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.

Northern United Colliery

Northern United was the last deep gale to be developed, after it had been purchased from the Lydney and Crump Meadow Collieries Co. Ltd by Henry Crawshay and Co. Ltd. The colliery provided employment for men from the previously closed Crump Meadow and Foxes Bridge Collieries. Sinking of the main shaft began in May 1933, after two shafts of the old Hawkwell Colliery were re-opened to provide ventilation and an emergency exit. The new shaft reached the Coleford High Delf Seam, here 7 ft thick, in the Pennant Group (middle Upper Coal Measures) at a depth of 696 ft. Electric power was used throughout the pit. In 1935 screens were erected and sidings, connected to the Churchway Branch of the Great Western Railway's Forest of Dean Branch, came into use; about 450 tons coal per week were being raised. Many problems were experienced, including low production quotas, absenteeism, and bad roof conditions, and the colliery was rarely profitable. Things were no better in NCB days, and 1960 was the only year in which a profit was made. The colliery closed on Christmas Day 1965, marking the end of deep mining in the Forest. Attempts were made to wash the tip for coal in 1994, but this was abandoned as the tip had burnt. Poor. The mine buildings (mostly brick), including the pithead baths, survive in a derelict condition. The tip is now largely landscaped and planted with conifers. (April 2002)


Outbuilding at Kennel Barn

Kennel Barn stands on the road from Coleford to Newland on the section between the turning to Highmeadow and the T junction with the Clearwell to Newland road. It is on the left hand side of the road going towards Newland. The building was converted to a dwelling house in about 1995, and until then was a barn, used as a kennel. The original farm of which the barn was a part stands next to it. It is derelict, but is being renovated.


Park Hill Colliery

Park Hill was originally galed as an iron mine, but in 1842 coal seams in the Pennant Group were galed to William Morgan. Parkhill (or Fryers) drainage level intersected the Yorkley, Whittington and Coleford High Delf Seams in the Pennant Group, as well as the Trenchard Seam. Development of the colliery by the Park Hill Mining Co. Dean Forest Ltd appears to have met with little success, and the company was wound up in 1872. It then passed to Crawshay's Dean Forest Iron Co., 2565 tons of coal being produced in 1880 and 3387 tons in 1894. In 1874 the Oakwood Branch of the Severn and Wye Railway was extended to Park Hill and sidings were laid in. The coal gale was relinquished in 1896, although iron continued to be worked through the adjoining China Engine iron gale until 1922. Coal was worked by Wilda Collieries Ltd in the 1920s, but the colliery was abandoned by 1930. An attempt to re-open Park Hill in the 1980s was unsuccessful. Very bad. Only some overgrown tips can be seen. (Oct. 2002)


Parkend Colliery

Edward Protheroe was one of the biggest coal owners in the Parkend area, having interests in the Parkend gale from around 1820 until his death in 1857. By 1827 his pits included Park End Main, Park End Royal, and Castlemain, as well as New Fancy, a mile to the northeast. Production from the Parkend pits was 31364 tons of coal in 1841, 57266 tons in 1845, and 86973 tons in 1856, the latter being the highest in Dean that year. The pits closed in 1880, following a slump in the coal trade, but under the management of Thomas Deakin they were soon prosperous again. Working was integrated with that of New Fancy Colliery, the combined output averaging 80000 tons/year in the 1880s. A rail connection was made in 1887 by extending the Furnace branch of the Parkend ironworks (the Parkend Royal branch), which joined the Severn and Wye Railway near Coleford Junction. Parkend had one pumping shaft (Castlemain, 476 ft deep) and two other shafts (Parkend Royal, the deeper being 590 ft). Pumping was carried out by a 72-inch Cornish engine, installed in 1877. The workings were in the top part of the Upper Coal Measures (Supra-Pennant Group), which includes the 3 ft-thick Parkend High Delf Seam. Although Parkend itself ceased to produce coal in 1929, it remained connected underground to New Fancy to provide an emergency exit, with Castlemain shaft used for pumping and ventilation, until final closure in 1944. Poor. Brick foundations, with protruding metal rods, survive near the site of Castlemain shaft, but the site of Parkend Royal is now a forestry depot. The mine offices survive, now called Castlemain Mill, and the manager lived at Parkend House. There are extensive overgrown tips. (Oct. 2002)


Penallt Viaduct (Redbrook Railway Bridge)

Penallt viaduct is situated on the former Wye Valley Railway, which ran from a junction with the South Wales Railway near Chepstow to Monmouth. It carried the single track of the railway over the River Wye from Penallt (Wales) to Redbrook (England) and was built on a slight curve. With an overall span of just over 300 feet, the viaduct is a plate-girder structure supported on four pairs of cast-iron columns filled with concrete. The contractors were Messrs Reed Bros. & Co. of London. Together with Redbrook-on-Wye Station, just to the north, the viaduct was opened with the rest of the line on 1 November 1876. Penallt Halt, near the southern end of the viaduct, did not open until 1 August 1931. The line was closed to passenger services on 5 January 1959, and to goods in January 1964. Today the viaduct continues to provide essential pedestrian access, on a footway attached to the upstream girders, across the river, notably to The Boat Inn. Good. The viaduct is still complete, although now only used by pedestrians. (April 2002)


Phoenix Free Mine

Phoenix Mine (or Level) is a free mine owned by Robin Morgan of Hopewell Colliery Museum. It works the Yorkley Seam of the Pennant Group (middle Upper Coal Measures) via an adit, first driven in the 1880s.


