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The Forest of Dean by H. G. Nicholls

The iron used being that from Cinderford


Adverting, in the next place, to the iron-works at Park End, the Reverend H. Poole kindly supplies the following facts, courteously communicated by the proprietors:--

"The year 1799 gives the date of the oldest iron furnace here, situated about half a mile below the original works, and carried on by a Mr. Perkins. They were afterwards sold to Mr. John Protheroe, who disposed of the same to his nephew, Edward Protheroe, Esq., formerly M.P. for Bristol, who had extensive grants of coal in the immediate neighbourhood. In 1824 Mr. Protheroe granted a lease of the furnace and premises, and also sundry iron-mines, to 'the Forest of Dean Iron Company,' then consisting of Messrs. Montague, James, &c., until in 1826 Messrs. William Montague of Gloucester, and John James, Esq., of Lydney, became the sole lessees. These parties, in 1827, erected another furnace, and also an immense waterwheel of 51 feet diameter and 6 feet wide, said to be nearly the largest in the kingdom, and formed extensive and suitable ponds and canals for the supply of water. This water-wheel was but little used, in consequence of the general introduction and superior advantages of steam power, which was obtained by erecting an engine for creating the blast. It was considered insufficient, however, for supplying two furnaces on the blast principle, each of which was 45 feet high, 8 feet diameter at the top, 14 feet diameter at the boshes, and 4 feet 6 inches diameter at the hearth; hence another steam-engine of 80 horse power was erected in 1849, but in consequence of a depression in the iron trade, and other causes, the two furnaces were not then worked together. A few years after the decease of Mr. Montague, in 1847, Mr. James purchased all his interest in the works, and became the sole lessee until the year 1854, when he purchased of Mr. Protheroe the fee of the property, together with all the liabilities of the lease. Since that time the two furnaces have been constantly worked together, under the superintendence of Mr. Greenham, one of the proprietors, the firm still continuing as 'the Forest of Dean Iron Company.'"

"In the year 1851 extensive tinplate works were commenced at Park End, and 24 houses were built for the workmen, by Messrs. James and Greenham, at a considerable outlay. These works when completed were afterwards sold to Messrs. T. and W. Allaway, who enlarged and improved the same, and are now carried on with much spirit and success."

The tinworks at Lydney are also in the hands of the above-named firm, and comprise three forges, mills, and tin-house, producing 1200 boxes of tin plates a week, with the consumption of from 70 to 80 tons of Cinderford iron. The Lydney iron-works belonged in early times to the Talbot family.

At Lydbrook there are the "Upper" and "Lower" works. The latter, or those nearest the Wye, are said to have belonged originally to the Foleys, one of whom was elected a free miner in 1754. Mr. Partridge carried them on for many years in connexion with the furnaces at Bishopswood, but leased them in 1817 to Mr. Allaway, at which time they comprised three forges, rolling and bar mills, and tin-house complete, capable of producing 100 to 150 boxes of tin plates per week. Under the able management of Mr. Allaway's sons, the works now yield 600 boxes, sent off by the Wye, the iron used being that from Cinderford, as best suited for the purpose. The "Upper" works were once farmed for Lord Gage, but they now belong to Messrs. Russell, who make large quantities of wire for the electrical telegraph, as well as iron for smith's use.


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