It is now free to park at the Dean Heritage Centre. This move has been made to enable locals and visitors to use the Centre car park area as a base for walks in the beautiful woodlands around Soudley.

Emma Smith, Centre manager, explained. “The Dean Heritage Centre is completely dependent on the entrance fee from visitors to the Museum areas and woodland trail. The parking charge was introduced, in line with car park charges in Forestry Commission car parks, to help with the Centre’s income. However, we want Forest residents to enjoy the area around Soudley, as well as visit the Centre to help youngsters learn about the heritage of their Forest families, as easily as possible.”

The Dean Heritage Centre was established to provide a vital focus for the history of the people of the Forest of Dean, however, as well as viewing the museum exhibits, visitors can also purchase locally-made craft items, some made on site by the local woodcarvers. There are also regular exhibitions by Forest artists and community groups.

At this time of year, Remembrance Day and our nation’s heroes are in our minds. The team at the Dean Heritage Centre want to show their support for the Poppy Appeal, and express their appreciation.

On Saturday, November 11th it will be free to visit Dean Heritage Centre. Instead visitors will be asked to make a £1 donation to the British Legion Poppy Appeal. Visitors will be able to learn about the celebrated local heroes of the WWI period, which includes the three soldiers who gained the Victoria Cross.

The Dean Heritage Museum Trust was established in 1979 following overwhelming support by the local community for a Forest Museum, which had been proposed by the Forest of Dean Rotary Club. Emma states, “the team have been listening to our local community to ensure we can be a community hub, as well as a resource for Forest history”

At the Trust’s recent AGM Alison Breton became the new Chair of the Trustees. Alison became a trustee of the centre in April 2017 and has worked closely with Emma, Centre Manager, to create a vibrant future plan for this fabulous local museum, library and visitor attraction.

Alison added: “The Dean Heritage Centre brings together so many stories and artefacts from the Forest of Dean’s history and uses outdoor exhibits and a woodland trail to help to inform visitors. Visitors can use the museum’s extensive archives to research their own family’s history and learn more about their parents and grandparents lives working in the Forest.

We need to work hard to keep this history displayed within the Forest, but the expense of maintaining the grade II listed Mill building can get very high and we are always reliant on the goodwill of local people, organisations and companies to keep going. We have lots of exciting plans for 2018, and along with our new trustees and enthusiastic volunteers we plan make the centre even better.”