New additions to archive 61 years after bridge disaster

Monday 4th October 2021 3:00 pm
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A COLLECTION of newspaper articles about the Severn rail bridge disaster has been donated to a Cinderford archive - just before the 61st anniversary of the incident.

The owner of the papers - which included a copy of the Dean Forest Mercury, a forerunner of The Forester - handed them over at the Cinderford Memorabilia Day which was organised by Cinderford Town Council as part of Heritage Open Days in the Forest.

Five men died when two barges, the Wastdale H and the Arkendale H, collided in fog, lost control and smashed into one of the bridge’s pillars on October 25 1960.

The collection of local, regional and national papers was handed over to Cllr Graham Morgan, who has a family connection to the disaster.

His family is related to Percy Simmonds who was on board the Arkendale H and drowned.

Cllr Morgan said: "Percy served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War and was the Navy’s Mediterraean boxing champion - but he couldn’t swim.

"A chap brought the papers in and they’re a really interesting collection.

"They will be a really useful addition to the archive."

Also on display at the memorabilia day, which was held in Rheola House in Belle Vue Road, was a key piece of kit used on one of the biggest hits of the 1990s.

The sampler that was used on EMF’s 1990 number three smash Unbelievable was donated to the archive by the band’s vocalist James Atkin.

Cinderford town councillor Mark Turner, who helps run the archive, said: "We are very grateful to James for the donation of the sampler."

The memorabilia day featured a wide range of objects of Forest history including mining maps.

It was held as part of Heritage Open Days which saw historic buildings welcome members of the public and events celebrating the history and culture of the area.

They included tours of Lydney Docks, led by Mr Bob Turner, the opportunity to see Chase Farm in Tidenham at work a seed swap at Cinderford Medical Centre and a photography display at the Main Place in Coleford.

There were also talks and lectures on a wide range of subjects.

The Cinderford archive is open to the public and includes an almost complete run of bound copies of The Forester and its predecessors the Dean Forest Mercury, Coleford Guardian and Lydney Observer.

For details contact Cinderford Town Council.

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