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Our latest Built Heritage conservation works

Our Built Heritage project has continued with a programme of small-scale conservation works in recent months, improving a range of special heritage sites around our Forest. 

There are so many intriguing remains of our industrial past that you can find in the Forest that it was quite a challenge to decide which particular sites would be funded.  Some of those selected are unique, e.g. Soudley Packhorse Bridge, whilst others are representative of many sites with similar heritage significance such as tramways and mine entrances. 

Here is a summary of the latest conservation works completed in recent months:

Soudley Packhorse Bridge

Soudley Packhorse Bridge is positioned close to the Dean Heritage Centre and crosses the Cinderford Brook on the Bradley Hill Trail which was, in the past, used to carry materials without using wheeled transport. The 'road' was a beaten earth path, about two metres wide and the bridge is made of stone with cobbles covered with earth.

An earlier phase of conservation works had protected the left bank of the bridge (looking downstream) using gabions, but the right muddy bank was in danger of being eroded during times of high flow and flooding.  Consequently the conservation works was to protect the right wall of the bridge by creating a stone wall on the right bank and to re-point some of the masonry work.

Bridge works ‘before, during and after’:

  

Here is a 3-D model of Soudley Packhorse Bridge, kindly supplied by Forestry England:

 
Oakwood Tramway and Mill Hill Drift Mine

Both Oakwood Tramway and Mill Hill Drift mine entrance are on the route of the Bream Heritage Walk. Please see the website bhwalk.uk for more detailed explanations of the history of these sites.

Mill Hill Drift Mine works

The conservation works taking place here are to conserve the stonework archway at the mine entrance and to improve drainage away from the mine tunnel. This is a complex site due to the proximity of electricity cables, water mains, gas pipes, the road and a public footpath.

There are a number of phases for this work:

  • Removal of vegetation to clear the mine entrance, but flooding present in Feb 2021 and silt remaining in June 2021 
  • Large tree stump reduced to facilitate conservation of stonework archway entrance to mine
  • The next phase of works will be to improve the drainage of the site.
  • The final stage will be to install a grille with gated access to the tunnel

Mill Hill Drift Mine entrance – before and after works started:

   

Oakwood Tramway

There are many tramways in the Forest, often with remaining tram stones hidden in the pathway.  In this instance, we focused on conserving the wall alongside the tramway, because it was in danger of collapsing due to the pressure of large trees growing behind it.  The original straight wall has now been re-constructed to incorporate gentle curves to accommodate the growing roots, creating a beautiful wall to be admired by walkers on the Bream Heritage Trail.

Again, our photos depict ‘before' and stunning 'after’ the works:

 

There have been plenty of organisations involved in completing our Built Heritage conservation works and we express thanks to:

  • Jake Etherton,  J Etherton Building Conservation Ltd
  • Martin Beale, Beale Site Management Limited
  • John Topp, O’Brien and Price
  • Shaun Hancox, Derek W Hancox Ltd
  • Eric Palmer, Link Ecology Ltd
  • Forestry England, Deputy Gaveller, Beat Foresters, Civil Engineer
  • Forest of Dean Local History Society Conservation Officer
  • Environment Agency
  • Ruspidge and Soudley Parish Council
  • Highways England
  • Western Power Distribution

And of course, special thanks to our funders: National Lottery Heritage Fund Landscape Partnership Programme.

 
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If you go down to the woods today...

You might be surprised what you find!
From creating habitats for our wildlife or improving our waterways, to recording oral histories or finding old photos, there’s always something going on to get involved in!