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The Forest of Dean by H. G. Nicholls

And the other half myners at iron oare


On

the 19th September, 1682, a fifth "Order" forbade "the transport of lime coal to Hereford and Monmouthshire at lower rates than heretofore have been set and agreed upon," and ordained that "whensoever any collyers have fully wrought out a cole pitt through wch the gout water must necessarily run for drayning of the worke, in such case the said collyers shall secure the said pitt, upon payne to forfeite 100 dozen of good fire cole." In the ensuing "Order," dated 1st December, 1685, the jury agreed that, in raising money for any public purpose, "one half of those who served should be cole myners, and the other half myners at iron oare," both classes of operatives having at length become equally numerous, in consequence of the rapid increase of the coal-works. The next Court of the Mine, held on 5th April, 1687, decided that "all cole pitts and dangerous mine pitts which are not in working, or wch thereafter shall not be wrought in for one whole month together, shall be sufficiently secured by a wall of stone, or by railing the same with posts and railes placed above two feet distant from the mouth of such pitt by the proprietor thereof, and likewise all pitts left open for a grout way, upon paine of 10s. to be forfeited for every omission and neglect."

According to the eighth verdict of the miners' jury, declared on the 13th of January, 1692, the former space of 100 yards, within which all colliers were prohibited from coming to work another

pit, was now extended to 300 yards. The next "Order," being that of the 25th of April, 1694, directs that "the price of fire cole to the copper works (Redbrook) shal bee henceforth 8s. per dozen, and smith cole 6s. per dozen." That of the 10th of March, 1701, enacted that "every miner shall keepe a paire of scales at their severall colepitts to weigh theire cole wthall," that none should be sent away unweighed, and that the price of it should not exceed 5s. a ton to the inhabitants of the hundred of St. Briavel's, or less than 6s. a ton to foreigners. The next "Order," that of the 1st of July, 1707, renewed the direction to fill or sufficiently secure any dangerous coal-pits, within some reasonable time, under a penalty of 20s. The "Order" dated 12th November, 1728, directs that the distance of 300 yards between any adjoining works be "augmented to 500 yards in all levels." The "Order" bearing date 2nd March, 1741, particularizes certain coal-works near Lydbrook called "Wyrrall Hill," another called "Dowler's Chambers," and likewise the coal-works called "Speedwell," at Serridge, besides "the Hill Works" near Ruerdean. It also forbade any coal to be sold in the city of Hereford under 13s. the ton, fixing a horse-load at 2.25 cwt., for 6d. a bushel at the pit, one cwt. of fire coal for 4d. a bushel, three bushels of smith's coal for 5d., and lime coal for 1d. a bushel, or 21 cwt. of fire coal for 7s. 6d. "waid and delivered" at Lydney Pill or at Pyrton Pill, or at Gatcombe. The same "Order" further directs that "the yearns belonging to the levels which are between Drybrooke and Cannop's Bridge, and between Seridge and Reuardean Town, shall get coal out of no more than two pitts at one time, belonging to one level, till the said two pitts are worked quite out, and those who keep two pitts in work on one level shall not sinke any other new pitt till the old ones are quite worked out."

The last of the "Orders" of the Miners' Court, dated October 22nd, 1754, provides that "none shall sink any water pit and get coal out of it within the limits or bounds of 1,000 yards of any level, and that the waterwheel ingine at the Oiling Green near Broadmore be taken to be a level to all intents and purposes, as all other levels brought up from the Grassmoore;" meaning probably, that they also were to enjoy the protective distance of 1,000 yards in common with all "levels," otherwise that distance would be no more than twelve yards radius, according to the received custom. "The water-wheel engine," for working the pumps belonging to the work at Oiling Green, is considered to have been the first of the kind, and therefore marks the earliest of the successive steps made within the last 100 years in improving the methods of raising coal in this locality, by showing greater ingenuity in removing the water from the pits, which were now evidently sunk much deeper than formerly.


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