Selsley Hill August 2nd 2013 and May 21st 1839 Walking from the Ram to Selsley Hill, Stroud’s Lord John Russell’s 1839 Electoral Message in my mind – Lofty admonishment of the poor: You ‘know not the general laws by which profit and wages are regulated.” Then Henry Cart read more
We’ll start in Stroud. The Great Western Railway Company decided to make an example of some Union men, as a consequence of the Strike. We should remember this act of victimisation each time we visit the railway station, and also remember the fact that Stroud railway workers refused to return to work at the end of the nine day strike, even when ordered to do so by their union. The Great Western Railway’s response was to say that the only people to have suffered victimisation were their shareholders.
In Gloucester, at the Docks, there were fights between strikers and police when attempts were made to prevent boats moving up and down the river and canal; there was a police baton charge when people tried to stop the swing bridge opening. The motto in Gloucester was “ All out together, all in together”; here follows Ralph Anstis’ description of the events at the bridge in Gloucester (much more of Ralph later).
Three to five hundred pickets were involved after crews of three vessels agreed not to move some goods. In consequence, volunteer labour was utilised, with police presence. After “scuffles” between police and pickets, the two barges and a tug set sail. This prompted the owners to want “to send a tug and an empty lighter along the canal to Sharpness with scab labour to pick up a cargo. Ralph writes: “Striking dockers tried to stop the tug from sailing by preventing the bridgeman from opening the swing bridge. Police were rushed to the scene. Hissing and booing, the crowd refused to give way and the police made a baton charge to force the pickets from the bridge. Eventually the tug and lighter got through. Fourteen men were arrested and thirteen of them were later sent to prison for fourteen days with hard labour.”
We shall now look at the Forest of Dean – the weather was against us this weekend, but we do intend to walk the colliery trails at some point, using the below for context. In addition, the Dean Heritage Centre has three leaflets available: The Speculation Trail, New Fancy and Cannop Ponds. You could use these and this blog to re-create those far-off days of the spring, summer and autumn of 1926. The Dean is quite well served by ‘bus services; there is also the railway to Lydney and bike hire available. The campsite recommended on an earlier posting on this blog impressed us when we visited, if you fancy staying a while.
The miners were “locked out” for another seven months after the TUC called off the nine day General Strike, and that, of course, had a dire effect upon lives in the Forest. Seven thousand men were unable to support themselves and/or their families; they needed assistance not just for the nine days of the General Strike in May but right up to the month of November. The Co-op saved many families from starvation when some Poor Law Guardians were refusing food and outdoor relief for men who had been, let us remember, locked out; they had not gone on strike. They had been locked out by their employers. Think of that when you visit the Forest of Dean.
If you want to know more about the General Strike and the Forest of Dean, then buy, beg or borrow a copy of Ralph Anstis’ “Blood on Coal”. The following information is taken from that book but I can only touch the surface – do try and read it, if you can. Having said that, let’s look at the main collieries in the Dean in 1926, with grateful thanks to Ralph.
He provides a map and a list at the front of his book – these are sites worth visiting to look at and write about; all contributions gratefully received. So, let’s start with these bald facts, transcribed from the map and Ralph’s evocative and detailed descriptions:
A: Norchard (Betwixt the Lydney-Bream and Lydney-Parkend roads, on the old railway line, just north-west and about 3 miles outside of Lydney.) Libby Bullock told me that the main entrance was at Pillowell., but there is no sign of it now. In its place is a small industrial estate, selling commercial cleaning equipment.
B: Princess Royal (Betwixt the Bream-Parkend and Lydney-Parkend roads, north-east of Bream). Clive Bullock said that if you were travelling to Bream from Whitescroft, you pass the Royal Oak as you climb into Bream and you pass the colliery site at the bottom of the hill. There is a housing estate called Princess Royal.
