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Situated on the eastern bounds of the Forest of Dean the original settlement of Cinderford was a tiny hamlet of houses which appeared around the mid 1700s near what is now the Bridge Inn, a few miles from the King Charles II’s Hunting Lodge ‘Speech House’. Further north, a little way up the hill were two tiny hamlets; St. Whites and Stockwell Green. In 1795 a private canal of just over one mile from Broad Moor was constructed to enable the transportation of coal and supplies to Cinderford for the fledgling industries.
The parish church of St. John was consecrated in 1844 to provide a meeting place for the newly forming village in the valley. With the development of coal mines in the area the population grew quickly and a the village grew into a sizeable town. The network of new roads centred Cinderford Town Centre into a new area that we now know as ‘The Triangle’.
Soon railway links were formed via the Severn and Wye Railway Company and the Great Western Railway. This was probably the towns most prosperous period as Forest of Dean mining flourished as an industry, providing fuel for the local area and further afield. The growing railway network created an easy means for the town to ‘export’ coal throughout the county, plus, with the formation of nearby ironworks and associated industries, it was given a guaranteed customer base right on it’s own doorstep. The following years saw the town grow further westwards towards Steam Mills and business was good. With a much larger population the number of churches, meeting halls and public houses grew, and with the addition of the Palace Cinema, a traditional pre-war picture house, the population was well catered for.
However in the 1960′s, with the demand for coal being severely reduced, as factories started using cleaner oil and gas, the area went into depression. With Lord Beeching rail reforms, the railway links were cut effectively isolating the area once more. Gradually road links were improved and the town became busy once more. The former line of the railway was redeveloped into the Forest Vale Industrial Estate, running along the valley below the town, making it an ideal centre for large and midsize businesses to relocate as inner city costs grew in nearby Gloucester.
Visitors to the woodlands that form the Forest of Dean have helped the town’s economy over the years and large retailers have built new stores to satisfy the local demand for shopping. The valley area to the west of the town has been landscaped with lakes and a footpath to form Linear Park and links have been made with many local tourist attractions. With new initiatives, investment and the interest shown by business, Cinderford is once again starting to prosper.
If you have more interesting facts regarding the history of Cinderford, please feel free to send them in to be included on this page.