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Background History

Lightmoor Press was founded in 1994 by Neil Parkhouse and Ian Pope, initially to publish the ‘Archive’,
the Journal for British Transport & Industrial History. Neil’s background in selling and collecting picture postcards and old photographs produced much of the illustrative content of the early issues, whilst Ian was a practicing cartographer with an interest in publishing. Both had an abiding love of the Forest of Dean and its history.

Ian, born in Cinderford, has written several books on the history of the Forest of Dean’s railway system and he is currently a board member of the Dean Forest Railway and a Vice-President of the Forest of Dean Local History Society. He is a railway modeller in 7mm scale and was for ten years editor of the Gauge O Guild’s house magazine, the ‘Gauge ‘O’ Guild Gazette’ and has also edited the History Society’s journal ‘The New Regard’.

Neil, born in Devon but raised in Worcestershire and Buckinghamshire, has lived longer in Gloucestershire than anywhere else. He traded in old postcards and photographs for over thirty years, and has collected them for over forty years, during which time he has amassed a wealth of images, as well a wide range of contacts with similar interests. He has also now built up a significant collection of railway colour slides, in particular of the lines around Gloucestershire.

Neil and Ian came together through research on the Forest’s railways and industries. Whilst copying many of the old postcards which passed through Neil’s hands, they realised that much more could be achieved with the images than simply copying them and selling them, and that there was a gap in the market for a quality industrial and transport history journal. Thus Archive was born, with a new imprint being established to publish it called Lightmoor Press. Soon the move into books was being considered and a couple of Forest of Dean titles were published. These were followed by the first railway titles, ‘Main Line to Industry’ and ‘The Knotty’.

In the meantime, in 1998 Neil had begun a separate imprint, Black Dwarf Publications, to publish A History of the Port of Penzance. There followed a number of maritime, canal and Forest of Dean local history titles of particular interest to him and the range grew rapidly to the extent that, in 2002, the two imprints were joined together under the Black Dwarf Lightmoor banner in order to streamline the running of both businesses.

Over the now approaching thirty years that Black Dwarf Lightmoor has been in operation, the business has grown into a wide ranging publishing imprint, with important sections on railway history, maritime and canal history, industrial history and Forest of Dean local history. Our publishing base has become much wider and more diverse but still without straying too far away from our original concept and without compromising our well-known standards of quality and price. Ian and Neil were joined in the business by our wives Clare and Heather but sadly we were to lose Clare in 2014.

Finally, for anyone wondering where the unusual names come from which make up the title of our business, Black Dwarf Lightmoor:

LIGHTMOOR Colliery was one of the larger deep mines in the Forest of Dean and part of the Henry Crawshay empire. It ceased production in 1940 but there are substantial remains to be seen of the buildings, although they should be viewed from without as the site is private property in current business use.

BLACK DWARF was an ex-Clyde puffer, which was bought by William Jones of Lydney in the 1890s and traded out of Lydney docks for the next fifty years. She was most aptly named after the Sir Walter Scott novel and is still remembered with great affection by older Lydney folk.