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Whitecroft lies astride the B4234 (New Road) from Lydney to Parkend and the old railway line, now resurrected as the Dean Forest Railway.
It lies in the chain of villages with Yorkley and Pillowell, with which if forms an almost continuous development between Viney Hill and Bream.
It was once known locally as Dabtown, "Going to Dabtown" meant going to Whitecroft years ago as people walked (dabbed or dapped) to Whitecroft for employment and shopping or to catch the train.1 Whitecroft has always been the major employment area.
"The slag heaps from nearby defunct collieries -- the Park Gutter and the Flour Mill pits of the Princess Royal Company; the Pillowell Level; Random Shot.....are reminders of the days when the trade of the jovial Foresters was getting coal.2"
The only reminders of this former mining glory are the Princess Royal Pit baths (recently subject of a campaign to stop Regional Development Authority demolishing them) and the heavily wooded spoil heap opposite the baths on the road to Bream, or the rusting remains of gales and drifts in the woods between Pillowell and Parkend.
At one time the village boasted, moving from the railway towards Bream, a Co-op, the Miners Arms, 3 shops and a hairdressers. Of these only the Miners Arms remains, one of the shops only closing in the last few years. Alas the fish and chip shop is temporarily closed.
This is an old photograph of part Whitecroft taken in the early 20th century. It is scanned from a photograph from a newspaper. Top right can be seen the Kidnalls woods and top left Pillowell and parts of Yorkley. In the right hand mid ground is a mill that is powered by the stream entering bottom left, this mill stopped working when taken over by the current owners in about 1915. The shops described earlier are just up from the mill on the same side of the road and the light building facing front-on, beyond the shops and the tree is the Miners Arms pub. In the background, right hand side to the left of the mill, can be seen the chimney and buildings belonging to the pin factory. The modern fish and chip shop is located on ground behind the 3 boys in the bottom right hand corner.
There is still a fair amount of industry in Whitecroft and it is
the major employment area for Pillowell, Yorkley and Whitecroft. The
businesses are arranged around the junctions of Pillowell Road, which
extends over the B4234 until becomes Whitecroft Road, with the B4234, where the
Severn and Wye Railway Station used to be.
To the south, Lydney side, of the junction and on the eastern side B4234 is located Vencel Resil Ltd which produces insulation products (makes excellent packing for Ebay stuff). On the opposite side of the road to Vencel, is what is known as the pin factory. Founded in 1910 by the Jarretts, in 1964 it became part of Scoville, was labelled Schaeffer when we moved here in 1992 and is now owned by the German company Prym as Prym Whitecroft UK Ltd. They make hundreds of different things and if you have a packet of Whitecroft labeled paperclips, they came from here. There is a little more detail on this web site Prym.
Still on the Lydney side of the road but at the junction of Pillowell Road east and the B4234, is located the old store which once housed Synapse. The Shop is very 1930's in style and suffering at the hands of the local vandals. The old shop has been empty for sometime.
Behind Synapse building are a second-hand car dealership and a vehicle repair workshop (BRM).
On the northern side of this junction, towards Parkend are situated the remaining industries. On the eastern side of the road are Forest of Dean Tyres Ltd and a fabrication firm. On the western side is the large warehouse JBH Associates limited, known to all as the card factory. The last commercial premises on this little stretch is the Whitecroft gym and fitness centre.
The last building on the road out of Whitecroft is the telephone exchange, now with added broadband!
To the east of the railway line, on the Pillowell road, is a Post Office and corner store. There were once a number of pubs on this road but none remain.
Whitecroft's methodist chapel is situated some distance from the centre of Whitecroft on the border of Pillowell/Whitecroft in Wesley Road. It sits on the ridge looking over Pillowell towards the Kidnalls. The strong Methodist roots of the forest are emphasised; when you consider that this chapel consists of three buildings.; The first was built in 1824, the second 1874 and the final building in 1906.
It was announced in April 2004, that after 180 years of serving the community Whitecroft chapel would close from September 12 2004. Falling numbers and the poor state of the buildings, it needed a six figure sum to keep it safe, forced the closure. One link with the past history of the chapel is that the Sunday school teacher, Mrs Mary Wintle, had taught at the chapel for 68 years. The old chapel is has planning for conversion to private accommodation.
There are two pubs in Whitecroft. The Miners Arms is located on the western junction of the B4234 with the Pillowell Road where it goes on to Bream. The Miners Arms has excellent beers, about 4 on the handle plus some super ciders. This pub has two nice outside areas, one of which is a sheltered walled garden and the other boasting a Boules piste! The website for this pub is Miners Arms. The pub does some very good food. The pub is open all day.
There is much going on at the pub now so I would recommend the website for all info.
I will have to update that photo as the front has changed considerably in since I took it.
The Royal Oak is up the hill from the Miners and has fantastic views over the valley towards Pillowell. Nice draught beers again and nice area outside. It also has functions and bands. In fact searching google for "Royal Oak Whitecroft" brought back loads of future gigs. The Royal Oak advertises B&B, the number is 01594 563659.
The village has a thriving football club which has it's headquarters on the recreation ground to the east of the railway line on the Parkend side of the junction.
No description of Whitecroft could be complete without a mention of the Dean Forest Railway. Once a busy little station on the Severn and Wye Railway which served the many quarries and pits north of Lydney. It came into the joint ownership of Great Western and Midland railway companies in 1894. BR still used the line in the 1970's but the preservation society was formed in 1971. The railway have begun the renovation the station at Whitecroft but it is not yet functional, though it is on the list of "things to do". The railway has been the source of some irritation in Whitecroft with rumours as to the future use, ranging from a freight depot to aggregates yard. Whilst everyone is against these, and the increase in road traffic, support or otherwise for the railway is divided, not necessarily equally. The railway have a web page showing the "station" as is at Whitecroft .
Recently a village committee has formed to lobby for, amongst other things, improved pathways and safe crossing points, especially on the busy B4234. With the aid of the Parish Council the County Highways have been to survey the site and some progress has been made.
Footnotes - click on the number to return to the main text.
1. George Lawrence,
"Kindling the Flame" 150 years of Methodism in the Forest of Dean
1824-1974 pub. 1974 by The Forest of Dean Newspapers Ltd. Chap 7. Whitecroft
Family Links -- Past and Present.