BBC Open Country (Announce)

by RogerrGriffiths @, Swindon, Saturday, January 30, 2016, 09:14 (2953 days ago)

BBC Radio4 Open Country featured The Forest of Dean this morning (30Jan16). Well worth a listen. It's up now.

BBC Open Country - Scowles, mining & quarrying

by Jefff @, West London, Middlesex, Saturday, January 30, 2016, 21:26 (2953 days ago) @ RogerrGriffiths

Hi Roger, thanks for that, as you say very interesting and well-worth a listen. I've not heard this programme before, but I'll be following it in future - good research, engaging guests and an articulate reporter has restored my faith in the modern BBC.

When I visited the FoD just before Christmas I noticed the Tourist Board are having something of a push to promote the area as a destination for film buffs, to coincide with the new Star Wars film release (my son saw it 3 times in first 2 days !, but he is studying at a Video FX company for his career plan).

Hence it comes as no surprises Puzzlewood is mentioned on this programme, but better still we also get some real-world history of iron mining, rare wildlife, etc, all good stuff, and without a mention of those flipping boar !.

"Helen Mark is in the Forest of Dean in search of mysterious geological formations known as 'scowles'.
These semi-natural features in the landscape are thought to be unique to the Forest of Dean but are plentiful in this area. They are crater-like features in the woodland that have been eroded over time by water-action and exploited by miners through the centuries for their bounty: iron-ore, coal, and ochre have all been found in abundance in the Forest of Dean.
Helen descends into the mysterious, mossy world of the scowles and comes face to face with one of it's inhabitants: a large cave spider and looks for the greater and lesser horseshoe bats. These two species thrive in the craters and caverns of the the Forest.
Tales of mining and the blast furnaces that smelted the iron-ore lead Helen across the Forest before she finds herself on a film set.
The visually stunning nature of the scowles have led to television and movie crews visiting the area to film in this mysterious, other-worldly landscape. They have become the backdrop to some memorable moments in the TV series Merlin and Dr Who and most famously in the recent Star Wars film, The Force Awakens that was filmed in a part of the Forest called Puzzlewood."

By the way the website link to the Radio programme seems to have been changed, as the Beeb often seem to do I find, this may work better

Here's part of the Tourist Board's "Star Wars" PR in case you didn't see it,

Thanks again Roger !

BBC Open Country - Scowles, mining & quarrying

by RogerrGriffiths @, Swindon, Saturday, January 30, 2016, 22:10 (2953 days ago) @ Jefff

Hello Jeff,

Happy New Year! Open Country is a long running BBC Radio4 series 6 to 6.30AM. Being retired I can indulge in night time listening.

I'm glad you enjoyed it and it looks like quite a few people have listened to it during today. This BBC facility to listen again up to a month after transmission is useful.

BBC Open Country - Scowles, mining & quarrying

by RogerrGriffiths @, Swindon, Saturday, January 30, 2016, 22:35 (2953 days ago) @ RogerrGriffiths

It was particularly interesting to me as my family was involved in iron mining in the Forest in the first half of the 19th Century. Clearwell, Ellwood and Soudley. The history of iron mining went back to pre Roman times. The industry died away as steel overtook iron. Actually, the Mushett's (mentioned in the programme)of Ellwood were fundamental in improvements in the steel making process. They were of Scottish origin. Cannon were produced at Soudley until it was stopped by King Charles II. Requisites, iron, trees for charcoal and water. It was a Royal Forest and too many trees were being cut down to make charcoal. It may sound odd for cannon production in forests. Yet I have seen drawings of the process in France.

BBC Open Country - Scowles, mining & quarrying

by Jefff @, West London, Middlesex, Saturday, January 30, 2016, 23:29 (2953 days ago) @ RogerrGriffiths

Hi Roger and Happy New Year to you & yours.

I must admit to having more than a passing interest in guns and all things military, which then became my engineering specialism (no I'm no gun-runner or criminal!). I'd have loved to have found iron miners or engineers in my family tree, but most are "humble" coal miners in Lydbrook but I was pleased to discover my dad's G-Grandad and his dad were watchmakers !.
Anyhow, re guns I thought the FoD cannon connection was considered unfounded, insofar as it's actually "Gunn's Mill" rather than "Gun Mills", altho that's at Littledean whereas Soudley is, perhaps, Camp Mill aka the Heritage Museum ?. Either way, please clarify what you're referring to wrt Soudley ?.
Also, where and exactly what have you seen in France, please; I ask as I love that country and have holidayed there many many times, so am always on the lookout for new places to see.
Thanks again for the programme headsup, atb Jeff

History of Gunn's Mill

History of Camp Mill aka Heritage Museum

BBC Open Country - Scowles, mining & quarrying

by RogerrGriffiths @, Swindon, Sunday, January 31, 2016, 09:51 (2952 days ago) @ Jefff

Good Morning Jeff,

Nothing of documentary proof re cannon casting at Soudley, only passing references in Wikipedia articles whose value unknown. The drawing of a cannon barrel bore being drilled out in a French forest clearing 18th Century. Crossbar and rope being twisted by 2 or three men from Google images. I didn't download it for keeping. I wonder what was hard enough to be a drill bit, perhaps you know.

