Coal has been worked in this vicinity since at least 1282 under the area known as Norchard Wood, which was outside Crown land.  Ownership of this land had passed in the 1700s to the Bathurst family as part of Lydney Park Estate.
A level existed on this site in 1810 when it formed part of the ironworks concern leased by the Pidcocks.  In that year they were trying to dispose of their interests and the colliery was described as consisting of:
....One Six Feet and Two Three Feet Veins of Coal, and extends over about 500 acres, and at present worked by one level and two Pits, but any more may be opened, and Works to the River Severn where the Coals sell for 12s to 14s per Ton the present price for getting the coal and delivering it to the River Severn through a private canal belonging to the works about 5s 6d per Ton.  These works and Collieries are held under a lease from the Rt. Hon. Charles Bathurst, about 67 years of which are unexpired, at a yearly rental of £250 free from the Poor Rates and Tythes'
Although the Pidcocks' interest in the ironworks was assigned back to Bathurst in 1813, it would appear that they retained an interest in the colliery as in 1814 John Pidcock was applying to the Severn & Wye to make a turnout 'from one road to the other' opposite his level at Norchard.  It is possible that John Pidcock and others made a fresh start at the level in 1842, but likely that the main coal working was done through the Norchard Pit to the north-west of the level, coal probably being loaded onto the railway after 1873 on the siding at New Mills.
When in 1879 Kidnall's Siding was laid it passed over the top of Norchard Level and it is doubtful if any work was being done through the level at this time.  Certainly the 1881 Ordnance Survey marks it as 'disused'.
In 1890 the Park Iron Mines and Collieries Ltd. was set up to work Norchard and in 1891 adjoining works were assigned to the company which were to later form the eastern workings of Norchard.  This company also worked the Tufts Iron Level near Tufts Junction.

29 January 1892  Old Norchard Colliery for sale whole of engines, boilers, colliery plant, etc. in consequence of closing. Sale on 19 February.

12 February 1892  Norchard Auction on 19th: 3 egg-ended, 1 cornish boiler, 1 drum ene boiler.  Horizontal hauling engine 81/2 x 20" stroke; vertical ditto 6" cylinder 12" strokeÖ
N.B. There is a railway siding to the works.

