Members of The Narth Gardening Club experienced something very different from flowers and shrubs when they invited a speaker from the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley Tour guides to deliver a talk on Iron and Coal in the Forest of Dean. The enormous, wide-ranging topic was whittled down to cover some history, some VIP’s, and some hints on interpreting industrial archaeology.
Members of the club broadened their vocabulary with new words such as “scowles”, “leat”, “freeminer”, “gale”, “gaveller” to name a few. They were taken through the centuries, covering the iron age, the Romans, the Plantagenets, the Stuarts who set up the Kings Iron Mines to the disgruntlement of the privileged Freeminers. They heard about the Mushets, father and son, who were so instrumental in the iron industry and the development of steel. They heard about the antics of striking coal-miners during the 1926 General Strike.
They saw photos of important monuments such as the early 17th century Guns Mill blast furnace, Darke Hill Iron Mine, Whitecliffe Furnace, New Fancy geomap; commemorative art works from the Sculpture Trail, from Pan Tod, from the site of the Union Colliery, etc.
The session, followed by tea and homemade cakes — welcome refreshments after an in-depth topic.