11 – Noxon Park, Red Station

The fences you see in Noxon Park are in place for safety reasons and the public are not allowed to enter the fenced areas. There are steep (downhill), uneven sections of path along with (fenced) steep drops here.

Across the track to the right and now hidden in the brambles and bushes are the few remains of a small cottage which was called Red Station. The meaning of the name has been forgotten but it may well refer to the red colour of the earth in Noxon Park. Miners returning from work in the iron ore mines would often be covered from head to toe in the red mud. The station part of the name may well tell us that this could have been a place or station where the ore was weighed.

Donald Johns, who died in 2014, was born and brought up here. Don was well known locally and for a number of years was Chairman of both the Forest of Dean Freeminers Association and the Commoners Association. His two-man coal mine, Old Park Colliery, was situated in the private woods of Lydney Park Estate to the right of the Bream to Lydney road.

Don was also a ‘sheep badger’ or commoner, running his sheep on the open common land. He said, however, that at a certain time of year sheep had to be kept out of Noxon Park when a certain plant was in flower. If the sheep got in they could become ill with what was known locally as ‘Park Fever’.

A photo of Donald Johns and Gilbert Kear, Freeminers of the Forest of Dean
Gilbert Kear (left) and Donald Johns (right), Freeminers of the Forest of Dean. This photo was taken at Old Park Colliery in Devil’s Chapel and comes from IMS vintage photos where copies can be purchased

The above photo comes from IMS Vintage photos from where copies may be purchased.

This cottage, which never had running water or electricity, was abandoned in 1958. The site has now totally reverted to nature but on the hill in the field beyond it can be seen the remains of another small cottage. This cottage was reputedly built for a to-be-married couple but because the bride-to-be changed her mind it was never fully completed and not lived in. Legend has it that the jilted man was so upset that he burned the cottage down.

On entering the trees you will see immediately that the terrain has been modified by the activities of the old iron ore miners. There is barely a patch of land that has not been scoured or undermined in the search for iron ore. A few hundred metres up the path and to the left are the remains of a quarry with quite a severe drop to its base. Just beyond that, also to the left, can be seen the entrance to a large cavern, with yew trees clinging to the rocks near its mouth. This is the first indication of just how large these mines could be.

A photo of a former mine entrance in Noxon Park
Noxon Park – a former mine entrance.

In the Spring the whole of this area of woodland is notable for its beds of bluebells and wild garlic which form an almost unbroken carpet of blue and white.