WEST DEAN is an extensive township, formed under the Act 5 and 6 Vic. Cap., is situated in the Western division of the county, hundred of Saint-Briavels, Monmouth union and county court district, diocese of Gloucester and Bristol, archdeaconry of Gloucester, and rural deanery of South Forest.
The soil is for the most part of a stiff clayey nature, and is peculiarly adapted to the growth of oak, of which there are large plantations or enclosures, many thousand acres in extent, made of planted under the authority of the Crown. The subsoil is underlaid with valuable mines of coal and iron ore, together with extensive beds of stone and clay.
The very great antiquity of the Forest Mines, and the peculiar quality of the iron ore obtained therefrom, combined with the remarkable condition upon which the right of working them is based, have all served to render this locality as interesting to the present generation as it was profitable to the primitive operatives of the Middle Ages; its annals occupy a prominent place both in the domestic and commercial history of the kingdom, revealing as they do the dawn of the discovery of the mines in remoter times, when the iron ore was sought by the miners near the surface of the ground, and which mode of search accounts for the strange and weird-like caverns here found in many places, as likewise the steady growth of that repute for producing metal of a “gentle, pliable and soft nature”, and which obtained in those times for Gloucestria or Glovernia hardware a national fame; further still these records tell of the abundant riches accruing from the mining of the Forest to be such, as not only to fix upon the miners the exaction of tithes by the church and customs by the king, but to draw to the enterprise the nobles of the land, who, with successive monarchs, availed themselves of such valuable chances of adding to their resources.
With but few intermissions during the centuries now elapsed since medieval times, have Forest mining operations been continued, and the modern development of the trade has been so great as to have called into existence numerous districts filled with a large industrial population, all of them exhibiting in a marked degree the improvement produced by a long period of prosperous employment.
The coal obtained from the several collieries not only supplies the requirements of the localities around, but is largely transmitted to other parts of the kingdom and the iron ore, besides being extensively used in the furnaces of the district, is also sent in large quantities into the county of Stafford, and also into South Wales, where it is highly valued for its mixing properties.
The clay of the Forest is specially adapted for the making of fire bricks, and the stone is also used to a considerable extent in the making of monuments, troughs, and grindstones, in addition to the ordinary purposes of building.
Within the Forest of Dean are also very important tin, iron and steel works, and chemical distilleries.
The Crown is lord of the manor and principle landowner. The township extends over an area of 10,035 acres, 1,507 which are cultivated; the rateable value is £18.947, and comprises the greater portion of the Forest of Dean.
The township is divided into four ecclesiastical parishes, viz.: St. Paul’s, which comprises the hamlets of Park End, Whitecroft and Futterill, which will be found under the heading of Park End; All Saints,Comprising Yorkley and Viney Hill, which will be found under the heading of Viney Hill: Holy Jesus,comprising the greater part of Lydbrook, which will be found under the heading of Lydbrook; and Christ Church, comprising Berry Hill, Joyford, Hillersland and Lane Ends, which will be found under the heading of Berry Hill.
ELLWOOD, CLEARWELL MESNE AND BREAM’S EAVES are places in the township of West Dean not included in the above ecclesiastical parishes.
Letters for Bream’s Eaves are received from Lydney; letters for Clearwell Mesne and Ellwood from Coleford.
Dobbs John & Son, carpenters & builders
Phipps John, beer retailer
Trotter Isaiah, manufacturing chemist, Oakwood chemical works.
Atkinson George, iron mine proprietor, Old Bow Mine pir
Cullimore Thos. Beer retailer & shoe ma
Doward John, grocer & draper
Easter Hematite Iron Minning Co. Lim. (Sydney J Thomas, manager)
Gething Mary (Mrs.), farmer & haulier, Milkwall
Morse Henry, beer retailer, Ellwall
Morse Richard, tiler & plasterer
Payne Edwin Richardson, quarry proprietor, Lambsquay house
Selby John, builder & mason
Sims William, beer retailer
Taylor William Henry, iron ore proprieter, Sling pit
Ball William, haulier, Upper Ellwood
Davis Thomas, quarry proprietor
Nash William, farmer & haulier
Williams Joseph, stone quarry proprieter, Drybrook house
Yarworth William, farmer