Category Archives: Forest of Dean

Miscellaneous posts about the Forest of Dean

Cannop Colliery

My wife and I were in the Forest of Dean on 30th August 2018 and visited a small garden centre that we have been to many times before – the Pigmy Pymetum. Later in the day I was reading an older copy of “The New Regard” – Number 23 from 2009. [1] The first article in that edition of the magazine was about Cannop Colliery and was written by Ian Pope. The colliery was just north of the location of the garden centre. It is the present location of a cycle-hire firm which services the cycleways of the Forest of Dean and a Council Depot. Cannop is one of the collieries represented in my collection of N-gauge wagons from the Forest of Dean.This view is one of the aerial views of the Colliery included in the magazine article [1] It shows the backs of the Cannop Villas in the lower left-hand corner. The railway sidings into the colliery are also clearly visible. They ran alongside the old Wimberry Branch of the Severn and Wye Railway. This was the original terminus of the railway when built as broad-gauge in 1868. It served the collieries and quarries in the Wimberry Slade. An interchange wharf existed off the top left of the picture where the old Wimberry Tramway was truncated and terminated. The later Severn and Wye ‘mainline’ can be seen in the bottom right of the image. It did not arrive until 1872, having been built as part of the Mineral Loop. The colliery slag heap can be seen on the left of the picture. [1]

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. [2]

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 (402,784 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. [2]

As already noted, 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 survived in April 2002. [2]

This view was taken by E. Runicles from the colliery slag-heap looking north, and is part of a collection held by Ian Pope. It shows the general setting and layout of the colliery which was heavily camouflaged by the trees of the forest. Pope points out that Cannot was known as ‘the colliery in the woods’ as trees were to be found right up to the colliery buildings and, indeed, in and amongst them. This was a stipulation of the Crown who prior to the opening of the colliery had recently constricted a new road between Lydney and Mierystock, which was intended to allow access for tourists to the centre of the forest. The last thing they wanted was an unsightly colliery immediately alongside the road. The large corrugated iron building in the centre of the picture contains the screens where coal was sorted and graded before being loaded into railway wagons. Four sidings passed through the screens which allowed four grades of coal to be loaded into wagons. To the right of the screens are two wooden head frames, one over each colliery shaft. The bridges coining out over the Wimberry Branch allowed waste material from the shafts or screens to be taken up the tip. The brick chimney stands behind a row of 10 ‘Lancashire Boilers’ which provided the colliery with steam power for the widening engines and for electricity generation. [1]In this image we can see the ‘land sales’ wharf, where local merchants or businesses could bring a cart or lorry and collect coal directly from the colliery. The coal would have passed through the screens and been loaded onto a railway wagon which then was emptied at the wharf. This was also a point where materials brought into the colliery by rail could be unloaded. This would have included things like steelwork, pipes, etc. Pit props went into an area off the empty wagon sidings and would have been unloaded there. The building in the centre is the main winding-engine house. [1]

The remaining images in this post are maps. The first shows the position of Cannot Colliery in relation to the railways of the Forest of Dawn. This is followed by three maps showing the site of the colliery in 1903, 1921 and 1968. These three images are taken from the website “” The last of the maps shows the site after closure.


1. Ian Pope; Cannop – A Troubled Colliery; in The New Regard No. 23, 2009, p4-17.

2., accessed on 31st August 2018.

Bullo Pill and the Forest of Dean Tramway

Bullo Pill, on the Severn near Newnham, originally a small tidal creek off the main river used for boat building, was developed by building a dock basin with lock gates, and wharfs for loading goods for shipment.[1] Coal and stone from the Forest could be loaded at the dock and exported on the Severn trows up or down the river. In addition, there was a flow of barges carrying coal across the river to Framilode and then along the Stroudwater Canal to Brimscombe, Stroud and Chalford. The name ‘Bullo Pill’ is unusual. ‘Pill’ is a local word meaning a tidal inlet. The Oxford English Dictionary[2] gives the etymology as Old English (Anglo Saxon) – but some internet sources state it to be Welsh or Irish.[3]

A private railway (a tramway/tramroad) was built from Bullo Pill via Soudley and Ruspidge to Churchway near Cinderford Bridge in 1807, a distance of nearly four and a half miles; when it was nearly complete, the Bullo Pill Railway Company applied for an Act of Parliament in order to extend the railway a further two miles to the summit of the hill above Churchway Engine, and to make branches. The Royal Assent to the Act was made on 10 June 1809.

The railway was of approximately 4 ft gauge, laid as a plateway, with rails of L-shaped section, spiked to stone blocks. Rails were supplied by the Ayleford Foundry, near Soudley; a branch line was constructed from the foundry. All traffic was horse-drawn, using privately owned four-wheeled wagons of an approved type, with an oak underframe supporting a hopper-shaped body, and with un-flanged cast-iron wheels. The line was single, with frequent passing loops.

By 5th May 1826, the Forest of Dean Railway Company had taken over the Bullo Pill Tramway. An Act of Parliament was passed to establish the Forest of Dean Railway Company. In some places the tramway was built over. In others, the railway took a different route.  In 1852, the Forest of Dean Railway was acquired by the South Wales Railway.

Details of The Forest of Dean Railway Company and its railway can be found on a variety of internet sites.[4] There were a series of branch-lines as far north as St. Annals to the east and Crump Meadow to the west.

On the Bullo Pill dockside, at SO 6907 0981, there is a pile of stone blocks, some with a single drilled hole. These may well be original tramroad blocks.[5]

The dock at Bullo Pill became inadequate for the level of traffic by the 1830s, so a wharf was built at Box Meadow.[6] The tramway, which is now a track, ran south from the dock at Bullo Pill to the wharf and can be see alongside the Severn estuary to the right of the Google Earth satellite image above. The watermarked map above is an excerpt from the 1881 1:2500 OS County Series and clearly shows the location of the wharf in relation to the Pill. The map is sourced from the website.[7] The old tramway is clearly visible at Bullo Pill and at the wharf and was still in use within the site. It is also seen travelling north towards Bullo Pill Station which is north of the railway junction.

From Bullo Pill the tramway ran west and crossed what is now the main A48 road at quite an angle and at grade. It passed a building now in private ownership which was formerly a public house and before that a tramway building. The route is visible as a curved track on the above map and satellite image to the West of the main railway line between Gloucester and Chepstow.

Beyond the A48, the tramway route is crossed by the later Forest of Dean Railway embankment.[8] The railway is also now abandoned, but its path and that of the tramway are approximately coterminous as they approach Haie Hill Tunnel, sometimes known as Bullo Pill Tunnel. Some images of the railway line and the enlarged tunnel required for it are shown below. Other images can be found on Flickr.[9]Interestingly the tunnel was, when built in 1810, the longest in the world! It was 1,083 yards long and remains the oldest tunnel ever to used by passenger carrying trains.[10]

From Bullo Pill, the distance to the entrance of Haie Hill Tunnel was approximately a mile.

The present (early 21st Century) state of the enlarged tunnel bore can be seen on the above photos which show, in order, the approach from Bullo Pill, a closer shot of the tunnel portal and then the northern portal.[10a] The children of Bullo Pill used the tunnel to reach their school at Soudley, having to time their walks so as not to meet any trains.

To reach the tunnel, the tramway needed shallower grades than the later railway and its route can be picked out on the plan above.[11] It took a more circuitous route than the later railway needing a loop to the north and then to the south side of the railway to allow it to gain enough height. The shallower grades permitted the horses to pull a reasonable number of wagons.

The following image is of the railway, rather than the tramway, and comes from a short post on by a former loco fireman, Bob Barnett.[12] It shows the approach to the tunnel while it was still in use.

The engineer for the tunnel construction was John Hodgekinson and the Contractor was Robert Tipping.[13] The Eastern portal, closest to Bullo Pill, stood at the end of a stonewalled cutting which is overgrown and obscured by vegetation. The portal has been partly bricked up, an opening has been left at the top to allow bats to enter and roost[14] and a low-level access hatch has been provided to allow human access. Inside, the bore is tidy and mostly dry (see the image below). The tunnel was enlarged for broad gauge by Isambard Kingdom Brunel[15] in The tunnel climbs at a steep rising gradient of 1:56 in the westward direction. It could take a train of empty wagons five minutes to pass through. Although mostly straight, a slight curve to the north is encountered at the west end.[16]

The masonry lining features an arched roof with vertical side walls into which generous refuges are provided at regular intervals, some with exposed rock at their rear. Signalling pulleys and cable hangers remain in situ on the south wall. Near its centre, a rare milepost remains.[17] A drain runs down the tunnel’s centre line – accessed via numerous small catchpits – and many weep holes have been cut into the lining, resulting in some significant accumulations of calcite on both walls. At the west portal, which is also bricked-up, a stream runs in a channel beneath the bore.

The Western portal[18] is near the village of Soudley but separated from it by another short tunnel – Bradley Hill Tunnel. Close to the Western portal of Haie Hill Tunnel a tramway branch ran south to the site of a forge/foundry at Bradley House.[19] The railway track is now a footpath.

