severn Bridge 9 miles, To Parkend. Most of the turnpike roads in the Forest of Dean were centred on Coleford. The Dean Forest Turnpike Trust had control of most of the turnpike roads in the area of the Forest of Dean. The turnpike road mentioned in the right hand panel ran from Coleford to Purton. The Severn Bridge mentioned is the now demolished Severn Railway Bridge, which was not opened until 1879, therefore the milestone must date to around 1879.


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