Mining & Quarry Fatalities in the Forest of Dean
- with index of Freeminers
The project arose as the result of many years of research by one of our members into fatal accidents in Forest of Dean coalmines and quarries. The Society felt that there should be some form of memorial to the victims, in much the same way that those who fell in wars are remembered.
Dave Tuffley carried out the original research over a period of ten years, using local newspapers, coroner's records and cemetery records. As a result he recorded the details of hundreds of accidents. Further help was given by Ian Winstanley of Wigan. The CD was compiled and edited by Ron Beard.
We now have over 600 records of fatal accidents from 1797 to the present day. This CD contains details of all the fatalities that we have recorded, including information relating to the accidents, mines and mine owners.
Also included are historical and modern photographs of the mines or their sites, which will provide a valuable heritage record as many of the sites are disappearing under the forest canopy.
A unique feature of the Forest of Dean is the 'Freeminer' system, which dates from the Middle Ages. The Crown owned the Forest and as a reward for their assistance in undermining the walls of Berwick Castle the miners were given special privileges. Miners who were born in the Hundred of St Briavels, and 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. From the middle of the nineteenth century official records have been kept of the names of all Freeminers which are also recorded on the CD.
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