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Freeminers of the Forest of Dean to be celebrate with gargoyle on Gloucester Cathedral

A gargoyle of a freeminer has been chosen to represent the Forest of Dean as part of the £500,000 restoration project at Gloucester Cathedral.

The image of a freeminer is the second of a set of six new gargoyles that will be installed on the North Ambulatory Roof as part of the restoration.

All six of the carvings will be chosen to reflect areas of Gloucestershire and the local heritage and traditions of the area.

The first, that was revealed last month was of a rugby player, to celebrate Gloucester's relationship with the oval-ball game.

The miner gargoyle, chosen to represent the Forest of Dean celebrates the freeminer tradition that lasted for centuries in the west of the county.

It has been sponsored by Westbury-on-Severn-based metals recycling firm, PSW England Limited.

 The Forest of Dean gargoyle is kindly sponsored by Forest of Dean based company, PSW England Limited.

Peter Watkins, Managing Director of PSW England Ltd said: "The Forest of Dean is a very special part of Gloucestershire set in between the magnificent Severn and Wye Valley rivers.

"By the end of the Second World War half of the male population of the Forest of Dean worked in the pits.

"My grandfather, Stanley Watkins worked as a Miner at the Princess Royal Colliery in Bream.

"I have a vivid childhood memory of waiting for the shift change at the Princess Royal Pit where he had worked and hearing the thunder of boots on the road as the Miners passed our house, their faces covered in soot.

"In memory of my grandfather and all the brave hardworking men and their families who worked in the Pits of the Dean, my wife and I are privileged to be able to assist the Cathedral in their renovation work"

A maquette - a clay model - has been sculpted by the Cathedral's Master Mason, Pascal Mychalysin and over the next six months will be carved into stone.

It will then be installed on the North Ambulatory to protect the Cathedral's stonework, with the five other carefully selected images of Gloucestershire.

The Very Reverend Stephen Lake, Dean of Gloucester said: "What image could have better represented the proud independence of the Forest Folks than that of a Freeminer?

"Mining is a hugely significant part of the Forest of Dean's industrial heritage and deeply connects communities and families to the region's beautiful landscape.

"We are delighted to celebrate such an important part of the County's story through the creation of the Freeminer gargoyle."

This is only the second time in living history that new gargoyles have been created for Gloucester Cathedral.

Once completed, they will be installed high above the north side of the Cathedral.

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