The Forest of Dean Local History Society is the oldest and one of the largest societies in Gloucestershire. Founded in 1948, we celebrated our 70th year with special events and talks and a sumptuous dinner. Our membership is still growing and we are proud of the way we fulfil our mission of helping people to enjoy and know more about the rich local history of our area.
There are considerable benefits to being a member of the Society. Our regular programme of talks is free to members and members have priority when bookings are required for our outings within the Forest and further afield. Members are the first to know about our summer historical walks and we also regularly email members who have requested it with information about activities by neighbouring history societies and county-wide groups. Members also receive a free quarterly hard copy newsletter with short historical articles as well as news of the Society. Our newsletter won an award from the British Association for Local History in 2016 as the best local history newsletter in the country.
The Society has a strong reputation for original research, featured both in our newsletter and in more depth in our annual journal, The New Regard, Our journal is highly thought of and we are proud of the fact that over the years several contributors have been short listed for the British Association for Local History (BALH) award for a published article, with two outright winners. The journal, which has been published since 1985, is an ever increasing source of fascinating information for researchers and casual readers alike. You can buy copies here and downloads of single articles from out-of-print journals here. You can find an index of all the volumes here. Members can buy our publications at discounted prices.
Conservation is a big part of the Society. One of the Society’s key objectives is to promote, encourage and further the preservation of artefacts, archaeological and historical sites and archives. Under Heritage Sites you can access records of more than 120 sites and monuments, 20 associated people, 250 photographs and 450 bibliographic references.
Many of our members are active researchers and we offer help to those who would like to do their own local history project. For those unsure how to get started, our ‘Researching local history’ guide is highly useful. There is a wealth of information available on this website, from an overview of the history of the Forest, to details about our mining heritage, as well as downloads and links to other useful resources.
Group projects form an important part of our activities, such as the work that has been done on the impact of WW1 on the Forest community. This work resulted in a book called The Forest at War that is now for sale here, at meetings and at various outlets across the Forest.
Over the years the Society has undertaken a number of historically based projects in the Forest. One project arose as a result of many years of research by a member into fatal accidents in Forest of Dean coal mines and quarries. This culminated in 2005 with the erection of the Miners' Memorial sculpture, with kind permission of Forestry England, at the New Fancy Colliery site. You can download details of the fatal accidents, mines and mine owners here . Four leather bound Roll of Honour books, recording all the fatalities, were produced and presented to local libraries. In addition, Dave Tuffley's Miners' Glossary is available as a free download through our Mining Heritage section.
Adjacent to the Miners’ Memorial is the Geomap. This innovative project involved the creation of a geology map made of the actual stone that the Forest sits on. The Geomap was awarded the 11th ENI Geological Challenge award for 2008. You can find full details of everything available at the New Fancy Site.
At the British Association for Local History Day in London, June 2017, two leading members of the Forest of Dean Local History Society received awards.
Ron Beard, former Chair, received the prestigious ‘BALH Award for Personal Achievement’ for his work over many years in helping the Society into the electronic age by producing the Miners Memorial CD, Photos for New Century CD, and the Laura Morse (WW1) CD. Ron continues to be actively engaged in Forest mining history research.
Cherry Lewis received the ‘The David Hay Memorial Article Award 2017’, which is the top award for research and publication. Her article was judged the best of all the articles reviewed from over 100 journals received by the BALH. The winning work was ‘David Mushet and his contribution to the map that changed the world’, which was published in volume 30 of the The New Regard. Cherry has continued her research by recently publishing The Enlightened Mr Parkinson, an important and well received book discussing the life and works of James Parkinson, after whom Parkinson’s disease is named.
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