The Royal Forest of Dean is famous for its Free Mines, but sadly, like much of the British mining industry, Dean mines are almost extinct.Over 500 years ago a royal charter granted the right for Freeminers to mine within the boundaries of the forest 'without let or hindrance'.
Recorded in 1992, this 'enhanced' compilation, with the aid of commentary and graphics, takes you on a unique underground tour of one of the surviving Dean Free Mines.
Although today it is worked on a part-time basis, the old skills and techniques still survive.
Air picks are used to win the coal which is then shovelled and pushed down the slope to tubs running on rails in the main gate. Wooden props are set near the face to support the roof, which is only 75cm from the floor! The mine regularly floods, washing ochre-rich water into fissures in the coal, staining it brown.
This compilation shows work at the coal face including setting a prop and the haulage system in use. It also features rare footage of the remains of an underground ventilation furnace, in a remote abandoned section of Morse's Level.
The images on this page are taken from the video.