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.

Brick Pit

Moseley Green New Engine gales were granted in 1842-3, and there was a Brick Pit on Newmanshropshire gale by 1855. The early history of the colliery is uncertain, but it was connected to both the Birches and Kidnalls Mills branches of the Severn and Wye tramroad, and later (after 1874) to the S&WR’s mineral loop. The period 1860 to 1895 was a chequered one, and by 1883 the colliery was idle. In 1895, when it was purchased by Messrs Johnson and Shepherd, it had two shafts (540 and 516 ft in depth, through seams in the Supra-Pennant Group) and three steam winding engines (two 24 in. and one 20 in.) working six gales (New Engine, New Engine No. 2, Morgan’s Folly Nos 1-3, and Two Brothers). Johnson, the sole owner after 1899, was involved in prolonged legal wrangles with the Crown. A new shaft (Crown Colliery) was sunk near Moseley Green Tunnel in 1900, but little work was done there after 1905. After several changes of ownership, the gales were transferred in 1915 to the Parkend Deep Navigation Collieries Co. Ltd, owners of the nearby New Fancy Colliery, who installed a new electric winding engine.


Cannop Colliery

The Cannop Coal Co. Ltd was formed in June 1906, taking over the Union & Cannop and Prince Albert deep gales from Henry Crawshay & Co. Ltd. The aim was to work the Coleford High Delf Seam in the Pennant Group (middle Upper Coal Measures) beneath the workings of the Speech House Hill Colliery. Two shafts were sunk, the 4 ft 9 in thick High Delf being reached at a depth of 612 ft in no.1 pit by November 1909, although the seam was already being worked from a drift mine a short distance up Wimberry Slade. Sidings and a connection with the Wimberry Branch of the Severn and Wye Railway were installed. Winding of coal from the deep pit began in 1912, output reaching 1000 tons/day by march 1915. Production peaked in 1937 (402784 tons), making it the largest colliery in Dean, and the workforce was about 1040 around this time. The colliery was an extremely wet one and was flooded on several occasions. Electric pumps were used and 1140 million gallons were pumped in 1928. The high cost of pumping was a major factor leading to closure in September 1960. Fair. The colliery buildings are now offices for a Council depot, and a cycle hire centre also uses the site. The overgrown tip and the brick-lined entrance (now gated) to the drift mine survive. (April 2002)


Cannop Drift Mine

The original Cannop Drift was driven in about 1906-8 by the Cannop Coal Co. Ltd to work the Yorkley and Coleford High Delf Seams of the Pennant Group (middle Upper Coal Measures) whilst the main shafts were being sunk. When Cannop Colliery closed in 1960, the license to work the Yorkley Seam was taken by Harvey Gwilliam. A new drift was used, but the original Cannop Drift was retained as a second exit. New Cannop Drift Mine was mothballed in 1992. Fair to good. Most features of this mothballed free mine are in reasonable condition, including corrugated iron sheds, screens, tramway and tubs, and the inclined drift entrance. The brick-lined drift entrance of Cannop Colliery (now gated) is also in fair condition. (April 2002)


Churchway Colliery

Churchway Colliery was begun in 1740 and by about 1833 was in the hands of the Bennett family, who worked it at least until the 1850s. It worked the Rocky and Churchway High Delf Seams of the Supra-Pennant Group, the latter seam being 4 ft 6 in. thick and at a depth of 336 ft. There were two steam engines (20 in. and 36 in.) at work in 1841, when 2299 tons of coal were produced, rising to 12756 tons in 1845. Coal seems to have been dispatched over the Severn and Wye Railway’s tramroad during this period, but there were tramroad connections to sidings on the Forest of Dean Railway’s Churchway Branch by 1856. Production had ceased by the 1850s or 1860s, but the Churchway gale (as well as the Nelson gale) was acquired by the Bilson and Crump Meadow Collieries Co. Ltd, who continued to use the 40 inch Cornish pumping engine until 1896 to protect their other collieries from flooding.


Cinderford Bridge Colliery

The Cinderford Bridge gale was bought by James Cowmeadow in 1841 to work the Coleford High Delf Seam in the Pennant Group (middle Upper Coal Measures). Shaft sinking had commenced by the following year. A siding off the South Wales Railway's (later GWR) Forest of Dean Branch was built in about 1856. Damage to the nearby Cinderford Mill caused by subsidence, as well as breakdown of the pump, led to financial problems and the bankruptcy of the owner, Mr Wagstaff, in 1861. Subsequent attempts to work the colliery appear to have met with little success, not least because of continuing subsidence problems, much of the gale being covered by houses. Very bad. Only the overgrown traces of some tips and the colliery manager's house (now Wagstaff House) survive. (Dec. 2002)


Clearwell Cross

Restored 14th century cross, which is a listed ancient monument. The shrine and the 5 steps on which it stands are original, but the shaft and head were made during the restoration of the cross circa 1866 by John Middleton. The cross was repaired in 1975, but in 1987 it was noted that the head was missing, later to be found preserved at a nearby house. A further restoration was carried out in 1991 at a cost of £10000.


