Bench celebrates Coalpit Heath's mining history

March 29 2021
Bench celebrates Coalpit Heath's mining history

A NEW carved bench at Ram Hill Colliery celebrates the Coalpit Heath area's long mining history.

The bench, made from oak, has been created by local wood sculptor Andy O'Neill.

Andy is well known for his work at other sites, such as Kingsgate Park in Yate, where he used a chainsaw to carved part of a tree into a fairytale castle.

The bench at Ram Hill Colliery shows a pony pulling a cart, or dram, filled with coal, to mark the route the coal was taken along the dramway to Willsbridge.

On one end of the bench an engine house is depicted, where a horse would turn a carousel which powered a system to raise a coal bucket up from the mine.

On the other end of the bench is a barge, because the coal was loaded onto barges at Willsbridge on the River Avon, and taken to Bristol.

The mine, which is now filled in, was 170 metres deep, and run by the Coalpit Heath Colliery Company between 1825 and 1865.

But the history of mining in the area dates back much earlier, to the 14th century.

The idea for the carved bench came from the chair of the Friends of Ram Hill Colliery, Ann Fay.

She said: “I was keen to get a bench installed for elderly and disabled people to have somewhere to rest.

"I worked with disabled people for many years and there were never enough resting places when out and about, and as I am now in the elderly bracket, I know how important it can be to have somewhere to have a rest.”

The bench was carved from an oak tree which grew on the Badminton estate and was thought to have been 400 years old when it was blown down.

Its design ensured that no digging was needed to install it on what is a scheduled ancient monument.

The £2,375 cost was funded by South Gloucestershire Council, including a grant from local councillors Clare Young, Tristan Clarke and Jon Lean through the Member Awarded Funding scheme.

The Friends of Ram Hill Colliery are looking for a new treasurer and people to help out on work days, when COVID-19 restrictions allow.

For more information contact the secretary Kate Kelliher by email at katekelliher@hotmail.co.uk.