19 – Oakwood Mill Deep Level

To your left, in the cutting at the bottom of Mill Hill, you will see the entrance to Oakwood Mill Deep Level iron ore mine. The Deep Level was driven into the hillside with a branch passing beneath your feet when you walked from St James church to New Road.

It was once possible to reach New Road by means of this level or adit. The level was still open in 1929 but nowadays the levels are blocked by roof falls which have flooded the passages beyond the falls.

A photo of Oakwood Mill Deep Level in February 2020
The entrance to Oakwood Mill Deep Level in February 2020.

It was driven in the early 1800’s by metallurgy pioneer David Mushet and it drained water from the earlier surface workings, both draining the mine of water and allowing a much easier extraction of ore. The ground in front of the level is made up of the spoil from these workings and before spoil was deposited culverts were constructed to carry the water away from both the Deep Level, Oakwood Mill and the Oakwood Brook. The total output of iron ore from this level is not known but the “Geological Memoir” suggests that more than 150,000 tons of ore were extracted before it was abandoned in 1884.

A photo of a mural of David and Robert Mushett
David (left) and Robert Mushet in a mural in Coleford by Tom Cousins. The mural in Mushet Walk, Coleford is entitled “Men of Iron and Steel”

As late as the late 1940’s to early 1950’s people of the area used the level as a water supply since water mains had not yet reached some of the more remote houses in the area.