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The Forest of Dean by H. G. Nicholls

And the one at Westbury Brook 24 gallons


The

iron-works at Sowdley are all that remain to be noticed. Here, as early as 1565, iron wire is said to have been made, being drawn by strength of hand. In 1661 Mr. Paysted states that the factory passed from Roynon Jones, Esq., of Hay Hill, into the hands of a party named Parnell and Co., who carried on the works until the year 1784, from which date to 1804 Dobbs and Taylor had them. From 1824 on to 1828 they were held by Browning, Heaven, and Tryer; but in the latter year Todd, Jeffries, and Spirrin undertook the business, converting a part of the premises into paint and brass works, which lasted for about four years. Two blast furnaces were built on the spot in 1837 by Edward Protheroe, Esq., who worked them for four years. In 1857 they were purchased by Messrs. Gibbon, and are now in blast.

Eight blast furnaces were at work in the Forest in the year 1856, and produced upwards of 24,132 tons of iron of the best quality.

It only remains to state that twenty iron-mines were awarded by the Mining Commissioners in 1841, and these are since increased to upwards of fifty, several of them comprising very extensive workings, and are furnished with very powerful pumping engines; that at Shakemantle raises 198.25 gallons per stroke, and the one at Westbury Brook 24 gallons, from a depth of 186 yards.

The annual yield of iron mine from the four principal pits is:--

justify;"> Buckshaft 14,574 Tons. Old Sling Pit 13,263 ,, Westbury Brook 11,725 ,, Easter Iron Mine 10,782 ,,

The total yield from all the iron-mines in the Forest for 1856 was 109,268 tons.

CHAPTER XV.

_The Forest Coal Works_--The earliest allusion to them--The original method of mining for coal--Grants to the Earl of Pembroke in 1610, &c.--First attempt to char coal for the furnace--Prices for which coal was to be sold, as fixed by the "Orders" of the Court of Mine Law--Contents of the existing documents belonging to that Court described--State of the coal-works at the end of the last century--Gradual improvements in the mode of working for coal--Mr. Protheroe's collieries--The superior character of the most recent coal-works--Amount raised in 1856 from the ten largest collieries.

There is a difficulty in determining which is to be considered the earliest allusion to the working of coal in the Forest, since charcoal as well as sea or pit coal was thus indifferently designated: not that the latter was carried by sea, but only that it agreed in character with the coal usually so conveyed. The first notice seems, however, to be that supplied by the records of the Justice Seat held at Gloucester in 1282, where it is stated that sea coal was claimed by six of the ten bailiffs of the Forest of Dean.

The appellation of "Sea Coal Mine" as distinguished from "the Oare Mine," mentioned in the 29th section of "The Laws and Customs of the Miners in the Forest of Dean," compiled about the year 1300, likewise proves that sea-coal was known by name, and that a description of fuel closely resembling it was then dug in this neighbourhood, to an extent entitling it to be noticed "as free in all points" with the long celebrated iron ore; that is, constituting the collier a free miner.

The original methods of getting coal in the locality probably conformed to the modes then used for obtaining the iron mine, the veins of both minerals showing themselves on the surface much in the same manner. So that it is probable the old coal-workings, like those for iron, descended only to a moderate depth, and for the same reason were frequently carried on by driving levels, for which the position of several of the coal-seams was highly favourable.


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