We lived in the Dean Heritage Centre between sometime in the 1840's (previously at Ellwood) until 1870 when a new house was built on Bradley Hill.

1851 Census H.O. 107/1959 P35

Geo Hewlett Iron Founder
James Griffiths Iron miner
Thomas Welch Labourer (brother in law to James)
Geo Baghurst Labourer

Not sure Geo Hewletts house still there. Next 3 are what is now Dean Heritage centre. They sent me a site map from 1838.

BBC Open Country - Scowles, mining & quarrying

by RogerrGriffiths @, Swindon, Sunday, January 31, 2016, 21:27 (2952 days ago) @ RogerrGriffiths

Thinking beyond the scope of this Thread, I was wondering about the social history of Dean and whether there are any books on the subject. There is the excellent Industrial History of Dean by Cyril Hart but that's not interested in people beyond the industrial masters.

Did a Google search and came up with the following Link.

BBC Open Country - Scowles, mining & quarrying

by RogerrGriffiths @, Swindon, Sunday, January 31, 2016, 21:36 (2952 days ago) @ RogerrGriffiths

This Link doesn't seem to work. What I got from Google is

Victoria County History of course.

Be interesting to hear reactions to the article. I meant this to be just a pointer but has appeared as a Link also not working.

Only thing to do is search for Forest of Dean: Social Life | British History Online.

British History Reference website, and other Books too.

by Jefff @, West London, Middlesex, Monday, February 01, 2016, 00:54 (2952 days ago) @ RogerrGriffiths

Hi Roger,
yes the BH "Victoria County History" Reference website is an exceptional "collection" of various references from all sorts of sources, and a regular point of reference for this site, I learnt that from Slowhands who probably has a good FoD library too. However as a straight read it can be clumsy and disjointed, with later additions sometimes appearing out-of-place. I find the best plan is to use the website's own search box to look-up a particular subject, but then also word-search that section of text too it. Perhaps the best index to use for the FoD area is;

The BH site has been digitised from the original books, each volume is hefty, for the whole UK it goes to dozens of volumes, our Borough library has an old set and it takes up a complete bookcase. Unfortunately the website doesn't yet include the text from the newish Volume for my mum's homeland of Longhope (which many including mum don't consider "real" Forest), but luckily she has a paper copy of that one.

These are the various areas of Glos county that the website currently covers.

Our own Black Dwarf Lightmoor website has produced some excellent books on the area, altho then they're mostly industrial history rather than social-economic. Some are out-of-print now but many are available at Glos librairies, or can be bought at the usual second-hand online sellers etc.

Not sure if the links still work, but you may find this old post of mine of interest re FoD books that can be read online.

I expect you already know most of these books, this is quite an old list but still valid, altho I fear some authors such as Latham & Foley perhaps too recent & biographical for what you're seeking ?

Also, perhaps this old post of mine,
Very sadly the excellent Coleford Bookshop is no-more, but this post also includes a link to the Glos Libraries Prism catalogue website, just search "Dean Forest" etc and see what that yields, hopefully you're not too far away ?. That said, I live in West Middlesex, only a few miles from Surrey, and both these Boroughs' library websites have provided some unlikely "FoD serious reference" books for me as well as the more obvious Foley/tourism titles, and public libraries from different counties should be able to transfer books on request. Similarly, searching a well-known internet sales site (not "Nile"! ) will suggest possible titles, some can even be read online.

Hope this helps, Jeff.

British History Reference website, and other Books too.

by RogerrGriffiths @, Swindon, Monday, February 01, 2016, 09:14 (2951 days ago) @ Jefff

Very helpful Jeff, Thank You.


British History Reference website, and other Books too.

by Jefff @, West London, Middlesex, Tuesday, February 02, 2016, 00:45 (2951 days ago) @ RogerrGriffiths

You're most welcome Roger, of course.
You probably know or even own Humphrey Phelps' books, particularly his Old Photograph collections. Well, while searching the net tonight I chanced upon this example of perhaps his most informative "reference/text" book, "The Forest of Dean", Amberley publishing.
My pc's search engine actually found this by picking-up on some of the text within the book, I wasn't searching the author or title or even a book per se, how clever is that ! It's good that the internet sales websites are getting better at letting us part-browse the books on line first, altho to my mind nothing beats actually visiting a proper old-fashioned book shop. I know of one seller with a huge collection of local history etc books which he sells online, from his home near berry Hill, but welcomes personal visitors too.

Hopefully this link will work for you too, and helps illustrate what I was saying about the value of internet browsing/searching. By the way this particular book is a modern reprint, with a different coverpage, of one of Humphrey's books from c1982, and it's highly-recommended reading to anyone with an interest in the Forest.

Probably best to open the links into a new window, then click on the "look inside" icon.

This link may work better if the other one does not.

When I first discovered this site's "look inside" facility, I then methodically searched thro all the books I could find under that option, using search terms such as "Forest dean", "Lydbrook" etc etc, hence knew what books to target at my local libraries etc.

British History Reference website, and other Books too.

by RogerrGriffiths @, Swindon, Tuesday, February 02, 2016, 17:47 (2950 days ago) @ Jefff

Hello Jeff,

Thank you very much for going to so much trouble in providing references. I look forward to reading them.


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