From the tunnel portal the railway headed north-west across the Soudley Brook through Bradley Hill Tunnel to Soudley Crossing.[20]  “The tramroad circuitously headed north along the modern tarmac lane past Furnace Crossing to join the B4227 by the bridge at SO  6649  1041, thence following the modern road north then west past Camp Mill, now the Dean Forest Heritage Centre, to re-join the railway at Soudley Crossing,  SO  6610 1050.”[21]The satellite image above shows the area at the western portal of Haie Hill Tunnel, Bradley Hill Tunnel and at the western edge of the satellite image, the formation of the old railway emerging to the west of Bradley Hill Tunnel. The tramway followed what is now the road to the north of the hill running past the Dean Heritage Centre which is at the top of the image.

From this point, the railway track-bed and the road run in parallel, westwards towards the White Horse Inn. Just to the south of the railway is a track, known locally as ‘The Dram’. The pub is not shown on the 1881 Ordinance Survey map below but is at the site of the Old Quarry. The Dram still has tramway track shown on it in the OS Map below.At the White Horse Inn/Old Quarry the track-bed of the tramway appears to divert south from the railway. Its presumed route is shown as a red line on the next OS Map excerpt below from 1881.At the point where the tramroad heads sharply north, there was a short branch which crossed the river to serve Flindall Ironworks which were already disused at the time of the 1881 Ordnance Survey.

It is then assumed that the tramway formation is hidden under the railway formation travelling north from Upper Soudley towards Shakemantle and Perseverance Mines.This next extract (above) from the OS Map of 1881 shows these two mines as well as the short Blue Rock Tunnel (at the very bottom of the excerpt). This tunnel is shown in the photograph below that map – a picture taken from the cab of a pannier tank locomotive.[22] Blue Rock Tunnel was built for the railway, the tramway skirted the rocky promontory, following the course of the river and re-joined the railway track-bed immediately north of the Tunnel.

A few metres further north the main railway line curved to the West and a branch-line provided access to Shakemantle Mine. That line was built over the route of the tramway which passed close to the limekilns shown at the centre of the map above.

One source suggests that the tramway formation turned west and crossed the railway line close to the interchange with Quidchurch Colliery tramroad incline at SO 6551 1128.[23] However, as the next excerpt from the 1881 Ordnance Survery shows, there was clearly a tramway running north from Shakemantle Quarry and through the village of Ruspidge. It is possible that the route suggested by Youles[24] is actually a branch serving the Quidchurch Mine. Although the visible line on the 1881 map appears to be higher on the contours of the valley side than might have been feasible for the tramway mainline.

Youles seems to refer to this line as a private tramway.[25] If Youles is right, then we need to acknowledge an alternative route for the tramway which probably followed the railway formation. He says, “the Quidchurch interchange site is now thickly wooded, but the course of the railway siding which it shared with Perseverance Ironstone Mine, can still be seen, as can the earthwork remains of the interchange wharf. A GWR boundary marker situated between the siding and the railway, confirms that the siding was a private one. From here the tramroad incline ran south to cross the Soudley to Ruspidge road before climbing the steep slopes of Staple Edge Wood en-route for Quidchurch.”[26] The incline to Quidchurch headed towards the bald area shown on the bottom left of the satellite image above.

Youles goes on to say that the earthworks associated with the former Eastern United Colliery have obliterated all traces of the tramways in this area. The Eastern United Colliery was built over the site of the Staple-edge Brick Works and itself closed in 1959. All that is left in the early 21st Century are the colliery office and the power house. Eastern United was a drift colliery, dug into the side of the hill, but it did have a shaft. It was a ventilation shaft, Findall later known as Walmers shaft, hill on the hill above the colliery. The buildings are currently in use as a factory making dyes and colourants for paint.

On the map above, a tramway can be seen running north through Ruspidge. It is shown on the satellite image to the right as a tarmacked road which meets the main road north of the site of the Eastern United Colliery.

That ‘private’ tramway continued north of the main road to a junction with a tramway which ran East-West (crossing the line of the railway and serving Lightmoor Colliery to the West. This is illustrated in the next smaller map which shows Lightmoor Colliery in the West.Another tramway is shown serving a quarry adjacent to Cinderford Brook which connects to the East-West tramway. North of the branch to the Lightmoor Colliery, the tramroad formation and the railway formation converge alongside Cinderford Brook. The spoil heap from Eastern United Colliery buried the route of the Forest of Dean Tramroad. It appears (Figure 4)[27] that the route ran west from the interchange wharf, then turned north to rejoin the railway formation at the Eastern United site. In this case, the tramway ran parallel to both the ones already mentioned. The site of Eastern United Colliery is shown in the photo below. The railway formation overlies the tramway formation from this point to Cullamore Bridge.Cullamore Bridge (A) carried the tramroad from Lightmoor Colliery over the Cinderford Brook and the Forest of Dean Tramroad to a junction with the private Ruspidge to Shakemantle Tramroad. The Lightmoor Colliery Tramroad formation can still be accessed on foot. We have already noted the tramroad serving the quarry (C). The tramway link into Lightmoor (B) ascends the hillside through a cutting, on the sides of which are the remains of bridge abutments; the bridge led to the quarry’s spoil heap on the other side of the tramroad. After a few more metres, a path trails off to the south, following the line of another tramroad to Staple Edge Quarry. The Lightmoor track continues west to the colliery site, now an open-cast operation, where stands a large derelict and roofless building.[28]

About 200 metres north of Cullamore, near the foot of the modern Railway Road, the private Ruspidge – Shakemantle tramroad trailed in. From the junction it ran almost due south, gradually diverging from the mainline, and climbing, to cross the Ruspidge Road at SO 6500 1169 where the Bible Christian Chapel (now a studio) stands. The first part of this section remains as a track and private drive, but from the chapel it continues, still climbing, as Tramway Road, to end at SO 6525 1133 high on the hillside overlooking the site of Shakemantle iron mine and adjacent to the extensive abandoned quarry workings.[29]

From the junction near Cullamore the mainline tramroad diverged from the railway, following the modern lower Railway Road, crossing the B4226 and reaching Valley Road via the passage between the Bridge Inn and the adjoining building. From here to its terminus at Churchway, few traces of the mainline tramroad remain, although much of the route can be followed using later roads and a few tracks, as far as the site of the Cinderford Ironworks.

The next map below shows the Ironworks. The 1881 Ordnance Survey shows much of the detail of the tramway which enters centre right at the bottom of the map and runs north past a series of cottages before serving the Ironworks.

On the 1881 Map, the Forest of Dean Branch (standard gauge) Line can be seen entering the map on the bottom left. Two lines are present, the most Westerly is the main line and the branch (to the East of the main line) serves the Ironworks and splits to provide separate access to the Works and its spoil heap. The main line of the Forest of Dean Branch leaves the map on the top right.

The Buckshaft Branch Tramway 1881 Ordnance Survey (Not to Scale).

Just north of Cinderford Iron Works, the Buckshaft and St. Annals branch tramroads diverged, and these also can be followed for much of the way, but as routes only, physical traces being virtually nonexistent. The 1881 Survey shows the Buckshaft line clearly on the maps immediately below.




















The satellite image from the early 21st Century shows the line of the Buckshaft branch among all the modern housing and industry.

The Annals Branch Tramway 1881 Ordnance Survey (Not to Scale).

The St. Annals branch crossed Cinderford Lower High Street at SO 6549 1457 and followed Albion Road to enter Haywood Plantation. At the road’s end, three paths are seen. The centre one follows the branch route. It slopes up quite steeply to SO 6564 1500, where it curves sharply south west through 160 degrees to reach the edge of the plantation at Causeway Road, which it follows to the mine site, the last few hundred metres being an overgrown track to the south of, and parallel to, the road.[30]

The St. Annals tramway appears as one of a myriad of different tramways north of Cinderford Ironworks on the 1881 Survey. It leaves the map of the Buckshaft Branch below at the top of the first panel of the maps below above ‘The Cottage’.

It travels just to the East of North in a straight line for some distance, past Bilson Gas Works and a Leather Works before deviating North-North-East close to Spero Colliery and being joined by another tramroad from the West. The St. Annals tramway continues North-North-East to run trough a small complex of sidings close to Seven Stars Inn which served Haywood Colliery. After this the tramway turned northwards for a short distance before swinging sharply round to a South-Easterly direction to head for St. Annals Ironstone Mine which was close to Latimore’s Lodge.

The Annals Branch Tramroad (A) sustained a short branch of its own which accessed Haywood Level (B) – see Figure 5 above.

Returning now to Cinderford and Forestvale Ironworks, three significant tramway routes still have to be explored.

We will leave these for a future blog.


[1], accessed 11th March 2018.

[2] Shorter Oxford English Dictionary: Pill [OE pyll, var of pull, pul pool, creek] A local name on both sides of the Bristol Channel, in Cornwall etc., for a tidal creek on the coast, or a pool in a creek etc.

[3], accessed 11th March 2018.

[4] For example:, accessed on 11th March 2018,, accessed 10th March 2018.

[5], accessed 23rd February 2018; R. J. Morris, The Forest of Dean Tramroad, Coleford, 1997.

[6] R. J. Morris, The Forest of Dean Tramroad, Coleford, 1997, p16.

[7], accessed 11th March 2018.

[8], accessed 11th March 2018.

[9], accessed 11th March 2018.

