Heritage Open Days 2019

Coleford Area Partnership have reminded us that the next Heritage Open Day programme runs from the 13th to the 22nd September in the Forest of Dean.


This is the 25th year of Heritage Open Days and this year there will be 49 events.


The full programme can be found on the national Heritage Open
Days website under Forest of Dean District:




There is also a Facebook page:




Especially note the talk at 2.00pm on Friday 20th September at the Main Place, Coleford on “Protest and free-mining in the 17thCentury” which is being delivered by Simon Sandall of Winchester University.


Also you can view fantastic video footage recorded by John Belcher of the late Robin Morgan at work underground at Hopewell Colliery. This will take place on Tuesday 17th September at 11.00am – also at The
Main Place. 

Heritage Open Days 2017

The appalling weather last September when the Forest of Dean Local History Society unveiled the memorial plaque at the head of shaft number 2 at the former New Fancy colliery, meant that the guided site tour of New Fancy had to be cancelled.

You now have a new opportunity to experience a guided tour of New Fancy on Thursday 7th September.  As part of the Heritage Open Day 2017 initiative, FODLHS member Pete Ralph will be leading guided walks of the New Fancy site between 12’00 and 15’00.

Also on site, explaining the Geomap, will be Liz and Dave Berry.

Further details of all the local Forest of Dean Heritage Open Day events are shown on the attached leaflet.

pdf icon FOD-HOD-2017-final.pdf

The trees of Churchill Enclosure – History Society Walk on 9th July


On a beautiful summer Sunday in early July, fifteen members gathered at Castlemain Depot at
Parkend, to join History Society Vice President and Verderer, Ian Standing, in a pleasant, informative walk around Churchill Enclosure.

Ian provided some context before the walkers set off by outlining the history of management of the Forest. He then invited the assembled throng to differentiate between two adjacent oak trees. This was the start of an afternoon of education, as Ian, together with former Forestry worker Pete Ralph, demonstrated their depth of knowledge of all things tree and Forest. It turned out that one of the oaks was a pendunculate (common) oak, and the other was a sessile oak, both native to the UK. An adjacent poplar tree prompted Pete Ralph to ‘enlighten’ the party that these trees were specifically grown in the Dean to be converted into Englands Glory matches at Morelands factory in Gloucester.

Turning onto the Lime Avenue, a mysterious upturned stone marked ‘GR’ was observed adjacent to one of the innumerable lime trees. Tree rings then became the topic of the conversation. There are fewer rings higher up a tree trunk, and to measure the age of a tree via rings, this must be done at the base of a tree. Obvious when it is explained, but just one more interesting thing learned during the walk!

Stands of Douglas Fir and Norway Spruce were passed by. Ian explained that the rate of growth of
this type of tree compared with hardwood trees was the main economic driver behind their introduction in the Dean. Then the first of a number of diseased trees was studied, red band needle blight is regrettably attacking the Corsican pines, and they will eventually disappear from the Dean.

Arriving at Redwood Grove, a stand of Coastal Redwood trees provided the next stopping point. Ian explained that they are long lived trees that reach enormous sizes in America. The local examples were pretty impressive as well. In 1986 the biggest local redwood had a measured girth of 5 feet, today the girth is 13feet 6 inches, so the tree has achieved a 48 inch growth in girth in 30years.

Next the Charles II  Oak, an ancient tree, came into view. Somewhat storm damaged but still surviving, we learnt that this old tree probably dates from the 17th century.   Continuing past Churchill Lodge, the party passed through a stand of oak, which also had beech underwood . Ian explained that this was the sort of sylvan setting beloved of the travel writers who visited the Dean in Victorian times.

The sad site of a dead oak tree provoked more discussion about tree disease. Ian related how both slow oak decline and sudden oak decline are very serious threats to the oak population of the Dean. As yet very little is known about these diseases, although apparently fallen oaks with ‘decline’ symptoms were known to have small root systems, and this might provide a clue to those researching the issue.

The walk finished opposite Parkend Primary School where Ian invited the walkers to use their new
found knowledge to identify a large oak tree. After some discussion, it was declared to be a hybrid of common and sessile oak!

Visit our website: www.forestofdeanhistory.org.uk

FODLHS Members Win Prestigious Awards at Recent Local History Day

At the recent Local History Day held in London and organised by the British Association for Local History, two leading members of the Forest of Dean Local History Society received awards.

Ron Beard, former Chair of the History Society, received the prestigious ‘BALH Award for Personal Achievement’ for his work over many years in helping the History  Society into the electronic age by producing the Miners Memorial CD, Photos for  New Century CD, and the Laura Morse (WW1) CD.
Ron was and still is actively engaged in Forest mining history research.

Cherry Lewis received the ‘The David Hay Memorial Article Award 2017’, which is the top award for research and publication. Her article was judged the best of all the articles reviewed from over 100 journals received by the BALH. The winning work was ‘David Mushet and his contribution to the “map that changed the world”’, which was published in volume 30 of the History Society journal “The New Regard”. Cherry has continued her research by recentlypublishing “The Enlightened Mr Parkinson” an important and well received book discussing the life and works of James Parkinson, after whom Parkinson’s disease is named.

The photographs show Ron Beard and Cherry Lewis being presented with their awards by Professor Caroline Barron, president of the British Association for Local History.

