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The Forest of Dean by H. G. Nicholls

And Land Revenues of the Crown


The

same reporters speak of "the existing plantations being in a very good state, having been judiciously and well planted, fully stocked, well managed, and sufficiently protected. They are properly drained and amply thinned; so that there is upon the ground, in a state to proceed to maturity, as good a crop as can be found to exist in any part of England, taking extent and quality of soil into consideration. The plantations reflect great credit upon all parties concerned in their management, the system of which we should strongly advise to be continued. To remove the young trees with the view of converting the land into arable cultivation would involve a loss of 280,500 pounds, besides that of the increasing net annual profit, which official returns prove to be as follows:--

pounds. _s._ _d._ From 1828 to 1531 17 4 1832, or average of 5 years ,, 1833 to 2475 16 2 1838 ,, ,, 1839 to 3566 17 1 1843 ,, ,, 1843 to 5482 11 3 1848 ,,

Early in this year a select Committee of the House of Commons was appointed to inquire into the expenditure and management of the Woods, Forests, and Land Revenues of the Crown, Viscount Duncan being in the chair. Mr. Machen was examined by the

committee with regard to the Forest of Dean, and amongst other particulars stated that "the fact of the expenditure on account of this Forest having increased within the last six years was explained by the circumstance that 3,000 pounds a year had been laid out on the new plantations, and that the balance in favour of the Crown had been still further reduced by the recent fall in the price of bark and also of timber, owing probably to peculiar difficulties attending its removal." He observed that large immediate profits could not be obtained from the oak plantations, which would, however, increase in value at the rate of about 15,000 pounds a year; and moreover that a considerable revenue from the sale of timber-props for the mine-works, &c., might be expected. Mr. Machen also reported an improvement in the order and conduct of the inhabitants of the Forest generally, the fruit, it may reasonably be assumed, of the many years of pious labour which the clergy and Christian teachers of the neighbourhood had bestowed on the people. The Act of 1841, under which the mines of the Forest were awarded, had, he said, been found most useful. Before the arrangements under this Act were effected, much quarrelling and litigation were continually taking place. The royalty paid by the various mines to the Crown amounted to 4,000 pounds a year, and was steadily increasing; eight years ago it was only 700 pounds.

The evidence of Mr. Langham, the Assistant Deputy Surveyor, relates to the mode in which pit-timber and cordwood for the charcoal burner were supplied, as well as the method pursued in planting, being that of about 1,300 young oaks to the acre, and the same of larch, four feet apart. Mr. Nicholson, a tenant of the Park End Colliery, forcibly urged the construction of branch lines of railway, connecting the different works in the Forest with the leading lines, to the certain benefit of the coal-master, the consumer, and the Crown, the existing tramways being inadequate to their purpose.


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