Foresters’ Forest Blue & Green Plaques unveiled

Foresters’ Forest Blue & Green Plaques unveiled

 

Unveiling ceremonies were held last week to celebrate the Foresters’ Forest Blue & Green Plaques, displayed throughout the Forest of Dean.

At Cinderford Baptist Church a small group met to celebrate the green plaque for Timothy Mountjoy (1824-1896). The event was attended by members of the church and Cinderford Town Council.  A prayer was said, and a commemoration speech, provided by Dave Kent, Town Clerk for West Dean parish Council who championed this plaque nomination, was read aloud by Chris Hughes. The speech mentioned:

“Timothy Mountjoy was one of the pioneering union workers who tried hard, with eloquence, compassion and humanity, with some success and failure, to remedy the poverty, hardship and squalor of the Victorian Forest. ”

Two plaques, a blue plaque for Dame Muriel Powell (1914-1978) ‘A British nurse ahead of her time’ and a green plaque for Dr ML Bangara (1881-1927)  ‘Well-loved community doctor’, were then revealed on Cinderford Clock Tower by Cinderford Town Councillors Graham Morgan and Sally Reader.

Speaking about Dame Muriel Powell, the only woman to be recognised with a plaque, Cllr Reader said:

“I wanted to ensure that a woman was championed for a plaque. Dame Muriel was so ahead of her time; her writing and approach to nursing has been adopted as a gold standard. I admire her as a nurse and historical figure – a woman at the forefront of her field at a time when that was unusual.”

David Richard Organ (1876-1954) ‘Miner who fought for rights’, has a plaque displayed at Dean Forest Railway, the former Norchard Colliery site.  Relatives of David attended the plaque unveiling, along with Dean Forest Railway General Manager Duncan Rowe, plaque maker Ned Heywood, and Sue Middleton of Foresters’ Forest.

A dedication speech was given by David R organ’s grandson, Dave Organ,  who mentioned:

“David was a man of great conviction who had a special passion for fighting for the rights of the Miners to a decent living wage and safe working conditions. He fought long and hard to try to secure these rights and was a very popular leader of the Forest of Dean Miners.”

Finally, a green plaque remembering Warren James (1792-1841) ‘Freeminer and champion of Forest customs’ was revealed on The Fountain Inn & Lodge, Parkend. Michell & Alan Powell, proprietors of the inn, met with Nigel Costley (local historian and champion for the Warren James plaque), Cllr Paul Hiett and Sue Middleton, of Foresters’ Forest to unveil the plaque and commemorate Warren’s life.

Nigel Costley comments:

“Warren James was a champion for free miners and the rights and customs of Foresters. The story of Warren James, the community resistance to enclosures and the defence of free mining rights has helped shape the spirit of the local community. It captures the spirit of independence and determination held dear by people who live in the Forest.”

The plaques and the people they commemorate represent significant and wide-ranging aspects of the Forest’s history.

Here are details of the other historic Forest heroes being commemorated, along with their plaque locations:

Blue Plaques:

  • Dennis Potter (1935 – 1994) – ‘Acclaimed as one of the greatest playwrights in British TV history’, plaque located at Joyford Hill.
  • James Horlick (1844-1921) and William Horlick (1846-1936) – ‘Inventors of baby food and malted drink’, plaque displayed on Horlick House, West End, Ruardean.
  • FW Harvey (1888-1957) – ‘Innovative poet and broadcaster’, plaque to be unveiled at Yorkley Community Centre 29th May.
  • David & Robert Mushet (1847-1891) ‘The men of iron and steel’, plaque to be installed at Whitecliff Ironworks this summer.

Green Plaques:

  • Sir Francis Brain (1855-1921) – ‘Pioneer of electricity in coal mining’, plaque displayed on standing stone marking former site of Trafalgar Colliery.

 

A total of 396 people voted during summer 2020 to decide which 10 historic Forest heroes should be remembered in this way.

 

The plaques have been produced with the support of National Lottery Heritage funding to officially recognise 10 notable historic individuals who died over 20 years ago, that lived or worked in the Forest and who made an important contribution to the Forest’s natural, built or cultural heritage. They also had to have achieved their ‘fame’ within the Forest of Dean’s ‘Hundred of St Briavels’ area because this is where the National Lottery Heritage funds can be spent.

 

A Blue Plaque is a permanent sign installed in a public place to commemorate a link between that Forest location and a nationally famous person or event. A Green Plaque is similar but commemorates a link between that location and a person well known within the Forest of Dean.

 

For more details about the Blue & Green Plaque Scheme and to find a map locating each plaque, see Forestersforest.uk

 

ENDS

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