In 1787 the Oldcroft area was described in a survey as ‘for the most part covered in thorns, and hollys, with a few scrubby oaks and beech’ . The settlements of Oldcroft and Viney originally grew up through encroachments on Crown Land in the late 18th century and in the mid 19th Century, when many of the old cottages were built by families engaged in working in the pits or charcoal burning industries.
The tradition of a man being able to claim land by his labour of fencing and building a hearth with a fire burning by the end of the first day meant the land was his by right may be behind why so many cottages sit on large plots of land. The hamlets sit astride a high ridge giving long reaching views over the Severn towards the Cotswolds. The open ground between the encroachments now being known as ‘Forest Waste’ ) and in the case of Oldcroft, the cricket ground, provide an amenity for all settlements which go a long way to give the distinctive character of Oldcroft and parts of Viney Hill. “The settlements are open in form and the older buildings are laid out in a haphazard manner often in large plots served by a network of paths and tracks. Within Viney Hill settlement boundary there is a more intensively built up area which forms a focus. Similarly within Oldcroft a more concentrated form is evident within the defined area. Areas of land once used as quarries for building stone are a feature of both with past coal extraction leaving surface formations in open ground around Oldcroft. “(FOD District Council Housing Allocations Plan 2017)
Now a predominantly residential area, there are few businesses or commercial properties. Those so far identified are :
Commercial: A garage, Activity Centre and a Physiotherapy Centre, some holiday lets and an architectural design business.
Socially: there is a Sports and Social Club linked with the football team, one pub and a Church of England Church which is linked to the Parkend Parish. A cricket team sometimes plays on the Cut and Fry pitch.
Links to the wider area are via a double carriageway road comes from Coleford and Yorkley that skirts the extreme edge of Oldcroft and passes alongside Viney Hill and drops down to join the A48. A Bus service links the villages to Gloucester and Lydney but bus services to other Forest settlements are insufficient for local needs meaning there is a high dependency on private motor transport.
There are no shops within the two hamlets. The nearest shops are the general store and the Post Office and Store both in Yorkley. Medical provision is provided by the Yorkley Medical Practise.