DEAN GREEN TEAM

Wildlife Conservation Group in the

Forest of Dean

Gloucestershire

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14 March 2017

Lightmoor Colliery Colliery Tip

Grid Ref SO64501191

 

This was a new site for us as we had not visited it before. Our task was to clear 15 metre strips from the top of the tip down to the valley as it used to be a good butterfly and wild flower site so we are hoping to open up the area to allow the flowers to return. We also took down a lot of birch in the centre of the tip.

Lightmoor Colliery was one of the showpiece collieries of the Forest of Dean and reputed to be one of the best 'laid out' and operated coalmines of its time. It enjoyed a very long history of production from about 1832 and finally closing in 1940.The spoil heap is probably one of the most impressive left in the Forest. Despite a lot of it being removed to infill the land when Llanwern Steelworks were built in the 1960s its still a fine 'artificial hill'. The colliery became one of the largest in Dean, producing 86,508 tons in 1856 and 800-900 tons/day in 1906. 594 persons were employed underground, with 110 on the surface.

 

Below is an image of a small wasp nest we found in the gorse. Wasps create their familiar papery abodes from wood fibers scraped with their hard mandibles and chewed into a pulp.

 

Social wasp colonies are started from scratch each spring by a queen who was fertilized the previous year and survived the winter by hibernating in a warm place. When she emerges, she builds a small nest and rears a starter brood of worker females. These workers then take over expanding the nest, building multiple six-sided cells into which the queen continually lays eggs. By late summer, a colony can have more than 5,000 individuals, all of whom, including the founding queen, die off at winter. Only newly fertilized queens survive the cold to restart the process in spring.

 

 

 

 

The view across the colliery tip with a shallow pond at the bottom. It is obvious that a lot of local lads play around on their motor bikes up and down the tip sides! There is also evidence of many wild nboar in the area.

 

 

 

 

This is one of the three 15 metre wide glades we cleared. It had previously been swamped by old trees and scrub.

 

 

 

 

The side of the tip has been cleared of the birch and is now open for fresh foliage.