THE dream of making Lydney Harbour the jewel in the South West’s tourism crown took a step closer this week.
Richard Cook, who runs the Severn and Wye Smokery business at Chaxhill, has been named as the ‘preferred bidder’ to run and develop the docks as a tourist attraction.
Mr Cook will bringing his considerable entrepreneurial skills to bear on running the harbour as a commercial venture.
Plans are expected to include improved and expanded yachting facilities, upgraded infrastructure and new catering outlets.
Mr Cook was one of two finalists in the bidding process to acquire the docks from the Environment Agency but faces further rounds of negotiations to clinch the deal.
Mr Cook said: “Severn and Wye Smokery are very honoured and excited to have been chosen as the preferred bidder as custodians of Lydney Harbour.
“We will now engage with local communities, council representatives and the Environment Agency to help develop and promote what we believe to be one of the Forest of Dean’s hidden gems, and revitalise an asset that will encourage people to come and enjoy one the Severn Estuary’s historic and scenic landmarks.”
Ian Jones, area environment manager for the Environment Agency, said: “The visionary and exciting proposals for the harbour are linked to a wider regeneration initiative for this area of Lydney and will offer many opportunities for the future of the town.”
The current canal and basin complex was built between 1810 and 1813 to ship coal and iron from the Forest of Dean.
During the hey-day of the docks there was around 300,000 tons of coal being exported annually in over 2,000 vessels. The final export of coal from the harbour was in 1960.
The harbour carried on working up to the 1970s by importing logs for the manufacture of plywood at Pine End and was closed in 1977.
In 1985 the harbour from the swing bridge downstream was scheduled as an ‘Ancient Monument’, due to the historic importance as a transport link for the Forest of Dean to the Severn.
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