The Severn and Wye Railway
The Severn & Wye Railway and Canal Company was formed primarily to transport coal and iron ore from the centre of the Forest of Dean to outlets such as Lydney. Starting life as a horse-drawn tramway, it was converted to a railway in the middle of the 19th Century. Passenger services were introduced fairly late in the railway's history, but were never overly successful and regular passenger services north of Lydney Town were discontinued in 1929.
The Severn Bridge Junction Railway was an ambitious scheme to link the Severn and Wye Railway with the Midland Railway’s branch to Sharpness docks from the Bristol to Gloucester line by means of a bridge over the River Severn south of Gloucester. Authorised in 1872, it was perhaps too ambitious; construction costs increased, and in order to complete the line, the S&W and SBJR railways merged, with the SBJR section opening in October 1879. It didn’t help that traffic from the forest had declined in the 1870s, reducing revenue for the companies.
However, the traffic situation continued to persist, and the opening of the Great Western Railway's Severn Tunnel in 1886 resulted in further traffic loss as freight betwen South Wales and the south of England had a more direct route. In 1894, the railways were sold as a joint concern between the GWR and the MR, a status that would remain until the British railway network was nationalised in 1948 (the London Midland and Scottish Railway taking over the MR's holdings at the time of the grouping in 1923).
The railways began to decline after the Second World War, mainly as a result of declining industry in the area. The Severn and Wye network closures worked their way southwards, and by the end of 1967, only Lydney to Parkend section remained open. The Severn Bridge network's fate was sealed in October 1960, when two barges collided with the Severn Bridge, severing the line. It was not considered economic to repair the bridge (and perhaps it was now more of a navigation hazard than it was when constructed) and thus the section from Sharpness to Lydney Junction Junction
Today, most of the line has been removed apart from the Lydney to Parkend section which has been re-opened by the Dean Forest Railway. A lot of the remaining trackbed of the S&W has been converted to cycleways, but as of early 2016, proposals to extend the DFR to Speech House Road -and possibly beyond to Cinderford - have been drawn up. Plans are also in place to re-open the Sharpness-Berkeley Road branch as a heritage railway, although due to the loss of the Severn Bridge and development in the Lydney area since closure, it is extremely unlikely that these two railways will ever join up.
Principle Collieries served by the Severn & Wye
Speech House Hill
Arthur & Edward
Speech House Hill
Arthur & Edward
Abbreviations used : S&W - Severn & Wye, SBR - Severn Bridge Railway, GWR - Great Western Railway, MR - Midland Railway, DFR - Dean Forest Railway.
This a custom-generated Google Map (one of several on this site) of the extent of the Severn & Wye railway. The green line is the current extent of the Dean Forest Railway,the orange line represents a possible (and as of January 2016, looking more likely) northwards extension towards Speech House Rd and the cyan lines show closed sections which are likely to remain that way. Blue location markers represent stations, magenta represent collieries and other major suppliers of freight and green represent tunnel entrances and other sites of interest.
I'm not claiming the additions I've made are 100% accurate, but I'm hoping that based on the map data, the aerial images, and the pictures I've seen, the lines and markers illustrated are reasonably close to their actual positions in reality. It should also be noted that the lines drawn do not necessarily mean that any public right of way exists along them (although a lot of them are now cycleways).
I have also tried to link the location markers to some of the publications referenced by this site in order to show where locations are (or at least approximately were located).
PPC1 : Past and Present Companion, The Dean Forest Railway and ex-Severn & Wye Railway Lines Volume 1
PPC2 : Past and Present Companion, The Dean Forest Railway and ex-Severn & Wye Railway Lines Volume 2
SW1 : Severn & Wye Railway Volume 1
Mierystock Bridge, Forest of Dean Gloucestershire