[10], accessed on 11th March 2018; Humphrey Household, Gloucestershire Railways in the Twenties. Alan Sutton Publishing Limited, Gloucester, 1984; Rex Christiansen, A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain: Volume 13: Thames and Severn, David & Charles, Newton Abbot, 1981; Colin G. Maggs, The Branch Lines of Gloucestershire, Amberley Publishing, Stroud, 2009.

[10a], accessed 9th March 2018.

[11], accessed 11th March 2018.

[12], accessed 10th March 2018.

[13], accessed 11th March 2018.

[14], accessed 11th March 2018.

[15], accessed 12th March 2018.

[16], accessed 11th March 2018.

[17], accessed 11th March 2018.

[18] SO  6649  1041

[19] Ayleford Forge (Morris op.cit., p.16); Bradley Foundry.

[20] Tony Youles, Tramroad Remains in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire Society for Industrial Archaeology Journal, 2000, p20.

[21] Ibid., p20.

[22], accessed 10th March 2018.

[23] Tony Youles, Tramroad Remains in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire Society for Industrial Archaeology Journal, 2000, p20.

[24] Ibid., p20.

[25] Ibid., p21.

[26] Ibid., p20.

[27] Tony Youles, Tramroad Remains in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire Society for Industrial Archaeology Journal, 2000, p25.

[28] Tony Youles, Tramroad Remains in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire Society for Industrial Archaeology Journal, 2000, p21.

[29] Youles, op. cit., p21, comments: Morris implies that the tramroad line descending via Tramway Road was the mainline, rather than the private branch recorded by the Sites and Monuments Record (SMR) department of Gloucestershire County Council. See the captions to plates 6 and 7 in his book, and the Ruspidge paragraph on page 48. This route seems unlikely, since the mainline would have to climb from near the north portal of Bluerock tunnel, just above the level of the Cinderford Brook, to high on the hillside above (as shown in Morris’s plate 6 upper left) only to take the long descent to regain the level of the brook just north of Cullamore. The route shown on the SMR map, which follows the valley floor, is taken from an 1856 Board of Guardians map which shows the then recently completed railway and vestigial sections of the mainline tramroad not directly overbuilt by the railway, including that part later overlaid by the railway’s Shakemantle siding. Also shown is the private tramroad from near Cullamore Bridge, running south via Tramway Road to its terminus on the hillside high above Shakemantle, the railway and the mainline of the Forest of Dean tramroad.

[30] Tony Youles, Tramroad Remains in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire Society for Industrial Archaeology Journal, 2000, p22-29.


Oakwood and Dike’s Tramways

To the West and South of Parkend there was an extensive network of privately owned narrow gauge tramways that were not part of the Severn and Wye owned system. These were known as the Dike’s and Oakwood Tramways.


In later years the Severn and Wye Joint Railway provided transhipment facilities at the Parkend wharf. The feeder tramway was the Oakwood tramway. Confusedly, the Oakwood branch of the Severn and Wye left the main line at Tufts junction south of Whitecroft, and followed the route of the Dike’s tramway as far as Princess Royal Colliery at Whitecroft/Bream.

Both Flour Mill and Princess Royal Collieries were served by this system, as were a whole series of quarries, ironworks and chemical factories. It is difficult to credit how extensive this system was when visiting the area today. The two tramways are marked in pink and blue on the 1880s OS Map above. The Oakwood Branch of the Severn and Wye Railway can just be picked out in the bottom right of the map excerpt.
The transhipment wharves at the North East end of the system, at Parkend, remained in use until the late 20th Century and were used to transfer lorry loads to railway wagons long after the Oakwood Tramway was abandoned.


Parkend had quite a concentration of tramways associated with local collieries and iron works as well as hosting the terminus of the Oakwood Tramway at Marsh Sidings. The extract from the 1880s OS Map shows them clearly.


Prior to the construction of the Severn and Wye railway, the Oakwood Tramway connected directly to the Severn and Wye Tramway just to the south of the location of Parkend Station.

Parkend dates back to the early 17th century. During the 19th century it was a busy industrial village with several coalmines, an ironworks, stoneworks, timber-yard and a tinplate works, but by the early 20th century most had succumbed to a loss of markets and the general industrial decline.

More about Parkend can be found at:

Marsh Sidings, Parkend

Marsh Sidings are clearly visible on the left in the sketch below, which can be found on the Deanweb Parkend page. Like many of the other transhipment wharves in the Forest, tramway wagons arrived on rails set at a higher level that the railway tracks making it easier to transfer a load either by hand or by tipping the tramway wagon.

img1Bl (1)


Route to the Flour Mill Colliery

From Marsh Sidings the tramway followed the Coleford road out of Parkend until it reached the end of Whitemead Park. At this point the Coleford road separated from the road to Bream.


This picture of the turnpike cottage was taken in 1888. Crossing the Coleford road, and to the right of the Bream road which was constructed by the Turnpike Trust in the early 1820s, is the narrow-gauge Oakwood tramway built by David Mushet in 1826. In the length that runs parallel with the Bream road, many of the track’s foundation stones are still visible today.

The tramway followed the route of the turnpike road to Bream, hugging its western side until the road diverted marginally to the south to pass through Knockley Quarries. Tramway continued generally on a South-south-westerly path in the valley below the quarries. South of the quarries the tramway turned more to the south-east generally following the turnpike road before turning sharply back to the southwest to approach the Flour Mill Colliery.

The Flour Mill Colliery

Today, one of the Flour Mill Colliery buildings is still in use as ‘The Flour Mill Ltd’. The company is engaged principally in the repair and overhaul of steam locomotives, although it undertakes other railway-related activities such as the valuation of historic locomotives and luxury train operations. Owned and managed by William Parker, who had previously kept working engineering alive at Swindon after British Rail Engineering Ltd closed, the business occupies a workshop converted from a historically-listed colliery electricity generating station.

The colliery was known as the Flour Mill, presumably because the way to it from the village of Bream passed the Oakwood water mill. There is no evidence of a flour mill ever being on the site, and no known association with flour or milling. However the colliery was at one time the largest employer in Bream, and most families originating from the village have one or more relative or ancestor who worked there. For more on the Colliery please see …


After about the turn of the century, the future of the Flour Mill Colliery became intricately tied to the future of the Princess Royal Colliery.

In 1855 Thomas Dyke took on the lease of the Princess Royal gale. It was stated that he had begun to drive a level into the upper coal measures of the Princess Royal gale seeking the Yorkley seam and he applied to the Crown for permission to build a tramroad from the level to the main line of the Severn & Wye at Tufts. That tramroad was extended to the Whitecroft to Bream road by his tenant, William Mullinger Higgins in 1856.

In 1876 the Severn & Wye extended their Oakwood branch along the course of Dyke’s tramway to Dyke’s Level, now also known as Whitecroft Level. In February 1887, Princess Royal, Flour Mill and Prince of Wales gales were in the hands of William Camm and Richard Watkins, both of Bream. The Princess Royal gale had been opened but was not being worked, Flour Mill was being worked to a limited extent whilst Prince of Wales was unopened. Watkins was hoping that the Crown would remove the barriers between the three gales and allow him to work them as one.

A rope incline tramroad operated between Flour Mill and Princess Royal collieries.

In 1890 new sidings on the Oakwood branch of the Severn and Wye were constructed alongside Park Gutter pits and the branch was extended. In 1897 further sidings were added at Park Gutter and again in 1902 when a weighing machine was installed.

In 1906 increasing traffic from Princess Royal made further extensions to the siding accommodation necessary. The loaded wagon road was extended to hold fifty vehicles, the screen roads were altered to provide an extra machine for weighing empties, and the wagon storage sidings were also lengthened to give a capacity of ninety-six. All of these alterations were completed in 1908.

Oakwood Tramway Beyond Flour Mill Colliery

For a time Flour Mill Colliery was the site of Oakwood Chemical Works as the plan above shows. The tramroad licence of 1855 extended the Oakwood tramway through to the China Engine (SMR 5629) and New China level iron mines, a distance to the west of the Flour Mill Colliery.

As the tramway left the site of the colliery it passed to the South East of the pond before turning west-northwest on the south side of Oakwood Corn Mill and travelling on to a series of branches in the Nixon area, serving China Engine pit (SMR 5629), Princess Louise pit (SMR 10812), Oakwood Foundry (SMR 9936) and a series of iron ore mines. The tramroad beyond the Foundry (SMR 10834) was removed by 1901, traffic continuing on the remaining section until 1907-8, the remaining track was removed before 1914.



The picture shows the valley in the 1950s and is taken from the SunGreen website. The white building is Oakwood Mill Inn and the Foundry was sited off the left side of the picture. The Inn closed in 1969.

5. Gloucester County Council Historic Environment Report Monument No. 5826.
6. Gloucester County Council Historic Environment Report Monument No. 15249.





The Flour Mill Colliery

Today, one of the Flour Mill Colliery buildings is still in use as ‘The Flour Mill Ltd’. The company is engaged principally in the repair and overhaul of steam locomotives, although it undertakes other railway-related activities such as the valuation of historic locomotives and luxury train operations. Owned and managed by William Parker, who had previously kept working engineering alive at Swindon after British Rail Engineering Ltd closed, the business occupies a workshop converted from a historically-listed colliery electricity generating station.