Visit our website: www.forestofdeanhistory.org.uk

Printing error in the latest Newsletter (August 2015)

Notice to all members from the Newsletter Editor

Please accept my apologies for the printing error on the inside page of the rear cover of the latest newsletter.

The missing line should read:

"to find another one.
For there, down the hill past the Old Bailey Inn and opposite the shops, is"

Keith Walker

Committee Member & Newsletter Editor

Forest of Dean Local History Society

Visit our website: www.forestofdeanhistory.org.uk

Roadside Plate Markers – Listing Success!

The Forest of Dean Local History Society is pleased to announce that it has managed  to obtain Grade  II listing for 4 cast iron road markers in the local area. Five other similar  road markers already enjoy the protection afforded by Grade II listing, and the new listings mean that all these nationally unique markers now enjoy protection under the Heritage England listing scheme.


The  local road system we currently use essentially did not exist in the 19th century. Rough muddy tracks were the usual means of getting about, and the local population were getting increasingly agitated about them. The Local  Government Act of 1888 placed responsibility for the maintenance of main roads in the hands of new County Councils, and more minor roads were, in 1894, passed to newly-created Rural District Councils. However, matters in the Forest of Dean were complicated by the fact that the land was largely owned by the Crown, and
administered by the Office of Woods, and thus fell outside the responsibility of the county council.


After much lobbying and several  false starts, the Dean Forest Highways Bill was passed into law as the East and  West Dean Highways Act in 1883, setting out that the Office of Woods would be responsible for creating or putting into a good state of repair roads in the Forest, which would then be maintained by the county. Work began on a programme of road creation and repair in 1884.


In the early 1890s a newly-appointed Commissioner of Woods and Forests, Edward Stafford Howard, and a new Deputy Surveyor of Dean Forest, Philip Baylis, managed to get Treasury funding for a renewed drive for more roads. In 1897, a fresh agreement for new roads in Cinderford, Blakeney, Lydbrook, Ruardean, Littledean and Joys Green was made, to be funded by the Office of Woods and subsequently maintained by the East Dean Rural District
Council. Similar agreements were made concerning roads between Lydney and Lydbrook, and at Ellwood. Work was carried out between 1897 and 1909.


On 10 April 1900, Philip Baylis, the Deputy Surveyor of Dean Forest, wrote to the Commissioner of Woods and
Forests, in a letter preserved in the Gloucestershire Archives, proposing the erection of the cast-iron road markers of which the example at Ellwood (see photograph) is one of a surviving group of nine. “I think it desirable that
there ought to be some permanent record placed on the side of the roads which area being made in the Forest at the expense of the Crown stating that the roads were so made… I would have a cast iron tablet placed at each side of the road with the following inscription on it.” He appended a sketch, showing the wording to be used, which set out the ‘act of grace’, as it was described in the Dean Forest Mercury, of the provision of the roads by the Crown.


Ten of the cast-iron tablets are known to have been erected on roads from the 1897 campaign; those roads which
had been finished before 1900 received their tablets retrospectively, and the others after they were completed. Nine of the ten tablets erected survive and all now enjoy the protection of Grade II listing.


The full story of the local road construction programmes undertaken by the Office of Woods in the 19th
and early 20th century is to be found in the latest edition of the FODLHS journal, “The New Regard”. Copies are available in local outlets or via the FODLHS web site (


The photograph shows Forest of Dean Local History Society Chair, Simon Moore,
alongside the newly Grade II listed cast iron marker plate at Ellwood.

The Scarr Bandstand at Milkwall

For over 100 years there has been a bandstand at the Scar,  in the woodland between Milkwall and Sling. The bandstand was originally built  in 1913 by the Milkwall and District Charity Committee.

An annual ‘Hospital  Sunday’ event was held at the bandstand during the summer months. Various bands  would march from different starting points in the Forest to the bandstand.

Local dignitaries would give speeches, the bands would play and money was  collected from the crowds attending. The money was distributed to the local  needy and to local hospitals in Bristol, Gloucester and Monmouth.

The ‘Hospital Sunday’ event ran for many years, attracting  crowds of up to 4000 in its heyday. The introduction fo the National Health  Service in 1948 led to the demise of many ‘Hospital Sunday’ schemes.

 In the 1980s, the Scar bandstand was moved and rebuilt in a  new location lower down the hillside. The photograph below shows the current  bandstand. Unfortunately, little use is now made of it.

 Do you have memories of bands playing at the Scar? Would you  like to see the bandstand in use once again? Please comment by clicking on the  ‘reply’ button above!

Dennis Potter film showing at Lydbrook Memorial Hall on Saturday 18th July

'The British Film Institute is proud to be working with the University of Gloucestershire, and the University of Warwick as well as the Potter in Place initiative to facilitate the screening of "A Beast with Two Backs", a Play so firmly rooted in Potter's home community of the Forest of Dean'  


Exhibition, Talks & Refreshments from 10'30

Theatrical Screening at 2.00pm

Free entry!

pdf icon BBeast-A3-Poster-and-A4-Flyer-Final1.pdf

Ruardean Church & Walk – Change of time on Sunday 12th July to 10’30

Please note the change of time for the walk scheduled for Sunday 12th July, meeting at Ruardean Church. The walk will now start at 10’30 rather than the advertised 14’30. The walk will be led by Simon Moore (FODLHS Chairman) and Cecile Hunt. The walk around Ruardean will include a visit to Ruardean Church.