Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Forest Vale Ironworks

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in the Forest of Dean, Glos.

1856 A disused forge on Bilson green was acquired by James Russell, whose family had wireworks at Lydbrook. In 1864 it produced wire rods and cable iron chiefly from the Cinderford furnaces. After Russell's death in 1871 the business passed to his son Albert Jones Russell. In 1880 they employed 100 men making wire, some of it from charcoal iron. Works demolished in 1892.[1]

1871 Deaths: 'Feb. 18, suddenly, at Forest Vale Iron Works, Cinderford, James Russell, Esq., aged 61 years'[2]

1877 'Harriet Perkins, a girl, of Cinderford Woodside, charged with stealing 4d. worth of charcoal, the property of Mr. Albert Jones Russell, the proprietor of the Forest Vale Iron Works. Fined ls, and ordered to pay the damage and costs.[3]

1884 'At the Forest Vale Iron Works the men have had to suspend work on several occasions during the day in consequence of the intense heat.'[4]

Cyril Hart wrote the authoritative account of the history of the industries of the Forest of Dean [5]. The following information is drawn from this source:-

The ironworks, also known as Cinderford Wireworks, was located immediately north of Cinderford Ironworks, and south of Bilson Colliery and Bilson Gas Works.By 1880 the works employed 100, and used a mixture of pig iron from Dean, Middlesnrough, Cumberland, Bristol(?) and Wales. In 1882 a substantial order for wire came from the USA. The works closed c.1895, and was demolished c.1900. Cyril Hart quoted from a letter dated 12 May 1864 from James Russell Jr. to his brother Edward, who ran the Lydbrook wireworks:-

'When I took these works I thought I could turn the wheels to some good, but from the construction of them I have failed to do any good. I am now but partly at work until I can lay down another engine, ...... At present I am making wire rods for making telegraph and other wire etc, and cable iron chiefly from Cinderford pig iron: from half to three parts Cinderford and the other portion from other parts to mix withit. The Forest iron is too redshort [brittle] of itself for Merchant Iron; it may do of itself for Tin Plates.'

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] British History Online - Forest of Dean: Industry
  2. Gloucester Journal - Saturday 25 February 1871
  3. Gloucester Journal - Saturday 9 June 1877
  4. South Wales Daily News - Monday 18 August 1884
  5. 'The Industrial History of Dean' by Cyril Hart: David & Charles, 1971