The Forest of Dean.

Bygone Days

Bygone Days


A Settlement Town.

The town of Cinderford grew up in the 19th century to become the main settlement on the east side of the Forest of Dean. It grew from where the Littledean - Cinderford road crossed the Cinderford brook. By as early as 1674 a bridge had been built across it and so the area became known as Cinderford Bridge.

Industrial development in that area in the early 19th century, particularly the Cinderford Ironwork in the 1820s, was accompanied by the building of many cottages. In the 1840s an area nearby known as Cinderford Tump, was chosen for a church and a school. Later in the century the settlement grew into a small town expanding as far as the Littledean - Nailbridge road.

In 1832 there were approximately 51 dwellings east of Cinderford Bridge, most on Ruspidge Meend which belonged to the Abbotswood estate and where colliery owner Edward Protheroe built cottages for miners in his employment. On the hillside the White Hart inn was opened in 1834 and a school was built by Protheroe in 1840 and the church of St John in 1844.

The owners of the ironworks built cottages near the ironworks at the bottom of Victoria Street and a beer-house called the Forge Hammer. A few houses were built on Bilson Green. One house, next to the Bilson Colliery, was occupied by Edward Protheroe’s agent Aaron Goold. In 1831 rioters destroyed the fences around the Bilson House enclosure. The house itself was later demolished in 1973.

In the last half of the 19th century Cinderford’s development centred on the area known as Woodside. Cottages were built in the area which later became known as Heywood Road. At the same time further development of that sort occurred in Dockham Road (formerly Hinders Lane) and higher up on Littledean Hill which overlooks the village of Littledean. The Royal Foresters inn and the keeper’s lodge known as Latimer Lodge were recorded in 1838. Additionally an inn called the Royal Oak had opened by 1838.

In the mid 19th century houses were built on land adjoining the Littledean - Nailbridge road. The road, made in the 1820s, descended from Mousell Barn, through Belle Vue Road and down High Street. There were cottages at the top of the High Street by a toll-gate at the junction of Dockham Road. A lot of new building took place in that area at that time. The Swan Hotel was built as a posting house in 1867 and the Lion, lower down the road, was built slightly earlier.

In the late 1860s a Town Hall was built opposite the Lion. Opened in 1869 there was a large hall on the first floor with a balcony, for meetings and concerts. On the ground floor, opening on to the High Street, there was enough space for the sale of market produce. By 1885 the lower floor accommodated shops and the market was held just above the Lion. By the late 1870s building had extended to the junction of Valley Road to which point the toll-gate had been moved (Boey’s Pike) In 1877 a Police Station was built near the Town Hall at the top of Station Street and the area became the town’s main shopping area.

An important factor in the development was new building in Flaxley Meend, part of the Flaxley Abbey estate. The Wesley Chapel was built at the bottom of Belle Vue Road in 1849 by Aaron Goold, who later built St. Annals House. The house later became an institute and was used as offices by East Dean Rural District Council. Building in Flaxley Meend based on the Woodside Street, Abbey Street and Flaxley Street area increased from 14 houses and shops in 1851 to 234 in 1891.

Elsewhere in Cinderford building continued in a haphazard fashion. At Bilson a gasworks was erected in 1860 and a large school was built in Station Street in 1877.   In the late 19th century Cinderford’s population more than trebled.

The development of the west side of the town was greatly influenced by the construction of Valley Road in the late 1890s and followed the line of an abandoned tram-road which crossed the site of the old Cinderford Ironworks. At the bottom of Station Street a new rail terminus was opened in 1900 as was the Railway Hotel opposite. Piecemeal development continued on all sides during the early 20th century but by 1937 the demolition of older buildings deemed uninhabitable had begun.

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