The colliery was known as the Flour Mill, presumably because the way to it from the village of Bream passed the Oakwood water mill. There is no evidence of a flour mill ever being directly on the site of the colliery, and no known association with flour or milling. However the colliery was at one time the largest employer in Bream, and most families originating from the village have one or more relative or ancestor who worked there.

The site, and subsequently the building, have been used for a multitude of activities. It was originally part of a royal hunting forest. Later no doubt oaks for the Royal Navy were grown, although the villagers kept sheep and pigs in the woods, legally or illegally. With the arrival of the industrial revolution the site was used first for distilling chemicals from wood and later in the 1860’s a coal mine, which in due course took over the chemical works’ buildings. After coal mining ceased in the 1960s, various oil businesses took over, and recycling and refining has taken place on the site ever since. However the colliery’s former power station was eventually sold to a plastics recycling firm, operated by Brian Yarworth and then by Brian Bennett. Having escaped a dubious fate as a BSE incinerator, it was bought by William Parker in 1994 for restoration and conversion to a steam railway workshop.

The building was in a near ruinous state, with trees growing out of the walls and much of the floor missing. Bob (Rob) Haddock of Lydney and John Harris of Alvington worked tirelessly and bravely for over two years to make it fit for its new use, rebuilding the tops of the walls and replacing the cast iron gutters and downspouts, re-rendering the inside walls, cleaning and treating the magnificent pitch pine roof boarding, and repointing the external stonework. Ken Habgood and Vic Clemm, two Swindon-trained coachbuilders, built a splendid pair of wooden doors 17’ high, using the floor as a bench, which were installed in a new doorway made from an enlarged window opening by Hodson & Co of Coleford.

The property was opened as a railway workshop on 1 July 1996 by Swindon Railway Workshop Ltd, which had previously operated the old GWR works in Swindon after its closure by British Rail Engineering Ltd. Considerable confusion resulted from SRWL operating so far from Swindon, and once it became apparent that there was no chance of returning it the company ceased trading and the premises are now operated by The Flour Mill Ltd. The Flour Mill Ltd website says that, “This of course is just as confusing, if not more so, but at least it is technically correct!”



Sixteen years after the construction of the Oakwood tramway by David Mushet, in August 1843 William Jones applied to the Crown for permission to mine at the site now occupied by the Flour Mill, but soon sold his interest to George Skipp, who opened a wood distillery or chemical works, thought to have made “pyroligneous acid”, lead acetate, wood-tar and wood-pitch. This was sold in 1854 to Isaiah Trotter of Coleford, a well known Forest businessman, who ran the business at least until 1887. After several more owners it eventually closed in 1900.

Meanwhile Ralph and Arthur Price leased two acres nearby from the Crown for 31 years at a rent of £5 p.a. and began to sink a shaft in 1866, which was presumably completed by 1870, if not before, as they then applied for a connection to the Oakwood tramway, which ran past the site. The Flour Mill Colliery Company Ltd was formed in December 1873, but was in liquidation by January 1875, probably due to water problems, although ‘good coal’ was sold in 1874 at the colliery for 17s (85p) per ton.

Evidently mining was carried on, because by November 1886 the colliery was owned by William Camm and Richard Watkins, who owned the nearby Princess Royal (also known as Park Gutter) colliery, which also had water problems. In 1892 a rope-hauled tramway was built to take Flour Mill coal for cleaning and sorting by new screens at Princess Royal, necessitating the construction of a broad bridge or ‘tunnel’ over the Oakwood Tramway.

Another shaft, 140 yards deep and 14’ in diameter, was sunk in 1904, but proved to be very wet. The new shaft necessitated another cut and cover bridge/tunnel to be built over the Oakwood tramway, to the north of the first tunnel, to enable trams of coal to be pulled to Princess Royal.

Flour Mill colliery was taken over by the Princess Royal Colliery Company in 1906.

As a result of the water flowing into the mine, massive pumping was required, and in 1908 construction of a new building at the Flour Mill commenced, 100’ long, 40’ wide and 25’ high to the eaves. This housed two sets of Bellis & Morcom triple-expansion “high speed electrical engines”, one reportedly of 750kw running at 250 rpm and one of 350kw running at 333 rpm, powered by four Lancashire boilers in another building adjoining, now gone. It is probable that the building was doubled in length during construction, as some window details differ in the second four bays from the first four. Completed in 1909, this is the building that now houses the locomotive repair operations of The Flour Mill Ltd. The building has bolted iron roof trusses with diagonal bracing.

The use of electrical power at this date was still something of a novelty. Trafalgar Colliery, also in the Forest of Dean, was the first colliery in the world to use electrical power underground for motive power, in 1882, while the City of Gloucester only received its first general supply, on a very limited scale in 1900.

The two collieries, Flour Mill and Princess Royal, were connected underground in 1916 to improve ventilation and safety, and to permit larger-scale production. However the stables for the pit ponies remained at the Flour Mill – the cages were so small that the ponies had to sit on their haunches going down or up the shaft! The Flour Mill colliery had a long and interesting life: there was a strike in 1909, when the pit ponies were sold, and then the bitter national strike of 1912. Several men were killed in the pit, one during the sinking of the first shaft. The main shaft was used as an emergency second way out, but after the war the pit was connected to the National Grid and the power station no longer needed.

The whole area around the Colliery holds a wealth of interesting material. North of the colliery buildings, the colliery spoil heap is relatively small. It sits alongside the old tramroad route (SMR 15249), with some fine stonework in the form of sidings and 2 tunnels in basically sound condition. This tramroad continues north running alongside a stream which then forms a pond. This area is a Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust botanical site. The tramroad doubles as a path and continues north. The mine shaft has been capped, while a depression near the buildings suggests a second filled shaft.

A rope-worked tramway was laid in 1891 from Flourmill Colliery to Princess Royal Colliery (Park Gutter) (SMR 5844), enabling coal to be brought to the new screens there and link with the Severn and Wye Railway.

The colliery was connected underground to the Princess Royal Colliery (aka Park Gutter)and also through that colliery to Norchard Colliery nr Lydney and New Norchard Colliery at Pillowell.Flour Mill had 3 shafts and in later years was only used for ventilation and maintenance of Princess Royal Colliery. Most of this whole complex of collieries was closed in 1961/62 although some coal from the New Norchard Colliery was still processed at the Princess Royal site up until 1965. The 2 ‘small’ shafts at Flour Mill were filled around that time (1965/66) but the impressive main shaft was capped and left forgotten until 2007. It was finally filled and recapped by the close of 2008.



2. Gloucester County Council Historic Environment Report Monument No. 5826.




Parkend, Forest of Dean

Parkend had quite a concentration of tramways associated with local collieries and iron works as well as hosting the terminus of the Oakwood Tramway at Marsh Sidings. The extract from the 1880s OS Map shows them clearly.


Prior to the construction of the Severn and Wye railway, the Oakwood Tramway connected directly to the Severn and Wye Tramway just to the south of the location of Parkend Station. Parkend dates back to the early 17th century. During the 19th century it was a busy industrial village with several coalmines, an ironworks, stoneworks, timber-yard and a tinplate works, but by the early 20th century most had succumbed to a loss of markets and the general industrial decline. Wikipedia records the history of Parkend as follows:

In 1278 the first record of a hunting enclosure called ‘Wistemede’ – later known as Whitemead Park has been found. The village’s location, at one end of this park, is how Parkend derived its name. In 1612 James I built a charcoal-fired blast furnace and forge at ‘Parke End’, bringing with it the first real settlement, however, ‘The King’s Ironworks’ proved horrendously inefficient and it closed in 1674. It would seem that occupation of the village then ceased until new dwellings appeared from 1747 onwards.

Part of the Fountain Inn dates back to 1767 and is the oldest surviving building in Parkend. The first record of a coal mine in Parkend dates back to 1718, although the remains of several bell pits, possibly dating back to the 1600s, are visible in the woods south-west of St Paul’s church.

With the advent of coke-fired furnaces, Parkend, and its many coal mines, was once again considered an ideal location for the production of iron. In 1799 a new ironworks was constructed near the site of the current post office. Initially it suffered from technical problems, but by the early/mid-1800s it had triggered a major industrialisation of the village.

The need for improved transport links was instrumental in the construction of a horse-drawn tramroad by the Severn & Wye Railway Co in 1810, connecting the village with the docks at Lydney. Demand for coal at the ironworks also lead to the appearance of several large coal mines in the village during the early 1800s, the most notable being ‘Castlemain’.

In 1818/9 another ironworks was also built at Darkhill, just to the west of Parkend, and in 1845 Robert Forester Mushet took over management of the site. One of his greatest achievements was to perfect the Bessemer Process by discovering the solution to early quality problems which beset the process. In a second key advance in metallurgy Mushet invented ‘R Mushet’s Special Steel'(R.M.S.) in 1868. It was both the first true tool steel and the first air-hardening steel. It revolutionised the design of machine tools and the progress of industrial metalworking, and was the forerunner of High speed steel. The remains of Darkhill are now preserved as an Industrial Archaeological Site of International Importance and are open to the public.