In 1896 the concern was taken over by the Park Iron Ore and Coal Company Limited, the directors of which included Joseph Hale of the Lydney and Crump Meadow Collieries Ltd. and the Phipps brothers who were brewers in Northampton.  By 1900 it would appear that the company was being run by Richard Thomas.  It is possible that when he had taken over the lease of the ironworks properties in 1871 the colliery was included and that he had sub-let it.  It was in 1900 that the company applied to the Severn & Wye to be allowed to make a second entrance into their workings under the railway and thus probable that work was restarted through the level at this time.  Use was now made of Kidnall's Siding to load the coal won and by 1903 a set of screens had been built over the siding, which then split into three roads before joining up again to form a headshunt.
Empty wagons rolled down the siding from the main line and up into the headshunt and returned by gravity through the screens to await collection.  In 1904/5 a new road was built between Lydney and Whitecroft and a level crossing installed across the headshunt.  Access to the siding was by means of a single connection trailing from the 'up' direction.  This effectively meant that it could only be serviced by Lydney-bound trains.  In practice empties from Lydney were first taken to Tufts where the locomotive from the north-bound train ran round them and took them back to the colliery.  It returned to Tufts with loaded wagons which were left there for collection by an 'up' train.
The single line section between Lydney Town and Tufts Junction was, of course, occupied throughout the operation, thus often causing delays.  This was obviated to some extent in 1906, when a loop siding was added alongside the main line, allowing the colliery to be serviced from each direction.  A new siding was laid into the colliery at the same time, coming off the new loop at the southern end and running alongside the River Lyd before connecting with the original siding.  A set of screens was built over the new line, empty wagons running in on the original northern-most siding down into the headshunt which now ended before the level crossing.  From here they ran through the screens, over the loaded wagon weighbridge and off down the new siding to await collection.  The new arrangements provided accommodation for 50 wagons.
From about 1909 the Joint Committee kept a close eye on the Norchard workings to make sure that they did not interfere with the railway by causing subsidence.  Annual inspections were carried out by the Midland Railway's engineer but certainly up to 1923 no subsidence had been noted.
In July 1910 one hundred men and boys at the colliery were effected by the decision to cease working the Trenchard seam for a period due to the slackness of trade.  The managing director at this time was Richard Phipps who unfortunately died in December just as he was supervising extensions to the colliery and the installation of modern equipment.  His death appears to have led to the formation of a new company, the Park Colliery Co. Ltd., which was registered in July 1911.  It was to be a private company with an authorised capital of £15,000 in £1 shares.  The subscribers were Charles Bathurst, H. Webb M.P., R. R. Bowles of Lydney, Richard Beaumont Thomas, and W. Jones of Lydney, all of whom took 500 shares and F. G. Way, colliery manager, who took five shares.  The new company leased the colliery from R. Thomas & Co. and Richard Beaumont Thomas, the eldest son of Richard Thomas, became a director.  The chairman of the company was Charles Bathurst under whose land the colliery mainly lay.
In 1921 a further set of screens was built over the southern siding following a fire which destroyed the 1906 set.  In 1923 the West Gloucestershire Power Company built its generating station alongside Norchard from where it was supplied by coal direct using an overhead conveyor belt from the screens.  Coal was also brought into the Norchard sidings from other collieries and again moved to the power station using the conveyor.  A siding leading off the Norchard headshunt was also constructed into the power station to facilitate the movement of equipment.
The Park Colliery Company also owned several other gales which by September 1924 included Pillowell United.  The boundaries of this and a neighbouring gale were rearranged to enable Pillowell coal to be worked through Norchard.  In September, however, the pumps in this area failed which led to the overpowering of the main pumps at Norchard by the end of the year.  In January 1925 the water burst into the Princess Royal Colliery workings, which were adjacent to Norchard's northern boundary, and the flow of water was not finally stopped until October 1925.  For the expense of pumping Princess Royal dry £12,500 was claimed from the Park Colliery Co., plus compensation for lost production.  The Commissioners of Woods were approached for financial help for Norchard, like all if the Forest's collieries, was going through a difficult time due to poor sales.  It was pointed out to them that if Norchard was forced to close, Princess Royal would undoubtably close also, due to the increased costs in keeping the pit free from water.  Thereby the Crown would lose the royalties from both, plus the dead rent from Princess Royal.  However, the Crown was unable to assist as they had recently loaned money to Princess Royal and had no spare funds in their coffers.  The Commissioners of Woods were then asked if they would mediate in the dispute as neither side would meet to discuss the problem, the logical answer to which was amalgamation.
In 1926 came the problem of the General Strike and this prolonged dispute between the miners and the coal owners merely dragged Norchard further into debt.  By 1928 Charles Bathurst, by now Lord Bledisloe, was personally losing money each week as he felt so strongly about his miners and wanted to keep them in employment.  During the strike in order to keep the pumps working he had rolled up his sleeves and fired the boilers with the rest of the colliery management team.
At this time the colliery sidings were usually cleared once a day with the output being about ten loaded wagons, plus the coal that went to the power station.  In January 1930 an announcement was made that the statutory notice had been given to the Gaveller of the closure of the Norchard gales.  It was estimated at this time that when Norchard closed the extra pumping costs for Princess Royal would be £25,000 per year.  Finaly, in February, agrement on amalgamation was reached, with the Princess Royal Collieries Company buying a controlling interest in Norchard from Charles Bathurst.
By 1932 a new roadway had been driven to unite the two collieries underground, to aid ventilation and other services, but, although they were physically linked, the two collieries were still worked as separate concerns.
By 1936 it was becoming obvious that coal production at Norchard was being concentrated in the Pillowell area and that coal was being hauled about three miles to the surface from the working face. It also meant that the colliers were having to walk the same distance underground and their wages were paid from the time they started work at the face.  This was especially hard on the men who lived in Pillowell as they had a six mile walk to win the coal from under their homes!  The decision was therefore made to drive a new heading, or slant, to the surface at Pillowell.  The entrance was to be known as Norchard Pillowell, or New Norchard.  Driving the heading from within began in 1937 and it took about one year to reach the surface.  A tree, which the surveyors had taken as their target, virtually fell into the hole as they broke through!  To enable the coal raised through this new 'horizon' to be carried back to the power station, three sidings were laid on the site of the old Pillowell Level sidings which had been lifted in 1898.  New screens were also built here and the coal was taken down the Mineral Loop to Norchard and the power station.  Here it was tipped into a hopper by the old screens and taken by the conveyor system to the power station's boiler house.
A survey of Forest mines in 1946 forecast that Princess Royal and Norchard had a possible life of about one hundred years.  Within ten, however, the workings on the eastern side of Norchard, towards Howbeech and Eastern United Colliery, reached thin coal and as this was expensive to work the decision was made to close in 1957.
The southern siding connection at Norchard was removed in 1948, the original connection being retained to enable coal to be worked into the power station.  This was finally removed in 1958, when all coal for the power station was brought in by road.  The sidings at Pillowell were also removed in 1958, the last load being collected in November 1957.
Norchard was peculiar in that it was the only colliery in the Forest of Dean which did not lie under Crown land, being situated under the Lydney Park Estate owned by the Bathurst family.  At its peak it had given employment to 300 - 400 men and produced 1,800 - 2,000 tons of coal per week.  However, at times 38 tons of water had to be pumped in order to win one ton of coal.

Although coal winding ceased at Old Norchard in December 1939 as already mentioned coal winning continued through the New Norchard drift.  Work here finally ceased on 5th December 1965.