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parkend, forest of dean around 1900

A view from the Parkend Ironworks cinder tips around 1900. Castlemain colliery appears in the top right hand corner

Parkend is located at the foot of the Cannop Valley, in the Royal Forest of Dean,  and has a history dating back to the early 17th century.

During the 19th century it was a busy industrial village with several coal mines, an ironworks, stoneworks, timber-yard and a tinplate works, but by the early 20th century most had succumbed to a loss of markets and the general industrial decline.

In more recent times, the village has found new life within the tourism sector, primarily as a centre for the provision of tourist accommodation.

The village has two public houses, both with guest accommodation, and one with an adjoining hostel; the Fountain Inn and Lodge and the Woodman Inn.

There are also two guesthouses, several holiday let properties, a CIU affiliated club with caravan & camping facilities, and a large camping and caravan site named Whitemead Forest Park; owned and operated by the Civil Service Motoring Association (C.S.M.A.).

The Dean Field Studies Centre, once part of Parkend Ironworks, is owned by Bristol City Council and is used to accommodate schoolchildren from that city.

Another impressive building is the village and parish church, dedicated to St Paul, and situated on the eastern edge of the village in a forest clearing. The shape provides the point of interest, being both octagonal and cruciform, with the arms formed by the sanctuary, north and west transepts and the west tower. It was designed and built in 1822, together with the village school, by Henry Poole; a local priest who raised most of the money through public subscription and his own generosity. Wikipedia


Parkend Ironworks.The first building on this site is believed to have been erected around 1799. A second furnace and new water wheel, 51 feet in diameter, and 6 feet wide, was installed in 1827 with the water mainly coming from a reservoir one and a half miles away. It was built by damming Cannop Brook at Bixlade to fill an old quarry (now Cannop Lower Pond). The furnaces and chimney stack were demolished in 1908. Our second photo shows the surviving structure today, now the Dean Field Studies Centre.


The Parkend Roman Hoard. In 1852 over 900 coins in a grey earthenware jar were dug up by workmen near the site of the present day post office at Parkend. The finders would not indicate the exact location of the site to the lady who purchased the hoard, being of the opinion that anything found on Crown land automatically became Government property.

Around 500 were corroded together in a solid mass and therefore indecipherable. The remaining 405 were catalogued and their dates were found to vary from that of Julia Domna (wife of Severus) 217AD, the only silver coin, to Allectus 293-296AD.

140 were from the reign of Postumus Usurper 260AD-269AD, and 70 from Claudius Gothicus 268AD-270AD.


The King's Ironworks at Parke End

In 1612 King James Ist contracted the Earl of Pembroke to build and run a blast furnace and forge at ‘Parke End’. The furnace's structure is described in “The Booke of Survey of the Forest of Dean Ironwork,” dated 1635, from which it appears that the stone body was about twenty-two feet square, the blast being kept up by a water-wheel around twenty-two feet in diameter, powered by the Cannop brook, working two pairs of bellows measuring eighteen feet by four. The exact site is not known but was approximately in the area below York Lodge and between the end of Hughes Terrace and the lorry park.

The workers employed at the King's ironworks formed the first real recorded settlement at what was later to become the village of Parkend.  Leases in 1636 permitted the building of cabins to house the workmen, and during that time many others took advantage of the felling and charcoaling operations to establish themselves illegally in the woodlands.

The furnace and forge were destroyed by order of Parliament during the Civil War and then rebuilt in 1654 when it went back into production to supply the Royal Navy with shot and wrought iron fittings. The site then seems to have deteriorated and had to have a serious overhaul in 1662.

In later years, because the charcoal-hungry ironworks and forges in the Forest of Dean were responsible for gobbling up most of the timber, and leaving virtually none to be available for ship-building, Forest law was reestablished by Act of Parliament in 1672 and the furnaces and forges were ordered to be closed. They are believed to have ceased production in 1674. In 1671, Henry Somerset, 1st Duke of Beaufort, the Warden of the Forest, had ordered the demolition of all cabins except those necessary for officially sanctioned cording and charcoaling operations for the ironworks, and the 1678 the Quarter Sessions ordered the magistrates of the Forest division to remove all poor people from the waste and settle them in adjoining parishes.

The site was then abandoned.

David Mushet, the famous Coleford based steel processor, wrote in 1826 “About fourteen years ago I first saw the ruins of one of these furnaces, situated below York Lodge, and surrounded by a large heap of slag or scoria that is produced in making pig iron. As the situation of this furnace was remote from roads, and must at one time have been deemed nearly inaccessible, it had all the appearance at the time of my survey of having remained in the same state for nearly two centuries. The quantity of slags I computed at from 8000 to 10,000 tons."