Pike House Sling

It was recorded in 1834 that on the south side of Clearwell Meend, at Clay Lane End, a toll house existed under the control of the Dean Forest Turnpike Trust. The Turnpike Trust itself was in existence between 1796 and 1888. The 1851 census for Orepool recorded Edmund Mather (birthplace Branston, Northumberland) as the Toll Collector. The 1871 census return recorded Anne Rosser as Tollkeeper. In 1975 the Pike House was recorded as just one room deep, with a lean-to at the rear, with a typical toll house angled front window. At that time the property was empty and boarded up. In 2001 however the property was occupied.


Pine End Works, Lydney

Pine End Works occupies a 14 acre site in Harbour Road, a couple of miles away from Lydney, next to the Severn Estuary. It was commisioned and constructed by the Government in 1940, and it was built to produce technical aircraft and marine plywood for wartime requirements. During the war it was used to produce wooden aircraft panels for the Mosquito fighter-bomber and the Horsa assault gliders used in the D Day landings. It was known as a "shadow factory", meaning it was built in secrecy so as to keep manufacturing goods vital to the war effort, when factories in other, more vulnerable locations had been destroyed by bombing. In its last years it became part of the Brooke-Bond Group of Companies, operating under the name "Lydney Products". In the 1980s three inch thick rubber and grit surfaced plywood made at Pine End was used in a refurbishment of Tower Bridge. It also supplied plywood to the Admiralty, the MoD, British Rail, vehicle manufacturers and boat builders. Something known as "Hydroboard" was produced at Pine End as well. It was a "chemically impregnated densified and compressed plywood" used in nuclear shielding in power stations. The factory closed around 2001.


Pithead Baths, Princess Royal Colliery

The Pithead Baths building was erected in 1939 by W.M. Taylor for the Miners Welfare committee. It is a starkly cubic functional building with a rectangular stair and water tower. It still retains its original structure and was built using bricks made at the Princess Royal site. Ther inside of the baths building did have some of the decorated tiles used. Unfortunately the baths were demolished in 2008, and the rump of the building remains as a home for bats.


Princess Royal Colliery

This was first galed to the Priest brothers in 1842, but did not prove very profitable and had a succession of owners before the Princess Royal Colliery Co. Ltd was formed in 1891 to work both Princess Royal (Park Gutter) and Flour Mill. The Severn and Wye Railway's Oakwood Branch was extended to the Park Gutter pits at Whitecroft in 1890-1891, although raising of coal, mainly from the Yorkley Seam of the Pennant Group (middle Upper Coal Measures), through the Park Gutter shaft did not begin until 1897. Under the Forest of Dean (Mines) Act of 1904 several gales were amalgamated to be worked by the company. In 1914-15 the Park Gutter shaft was deepened to allow working of the Coleford High Delf Seam (reached at 617 ft), and a dipple was driven down to a depth of 1500 ft. An underground connection was made to Flour Mill in 1916, although coal continued to be raised there until 1928. In 1925 water from Norchard burst into Princess Royal and in 1930, after a lengthy legal battle, a controlling interest was obtained in that colliery. In 1938 the steam winding engine was replaced by an electric one, and the electric pumps were removing about 2700 gallons water per minute. Annual output of coal in the 1930s was around 300000 tons, with a peak employment of 1300 men. Underground developments in the 1950s were not successful, and the colliery closed on 30 March 1962. Poor. The brick-built pithead baths and offices (semi-derelict), and remains of the tip survive. (Oct. 2002)


Redbrook Incline

Redbrook Incline is on the Redbrook Branch of the the Monmouth Railway, a horse-drawn tramroad which ran from Broadwell to May Hill, near Monmouth, via Coleford, Newland, and Redbrook. This 3 ft 6 in. gauge line opened on 17 August 1812 and the Redbrook Branch appears to have gone into use about the same time. It was nearly 3/4 mile long and was used mainly to suppy coal to the Upper and Lower Redbrook Tinplate Works; there was also a wharf on the River Wye. The rope-worked, self-acting incline was 18 ft wide, with two tracks, and there was a weighhouse at the top. The bridge near the bottom carried the line over the Redbrook-Newland Road, along which runs the English-Welsh border! There was little traffic on the Monmouth Tramway by 1872, and it was converted into the Great Western Railway’s standard-gauge Coleford Branch, which opened on 1 September 1883. Fair. The stone incline bridge is in good condition, but the incline itself is largely overgrown. ((April 2002)


Redbrook-on-Wye Station

Redbrook-on-Wye (commonly referred to simply as Redbrook) station, on the Wye Valley Railway between Chepstow and Monmouth, opened with the line on 1 November 1876. The platform, stone station building, and signal box were on the down (eastern) side of the line. There was a goods yard, with a loop, sidings, goods shed, and both 5 ton and 30 cwt cranes, to the south of the platform. By 1925 the goods facilities were only used occasionally, although there was some use associated with the local tinplate works. The station was well known for its displays of flowers, and many prizes were won. It closed on 5 January 1959.


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