Category Archives: Country Walks Without a Car

Around Clevedon and Cadbury Camp

This couldn’t quite compare to our lovely Pensford ramble, but was a pretty good walk none the less. We started in the town of Clevedon — once an agriculture village, but Victorian times transformed it into a seaside resort. It’s now home to the awesome Curzon Theatre, but we didn’t catch a film. The pier was nice, its cake mediocre. Climbing up the hill from there was quite beautiful, however, with stone walls along one side, water on the other.

Flickr Album Gallery Powered By: WP Frank

We came back down through a bit of the town, across rhines draining the levels reminding you that once these were all marshes, and fields where we saw deer leaping away through the grass. Under the motorway, which was actually quite enjoyable, and then up and up towards Cadbury Camp.

Aerial view of Cadbury Camp taken in 1946.
Aerial view of Cadbury Camp taken in 1946.

Occupied from the 6th century BCE through the 1st century AD, this was probably also contained a Roman settlement. From the National Trust site:

The Camp was built in the late Iron Age, probably by the Dobunni Tribe who lived in the Somerset Area. They dug out ditches and threw back the soil to make high banks for the fortress to protect them from any invading forces. They added a high timber fence on top of the bank and a complicated entrance to make it difficult for anyone to attack.

The name Cadbury meant Cada’s fort. Cada was an early Anglo Saxon personal name.

The site itself is lovely, with splendid views.

Clevedon Walk

But sadly there was more building along this walk, closed pubs, signs of rather obscene and unfriendly wealth in the form of high walls and no trespassing signs and things like this:

Clevedon Walk

Clevedon Walk

Not quite made up for by these rather more enjoyable examples of weirdness:

Clevedon Walk

Clevedon Walk

Save

Save

Mills, mills the very first mills

76aPublications_Books_DVMComsI’ve said before, it is so hard to believe that a significant part of what we call now the industrial revolution started in these beautiful valleys and hills — and for that reason the Derwent Valley is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. A copy of the book that was published based on the application to UNESCO was sitting on our shelf in the cottage — not the most gripping of styles but the content was quite fascinating none the less. Especially as one of these opening quotes is undoubtedly true:

The Arkwright system substituted capital for labour, machines for skill, factory for home, and mill discipline for family work routines. (15)
— David Jeremy, 1981.

This is where so much that now shapes modernity started, as strange as it seems in such beautiful surroundings. Cromford Mill was the world’s first successful water-powered cotton spinning mill, built between 1771 and 1790 by Richard Arkwright.

It was expanding on the technologies to be found down the road in Derby. In 1721 the opening of Lombe’s Silk Mill:

brought to England technology developed in Italy which enabled silk to be thrown on machines driven by water power. This important step towards full scale factory production did not on its own trigger rapid or widespread economic investment in mechanised production, but its influence on the later developments in the cotton industry which took place a few miles to the north, at Cromford, is now widely recognised. (15)

We spent more time in the country and at Arkwright’s showcase Masson Mill so didn’t explore too much this larger central complex, but it is impressive:

Untitled

It was always more than buildings or machinery however, but also a whole new organisation of work, method of management, and also control over labour. Cromford became essentially a company town, with mill workers living in the housing that Arkwright built, shopping in his stores, and we heard, spending company scrip.

Cromford was relatively remote and sparsely populated, and Arkwright could only obtain the young people he required for his labour force if he provided homes for their parents. In Cromford, there emerged a new kind of industrial community which was copied and developed in the other Derwent Vallet settlements (15)

This system in its entirety was soon copied, and several other mills used ‘pauper labour’, building dormitories for large numbers of children. It is curious being outside this complex as it is so obviously built for security, with thick high walls, gates and no windows at ground level — so these copies emerged through industrial espionage or after the patents on the system had expired by 1785.

Arkwright’s associates Jedediah Strutt, Thomas Evans, and Peter Nightingale all became themselves mill owners — by 1788 there were over 200 Arkwright type mills established in Great Britain. For the first time I heard of ‘Traitor Slater’ or Samuel Slater, who apprenticed with Strutts in Milford and took technologies with him to US to found a new cotton weaving industry there along these lines. Johann Gottfried Brugelman pursuded a number of workers to move to Ratingen and installed the system in Germany.

Capital and technology crossing borders, expanding across the world. Somehow it is so poignant to see it here move so quickly, become so complete. This story embodies Marx’s theories about technology and competition, as Arkwright’s system composed of machinery and power transmission, the buildings, the production systems and labour management were all taken on in their entirety and then efforts made to improve on them.

New Lanark’s initial buildings developed with exactly this system, and Owens did not start working to change it along more philanthropic lines until 1799 — I’ve only just realised we went there while I had stopped blogging for a while, but it is an amazing place.

As the mill system outgrew the Derwent Valley, with its steep hills and limited room for expansion both in terms of space and labour, mill owners looked to move their operations. Cotton’s new centre moved to Manchester, leaving these mills preserved (sometimes falling down).

The money that was made here was evidenced by Arkwright’s private residence — Willersley Castle c 1790 — we only caught a glimpse of it through trees and had a laugh at its sign: Afternoon tea available all day!