 This large heap of of slag and cinders was soon to be put to good use. In 1810 the Office of Woods licensed Isaac and Peter Kear to erect a stamping mill with 12 stampheads and a 24ft waterwheel on the site of the old ironworks and then in 1814 granted them permission to use the mound of cinders on the land they had leased.

A 19th century stamper and an example of the glass surfaced slag still laying around near the lorry park and nearby Cannop Brook today.

The slag, produced by the 17th century furnace after the extraction of the iron, was crushed into a fine powder to be used in the production of bottle glass. John Morse, who had married Peter Kear's widow, was running the mill till around 1850, when it ceased production.

In 1859 he purchased some land  from the Office of Woods to the west of the stampers cinder pile, and built his home on it. He named it 'Stampers Cottage' and the dwelling is still there today.

The eight cottages in Hughes Terrace, originally named Stampers Row, were built in 1859 by James Hughes, who owned a nearby saw-mill and lived at York Lodge.



RSPB Nagshead

Located on the western edge of the village, RSPB Nagshead is a quiet and tranquil reserve. open all year, facilities include a visitor centre and toilets (open from 10 am to 5 pm at weekends during the summer), large car park, two viewing hides, two way-marked walks, a picnic area and information boards. Entrance and car parking are completely free.

Wrens, buzzards, redstarts, pied flycatchers, and crossbills are frequently seen in the reserve, but fortunate visitors may also spot great spotted woodpeckers, nuthatches, redwings, woodcocks and wood warblers.

In 1942, nest boxes were erected, in the hope that pied flycatchers would control oak leafroller moths, which were defoliating trees. These boxes have been continually monitored since 1948, making it the world's longest running bird breeding programme. Wikipedia

Parkend around 1905


Marsh Sidings, the lower part being opposite the Fountain Inn, around 1935. Castlemain Colliery is top left.


Parkend in 1950 and today



Parkend Railway Station

The railway in Parkend began life in 1810 as a horse-drawn tramroad, owned and operated by the Severn and Wye Railway Company.

By 1874, the line had been converted to run standard gauge steam locomotives and the station was built in 1875 to enable the company to also run passenger services alongside its freight operations. The level crossing gates by the station are reputedly the longest in Britain.

parkend station

A decline in coal production and a reduction in passengers saw the station close to regular passenger services in 1929.

The last goods train left Parkend on 26 March 1976 and much of the track was dismantled.

The line was bought by the Dean Forest Railway, based at Norchard, and Parkend was officially re-opened on Friday 19 May 2006 by HRH the Princess Royal. The station is currently the northern terminus of the Dean Forest Railway.     Wikipedia


The Parkend turnpike in 1888. Crossing the Coleford road, and to the right of the Bream road which was constructed by the Turnpike Trust in the early 1820s, is the narrow-gauge Oakwood tramway built by David Mushet in 1826. In the length that runs parallel with the Bream road, many of the track's foundation stones are still visible today.





One of the Forest's best kept 'secrets' (do not tell the tourists!) is the popular Rising Sun Inn at Moseley Green.

A beautiful dog-friendly pub in a secluded Forest location, it is steeped in the history of the Parkend area, and a focal point for local families during the last two hundred years.

Originally situated in the centre of several coal mines and  smithies,  you would today find it hard to believe that trams and trains ran only yards from the pub's doors.

In its own grounds with extensive gardens and lawns, there is a large children’s play area, and a picturesque fish-filled pond.  Definitely a personal favourite!

Parkend War Memorial. The Memorial Hall was opened at Parkend in memory of the men of the village who served in the Great War. It was previously a warehouse owned by Mr George Jones of Coleford, who generously donated the building in 1919. Opened by Lord Bledisloe on July 23rd 1920, the WW1 plaque of names is to the right hand side of the entrance doors, and that of WW2 to the left.

parkend war memorial

Alfred Richard BURROWS, Private 50443, 14th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Born at Whitecroft, he was the 19 year old son of steam engine fitter, William Edward Burrows and his wife Alice Tamer Dykins, who were married in 1885. Richard enlisted in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment at Lydney. He was killed in action on September 27th 1918, only six weeks before the Armistice, and is remembered on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial at Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France.


Henry HOWELLS, Private 12968, 2nd Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment, was the 38 year old son of  Parkend timber merchant Henry Howells, and his wife Ann Knight, of 4, Parkend Square, who were married in 1881. A mine-worker, Henry jnr was employed in the Yorkshire coal-field in 1901. He was back in the Forest when enlisting in the Glosters in 1914. He was killed in action at Ypres on May 9th 1915 and is remembered on the Ypres Menin Gate memorial.

