As Sylvie Was Walking

This story starts in the Forest of Dean with a riot and song and ends with an account of the struggle for the human rights of the visually impaired in Australia. The folk song As Sylvie Was Walking, made famous by Pentangle in 1969, has been traced to Ann Howell who was born in October 1832 at Broadwell Lane End, Forest of Dean, where she learnt it from her uncle. The Pentangle version, which can be viewed on YouTube, is called Once I had a Sweetheart and leaves out the first three verses. The […]

Pity the Poor Buttyman

The Butty System in the Forest of Dean 1921-1938

Recent years have seen the growth of sub-contracting, piece work, self-employment, daywork, zero-hour contracts, minimum wages and the use of agencies in the never-ending attempt by capital to reduce the cost of labour. This is an account of the use of sub-contracting in the mining industry in the Forest of Dean 1922 – 1938. It examines the impacts of the system on workforce cohesion and solidarity as well as the extent to which it succeeded in increasing the rate of exploitation of the […]

God’s Beautiful Sunshine

The 1921 Miners’ Lockout in the Forest of Dean

Front cover with a photo of striking miners and their families enjoying a picnic
In 1921, in response to a severe depression in the coal trade, colliery owners, supported by the government, slashed labour costs. Refusing to accept this cut in wages, a million British miners, including many war veterans, were locked out of their pits. The consequences for the 6,000 Forest of Dean miners, their families and the whole community, was brutal. However, the miners fought a determined battle for an alternative which included public ownership of the mines with decent pay and […]

Conscientious Objector Stories From Around England 2

Kent, Mid-Staffs, Forest of Dean

‘Degrees of Conscience’ (Catharina Clement) The story of three tribunals, Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham in North Kent, and how they treated their conscientious objectors. Rochester, despite its Conservative and ex-military mayor, was very tolerant of the conscientious objectors and granted most of them exemption. Chatham and Gillingham on the other hand had Liberal mayors, but were much harsher towards their conscientious objectors. This talk will discuss why there was this huge difference […]

Opposition to Conscription in Wales and Ireland

'England's difficulty is Ireland's opportunity' Joe Mooney of East Wall History Group, Dublin explains how Irish Nationalists responded to the Great War. His talk will outline the difficulties of the 'Irish question', the movement towards Home Rule and the rise of armed bodies in 1913/1914. How did these conflicting groups react to the outbreak of war and the possibility of conscription - and why did some Nationalist support the war effort while others opposed it? Some saw the Irish rebellion of […]

Performance Space: Story Telling: ‘The Dispossessed’

Bristol Radical History Festival 2018 Poster Light
  As part of her collection of historically-based narratives which provoke questions about society today, Heather Jane will present a story set in her homeland of Gloucestershire. 'The Dispossessed' is a tale weaving poaching, 18th century criminality, and dispossession of people from the land in Berkeley and the Forest of Dean; followed by historical facts and discussion pondering the modern-day fall out of enclosures.

Studio 1: Starting the flame: Agitators, Conchies and Miners in the Forest of Dean

Bristol Radical History Festival 2018 Poster Light
In August 1917 a meeting of Forest of Dean Miners passed motions against the conscription of miners and in favour of an immediate negotiated peace to end the war. This talk will discuss the role agitators and conscientious objectors played in this process and what happened next. Ian Wright recently authored Ring Out the Thousand Wars of Old: The Forest of Dean World War One Conscientious Objectors.

Ring Out the Thousand Wars of Old

The Forest of Dean World War One Conscientious Objectors

Ring Out the Thousand Wars of Old - Front Covers
During World War One, 28 men from the Forest of Dean sought recognition as conscientious objectors rather than be called up to fight. This is the story of these men, the options available to them, the way they responded and what they did after the war. Ring Out the Thousand Wars of Old explores the role that religion, class, culture and place had on these individual decisions. It argues that the actions of the conscientious objectors were an expression of a much wider anti-war sentiment, […]

Studio 2: 800 Years and Counting

The 1217 Charter of the Forests in the Forest of Dean and its Enduring Legacy

The Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire - royal larder or people's larder? The Charter of the Forests, a lesser-known but wider-ranging companion to the Magna Carta, confirmed any "freemen" or commoners could help themselves to many of the resources of forests across England. Within 500 years, those subsisting in the woods were declared illegal squatters as aristocrats and the Crown tried to fence them out and grab all the iron ore, coal, timber and land. Successive waves of tenacious, described […]

Freedoms of the Forest

800 Years and counting: celebrating the Forest Charter 1217

Hopewell Colliery, Speech House Rd, Coleford, Forest of Dean GL16 7EL An afternoon celebrating 800 years (and counting) of the 1217 Forest Charter, and how Foresters have defended those rights ever since. Stalls, Berry Hill Silver Band, theatre, live music, Vorrest poetry, Warren James, HOOF, and much, much more! Book a car ticket here