In 1825, the lower pond at Cannop and a 1½ mile leat were constructed to provide a constant supply of water to a waterwheel at Parkend Ironworks. Despite the enormous effort expended in creating this supply, it proved inadequate and an engine house and steam engine were added in 1828. A second pond at Cannop was also constructed a year later.
The school and St Paul’s church were built in 1822 and Henry Poole, who had designed both, became Parkend’s first vicar. He moved into the new vicarage in 1829, but the school developed structural problems and was rebuilt, on the same site, in 1845.

A stone works opened in 1850 and a tinplate works was constructed in 1853. It stood to the left of the ironworks, and further along was built a row of terraced houses, known as ‘The Square’, which were used to accommodate the workers there.

In 1864 the Severn and Wye Railway Company began operating steam locomotives on the existing tramway. This proved to be unsatisfactory and 1868 the company also added a broad-gauge steam railway line, but both were removed and replaced with standard gauge tracks by 1874. At around the same time, a loading wharf, known as Marsh Sidings, was constructed and Parkend railway station opened in 1875, allowing the company to also operate passenger trains alongside its freight operations.

Parkend Ironworks

In 1871 a third furnace was added at Parkend Ironworks, but the optimism behind this investment was to be short-lived. During the mid-1870s, industry in the Forest, and across the country as a whole, quickly began to slide into a deep recession. Parkend Tinplate Works, and the ironworks that had dominated the village for 90 years, succumbed to a loss of markets and both closed in 1877. Just a few years before, these two businesses alone had been employing 500 people between them, but even this was overshadowed by the closure of the Parkend coal pits in 1880, which went into voluntary liquidation with the loss of 700 jobs.

By the mid-1880s, the industrial decline that had gripped the Forest was beginning to ease. The mines, which had closed in 1880, reopened in 1885 and by the 1890s they were prospering once again. The ironworks did not re-open and were demolished by 1909, although the imposing engine-house survived to become the country’s first Forester Training School in 1910.

photos from St Marys Sept 05 012

The 1920s proved to be another difficult period for the residents of Parkend. The high demand for coal, that had been created by the First World War, was followed by a slump and industrial unrest. Matters were made worse as the local mines were now finding it difficult to access coal easily, and some had been worked out completely. There were major strikes in 1921 and 1926, and all the village mines, except New Fancy, finally closed for the last time in 1929. There was a considerable knock-on effect for other industries too and the railway closed to passengers in the same year. Parkend stone works closed in 1932, marking the end of heavy industry in the village.




Notes on The Branch Tramways and Sidings of the Severn and Wye Tramroad.

The featured image shows stone being transported down the Bixslade Tramway, one of the feeder tramways to the Severn and Wye Tramroad.

There were at least 12 branch tramroads off the Severn and Wye Tramroad. Many of these remained as feeder routes to the Severn and Wye Joint Railway in the 19th Century.

The branch tramroads included the Mirystock-Lydbrook-Bishopswood tramroad and the privately owned Oakwood and Dyke’s tramroad branches. In addition scores of sidings and short branches served particular mines, quarries and works. Traces of most of the branches remain. I intend over time to look at all these tramroads. The notes are merely an introduction and are picked up from the references below.

With the exception of the Churchway branch (and possibly Moseley Green), locomotives did not serve the branch lines – they were too steep and relied on very tight curves. Various proposals for converting the branches to railways met with little success and they were gradually superseded or abandoned. Three branches however, Bixslade, Howlers Slade and Wimberry Slade, remained in use into the 20th century.

Prior to the construction of the harbour at Lydney, a tramroad ran down to Lydney Pill. Once the outer harbour was completed in 1821, the tramroad was extended along the north side of the canal and a branch which ran across to a new wharf on the west side of the harbour was added in 1823.

Details of some of these branch lines and sidings are included here:

There was a short branch to the Lower Forge, connection to a private tramroad was made in 1818.

In 1814, connections were made to Upper and Middle Forges.

Kidnall’s Mill (or Moseley Green) Branch is covered in a separate article entitled ‘Moseley Green Tramways’ (

Birches Branch is also partially covered in the above post. It left the main line south of Parkend and passed through Oakenhill Inclosure to Birches Well, Independent, and other coal pits.  By about 1849 the branch was disused. The Birches branch can be traced where it crosses the Parkend-Yorkley road as a broad path and can also be picked up on Moseley Green behind the Rising Sun Inn, and where it crossed the Parkend-Blakeney road.

The map in my article ( shows the approximate position of these locations.

Milkwall or Darkhill Branch brought iron ore from the Milkwall area to Parkend, served collieries and wandered through large quarries. It was under construction in 1812 and followed a torturous hillside route. Some of the worst curves on the branch were being smoothed out in 1860. The tramroad was in operation until the railway was built. When the Coleford Railway replaced the tramroad branch, a section from Milkwall to Sling was left in place with a transhipment wharf at Milkwall, conversion of this section began in 1875.

The tramway route can be found on the 1881 Ordnance Survey … ( and the 1905 Ordnance Survey …(

Ivy Moorhead Branch was built by 1813. The line had been taken up and re-aligned by the Park End Coal Co. in 1821 to carrying coal to the ironworks. However, the branch became part of the Severn and Wye tramroad again in 1829. The furnaces of the Parkend Ironworks were served directly by a branch that ran over the main tramroad via a “covered way”. In 1877 the line still served the Royal pit (then Castlehill Colliery), but it had been removed by 1901.

Brookhall Ditches Branch seems to have served for a short time in the second decade of the 19th century before being abandoned. In 1824 a request was made to replace the rails as the abandoned Brookhall Ditches works were re-opened by the Park End Coal Co. A licence was obtained in 1837 for an extension to Foxes Bridge, however the Kidnall’s Mill branch, opened in 1841, offered a more direct outlet, avoiding the busy Parkend area. However, the Foxes Bridge Pit in question never opened. The Brookhall Ditches branch wasnwas abandoned once again in the mid 1870s.

Bixslade Branch

The above image shows this branch and the next two below, it is taken from the English Heritage, Forest of Dean Mapping Project, Gloucestershire: A report for the National Mapping Programme.[3]

The Bixslade branch was completed in 1812 and left the main line on an embankment and ran across a dam  made by the Forest of Dean Iron Co. in 1825 to create the Cannop Ponds. By 1841 the branch served 3 collieries in addition to the Bixhead quarries. Several licences were granted in the 1890s for extensions around the Bixhead quarries. The line was still in regular use in 1946 by a coal pit near Bixhead, although the last load of stone was brought down the line in 1944.

The branch was owned and maintained by the Severn and Wye Co. to just short of the quarries. The lines within the quarries were provided by the traders although often the S&W provided the tramplates.

The line was extended for short distances from time to time as the quarries developed, the Severn and Wye generally supplying the plates and the owners doing the rest.

There is a very enjoyable short walk or noted by the Forest of Dean Local History Society, as shown on the map here.

Howler’s Slade Branch ran parallel to but above the Speech House to Coleford road for most of its 1 mile course and was begun in 1811. In addition to various pits and quarries, the branch also served a chemical works at Cannop Bridge and a foundry. Although derelict by around 1920, the track was not removed until 1941. From its crossing of the B4226, its course can be traced, crossing Cannop brook by a bridge with cast iron railings, past the remains of the chemical works and then over the B4234 Cannop-Lydbrook road immediately to the North

Much of the tramway route is over level ground but embankmentss andaand cuttings were employed in places.

Wimberry Slade Branch – originally terminated near Wimberry Colliery, but the line was later extended to serve other pits, and was completed at the same time as the main line. A broad-gauge railway branch was laid over the first half-mile as far as Wimberry Colliery in 1868, however the tramroad branch continued in use. Abandonment was authorised in 1874, however the western section continued in use, terminating on a wharf at Hopewell sidings. A succession of alterations were made to the tramroad over the years – with new sidings being laid as late as 1928. Part of the line was in occasional use in 1939, however in 1940, 14 chains were taken up for repairing the Bixslade branch. In 1943 the remaining 38 chains were damaged by military traffic along the line which was removed entirely in 1946. Traces of the tramway can be followed from where the railway bridge crosses the B4234.


The Wimberrry Slade branch is marked on the tithe map and the 1st-3rd County Series OS maps. The western section of the route can be traced on aerial photographs. The tramroad extends for 520m in an east/west direction along a dry valley and continues to the east a little further. The western end terminates at Wimberry quarry.

Churchway Branch – the tramroad at Churchway was authorised in 1810, however no connection was made to the Forest of Dean Tramroad and in 1814 rails were taken up. Eventually in 1823 a licence for a connection was eventually given. At Mirystock the Churchway branch curved from the main line and in 1847 a new curve was put in making a triangular junction. In 1865 following the opening out of the Mirystock tunnel into a cutting a new line was laid improving the access to the Churchway branch. Abandonment of the tramroad branch was authorised in 1877 and the tracks taken up almost immediately.

The Severn and Wye Co built a branch from Mirystock to Churchway, where a junction was made with the Bullo Pill tramroad in 1812. A short loop line at Mirystock was constructed in 1847 to give better access to the Churchway branch from the south, a second spur to the Churchway branch was constructed in 1865.

Lydbrook Incline is heavily overgrown. The steep descent to the Wye at Lydbrook was an inclined plane controlled by ropes, which was abandoned by 1856.

