Bream Heritage Walk

34 – Whitecoft Station

If you wish to shorten the walk here you can catch a No 23 bus back to Bream and avoid the hill. To do this, walk to the left, over the crossing and around the corner to the right you will see a bus stop. Wait on the opposite side of the road to the bus stop sign and hold out your arm as the bus approaches. Check the bus timetable on-line.

Behind the station platform, across the road, you will see some brick buildings. These were part of a factory that stretched back towards the Lydney Road. It was the site of Whitecroft–Scovill Ltd, known locally as the Pin Factory.

A photo showing Machines in Whitecroft Pin Factory (Whitecroft Essentials) in March 20016
Machines in Whitecroft Pin Factory (Whitecroft Essentials) in March 2016. The machines in the factory were entirely mechanical.

The company, now called Whitecroft Essentials, has recently moved to new premises with modern machinery at Mitcheldean.

The Pin Factory has a long history. Michael and Stanley Jarrett began to make pins here in 1910 with 6 girls as employees. For 50 years it was known as ‘The Pin Co.’ because safety pins were its main product. It was always been an important employer in the village. 350 people worked in its three divisions to make safety pins and paper clips, hair grips and plastic fasteners for the clothing trade, and aerosol valves.

A photo of staff at Whitecroft Pin Factory
Staff at Whitecroft Pin Factory – courtesy of Kelly Imm

At one time local people from near and far would turn up at Whitecroft with prams and carts or any form of transport to carry their “outwork”. Heaps of the small items made at the Pin Factory were collected together with packaging material to be taken home to be assembled onto cards ready for sale. When returned the finished goods were checked and exchanged for meagre wages or “pin-money”.

A photo showing a plaque to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Whitecroft-Scovill Limited
75th Anniversary of Whitecroft-Scovill Limited

The Pin Factory was not the only company to have used the site. Possibly by 1866, but certainly by 1876, this was the site of the Patent Fuel Works. It was begun by Simeon Holmes, the grandson of an important colliery owner in South Wales and The Dean. He was a mining and mechanical engineer who invented an automated machine to make fuel briquettes of pulverised coal mixed with pitch. It could make up to 50,000 briquettes a day. A modern company, making briquettes for wood burners now uses part of the Pin Factory site – a nice example of historical continuity.The tallest building on the site remains from the Fuel Works – it was later used by the Pin Factory and called the Box Room.

By 1882, the Fuel Works had closed and the site was taken over by the Electric Light Works. The Foresters Newspaper of July 1882 celebrated its opening. ‘On Monday evening, as an indication of progress made by these newly opened works, the electric light was tried and interested a number of inhabitants who had not before witnessed the effect of turning night into day!’ For nearly 30 years the company provided for public and private lighting by electricity.

A photo of a Steam Train at Whitecroft
Steam train approaching Whitecroft

Whitecroft Station itself originally opened for passengers on 23 September 1875, and closed on 8 July 1929. However, special excursion trains were run from Whitecroft from time to time. The station was re-opened to passengers by the Dean Forest Railway on 25 May 2012 after a construction period of around 18 months.