Nags Head

In August 1864 the Blakeney & Forest of Dean Coal Co. Ltd. was formed to work the Nags Head, Morses Level and Cockshoot Level Collieries.  The authorised capital was £6,000 in 48 £125 shares which were divided between the seven subscribers to the company.  These were John Knowles, Andrew Knowles and Robert Knowles, all of Pendlebury, Lancashire, who each had eight shares; Henry Bristow of Brixton, a geological surveyor, and Ewing Pye de Colquham of London who held six shares each; Edward Hull of Manchester held three whilst Simeon Holmes of Blakeney was the largest shareholder with nine shares.  The registered office of the company was at Howbeech, suggesting that most work was probably being done through Morses Level.  This gale was confirmed in the possesion of George Morse, a Free Miner, under the 1841 Coal Awards.  He had commenced work on the gale prior to that date but after the 9th April 1832.  The Nags Head gale was granted in February 1846 to a Free Miner called John Beddis from Yorkley to gain coal from the Trenchard seam and all unalloted seams above it.  Cockshoot Level was granted on 30th August 1842 to John Morse and Henry James both of Yorkley for a level in the Howbeech Valley.  The company was given authorisation to raise an extra £2,000 in April 1866 but in November 1869 it was wound up voluntarily.  Cockshoot Level was forfeited to the Crown in August 1873 and Morses Level was probably forfeited at about the same time.  Simeon Holmes however retained an interest in the Nags Head gale.
In November 1877 Mr. Simeon Holmes, a coal proprietor, and Mr. Smith, a coal factor, submitted a plan to the board of the Severn & Wye Railway with their proposals for developing the Nags Head Colliery.  These showed that the colliery could easily be served by the Forest of Dean Central Railway but it was suggested that if the Severn & Wye offered a rate of 10d. per ton, instead of the normal 1/-, then they would send the whole of their output onto the S&W at a point between the New Mills and Middle Forge.  The estimated reserves of coal in the Nags Head and the adjoining Kidnall's Colliery were 6,000,000 tons and Holmes further stated that if the rate were reduced to 8d. he would guarantee to send 10,000 tons over the railway annually.  The Severn & Wye agreed to the reduction and in December it was stated that Holmes was to put in the necessary signalling and a 500 yards long siding.
In March 1878 Holmes was ready to put traffic onto the railway but it is likely that the siding was incomplete as agreement for the conveyance of coal by the Severn & Wye was not reached until March 1879.  A plan of 1879 shows the siding curving round off the main line and crossing the River Lyd to a loading bank upon which terminated a tramway from the colliery.
Following the death of Simeon Holmes in 1884 the Nags Head Colliery was worked by his grandsons, Simeon Oaks Holmes and Peter Holmes, trading as Holmes Bros., and working the 'Pillowell and Nags Head Steam Coal Collieries'.
By 1891 it would appear that the trustees of Simeon Holmes' estate had mortgaged the gale to a Mr. John Knowles (possibly the same John Knowles that Simoen Holmes was connected with back in 186?) and for a period he declined to pay the dead rent to the Crown.  Under the terms of gale grants this meant that the gale was liable for forfeiture to the Crown and the Gaveller took appropriate steps with forfeiture due on the 10th February 1892.  A Major H. E. Collins then came forward and stated that he had been negotiating to purchase the Nags Head gale for some time and was preparing to work it with a heading driven from the Pillowell Level.  Collins also held the Yorkley and Unity gales and was also a partner in the Dean Forest Navigation Coal & Fuel Company.  His purchase of the gale evidently went through, as in July 1898 tenders were invited for sinking an air shaft for the Coal & Fuel Company, which, since 1896 had been in the hands of the Metropolitan Bank of Birmingham as mortgagees of Major Collins.  A plan of this date shows that the siding had by then hade a loop added immediately before the loading bank.
The gale was eventually surrendered to the Crown in 1903 together with the other gales once worked by the Coal & Fuel Co. and held by the bank.
The siding, which had probably been disused by at least 1896, was now to serve as the access to the newly re-opened Norchard Colliery.
The Nags Head gale was re-granted on 21 March 1904 as Nagshead No. 2 to Joshua Hawkins of Edge End.  By 18 September 1911 it was vested in Sydney Elsom of Yorkley; John Joynes of Lydbrook; George Stephens of Christchurch; Martin Perkins of Cinderford; George Barnard, Bilson; Green Morse of Bream and Joshua Hawkins.  It is likely that they had in fact formed the committee of Free Miners to whom the grant was made in 1904.