Coleford (GWR) Station

Coleford Station was the terminus of the Coleford Railway from Wyesham Junction, near Monmouth, which opened on 1 September 1883, being worked by the Great Western Railway from the start. It was adjacent to the Severn and Wye Railway’s station, which served that company’s branch from Parkend. The GWR station had a loop, with a single platform. The passenger accommodation comprised a hipped-roof, brick and stone building, with a shallow canopy integral with the roof. It contained the booking office, booking hall, waiting room and toilets, and a signal cabin was situated alongside. Beyond the passenger station were several sidings and a brick goods shed. It was two years or so before a connection between the GWR and S&WR stations, via the goods yard sidings, was brought into use. After closure of most of the line from 1 January 1917, passenger traffic used the S&WR branch, but the section from Whitecliff Quarry to Coleford continued in use for carriage of limestone until 1967. A more direct connection with the former S&WR was made in 1951. The station building was not demolished until the 1960s when redevelopment of the site began, but the goods shed was saved by the efforts of Mike Rees in the 1980s. Evidence: extant building.


Coleford Railway

The Coleford Railway Act, authorising construction of a line from Wyesham Junction (with the Coleford, Monmouth, Usk and Pontypool and the Wye Valley Railways) to Coleford, was passed on 18 July 1872. However, construction did not begin until 1880, with Reed Bros & Co. of London the contractors. The 8.4 km line was finally opened on 1 September 1883. It was worked by the Great Western Railway from the start, amalgamation with that company occurring on 1 July 1884. The line climbed some 150 m between Monmouth and Coleford on gradients mostly between 1 in 40 and 1 in 67, and it had several sharp curves, so it was a difficult one to work. Stations were provided at Newland and Coleford, the latter adjacent to, but initially quite separate from, the Severn and Wye Railway’s establishment. Traffic, even goods, was never very plentiful, and the line closed as from 1 January 1917, most of the track soon being lifted for the war effort. The line from Whitecliff Quarry to Coleford and the former S&W line continued in use for carriage of limestone until 1967. The Newland station site was used by the Royal Air Force (59 MU) during World War II, the tunnels at Redbrook and Newland being used for storage of ammunition.Evidence: earthwork, extant building, structure, subterranean feature.


Coleford railway Bridge

Construction of the Coleford Railway, which ran from Wyesham Junction, near Monmouth, to Coleford, began in 1880, the contractors being Reed Bros & Co. of London, and it was opened on 1 September 1883. The line was carried over Newland Street in Coleford by a massive stone and brick bridge. In common with other underbridges on the line, Coleford Railway Bridge has massive stone abutments, parapets, and wing walls, but the arch is made of brick. Although the GWR’s Coleford Branch closed as from 1 January 1917, the section from Whitecliff Quarry to Coleford, where it connected with the former Severn and Wye Railway to Parkend and Lydney, continued in use for carriage of limestone until 1967. Evidence: structure.


Coleford, Monmouth, Usk and Pontypool Railway

The Act of Incorporation of the Coleford, Monmouth, Usk and Pontypool Railway was passed on 20 August 1853. The line opened from Little Mill Junction, near Pontypool, to Usk on 2 June 1856, and from Usk to Monmouth (Troy) on 12 October 1857. The engineer was David Jones, and Messrs Richards, Giles and Gaskill were the contractors. The 1853 Act empowered the company to purchase the Monmouth Railway (a horse-worked tramroad from Coleford), although this was never formalised. Little was done to improve the tramroad and the proposed standard-gauge extension to Coleford did not materialise. However, a short extension from Monmouth across the river to connect with the Monmouth Railway via an interchange wharf at Wyesham Junction (the section of interest here) was opened to goods traffic in 1861 (probably 1 July). In the same year the CMU&PR was leased to the West Midland Railway, which was amalgamated with the Great Western Railway on 13 July 1863, but the CMU&PR itself was not vested in the GWR until 1 January 1887. The Pontypool-Monmouth line was officially closed to passenger traffic from 13 June 1955, although an enthusiast’s special ran on 12 October 1957. The Pontypool-Usk section remained open for goods for some years. The line east of Monmouth only began to carry significant amounts of traffic, including passengers, when the Wye Valley Railway to Chepstow was opened on 1 November 1876, followed by the Coleford Railway on 1 September 1883. The latter was closed on 1 January 1917, but the WVR lasted for goods traffic until January 1964, after which the line from Monmouth to Wyesham and beyond was lifted. Evidence: earthwork, structure.


Courtfield, Welsh Bicknor

Associated with the Vaughan family sonce 1563, originally called "Greenfield", the house was the childhood home of Henry V, who lived there from 1387 to 1394. The house has 18 bedrooms and there is also an imposing chapel, together with a modern accomodation block with 42 rooms. Courtfield was until recently a Catholic retreat and training college for the global Mill Hill Missionary Society. Download[/assets/PDF/Courtfield-by-Nick-Oldnall.pdf] and read Nick Oldnall's extensive history of Courtfield.


Crump Meadow Colliery

Work was started around 1829 by Edward Protheroe, the galee, but coal was not reached until 1839. There were three shafts, working the Twenty Inch, Lowery, Starkey, Rocky, Churchway High Delf, and Brazilly Seams of the Supra-Pennant Group (top part of the Upper Coal Measures), the Churchway being reached at a depth of 696 ft in shaft no. 3. Two condensing steam engines were working in 1841. Production was 27833 tons of coal in 1842, 41507 tons in 1856, 80746 tons in 1885, and about 500 tons/day by 1906. There was an early (c.1839) tramroad connection with the Forest of Dean Tramroad and later the Forest of Dean Branch of the Great Western Railway at Bilson; a connection was also made with the Severn and Wye Railway in 1872 when its mineral loop opened. The presence of the Crump Meadow Fault caused difficulties with coal extraction, and the cost of pumping water was an additional problem. By 1920 most of the coal had been worked out, although closure was postponed until July 1929. Very bad. Apart from a few concrete foundations and a possible loading wharf, little remains on the site today. The tip has been largely bulldozed. (March 2002)


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