Although now an apparently sleepy village, Redbrook has a long and important industrial heritage; the youngest village in the Parish, Redbrook was world renowned for producing exceptionally fine, thinly rolled tin. The Tinworks, however, were a relatively late addition to the industrial heartland that grew up alongside the river. One of Redbrook’s most famous features is Offa’s Dyke which clings to the ridge above the village and was constructed for defensive purposes in the 8th Century – a fascinating avenue of Yew trees follows the ridge across the top of Highbury Hill indicating early ecclesiastical presence – the land being at one time under the Abbey at Tintern.
Milling was Redbrook’s earliest industry, Redbrook Mill was working in 1348; in 1352 references to Redbrook Street were made – other mills followed, however it was the 17th Century which saw the beginning of the copper and tin industries. Located at the bottom of the valley, dominated by two powerful brooks Redbrook became a natural choice for processing the copper and tin brought up the River Wye on trows – the famous flat bottomed boats. Mines in Cornwall provided the raw materials and the groves on Highbury Hill provided the trees for charcoal to heat the furnaces. In 1692 the copper works arrived and by 1800 had been replaced by the tinworks. The village grew and houses were built for the workers, more than 20 tiny cottages lines the track to the tinplate works with at least 5 public houses, 2 breweries and a chapel to serve the residents.
The 19th Century saw many of Redbrook’s familiar buildings arrive. The Village Hall was built through a subscription system and was the Workman’s Institute, the school and church provided independence; previously villagers had to walk to Newland, and the school was held in the chapel on ‘chapel steps’. The first decades of the 19th Century saw the opening of the brewery from which Brewery terrace gets its name. This, known as Burgham’s Brewery used spring water which was piped through the River Wye from Penallt. A ferry linked the two villages before the bridge and footbridge were constructed at the end of the 19th Century and the middle of the 20th Century respectively.
The Wye valley road was turnpiked in 1824 and a toll house once stood opposite the Bush alongside the river. The 1800’s also saw the last recorded piracy on the River Wye at Redbrook when a boat cargo was commandeered and shared among the local residents! The Incline Bridge was constructed in 1812 to carry trams which ran down behind Brewery Terrace to the works, but fell into disuse towards the middle of the century. In 1883 the railway to Coleford was opened which joined with the Wye Valley Railway which had opened in 1876. The Wye valley Railway closed to passengers in 1959 and to freight in 1964.
The early 19th Century boathouse, which many residents will remember as a virtual ruin sited on what is now the Millennium Green was taken down and is currently in the care of a local resident.. This was still in use at the beginning of the 20th Century. A famous etching from the mid 19th Century shows the tinworks and the boathouse from the other side of the river – the most interesting is the boat in the foreground which is a paddle steamer carrying well-to-do tourists through this industrial heartland.
When the Tinworks finally closed in the 1960’s Redbrook industry came to an end. The closure was followed by the demolition of most of the buildings associated with the works, the final clearance of the land and the building of Tinmans Green obliterated all but the name. The Millennium Green is regularly used for formal events and as an informal recreation area overlooking the River Wye.
The Church of England school has a Christian foundation which it seeks to promote by providing high quality education for all its pupils. It's ethos is underpinned by Christian values, which by experience provide a basis for life long learning. The school aims to develop an independent, confident child with a caring attitude by giving him or her as broad a curriculum as possible, treating each child as an individual and building on their strengths and weaknesses to prepare them for adult life and the world beyond and to encourage understanding and respect for others through a strong sense of Christian values. The Village Hall is well used by local organisations, including the Parish Council for every third meeting, and for village events.
Redbrook has 314 registered electors (as at 1 December 2015). There is one public house - 'The Bell', and the village stores and Post Office.