Bishopswood Branch –  completed in 1814, was linked by an inclined plane to the forge on Lodgegrove Brook. The branch ran as far as the Ross road in 1833. It carried little traffic and the track was taken up in 1874.

This was an extension from the original terminus at Lower Lydbrook, taking the line onwards to the Wye at Bishopswood. It was opened to serve the Bishopswood Ironworks. From the site of Lower Lydbrook station it curved towards Vention Lane, which it crossed below the Royal Spring Inn, and then on to the B4228 near the turning to Ruardean. Apparently, until the early 1950s, the route from Ventions Lane was used byuby horse drawn cartstcarts to supply Incline Cottages with coal.


1. English Heritage’s Monument Protection Programme (MPP) Step 3 report.

2. Gloucestershire County Council Historic Record Archive which holds a great deal of source information. Monument No. 5701.

3. Fiona Small & Cathy Stoertz; The Forest of Dean Mapping Project, Gloucestershire: A report for the National Mapping Programme; English Heritage, National Monuments Record Centre, Great Western Village, Kemble Drive, Swindon, 2006.




Lydney Harbour

The featured image comes from the booklet prepared for the 90th birthday celebration of Charles Bathurst 1st Viscount Bledisloe of Lydney in 1957. Copyright for the image, and for some others in this blog, is held by G.K. Davis of Bream in Gloucestershire ( Details of the career of Lord Bledisloe can be found at …,_1st_Viscount_Bledisloe

The image shows the extensive nature of the railway infrastructure at the Harbour. All of this has now gone!

Lydney Harbour and its Transport Links

From Roman times through the industrial revolution and well into the 20th century Lydney Harbour has had a significant place in the heritage of the River Severn and its estuary.
The estuary has a massive 48ft tidal range, is an internationally important wildlife habitat and has had a major impact on the prosperity of Great Britain as one of the UK’s principle sea links to the rest of the world.

Lydney Harbour was a prominent local harbour for coal, iron ore and other commodities and integral to the economy of the South West over centuries.

Easy access to the estuary resulted in Lydney’s importance as a trading centre and a harbour was built to transport iron and later coal from the forest. The harbour was originally the last port on the Severn where sea-going boats could unload. Where the River Lyd flows into the estuary was known as Lydney Pill. However, the silting up of the local river closed the old harbour and a new wharf had to be built. With the charcoal iron industry and coal production thriving and roads through the forest remaining poor, Pidcock’s canal was constructed from 1790 onwards, connecting Upper and Lower Forge at the head of Lydney Pill.

The current canal and basin complex was built by the Severn and Wye Railway and Canal Company between 1810 and 1813. A horse drawn tramway was laid, to move the coal and iron to the wharves after it was brought down from the pits and forges on the Pidcock’s Canal. The new dock on the estuary was started in 1809 and opened in 1813. The outer harbour was finally completed in 1821.


During the hey-day of the harbour there was around 300,000 tons of coal being exported annually in over 2000 vessels. The final export of coal from the harbour was in 1960.

image_crop__2017_09_26_20_15_11_175In the 1960s imported wood was still being brought in by barge from Avonmouth. It remained in commercial use until the 1970s. The entrance to the canal consists of an outer tidal gate opening into a wide basin. From there a lock opens into the one-mile canal cut. Immediately above the lock, a pair of gates point the other way as protection against a high tidal flood in the estuary. There is one swing bridge crossing the canal.

In 1985 the harbour from the swing bridge downstream was scheduled as an ‘Ancient Monument’, due to the historic importance as a transport link for the Forest of Dean to the Severn. The swing bridge was designated a Grade II Listed Building in 1988 due to it being ‘a very good example of the direct and sturdy quality encountered in the functional tradition of quay-side design’.

As the last major alterations to the harbour were conducted during the 1870s, Lydney is a rare example of an unspoilt 19th century harbour, built to accommodate sailing ships so its historic importance is disproportionate to its size.
In 1998 the Lydney Docks Partnership was established to create a sustainable future for the Harbour. In 2003 they secured from the Heritage Lottery Fund £873,000 towards restoring the docks. This was supplemented by further funding from the Environment Agency, English Heritage, Gloucestershire County Council, Forest of Dean District Council and Lydney Town Council.

As part of the reconstruction process archaeologists recorded evidence of the docks’ historic use. The results of this work have provided an important insight into how the harbour functioned in the Nineteenth century.

The archaeological work has helped define the historic value of the surviving standing buildings on the site. Additional landscaping works have taken place to improve disabled access and address public safety issues.

On the 23 July 2005, Lydney Harbour was re-opended after a two year restoration project. Restoration included:

Restoring and enhancing flood defences running along the side of the dock.
The installation of four custom-made automated metal-gates and associated mechanisms, in the outer dock and inner harbour. These replaced the older, dilapidated hand-operated timber gates.
Dredging of the dock and harbour to remove several tonnes of silt (and the odd wrecked car) which had accumulated over the years.
Full refurbishment of dressed stonework on the walls and the floors of the docks.
Improving access for all.
Additional landscape works.

1809 – The Lydney and Lydbrook Railway Act enabled construction of a tramroad from Lydbrook to Lydney.
1810 – A second act changed the company name to the “Severn & Wye Railway and Canal Company” and (amongst other things) authorises the building of the canal to the River Severn at Nass Point.
1810 – Josias Jessop (son of William Jessop) was appointed consulting engineer and designed plans for the canal.
1811 – Thomas Sheasby (son of Thomas Sheasby senior) was taken on as resident engineer.
1813 – The canal was opened by the Severn and Wye Railway and Canal Company.
1821 – The outer harbour was finally completed and the tramway extended all the way down.
1825 – The north pier was extended to aid ships into the harbour.
1868 – The tramway was converted to broad gauge.
1872 – Converted to standard gauge.
1893 – Severn and Wye Railway and Canal Company went bankrupt.
1894 – Purchased by the Great Western and Midland Railways and administered by a Joint Committee of the two companies.
1948 – The railway and docks passed to the Western Region of the Railway Executive on nationalization.
1950 – Transferred to the Docks and Inland Waterways Executive.
1960 – The last coal was shipped from the harbour.
1977 – The harbour was closed.
1985 – The section from the swing bridge to the Severn was scheduled as an Ancient Monument
1988 – The swing bridge was scheduled as a Grade II listed building.
1996 – The Environment Agency took over management of the docks.
1997 – Inner gates collapses and had to be replaced by a dam to reduce flood risk.
1998 – The Lydney Docks Partnership was established to create a sustainable future for the canal.
2005 – Re-opened after a two-year project of restoration and enhancement.

Pidcock’s Canal

The Cut Lydney - - 3834849Pidcock’s Canal was a canal in Gloucestershire, England, which connected ironworks at Upper Forge and Lower Forge, and also ran to an inlet from the River Severn called Lydney Pill. It was constructed from 1778 onwards[4], and there were three locks below Middle Forge. Following the construction of the Lydney Canal in 1813, the canal connected to that, rather than Lydney Pill, and it was disused after 1840, by which time a horse-drawn tramway had been built up the valley of The Lyd. The tramway was eventually relaid as a steam railway and is now preserved as the Dean Forest Railway. Most of the canal, colloquially called The Cut, still exists below Middle Forge.

Large parts of the parish of Lydney were organised as an estate, which had been managed by the Bathurst family since 1723. The estate contained mineral reserves, and they profited from this by building ironworks. The Lower Forge ironworks were supplied with water by several streams, which were augmented by a long leat which left the Newerne stream near the Chepstow road.[5]

In 1775, David Tanner from Tintern was granted a lease of the Upper Forge, on the northern borders of Lydney. A new 99-year lease was negotiated in 1778, which included powers to construct a canal from there to the Lower Forge. It is known that the canal had been built by 1790, although the precise date of construction is unknown. Tanner sold his lease in 1789, and in 1790 it was sold again to members of the Pidcock family, who were glassmasters from Staffordshire. The Pidcocks managed the forges until 1813, when the lease was sold back to the Bathursts. They also had coal mining rights, and transported coal to Lydney Pill using the canal. On surrender, the lease covered the Upper and Middle Forges, the Lower Forge and rolling mill, the White Cross furnace, and the canal, which had by then been extended to Lydney Pill. John James took on the lease from 1814, building another forge at New Mills in the 1820s, and using the Lower Forge as a tinplate works from 1844. In 1889, Richard Thomas, who had leased the works from 1876, made improvements to the Lower Forge tinplate works, and the remaining works were stripped and abandoned.[5]

The Lydney and Lydbrook Railway (tramway) was authorised by an Act of Parliament in 1809. This became the Severn and Wye Railway and Canal in 1810 and construction of a tramway and canal to Lydney Harbour commenced in the same year. The tramway ran parallel to Pidcock’s canal as it followed the course of the Newerne Valley.[5] Pidcock’s Canal fell into disuse in the 1840s.[6]

The canal started at the Upper Forge, and ran close to the Newerne stream, also called The Lyd. The lower section took a more direct route to the Lower Forge, using the course of the leat which had supplied the works with water.[5] There were three locks near the Middle works.[7] The canal crossed the Chepstow road between Lydney and Newerne, and the branch from the Lower Forge to Lydney Pill was quite short.[5]

