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The Forest of Dean by H. G. Nicholls

Designated The Severn and Wye Railway Company


On the 15th of September in the ensuing year, 1809, the first meeting of the above-named commissioners was held at Newnham, when 2,000 acres in various parts of the Forest were selected for planting, and such directions given that the 240 acres of White Mead Park were actually planted this season, just in time to afford Mr. Fordyce the satisfaction of living to know that the good work of renewing the Forest with oak, in accordance with his recommendation made twenty years before, was in fact begun, for at this date his useful life was brought to a close.

Referring to the list of licences granted by the Crown this year, 1809, it appears that the first effort was now made to prepare the slag and cinders from the iron furnaces for the use of the Bristol bottle-glass manufacture, by reducing them to powder in a stamping mill, one of which was erected at Park End by Messrs. Kear, under a licence dated 23rd of September. To this year also is to be referred the introduction of tramways by two companies, designated "The Severn and Wye Railway Company," and "The Bullo Pill Company." The road belonging to the former of them traverses the western valley of the Forest from Lydney to Lydbrook, a distance of fourteen miles, and the latter the eastern, but both communicating with the Severn, although at points six miles apart. The licence for the line ascending from Bullo Pill describes it as designed to extend up to the Churchway engine, seven miles off. It was constructed under a private Act obtained by Sir James Jelf and his partners.

In the course of the next year, _i.e._ 1810, the Enclosure Commissioners authorized the construction of the following five plantations:--

A. R. P. Barn Hill, 353 2 3 near Coleford. containing Serridge 387 3 24 ,, Lydbrook. ,, Beechen 308 2 36 ,, Serridge. Hurst ,, Haywood ,, 407 1 34 ,, Abbenhall. Holly Hill 41 0 38 ,, Cinderford. ,, ---- -- -- 1498 3 15

The planting of them was intrusted to Mr. Driver, upon his own plan, which was to dig holes four feet apart every way, or 2,722 in an acre, and to plant an acorn in every hole but the tenth, in it substituting an oak-tree of five years old. The holes for the acorns were dug fifteen inches square and nine inches deep; but those for the young trees were made eighteen inches square and twelve inches deep. The acorns cost 8s. per 1,000, and the trees 70s. per 1,000. One tree out of every 100 was a five years old Spanish chesnut. So that planting the enclosures in this way cost about 3 pounds 15s. per acre, and the seedlings about 4 pounds 5s., which Mr. Driver was to mend over, and to keep the plants good for three years. The fences were to consist of a bank five feet high, with a row of French furze at the top and bottom, or where impracticable a dry wall instead. The most flourishing timber in the Forest at this period appears to have been that growing on Church Hill, averaging 73 trees to the acre, each tree containing 58 feet of timber. The Severn and Wye Tramway, commenced last year, was extended in this, with the addition of a line from Monmouth up to Howler's Slade.

In 1811 only one plantation, viz. "Crab-tree Hill," comprising 372 acres 2 roods 34 poles, was formed, and planted similarly to the last; but the Enclosure Commissioners set out a considerable extent of land to be taken in and planted. On the 28th of November steam engines were licensed to be erected at Birches Well, Ivy Moorhead, "the Independent," Upper Bilson, two at "the Old Engine," and two at "No Fold." In the next year also two steam engines were licensed to be put up at Churchway Colliery, and a third at "Strip-and-at-it" Colliery. The following enclosures were made in 1812, viz.--


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