C: Flour Mill (North-west of Princess Royal, on the other side of the Lydney-Bream road, about one third of the way between Bream and Parkend). The following are Ralph Anstis’ words: “ Started in the 1840s, it was not until the 1860s that large-scale development began at Flour Mill Colliery, Bream. Coal was sent down a rope-worked tramway to the screens at Park Gutter (Princess Royal) for loading. The two pits were connected underground in 1916 to improve working and ventilation. Flour Mill closed in 1928 and Princess Royal in 1962. Some buildings survive, one in use by a firm repairing steam locomotives. The route of the rope-worked tramway can also be traced.” Clive said: “Leaving Parkend, go up to the old Pike House, turn left, and the site is a quarter of a mile up there on the left hand side.” By the way, the locomotive that steamed on the 150th anniversary of the opening of the London Underground was restored here.
D: Parkend (West of Parkend on the left hand side of the road that leads towards Cockshoot Wood)
E: New Fancy (Follow the previous road north towards a junction with Staple Edge Wood to your west, the colliery was north of and on the other side of the junction.) Ralph wrote these words: “New Fancy Colliery, on the hill above Parkend, employed many miners from that village following the closure of the Parkend Royal Colliery. The pipes at the latter remained in operation for ventilating “the Fancy”, as it was referred to by the men. The colliery closed in 1944, despite the presence of large reserves, as it became uneconomic to work. Today, the waste heap is a noted viewpoint and the imposing stone wall of the loading bank can still be found in the woods.” Clive told me that there is a working free mine near a quarry on the road from Parkend to Lydbrook.
F: Cannop (On the road that leads from Parkend to Lydbrook, just north of the junction with the Coleford-Speech House road, on the left hand side). Ralph’s book has the following caption beneath a photograph: “ A view of the Coleford to Cinderford road in the 1930s. Cannop Colliery can be seen just down the road, with the Hopewell Colliery site in view behind. Still working today, it has been turned into the Hopwell Colliery Mining Museum and visitors can take trips underground. In the centre distance, Speech House Colliery can also be seen; by this date it was use purely for pumping water out of Lightmoor.”
G: Arthur and Edward (Continue north on the Parkend-Lydbrook road, then follow the road west at the next junction; it will be on your right, within the triangle of roads.) Ralph Anstis wrote this description back in 1999: “Arthur & Edward Colliery or Waterloo as the men preferred to call it, lay at the head of the Lydbrook Valley. It was connected to the railway loading screens by a system of tram tubs, on a half mile-long incline, connected by an endless rope and known colloquially as “The Creeper”. The pit closed at Christmas, 1959.”
H: Trafalgar (closed) (East of G in Serridge Inclosure and roughly equidistant between G and Cinderford, just north of the old railway line). Clive told me to look for Brierley, halfway between Lydbrook and Cinderford; locate a road opposite a petrol station that goes down into a wood; Trafalgar was down there.
I: Crump Meadow (West of Cinderford, between two old railway lines, north of the road that leads to Speech House, in Serridge Inclosure.) Ralph’s book states that at the end of the last century, “after bulldozing and landscaping, all that can be seen are some concrete foundations and, perhaps, the remains of a loading wharf.” Ralph also states: “Sunk in 1824, Crump Meadow was another old colliery which did not long survive the General Strike; it closed in 1929. As with Foxes Bridge, workable reserves of coal were becoming exhausted and Crawshays were concentrating their energies on their new pit, Northern United, which opened in 1933; this pit provided employment for many who were out of work after the closure of Crump Meadow and Foxes Bridge.” (This is where Clive’s grandfather first worked.) Clive advised that you find an industrial estate in Cinderford, then Winner’s Garage (a Skoda garage), where a track leads up into the woods; there are signs of old workings about a quarter of a mile along.
J: Foxes Bridge (Just south of I) Ralph Anstis: “Yet another Crawshay pit, Foxes Bridge sat atop the escarpment looking over Bilson and Cinderford, and began producing coal in the early 1870s. In the 19th century, Foxes Bridge, Trafalgar, Lightmoor and Crump Meadow collieries, which lay within a couple of miles of one another, produced two thirds of the coal raised in Dean. Foxes Bridge closed in August 1930.”