In 1880, the Upper Forge, New Mills and Middle Forge all had extensive ponds upstream of the works, contained by stone dams. Once the canal closed, the ponds covered its route between Upper Forge and Middle Forge. Ordnance Survey maps for the period show weirs and sluices at the downstream ends of the ponds, and the central one at Middle Forge appears to feed the canal. By 1880 there was no obvious route around the dams, and there is no mention of locks to allow boats to move between levels. As on modern maps, the canal was known as The Cut at the time. From the Lower Mill, the canal formerly ran to Lydney Pill, but the waterways were altered as a result of the construction of the Lydney Canal. The 1880 map shows two channels below the Lower Mill, one clearly joining the bottom of The Lyd, before it discharges into the Lydney Canal, and the other running from the reservoir on the upstream side of the works to a wide basin near the Lydney Canal, but with no obvious connection between them. Halfway along this section is a small branch which ends just south of Station Road Cottages.[5][8]

Tramways and Railways

Lydney map 1946In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a network of horse-drawn tramroads developed in the Forest of Dean, to transport coal and ironstone to the local ironworks, and, following the development of docks on the Severn at Bullo Pill and Lydney, to ship coal and other Forest products to markets further afield. With the introduction of railways to the Forest, beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, the tramroads were progressively superseded, in places physically overlaid, by the new transport system, though some continued as feeders to the railways well into the 20th Century. Many traces of the old tramroads remain, sometimes as footpaths following a trackbed, or as remains: stone sleeper blocks, earthworks, bridges and other structures.[9]

The Severn and Wye Tramroad, engineered by Roger Hopkins for the Severn and Wye Railway Co. opened in 1810. It ran from Lydney to Bishopswood with several branch lines linking it to collieries and ironworks. Various parts of the tramroad were absorbed into the Severn and Wye and Severn Bridge Railway from 1868 onwards. Also the Lydney and Lydbrook Railway, was incorporated in 1809 and completed 1812, it connected the Severn with the Wye, with many branches serving collieries, iron works, and other enterprises. Steam traction was introduced, in 1864. The original tramroad is not readily discernible except at points where it deviated from the railway which replaced it. The numerous branch lines are more easily traced and stone block sleepers are common.

Plans for a tramroad to link the mines of the west part of the Forest with the Severn at Lydney and the Wye at Lydbrook were under discussion from 1799, and an Act of 1809 authorised a line. A further act of 1810 renamed the project the Severn and Wye Railway and Canal and gave powers for a tramroad to a place just south of the head of the Lydney Pill and for a harbour in the form of a short canal. The line was built by a partnership including John Protheroe and bother local industrialists. It was completed in 1813 and followed the course of the Cannop Brook in the west part of the Forest and included a tunnel at Mirystock. Several branches were laid down by the tramroad companies but most were laid down by mine and quarry owners. The company provided early branch lines to serve mines and quarries in the slades west of Cannop Brook and built a line from the top of the Lydbrook incline down to the Wye at Bishopswood. Steam locomotives ran on the tramroad in 1864 and a broad gauge line was opened alongside the tramroad between Lydney and the bottom of Wimberry Slade in 1869 and in 1872 a standard gauge loop line was completed. Beginning in 1872 the Severn and Wye constructed a standard gauge railway from Lydney to Bilson and Lydbrook. When the railway was laid on or alongside the tramroad much of it was abandonned. A short section remained open fgor a time to serve Lydney tinplate works and a number of branches remained active well into the 20th Century.

There were 12 branch tramroads, including the Mirystock-Lydbrook-Bishopswood section and the privately owned Oakwood and Dyke’s branches. In addition scores of sidings and short branches served particular mines, quarries and works. Traces of most of the branches remain rarely being disturbed by the later railways. With the exception of the Churchway branch (and possibly Moseley Green), the tram locomotives did not serve the branch lines, being too steep and torturous. Various proposals for converting the branches to railways met with little success and they were gradually superseded by adjacent railway routes or abandoned. Three branches however, Bixslade, Howlers Slade and Wimberry Slade, remained in use into the 20th century.[10]

Prior to the construction of the harbour, the tramroad ran down to Lydney Pill by a temporary railroad. Once the outer harbour was completed in 1821, the tramroad was extended along the north side of the canal and a branch ran across to a new wharf on the west side of the harbour was added in 1823.[10]

image_crop__2017_09_26_21_30_07_363The railways which replaced the tramroads became increasingly complex throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries. By the 1950s things were very different. The rows of wagons at Lydney harbour replaced by empty sidings as tge picture above shows. It comes from reference 3 below. Most of the railway infrastructure has now vanished leaving behind a heritage of earthworks bridges and tunnels which now provide a cycling and walking infrastructure in the Forest.The areas in the photograph above is now a wildflower meadow and a place to stroll enjoying views of the Severn estuary.


3. Neil Parkhouse (2015). ‘British Railway History in Colour – Volume 2 – Forest of Dean Lines and the Severn Bridge’, Lightmoor Press, Lydney, Gloucestershire.
4. Gloucestershire County Council Archives.
5. Currie, C R J; Herbert, N M, eds. (1996). A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 5: Bledisloe Hundred, St. Briavels Hundred, The Forest of Dean. Victoria County History. British History Online.
6. Jim Shead, Waterways History, Pidcock’s Canal
7. Paget-Tomlinson, Edward W. (2006). The Illustrated History of Canal & River Navigations. Landmark Publishing. ISBN 1-84306-207-0.
8. Ordnance Survey, 1:2500 map, 1880.
9. Tony Youles. Tramroad Remains in the Forest of Dean:,5&sciodt=0,5.

Moseley Green in the Forest of Dean


The present hamlet of Moseley Green to the East of Parkend in the Forest of Dean is the location of our holiday cottage in September 2017. Historically it was alongside the Severn and Wye Railway’s Mineral Loop line. Prior to that two collieries are shown as existing on the site … Independent and Branchers. However, much of this industry was small scale and transient and records suggest a whole variety of different mines in the area.


The map above is an extract from the 1901 Ordnance Survey Map and shows evidence of the Independent and Branchers collieries. The Rising Sun Pub is prominent on this map and had been in existence on the site since the 18th Century.

Of these three images, one is from around the turn of the century and was taken by the Rev. A J Lumbert. It is a glass plate that has been hand-coloured. The location of the pub was close to two pits and the railway line and miners of the Forest have drunk here over many years. In 2017, the pub buildings have been enlarged. As the other pictures illustrate.

The food offered is excellent!

Moseley Green has always been a small hamlet. There isn’t a great deal of information about its history. The following notes can be found at …..


“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-Pennane 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.”

A survey undertaken from Parkend up the road past the school to Moseley Green in April 1834 noted that Moseley Green was… “full of pits part of which are now working but the greater part are abandoned and filled up.” (3) The area is covered with bell pits and the note might indicate that some were still at work at that time.

Reference is made elsewhere to Morgan’s Folly … a series of pits in the area of Moseley Green. Some relevant notes are in Appendix 1

The closure of some of the collieries at Moseley Green in the early 1870s is inferred by the visible reuse of some of the spoil heaps as embankments for the Severn and Wye Mineral Loop Railway which was constructed between 1870 and 187 (4:p106).

A reference is made to a Pluckpenny Rockey Colliery in a 1896 survey. At the time of that survey work had apparently ceased (5). The owner was W.H. Jones, Stag Inn, Yorkley.


There were a number of short lived attempts to establish nonconformist worship in Moseley Green. The Congregationalists were, in 1860, holding services at Berry Hill and Coalway Lane End and in 1865 they had a small congregation at Moseley Green. That congregation, worshipping in a room at an abandoned colliery, included Mary Young, keeper of the Yorkley turnpike gate, with whose assistance Samuel Ford of Blakeney built a chapel at Moseley Green. The chapel, opened in 1866, was called Bethlehem and was sold to the Primitive Methodists in 1894.
Primitive Methodist services held at Moseley Green from 1859 were discontinued in 1864 for want of a congregation. They were resumed in 1867 and a chapel called Providence, standing north-east of the Barracks, was registered in 1879. In 1894 the meeting moved to the Independent chapel some way south but in 1898 it returned to its former home. The return led to a drop in support and in 1907 a new chapel was built on the Blakeney-Parkend road to the south. That chapel, which was abandoned in the mid 1950s, fell into ruin but in the late 1980s it was rebuilt as part of a new house.

Rosebank Cottage (

adminupload_559c3a6559841LJP_8069 (1)In 2017, we stayed in Rosebank Cottage in Moseley Green. The cottage was one half of what was built as the Methodist Chapel in 1859 but closed in 1864. In 1960 the chapel was finally converted into two cottages losing most of its ‘chapel’ features. The 1881 Ordnance Survey clearly shows Rosebank Cottage cand its neighbour as Bethlehem Chapel.


Moseley Green sits alongside the Severn and Wye Joint Railway’s Mineral Loop which closed in the 1950s. It is just north of the north portal of the 503yd Moseley Green Tunnel. The tunnel must have been a nightmare for engine drivers. The rising grade of 1in 40 would have placed significant demands on the Pannier 0-6-0s in use in the forest, particularly when pulling a full load of coal wagons.

