Coleford is a small market town in Gloucestershire, England in the west of the Forest of Dean which has a population of 8,351 (2001 census). It is situated approximately four miles to the east of the Welsh border on the English side, and is close to the Wye Valley, a popular walking and canoeing area. The town is the administrative centre of the Forest of Dean district.
Coleford takes its name from one of the two rivers that merge in its centre and was, as its name suggests, a fording point for the river. All the streams were culverted in the 19th century, but the one flowing through St John's Street was reopened in 2001 to allow for maintenance work to take place, before being recovered.
Coleford is also one of the oldest towns in the Forest of Dean, largely developed before, and not deeply affected by, coal mining, which became the Forest's staple industry during the 19th and early part of the 20th centuries. For this reason it greatly differs visually from Cinderford, the other major town situated in the east of the Forest. Coleford's architecture is mainly Georgian in appearance, although many of the façades are in fact covering much older buildings. Notable buildings include The Angel pub, with its large arched entrance, hinting at its coaching inn days; what was Trotters Department Store, now home to Fairways Furnishings; and the clock tower in the centre of the town. The clock tower was originally attached to an octagonal church, built in 1821, but when, in 1882, this church was considered to be too small for the town's population, the main building was demolished, leaving only the tower. A new, much larger church (St John's) was built on a hillside overlooking the town. Another delightful building, the old market hall, stood next to the clock tower until it succumbed to the 1960s desire to demolish any buildings that no longer served any definite or useful purpose.
The town is home to bestselling author Andrew Taylor and children's author and illustrator Shoo Rayner. Coleford is also home to one of the local libraries designed by retired county architect Derek D. Bridle.