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Ram Hill Colliery

Ram Hill Colliery site is a fine example of early nineteenth century coal mining. Dating to around 1830 the site is located at the heart of the North Bristol coalfield and holds the standing remains of the steam engine house, the horse gin, the mineshaft, the dramway terminus and, in all probability, the water reservoir and boiler house.

Ram Hill colliery is owned by South Gloucestershire Council, it is administered by the Friends of Ram Hill who are undertaking a conservation project on the site.

The Ram Hill colliery in Coalpit Heath was once the hub of 19th century coal mining in Westerleigh parish. It was the terminus of The Dramway, which was built in 1828 and was probably the last railway in England designed to use horses as a means of locomotion (the Rainhill trials the following year heralded the use of steam).

It is a mystery why The Dramway ended here. A number of plans exist showing the proposed route of the dramway, but none showed it ending up at Ram Hill. An introductory leaflet can be downloaded. Views of the site can be accessed from a different site.

English Heritage recognition and scheduling of the site

In 2006 the Ram Hill Colliery site was given scheduled monument status by English Heritage. This recognises the national importance of the site and protects it in the future.

Excavations

The fact that the site survives at all is a fluke. The Great Western Railway bought the area for its new direct route from South Wales to London. In the end the cutting stopped just north of the site. The mine lay forgotten until 1981 when a local archaeologist, John Cornwell, rediscovered it. Then the high unemployment of the 1980s led to a number of job creation schemes, one of which was to carry out comprehensive work at the site. This took place in 1987, but funds ran out and it was never completed.

Then a Bristol University MA student, Bridget Hetzel, embarked on a study there and volunteers came in to help clear the site. The results have been spectacular: it has already been cleared of recent growth and we will be removing two spoil heaps which were formed during earlier excavations. This will expose more of the dramway, and hopefully the boiler house for the steam engine.

Preserving the site

We are well on the way to securing the long-time management of the site. We hope to maintain a balance between archaeology and ecology by maintaining it as a grassed area.

Geophysical survey

A geophysical survey at Ram Hill Colliery has revealed clear traces of a reservoir in the northern corner of the site. The method of remote sensing was resistivity, which had not been expected to give good results due to the nature of the ground. It was carried out for the Friends of Ram Hill Colliery by local enthusiasts Sagascan. The results will be used to inform those conserving the site. ​

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