3. Gloucestershire Society for Industrial Archaeology Journal for 2009 pages 14-22


Appendix 1 – Morgan’s Folly

Lightmoor Press has identified activity in the Moseley Green area, recorded under the heading of Morgan’s Folly ….
7 February 1843 to Thomas Morgan of Arthurís Folly near Parkend for a pit situate on Moseley Green about 90 yards north of Cockshot Inclosure and about 65 yards east of the Parkend – Blakeney turnpike road, to get the coal from the Coleford High Delf, Yorkley and Whittington veins.
27 June 1843 to Thomas Morgan, for a pit situate on Moseley Green about 250 yards on the deep side of the gale called Morganís Folly No. 1 to get coal from the Coleford High Delf and all unalloted veins between it and the Oaken Hill Delf.
11 March 1847 in equal parts to Samuel and Thomas Morgan, of the Folly, for a pit situate on Moseley Green, to get coal from the Coleford High Delf and all the unalloted veins above the same and below the Churchway High Delf or Oaken Hill Delf veins. On the land side of the deep workings of Morganís Folly No. 2.
F3 958. F3 291.
June 1859 Morgan’s Folly No. 3, Samuel Morgan proprietor.
Midsummer 1861 Arrears of rent for Morgan’s Folly No. 3 stand against Saml. and Thos. Morgan, Whitecroft.
F3 189
27 May 1895 Messrs. Bruton, Knowles & Co. will offer the Moseley Green Collieries and the plant etc. in one lot on Wednesday next. If the colliery not sold the auctioneers will offer machinery.
Connected to Severn & Wye by a siding.
Three gales in deep and three overlying viz. Moseley Green New Engine Colliery, Morgan’s Folly No. 1 Colliery, Morgan’s Folly No. 2 Colliery, Morgan’s Folly No. 3 Colliery, Moseley Green New Engine No.2 Colliery, and Two Brothers Colliery.
Total area of coal 1,700 acres, average thickness exceeding 3í 2î. 7,000,000 tons.
With the winding engines, two shafts, boilers, pumps, railway siding, foremanís house, workshops etc.
Wednesday May 29th 1895.
Sold to Shepherd and Johnson for £460.


New Fancy Colliery and it Railways

New Fancy was a colliery on the Forest of Dean Coalfield near Parkend in Gloucestershire, England. After the colliery closed its spoil heap was landscaped. The site has a picnic area, and viewing site from where goshawks can be seen. It is linked to the Forest of Dean Family Cycle Trail. The top of the old coal mine spoil heap has been converted into a viewing site for birdwatchers, and gives panoramas over an extensive forested area. It is best known for viewing raptors, especially goshawks, best seen from late morning onwards in February and March.

New Fancy sculptureThere are now two significant sculptures at the site. The first is the Roll of Honour sculpture which was commissioned by the Forest of Dean Local History Society to honour those who worked and were killed or injured in the mines and quarries of the Forest of Dean. It was buil by Graham Tyler and John Wakefield and was unveiled in 2005. It consists of three elements – stone, iron (represented by rusted steel), and coal (represented by carved and blackened local oak) – and stands around 11 feet (3.4 m) high. Stainless steel discs set into the sculpture represent the tokens carried by miners to determine who was below ground in the event of accidents.
The second is the Forest of Dean Geomap, a 900 square feet (84 m2) sculpture of the Geomap-New-Fancygeology and mines of the area, was unveiled at the New Fancy picnic site in May 2008. It was commissioned by the local history society, who received a grant from DEFRA’s Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund, and was constructed by sculptor David Yeates of Mitcheldean before being assembled on site. The rock strata depicted are built from samples of the rock they represent. Metal discs represent the locations of the main iron and coal mines and quarries, with black lines to represent coal seams and white lines for railway routes. It is flat and polished, but not shiny, and is intended to be walked on.
The Colliery

New-Fancy-Colliery-b-w-1Wikipedia suggests thst the New Fancy colliery was opened by Edward Protheroe in 1827, as part of the Park End Coal Company in the Forest of Dean. It seems that he acquired the interest from his uncle in 1812. Details are scarce, however the 1841 Coal Awards confirmed the possession of the New Fancy gale to Edward Protheroe. In the Third Schedule to the 1841 Awards it is mentioned that in 1831 Edward Protheroe was granted a license to erect a pumping and winding engine at New Fancy but it is likely that this was not done as in a list of coal works in March 1841 there is no mention of New Fancy. The gale itself was certainly being worked by 1840, probably through the Parkend gale, as in that year Protheroe stated that he required a ‘better, cheaper, outlet’ for his New Fancy coals. The cheaper outlet would come about by sinking a shaft on the New Fancy gale thus avoiding the wayleave charged by the Crown on all coal from one gale passing through the barrier into another. The New Fancy gale award covered the coal in the Churchway High Delf, Rockey, Starkey, Park End High Delf, Little Delf and Smith Coal veins.

Parkend-New-Fancy-c1905By around 1852 it seems that two shafts were being sunk. These seem to have been completed in 1857. At the first half-yearly meeting of the Forest of Dean Central Railway Company it was stated that the colliery ‘was in a forward state and will when opened afford large traffic’. The colliery was producing coal by 1860 when 250 tons a day were being sent over the Severn & Wye’s Kidnalls Mill, or Moseley Green, branch of the tramroad. A connection to this branch had been authorised and built in 1859. It was to be another ten years before the colliery gained a railway connection in the form of a branch of the Forest of Dean Central which was authorised under a Crown license dated 6th April 1868. The large traffic hoped for over this route diminished rapidly when the Mineral Loop was opened in 1872 and a connection was made to the colliery. It is likely that the rails on the Central’s connection had been removed by 1878.

New_Fancy_Mosely-GreenWikipedia suggests that, by 1860, the Colliery was owned by Sully & Company and in 1885 was sold to the Parkend & New Fancy Collieries Company. However, this may be an oversimplification. By 1878 James Sully was the only remaining partner in the Park End Coal Company and the Parkend Coal Company Ltd. was formed to acquire the collieries. The subscribers to the new company were James Sully and Richard Sully, both described as coal merchants from Bridgewater, Somerset, John Nicholls, also of Bridgewater, William Unwin of Oxford, John Bailey, Sydney Thomas of Parkend House, colliery manager and Thomas Thomas.

Parkend-New-FancyIt appears that the new company may have been heavily in debt from the start. By 1880 it was in difficulties. At that time the company wasthought to possess nine-hundred acres of coal in the Starkey seam in connection with New Fancy. Probably the collieries were bought by a Mr. Jackson in 1881.
In 1883 the management of New Fancy were negotiating with the Great Western Railway, who worked the Forest of Dean Central, to be reconnected to their line at Howbeach as the rates via the Central to Lydney were 5d per ton cheaper. This was undoubtedly a ploy to gain cheaper rates from the Severn & Wye in which the colliery company was sucessful. However heavy mortgages led to closure in 1883 and a new confederation acquired the collieries in 1884.
New machinery was installed with the first compressed air coal cutters in the district and probably in the West of England being used. The reason for their introduction was the high cost of coal production at New Fancy due to the thinness of the seams. They averaged only 17 inches with the thickest being the Parkend High Delf at three feet.
In March 1885, the collieries were sold again to a new company called the Parkend & New Fancy Collieries Co. Ltd. From about 1888 onwards coal from the Parkend gale was worked out through New Fancy as the shaft was closer to the coal being worked and therefore haulage costs were reduced. In December 1889 a Severn & Wye minute records that the company had acquired the deep gales underlying their property and again asked if the S & W would give a concession on the coal rates as the colliery could be opened to the Central.
The company continued trading until in March 1892 the Parkend Deep Navigation Collieries Co. Ltd. bought up the company in exchange for 4,000 fully paid up £10 shares.
The Parkend Deep Navigation Collieries Co. Ltd. had been incorporated in October 1890 with an authorised capital of £100,000 in £10 shares. The subscribers were William Cooper, Parkend; William Esau Heard, Newport; John Witson, Cardiff; John Gething, Newport; William Thomas, Lydney; Arthur Graham, Parkend; and Percy Marfell of Lydney. The first 4,000 shares were allocated to the Parkend and New Fancy Collieries Co. Ltd. in consideration of their concern. A further 1,000 shares were issued to a John Griffiths of Willsbury for the purchase of the Rising Sun and Union Colliery from him. Up to 1904 only a further 739 shares were taken up as the number of members of the company was limited to fifty and it was not intended to invite the public to subscribe. Thomas Hedges Deakin was the Managing Director and Chairman of the company.
In 1914 electric equipment was installed to power pumping plant, haulage engines and coal cutting machinery. The generating station was alongside the Castlemain pumping engine at Parkend and a pole route was constructed to bring the power to the colliery.
The output of New Fancy steadily declined until final closure in August 1944. From 1940 it had averaged about 350 wagons per week.
The site of the New Fancy Colliery is a scheduled monument.
The Colliery was first served by a tramway, and then by two different railway lines … the Forest of Dean Central Railway and the Severn and Wye Railway Mineral Loop. The Forest of Dean Central Railway was very hopeful of a large coal traffic from the Colliery and was commercially dependent on that expectation. The Mineral Loop provided connections to a number of forest collieries and was a more successful venture than the Central Railway.