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mining - collieries
Newbury colliery opened in 1799 and was worked until 1927. The coal
produced was good quality and was used to make coke for Westbury
iron works. The site of Newbury Colliery is now an industrial area,
but the winding and pumping engine houses still stand, as do the
colliery offices. Coal waste can still be seen in the pathways around
the edge of the site. The Newbury collieries were connected by rail
to the broad gauge GWR Frome to Radstock line. Opened about 1857,
the remains of this rail link can still be seen running between Newbury
and Upper Vobster.
Click map to enlarge view.
At Vobster Colliery, a few remains including the spoil tip, store
house and the old ventilation shaft can still be seen. Just to the
east is the site of Vobster Old Colliery but nothing remains here
except an old spoil heap. The opening of the Newbury Railway stimulated
the development of Vobster Breach Colliery nearby, during the early
1860s. A shaft was sunk to link with a branch of Vobster Colliery.
By the mid-1860s two banks of coking ovens had been constructed at
the site. However, increased competition and a downturn in the coking
trade led to economic difficulties and mining had ceased by 1884.
Vobster Breach Colliery is now very overgrown. Most of the mine buildings
were grouped around an infilled shaft in the centre of the site.
The remains of two banks of coking ovens can still be seen but most
have now collapsed, although approximately 12 remain intact.
This opened in 1863, but closed in 1881, only to re-open in 1909.
It was never very profitable and there were lots of disputes about
pay and working conditions before it finally closed in 1943. Some
of the buildings and the spoil heap remain, but the latter has been
obscured by trees. A narrow gauge tramway was laid to connect the
railway with the pits in the Nettlebridge valley to the south. Part
of the tramway, which is now followed by a footpath, was up an inclined
plane just east of the pub in Vobster.
Near Upper Benter, the remains of Moorewood Colliery can be seen
in the valley floor. Sunk in 1860, the shaft was constructed in the
anticipation of a rail link to the Somerset and Dorset Railway. However,
this never materialized and the pit experienced problems with flooding,
closing in 1873. It was reopened in 1909, when a tramway was built
up an incline and along what is now Coal Pit Lane to the railway
at Old Down. However, the mine was never really profitable and following
flooding in 1931, the mine closed in 1932.
Click map to enlarge view.
Pit, New Rock Colliery and Mendip Colliery
On the hillside to the north is the site of Strap Pit. Begun in 1863,
by 1874 this shaft was sunk to a depth of 560m, the deepest in Somerset.
However, as at Moorewood Colliery, the lack of a railhead meant it
was never profitable and it closed in 1879. It was reopened in 1953
by the National Coal Board and connected to the nearby New Rock Colliery,
where upon it became known as Mendip Colliery, but it too made a
loss and was closed by 1969.
More detailed information on coal mining can be found here.