The Forest of Dean.

Bygone Days

   Bygone Days.

Forest of Dean History
Time Line.

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Period or Date Event happening in Forest.
3000 BC & earlierFirst evidence of human occupation in FoD.
Bronze AgeBurial barrow discovered at Tidenham Chase.
Iron AgeHill forts. Iron workings eg: Clearwell Caves.
Roman OccupationEvidence of Roman occupation unearthed eg: Lydney Park, Woolaston Villa.
Used coal for domestic purposes and charcoal for iron smelting.
760 ADAnglo-Saxons are invaded & the building of Offa’s Dyke. The Foresters become Englishmen.
1066Norman invasion. Iron mining and smelting intensified.
1086Domesday book describes FoD as a ‘Royal Forest’ with laws to protect its venison and vert.
1130-1808FoD administered by the King’s appointment as Constable of St Briavel’s Castle.
1282The first record of coal working in the FoD appeared in the Gloucestershire records. The FoD was known as the ‘greatest iron working district in Britain’ in the Middle Ages. It had at least 60 Forges requiring about 900 charcoal pits.
1294Free Mining Rights established by Edward I as a reward for the part played by the FoD miners at the siege of Berwick upon Tweed.
1550-60FoD produced 3,000 tons of coal.
1588Hand drawn iron wire was produced at Soudley.
The Armada Fleet was built from Forest oak.
C 1605James I commissioned the Earl of Pembroke to build 4 blast furnaces and 3 forges in the FoD in return for common rights.
1610Book of Dennis - oldest copy of freeminers’ rights.
1630Enclosure riots.
1638Commission established to investigate Commoners’ rights.
1640Charles I leased 17-1800 acres of the FoD to Sir John Winter.
1642House of Commons voted to end Winter’s concessions.
1643Civil War - Battle of Coleford.
Winter’s furnace and forge at Parkend destroyed.
FoD produced around 25,000 tons of coal a year.
1657Commonwealth enclosed approximately a third of the FoD.
1667Charles II had reinstated Winter but his concessions were again removed.
1668Act for Reforestation: The Crown enclosed 11,000 acres to protect young trees.
The foresters lost their common rights.
1676Speech House built to house the Forest Court.
1718Hopewell Pit, Parkend opened - one of many.
1735Rioters broke into pounds to release confiscated cattle.
1777All the Freeminers’ documents kept in the Miners’ Chest at Speech House were stolen.
1780Navy Office reported that Forest miners lived more by stealing timber than anything else.
1787121 Coal Pits employed 662 freeminers.
1795Coke blast furnaces introduced in Cinderford. Added impetus to the Industrial Revolution.
1801FoD population was 3,325.
First tramroad constructed - "Mr Teague’s Railway".
1812Tramroads linked pits with ironworks and ports on Severn and Wye.
1815David Mushet discovered a way of producing refined iron direct from blast furnaces without the use of a separate refinery.
1818Mushet built ironworks at Darkhill.
1828Roads built including Parkend to Bream (Tolls abolished 1888).
1831Forest of Dean riots.
1838Dean Forest Mines Act - Rights of freeminers defined and survey ordered.
1842Royal Commision found children from 6 years old working in the iron works.
104 colleries defined.
Mines Act banned women and children under 10 years from working underground.
1847David Mushet died.
His son, Robert, took over perfecting the ‘Bessemer’ process producing fine steel.
1856221 small coal pits were operating.
1868First broad gauge railway ran from Lydney to Wimberry Slade.
Quickly replaced by standard gauge.
1869-74Pits becoming worked out.
There were problems of flooding in deeper pits.
1874Colliery owners announced 25% wage cuts.
Union negotiated 10% wage cut. The miners would not accept and went on strike.
1879First Severn Bridge constructed from Blakeney to Sharpness.
1880Slump continued.
Parkend Coal Company closed, putting 700 men and boys out of work.
1883Miner’s Strike.
1891FoD population was 23,752.
1893Miner’s Strike.
1894Last ironworks, at Cinderford, closed.
1914-18Many Foresters fought the Great War.
1918First Labour MP elected to represent the FoD.
1919Forestry Act ordered the plantation of conifers.
1921Miners’ Strike.
1924Newly created Forestry Commission took over the administration of the FoD.
1926General Strike.
19294,600 men employed in the FoD pits.
19381,350,000 tons of coal produced by the FoD.
1939-45Many Foresters fought the Second World War.
1946Half the male population of the FoD was employed by the coal industry.
1955521,000 tons of coal were produced.
The industry employed 2,600 men.
1965Christmas Eve: Northern United, the last large pit, head was closed.

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