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The Forest of Dean by H. G. Nicholls

Although separated by the river Wye


property known as "the Great Doward Estate" was purchased by the Crown, in 1824, from the Miss Griffins, for 15,000 pounds. Although separated by the river Wye, and situated in Herefordshire, and never before included within the limits of the Forest, it certainly groups with the High Meadow Woods, clothing the same valley; and it moreover forms a definite part of the geological basin of the district.

In March, 1825, the well-known and prosperous Nelson Colliery was commenced by Messrs. Bennett and Meek. A branch line of tramway was also made up to Mr. Mushet's Mine, near the Shute Castle Hill Enclosure, from the Severn and Wye line at Park End.

In each of the seasons of 1824-25 and 1825-26, Mr. Machen states that about 500 acres of the High Meadow property was planted with oak, Scotch fir, and larch, in proportions varying with the nature of the soil and openness of the situation. In the parts where shelter was most requisite, two-thirds of fir and one-third of oak were planted, in others half of each, and in sheltered situations oak alone. A great many of these plants perished in the spring and summer of 1825 from heat and drought, and still more in 1826, which was the driest spring and summer ever remembered. In some high and shallow parts nearly every tree died; a great many also were eaten off and destroyed by the hares and rabbits. There were now 3,000 acres of wood on the High Meadow estate, viz.

2,000 acres of old woods, and 1,000 acres lately planted. In the year last mentioned the Fifth Triennial Report of the Commissioners of Woods, &c., was issued, signed by Charles Arbuthnot, Wm. Dacres Adams, and Henry Dawkins.

By the spring of 1827 Mr. Edward Protheroe effected the opening of collieries at Ivy Moore Head, Park End Main, Park End Royal Pits, and at Birch Well, at most of which pumping and winding engines were put up, a tramway 1,500 yards in length connecting them with the main road of the Severn and Wye Company. The same year saw a reduction of the landed property of the Crown by the sale of its rights in the Fence Woods, Mawkins Hazels, and Hudnalls, comprising a total of 1,273 acres 3 roods 9 poles, for 925 pounds. The Crown's right in Hudnalls, although it contained 1,200 acres, was of little value, as the inhabitants of St. Briavel's had the right of cutting wood on it.

Passing over the next year, the earliest circumstance in order of time is the opening of the important colliery at Crump Meadow, and the construction of 1,200 yards of tramway, uniting it with the main line of the Bullo Pill Company above Cinderford, all which was executed by Mr. Protheroe.

We next find, under the date of March 16th, 1829, Mr. Machen observing--"Although the Scotch firs have succeeded so well as nurses for the oaks, and have brought them forward, making them healthy and thriving on land that without shelter would only have produced them stunted and unthrifty, yet I am inclined on the whole to prefer larch. They are a shelter available for the purpose, although not so complete; but by that means the oaks are not kept too warm and brought too forward, and the larch is more valuable in itself. In some of our cold valleys, however, the larch will not grow, the spring frosts cutting them off." He also remarks--"We are now planting the oaks by the side of the road from 'Jack of the Yat' to Coleford Lane End, those at the White Oak, and opposite the Buckholt, and those leading to Eastbatch, having been planted in 1827 and 1828. The space of road left is about fifty feet. Most of the trees are brought from the Vallets Enclosure, and do not cost more than four pence each to replant them. They are twelve to fifteen feet high, and a man can carry about two of them at a time. We are also planting the Lodge Hill about York Lodge, at the rate of 300 to an acre, leaving them without any fence."

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