Miners' Memorial

What Is The Miners Memorial Project?

 The Forest of Dean Local History Society felt that there should be some form of memorial to the victims of historic fatal accidents in Forest of Dean mines in much the same way that those who fell in wars are remembered.

Society member Dave Tuffley carried out the original research over a period of ten years by researching local newspapers, coroners records and cemeteries.  As a result he recorded the details of hundreds of accidents in local mines and quarries.  Ian Winstanley of Wigan had concurrently been transcribing the annual reports of the inspectors of mines which were produced from 1851 to 1914.  Ian agreed to an exchange of information which enabled the Society to produce a fuller and more reliable record of accidents, which range in date from 1797 to the present day.

Consequently in 2003, the Forest of Dean Local History Society obtained a grant for £11,737 from the Local Heritage Initiative (a partnership between the Heritage Lottery Fund, Nationwide Building Society and the Countryside Agency). The grant was used to facilitate a number of different elements which made up the Miners Memorial Project:

  • The Roll of Honour CD

  • The Roll of Honour Memorial Volumes

  • The Mines Trails Walks

  • The Roll of Honour Sculpture

The Roll of Honour CD

Miners memorial CD

 

The CD, produced by Ron Beard, contains details of all the fatalities discovered through the original work by Dave Tuffley and Ian Winstanley. The details of the accidents can be viewed by the name of the victim, the date that the accident occurred, or the mine or quarry where the accident happened.   The mines and quarries each have a unique page, containing accident details, photographs, and a brief history of the mine or quarry. 

A unique feature of the Forest of Dean is the ‘Freeminer’ system, which dates from the Middle Ages.  Miners born in the Hundred of St Briavels, who worked for a year and a day in a Forest mine could apply for the right to work a ‘gale’ of coal or iron.  A gale being an area of a coal seam or iron ore vein. The CD contains a listing of some 4000 Free Miners and Free Quarrymen who were registered with the Deputy Gaveller between 1838 and 1959.  

The Roll of Honour CD is available for purchase from the FODLHS online store........

The Roll of Honour Memorial Volumes

 As another element of the Project, details of the mining fatalities, and the list of Freeminers were recorded in four leather-bound ‘Roll of Honour’ volumes.

 The volumes were presented to Gloucestershire Library service in order that each of the local libraries in the Forest area can host a copy of the ‘Roll of Honour’.

 

 Presentation of Miners Memorial Volume to Library Staff

 

 

 

Pictured presenting the four Roll of Honour volumes to the Library Service (right) are Society members (from left to right) Dave Tuffley, Ron Beard, and John Precious

 

The Mines Trails Walks

 Miners Memorial Mine Trail Walks

In conjunction with the Forest of Dean Group of the Ramblers Association, three ‘Mines Trails’ walks leaflets were produced. The Trails give the opportunity to see some of the industrial history of the Dean whilst enjoying a walk through the Forest.

There are three walks in the series:

Walk 1 : The Speculation Trail
Walk 2 : New Fancy
Walk 3 : Cannop Ponds

The walks are of approximately 5 miles each, and the Trail leaflets are illustrated with old photographs of the mines from the Ian Pope Collection.

 The Mine Trail Walks are available for purchase from the FODLHS online shop......

 

The Roll of Honour Sculpture

 Miners memorial Roll of Honour Sculpture

Colloquially known as ‘The Miners Memorial’, more correctly known as the ‘Roll of Honour Sculpture’

In 2003, the History Society announced a competition, asking sculptors, woodcarvers and metal workers residing in the Forest of Dean who might be interested to submit designs for a permanent memorial to the miners and quarrymen of the Forest of Dean who had lost their lives in accidents whilst at work.

Five designs were submitted for judging. The winning design was submitted by John Wakefield and Graham Tyler. The three arms of the sculpture represent the three elements which were mined and quarried, namely coal, iron and stone. The finished sculpture is 11 feet in height, with the coal element represented by blackened Forest oak, the iron element represented by fabricated and pre-rusted steel, and the stone element being sourced from Forest of Dean bedrock. Each of the elements has set into it a number of stainless steel discs, meant to be similar to the 'Checks or Tokens' carried by Miners in the event of an accident in order to determine who was still underground.

The three elements were then mounted on a steel chassis, before installation at the New Fancy amenity site in 2005.

 

 

 

Descriptive plates were then installed adjacent to the sculpture, including a description in braille.

 Miners Memorial Graham Tyler and John Wakefield

 The Roll of Honour Sculpture prior to installation at New Fancy.

The photograph shows the sculptors, John Wakefield (left), and Graham Tyler (right).

 

Miners Memorial description plates 

 

Where Can I See the Roll of Honour Sculpture?

 Miners Memorial Location Map

The Roll of Honour Sculpture is at the New Fancy Viewpoint in the Forest of Dean,Gloucestershire, two miles south of the Speech House Hotel (see map).

Follow the A40 out of Gloucester, picking up the A4136 towards Monmouth, or take the A48 from Chepstow to Lydney

 

At New Fancy you will find the Roll of Honour sculpture on a small mound adjacent to the car park, opposite the Geomap which the History Society installed in 2008. There is disabled access.

 To learn more about the Roll of Honour Sculpture, before your visit to the New Fancy Viewpoint, download the New Fancy Visitors Guide.