K: Lightmoor (South of J, south of the Speech House road, west of Ruspidge) Ralph Anstis, wrote the following in 1999: “Lightmoor Colliery lay in the heart of the Forest, close to Speech House and the Dilke hospital, alongside the mineral loop line of the Severn & Wye Railway. The colliery also had its own private branch line and locomotives, linking it with Bilson Yard, near Cinderford. It closed in 1940 after a hundred year life and is today the most intact Dean colliery site remaining, including one of the engine houses.” The caption to a 1910 photograph in the book states that, “The waste heaps in the centre foreground eventually became the tip which remains as a landmark to this day. The nearer engine house still stands, albeit minus its roof and is an extreme state of neglect.” The caption adds that its Cornish pumping engine is now at the Dean Heritage Centre, “restored to working order.” Clive added that you look for a left before you get to the Dilke Hospital and a sign saying “Forest Products”; you then go down a track past ponds and the remains of the pit head.
L: Eastern United (South of Ruspidge, south-east of K, on left hand side of the road that leads from Soudley to Ruspidge). Ralph wrote: “Eastern United was also owned by Henry Crawshay &Co. Sinking began in 1909. It was one of the easier pits to work, with wide, well-lit roadways, and it returned handsome profits for the company. Following nationalisation, the mine closed suddenly in 1959, much to the shock of the workforce, at a time when it was thought the location of a new seam promised it a bright future.” Clive said that when it closed the miners said there was more coal left down below that they had taken out. There is warehousing there now and an industrial estate. This is where Clive’s granddad finished. Clive said the colliers were dumbfounded. It was such a big pit.
M: Speech House Colliery closed before the Strike; a caption to a photograph in Ralph’s book states: “Speech House Colliery, circa 1910, after it had closed for coal production but was still in use for pumping Lightmoor. The site is now a car park and a picnic area.” Look for the Beechenhurst Picnic Site, going towards Coleford.
Libby Bullock reminisced while we drank our tea and said: “When we were children, we used to go and visit the pit ponies. There were about eight. We’d go the miners’ huts and have cheese on toast cooked by the miners on an open fire.”
The Spring and Summer of 1825? Nothing here about the weather, I’m afraid, Instead, anonymous letters portending Murder, mayhem and machine-breaking, With arson and mill destruction Thrown into the pot for good measure; Silent shuttles, strikes, mute looms, Bosses’ me read more
theory that has achieved archaeological notoriety
in recent years for explorations of primarily prehistoric landscapes. Its use in archaeology has been one of
the most provoking theoretical developments in the discipline in recent years
and has been a constant source of debate between archaeologists (Bruck, 2005:
Fleming 2006). The following discussion
will not provide an overview of the wide-ranging philosophical field of
phenomenology. It will focus upon on
archaeological phenomenology and whether it can increase our understanding of
the landscape context of Neolithic and Bronze Age burial sites.
Factor” by Traffic, 1973.
history of describing and classifying prehistoric burial sites but many are often uncomfortable with defining how people might have experienced them. Early studies tended to focus on the monument rather than its’ situation (Chapman & Geary, 2000, 318; Watson, 2001). The way in which landscapes and sites were, and still are generally understood is commonly dictated by conventional established fieldwork methodologies such as survey or excavation. To this end, landscapes are still frequently depicted as static and disembodied, two-dimensional diagrammatic
representations (Tilley, 2004). The landscape archaeologist would argue that such “typical” information gives no sense of first-hand familiarity with the site. It does not convey information relevant to how prehistoric burial sites were physically experienced by the people that constructed and interacted with them (Cummings et al, 2002: Parker Pearson, 1999). In an attempt to address this problem, landscape phenomenologists study place, and analyse “sites and locations as static positions where human actions are carried out” (Peterson, 200, 394; Woodward, 2000, 123).
We first need to identify which particular elements of a burial landscape can be shown to be important factors influencing their location in the past and which cannot. However as a point of interest, two of Tilley’s proposed sacred mountains have later religious connections which could have originated in the prehistoric period. Carn Ingli or “hill of angels”, has been linked with the Irish saint Brynach, while Mynydd Troed in the Black Mountains was known in the 5th century as Garth Matrun, the “hillspur of the Great Mother” (Thomas, 1994, 57 & 145-6).
