C is for…
There are many things beginning with C in the Dean Wye. Read about Coleford and the Coal that is mined in the Forest below:
The settlement of Coleford grew up as the name suggests at a ford through which coal and iron ore were carried. In 1349, the village had 8 houses; today’s population however is around 8,400.
Coleford saw some action during the English Civil War. On 20 February 1643, Lord Herbert, the Earl of Worcester’s eldest son, and the King’s Lieutenant-General of South Wales, marched through Coleford heading for Gloucester, at the head of an army of 500 horse and 1,500 foot. At Coleford their progress was impeded by a troop of Parliamentarians under Colonel Berrowe, aided by a disorderly group of country people. A skirmish ensued, during which the market-house was burnt, and Major-General Lawley, who commanded the foot, with two other officers, were shot dead from a window. Colonel Brett was then put in command of the foot, Lord John Somerset continuing at the head of the horse. The Royalists forced a passage through, after capturing Lieutenant-Colonel Winter, together with some other officers and soldiers, and so, putting the Parliamentarians to flight, marched unimpeded for Gloucester.
For hundreds of years, mining in the Forest of Dean Coalfield has been regulated through a system of freemining, in which individuals who qualify are granted leases to mine specified areas, known as gales. The Coal Industry Nationalisation Act 1946 exempted the Forest of Dean because of its unique form of ownership and history, allowing the unique privilege to continue intact.
The last of the big gales closed in 1965 and today only a handful of small collieries are still operating.