The Severn & Wye and Forest of Dean tramroads are amongst the earliest lines established in Great Britain. Horse operated, they were later converted into railways worked by locomotives and, later still, both also provided passenger services for the benefit of local inhabitants. These only lasted for around fifty years, however, with that on the S&W line, having commenced much earlier, succumbing in 1929, whilst passenger trains on the Forest of Dean Branch to Cinderford covered the period from 1907 to 1958. It is for freight traffic that the Forest lines are chiefly remembered today and we are fortunate that several photographers made it their mission to record these lines and their operations in the last years of their life.
The early loss of many of the passenger trains ensured that the tangle of branch lines in the Forest also attracted numerous railtours, most of which are illustrated and a separate study of these has been made. Also illustrated in detail is the Severn Bridge, the S&WRs attempt to break out from the confines of the Forest, which ended up bankrupting the company but which provided an additional outlet for Forest coal and connected the communities of Lydney and Sharpness for over eighty years, until it was damaged in a tragic and disastrous accident in 1960. It was subsequently demolished in the late 1960s and its demise is still much mourned today. The bridge and its swing span is here illustrated as never before.
As well as the lines and the infrastructure, various of the collieries, docks and works which were served are also pictured. The hugely individualistic nature of the Forest of Dean is well depicted within these pages and many of its hidden nooks and crannies explored. The period covered is from the late 1950s to the mid 1970s, when traffic on the branch to Parkend finally ceased and the Dean Forest Railway took over. Railway enthusiasts and local Forest of Dean folk alike will find much to enjoy within these pages, when life moved at a different pace and the Forest was still a very secret part of the county of Gloucestershire.
Lines featured are:
- THE FOREST OF DEAN BRANCH (Newnham to Cinderford, Northern United and Whimsey)
- THE SEVERN & WYE LINE (Lydney to Lydbrook, including Lydney Docks and Princess Royal)
- THE COLEFORD BRANCH (Coleford Junction to Sling, Coleford and Whitecliff)
- LINES AROUND BLAKENEY (Purton Steam Carriage Road and Forest of Dean Central Railway)
- THE SEVERN BRIDGE RAILWAY (Lydney to Sharpness)