The visual interactions postulated by Tilley (1994 & 2004) may not have been the overriding factor in barrow placement. The dead do not bury themselves (Parker-Pearson, 1999), and the selection of burial sites is a carefully considered undertaking and argument only arises in interpretation of the barrow placement (Barrett, 2004). Field suggests that it is not the burial that is sacred but the landscape itself is sacred, and the important relationship may have been one that placed the barrows in harmony with the landscape (Field, 1998, 321). He compared British Prehistoric burial sites in Sussex with the preferred location for Chinese burials and concluded that they were broadly similar in nature. The majority of sites were located on “well drained, south facing slopes…with water at the base…and mountains in the rear to protect them from…evil influences”
(Field, 1998, 322).
while relying heavily on a sense of vision, also embraces a belief that there are key points of common connection. In Wiltshire, Tilley contrasts a “deep interior world of the coombes and the exterior world of the ridge tops” where the coombes were dangerous places associated with “spirits, mythical forces and the underworld” (2004, 196). He argues that the Neolithic cairns he studied in Wales were connections between Neolithic inhabitants and their Mesolithic ancestors, and were placed in locations with “emotional attachment…and significant places linked by paths of movement” (Tilley, 1994, 202). This raises interesting questions about whether prehistoric barrows were deliberately constructed over spaces imbued with significance, or whether it was pure coincidence (Benson & Whittle, 2007, 31). There is certainly a case for the argument of continuity, as many of the Black Mountain cairns have been found to be sited on early Mesolithic flint scatters, suggesting an ancestral connection via a collective social memory (Nash, 2003, 5 & 2007, pers. comm.; Tilley, 1994, 117). Cummings et al interpreted the Black Mountain cairns as “places of transformation” sited to mark significant landscapes and places where the dead would undergo a metamorphosis from flesh to bone (Cummings et al, 2003, 67). This is another plausible phenomenological theory that cannot be discounted but like so many phenomenological arguments, cannot be proved either.
would argue that a present-day experience within a burial landscape will not be considerably different from that experienced in the Neolithic or Bronze Age (Tilley, 1994). In his discussion of Wiltshire Bronze-Age barrows, Tilley suggests that the present day topography of coombes and ridges was virtually the same in the Bronze Age as it is now. Natural features such as sudden dips, marshland or steep inclines are perceived to have had a similar effect on prehistoric people’s experience of landscape as they have on his own (Tilley, 2004). He neglects to mention that form and character of the landscape may have altered dramatically over many years. The surface appearance of the monuments will also be different as several millennia of soil drift and erosion, stone robbing and plant invasion has transformed their original appearance (Savoy, 1973, 1). It may also look and feel quite different at different times of the year or different times of day. Therefore, it is recommended that sites should be visited under different conditions over a lengthy period of time to have any hope of recreating the experiences of people in the past. (Cummings et al, 2003: Chapman and Geary 2000).
interpretation “is carried out in and for the present”, and a prehistoric experience of a burial landscape might have been very different and probably emotional experience to that encountered today (Tarlow, 2000; Tilley, 2004, 225). While some aspects of “being there” are partially or directly reconstructable such as “…visibility, sound, and touch”, we can never wholly reconstruct the way in which our prehistoric ancestors viewed or experienced a burial landscape (Parker Pearson, 1999, 139). We know that prehistoric people visited, used and reused burial sites, but we don’t know that they understood and saw burial sites in the same way we do today. We often forget that any visits to burial sites were most certainly encountered with friends, family, strangers, animals and objects, and all to the sound of stories, songs and conversation (Nash, pers. comm.; Watson, 2001). Tilley himself acknowledges this and “makes no claims to an understanding…or significance of the prehistoric burial landscape (Tilley, 2004, 74). All that can be suggested by phenomenological explorations of burial landscapes are interpretive possibilities based on our own contemporary experience and observations.
deeper significance to the placement of prehistoric burials than is currently
S. (2000) “Emotion in Archaeology”. In Current Anthropology, Vol. 41, No. 5, pp. 713-746 (Chicago: Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research).