THE B4228 between St Briavels and Coleford offers leisure attractions and sites of special historical and scientific interest, writes Dave Kent.

There are iron mines from Roman times, commemorated in the name of the Orepool pub.

Tourist attractions include Perrygrove railway, Puzzle Wood, Clearwell caves, and the camping site at Bearse and the unique limestone rock formations along the hidden brook which flows behind it (as reported in the Forester on 23rd March this year), down towards Mork hamlet. 

There’s also the Georgian hotel at Lambsquay, and Sling FC’s football ground on the main road.

And there is now the newly restored Scarr Bandstand. 

The bandstand dates back to 1913, when it was built for charitable performances by the flourishing Forest brass band community.

Their concerts were very popular. ‘Hospital Sunday’ performances were held, and enormous amounts of money were raised for local hospitals in those pre-National Health Service Days, supported by the very active Milkwall Charity Committee. 

Brass Bands would march from their home villages to the Scarr Bandstand to perform.

There were still great Forest brass band concerts at the venue in the 1930s, and the site was also used for sheep sales, but the great charity concerts came to an end after the foundation of the NHS in 1948. 

There were occasional concerts at the site after then, and the venue was slightly re-sited, but it gradually fell into disuse, until the Sling community spotted an opportunity to revive the centre as the active community arts venue that it is now.

After a great deal of volunteer work and support from Forestry England and local businesses, the volunteers restored the site as a great open-air music and theatrical venue. 

It re-opened in 2017 with a performance by Gloucester Youth Players of Shakespeare’s ‘Midsummer Nights Dream’, in a forest place ‘where the wild thyme blows, where oxlips and the nodding violet grows, quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine, with sweet musk-roses and with eglantine ‘. 

This production was the start of an ambitious series of musical and theatrical shows that continue to entertain.

These contemporary shows include outrageous takes on classical stories, performed by The Pantaloons and Jenny Wren Productions, which have their own satirical, subversive and funny rewrites of classical literature, and performances by our great local brass bands, who these days do not have to march to the venue. 

There is still work to be done, and the next project is to provide a proper canopy to protect performers.

Alison Weir, the distinguished local dramatist and actor, is the secretary of the Friends of Scarr Bandstand, and Liz Davies, the Regional Editor of the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley Review presented her with the Golden Glove in the Forestry National Volunteer awards in March this year, to honour the work that Alison and the team of volunteers have carried out to renovate the Scarr and to ensure a successful programme of events.

Planning for the 2024 season has already begun. To get involved in this exciting local enterprise, contact Alison at [email protected].