Leslie James HODGES, Lance Corporal 21146, 2nd Battalion, Coldstream Guards, was the 20 year old son of William Hodges and his wife Fanny Alice Jones, who were married at English Bicknor in 1887 and had a family of four boys. They lived at Western Cottages, the Folly, Parkend, where William was employed as a forestry worker. Leslie joined the Coldstream Guards at Monmouth. He died from his wounds at a military hospital and is buried in St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen.

Tom Raymond MOORE, Lance Corporal 18141,13th (Forest of Dean) Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment, was the 22 year old son of Augustus and Maria Moore, of Parkend. The couple, who were married in 1878, had nine children, all born at Parkend. Augustus was employed as the station-master there and the family lived in the station-master's house.15 year old Tom appears on the 1911 census working as a colliery clerk. He enlisted in the Glosters before February 1915 and is believed to have then been living at Easton Road, Bristol. He was killed in action on October 15th 1918, only 4 weeks before the Armistice. Lance Corporal Tom Raymond Moore is buried in Carling (Karlingen) Communal Cemetery, Germany.

George Long MAYO, Lance Corporal 18140, 13th (Forest of Dean) Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment, was the 25 year old son of Berkeley born carpenter, Joseph Clarke Mayo, and his wife, Mary Hardwick from Newport, Berkeley, who were married at Thornbury in 1876. George gave his residence as Parkend when enlisting with the Glosters in 1915. He was killed in action at Douleux, France on 11th October 1916 and is buried in Contay British Cemetery, Contay.

World War 2

parkend WW2 memorial

Douglas Haig BAILEY, Driver T/171162, Royal Army Service Corps. 28 year old son of Walter and Rosanna Bailey; and husband of  Hilda James, who he married at Parkend in 1938.

A lorry driver in civilian life, he died on August 13th 1945 and is buried at Munster Heath War Cemetery in Germany.


Hubert Raymond GRIFFITHS, Leading Stoker, Royal Navy, was the 27 year old son of collier Hosea Griffiths and his wife Sarah Jane from Parkend, and husband of Lillian Catherine Griffiths. During the war the couple lived at Holton Heath near Wareham where the Navy had a cordite factory. He died on July 13th 1943 and is buried at Wareham in Dorset.

Frederick George HARDWICK, Lance Corporal 2000772, Royal Engineers, was the 24 year old son of Coleford collier Henry Charles Hardwick and his wife Laura Maria Gething.

Fred married 19 year old Winifred Laura Norris, from Viney Hill, in 1940.

He was killed in action on June 30th 1944 and is buried at St. Manvieu War Cemetery in France.


William JACKSON, Sergeant, 150 Squadron Royal Air Force Bomber Command. On its way to the target, Emden, Wellington X3279 from 150 Squadron was shot down by a night-fighter flown by Oblt Ludwig Becker, of 6.NJG2, and crashed at 00.47am on the 7th of June 1942 into the Waddenzee. All the six crewmen were killed.  The wireless operator, 22 year old Sgt Jackson, was found on the sea dike east of Buren village, Ameland, in the Dutch Fresian Islands on the morning of 7th June. He was first buried in the Roman Catholic graveyard of St. Clement's Church, Ameland on 10th June but after the war reinterred in Jonkerbos Cemetery. William was the son of Isaac and Nancy Jackson.


George Edward PREEST, Private 5187409, 2nd Battalion Somerset Light Infantry (Prince Albert's), was the 27 year old son of colliery worker Richard Preest and his wife Elizabeth Milbrough Preece who were married at Parkend Church in 1908, and  living at The Barracks, Parkend in the 1930s. He was killed in Italy on May 12th 1944 and is commemorated on the Cassino Memorial.  The 2nd Somersets, arrived in Italy in March 1944 and served in the Italian Campaign as part of the British Eighth Army in many battles such as that of Monte Cassino, one of the worst battles of the Italian Campaign, where they played an important role alongside the 2nd King's.


Charles William WEBB, Corporal 5114139, 1/7th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, was the 21 year old son of Thomas Webb and Edith Edwards, of Parkend, who were married at Clearwell in 1913. He was killed in action on May 27th 1940 and is buried at Esquelmes War Cemetery.

The British Expeditionary Force was involved in the later stages of the defence of Belgium following the German invasion in May 1940, and suffered many casualties in covering the withdrawal to Dunkirk.
Those buried in Esquelmes War Cemetery died in defending the line of the River Scheldt. The Germans attempted to cross the river near Esquelmes during the morning of 21 May, but were repulsed after heavy fighting. They eventually crossed on 23 May, when the British Expeditionary Force withdrew to the Gort Line.


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