Untitled

Also St Mary’s Church, built 1797, his private — and very large — chapel:

Untitled

He (in partnership with others) built the Cromford Canal in the early 1790s. Originally intended as a through route between the mills and Manchester, it was soon replaced by the Cromford and High Peak Railway built between 1824 and 1830s.

Untitled

I so love canals, I am glad they have brought back this one, and are looking to connect it once again to the canal network.

Untitled

This is Leawood pumphouse 1849,  which housed a steam pumping engine to increase supply of water to the canal:

Untitled

We also walked down (well, up and up and up some more first) to Lea Bridge and Smedley’s (formerly Nightingale’s) Mill. It was built in 1783 by Peter Nightingale — Arkwright’s financier and landlord in Cromford — and Benjamin Pearson, a formerly trusted employee. It was built in anticipation of the patents expiring, and must have been the source of no small amount of social tension and generated a lawsuit. In 1818 John Smedley took over. Smedley’s is still running and much expanded, newer building having surrounded the old mill which they say still remains at the core. They continue to be a major employer in the area.

Untitled

Untitled

Florence Nightingale was one of these Nightingale’s, Peter being her great-uncle, and she spent quite a lot of time here, so there is a community hall named after her.

Untitled

More on the inside of the mills with the obscene amount of amazing photographs from Masson Mill, built by Arkwright as a showpiece and consolidating everything he had learned from the earlier buildings and operations. But later.

Save

Stanton Moor

This was perhaps my favourite place, though words like that cease to have so much meaning in an area as beautiful as this one. We came up through the woods

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

We knew we were close to where we wanted to be, but we weren’t on the path we were supposed to be on, so looking for the nine ladies stone circle we found this instead:

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

No one quite knows what these are apparently, this one sits along the ‘Duke’s Drive’, possibly part of an effort to transform the moor into somewhere to visit and enjoy following Parliament’s Act of Enclosure in 1819.

Enclosure breaks my heart, but stone circles are a joy. The nine ladies (and a tenth stone face down was found after a drought some years back) are lovely — but quite small. It makes for a very different effect from the standing stones I know, or a circle like Stanton Drew or Stonehenge.

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor in its an entirety is a beautiful Bronze Age ceremonial landscape, covered both with monuments but also somewhere archaeologists now believe people to have lived and worked the land. From the conservation document detailing what is here to be preserved from the sandstone quarries that still encroach upon the moor:

The prehistoric monuments which survive on the moor include an unusually tight cluster of ceremonial sites comprising three embanked stone circles, a standing stone, and at least one (possibly two) ring cairns. A fourth circle, Doll Tor, lies to the west, just 250m outside the limit of the modern moorland. Close to these monuments lie more than 120 cairns, many of which appear to be primarily funerary (Figures C5 and C6). Again, the survival of a cairnfield with a very high proportion of funerary cairns is rare in the region, where only two or three other (much smaller) sites have been recognised (3.4.3.2). In addition, early 20th century excavation on the south-western fringe of the moor (2.5.1.4) revealed a large number of funerary urns and cremated remains in what may have been a fl at cemetery (Storrs Fox 1927).

It is an extraordinary place, made even more beautiful by August’s purple heather and the green hills beyond.

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

One of the beautiful and larger mounds, with evidence of the stone cist that used to sit in the centre, containing the mixed bones of ancestors

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

We followed the sandy path along the curve of the hillside

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

Sat for a while here, to rest and look out over the landscape

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

A standing stone — the Cork Stone — towers over us, behind it an old quarry. Going up one side are metal staples and footholds dug into the rock. We didn’t climb it.

Stanton Moor Walk

Here it is looking back

Stanton Moor Walk

The edge of the quarry, picturesque now covered in golden grass and heather

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

Coming up to Stanton Peak’s trig point

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

Then back down the far side of the moor, back down into trees past old walls and lined pits

Stanton Moor Walk

Across fields

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

To what must have been another burial cairn

Stanton Moor Walk

A sheep with the hair of a greek statue

Stanton Moor Walk

And into Alport, lovely but we thought there was a pub, badly needed a pub, and there was no pub. Not until we walked up another very big hill into Youlgreave.

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

But it did have scenery and chickens

Stanton Moor Walk

Youlgreave was lovely, but we were too tired to explore it properly…

Save

Caudwell Flour Mill and Mill Stones Left Behind

In every city, town and village we have walked past old mills, now repurposed and turned into luxury flats most of them. It was good to see one still running as a mill, and even better to learn it was open as a museum. It was such a pleasure to walk around a working mill, see the history of past innovations. Had we not been about to embark on a walk of many miles up several large hills, we would have bought some flour…

Some of the exhibits discussed the changing technologies — both the move from the beautiful old water wheels that to my mind still signify a mill to the new water turbines that so much more efficiently powered the machinery, and the use of rollers to grind grain rather than the great circular millstones. Once upon a time mills were a ubiquitous feature of towns, villages and cities — I loved this map that showed just how many there once were in this area along the river systems:

20150824_104707_001

The change in the grinding of grain to bake our bread is just one of the changes that modernity has brought to our lives, a change to both the rhythm of our days and the food that we eat. I wonder if we can even guess now just how great a change that has been.

Caudwell's Mill

The machinery inside was wonderful

Caudwell's Mill

The Hammer Mill — ‘Miracle Mill’ No. 2, used to pulverize stock into powder:

Caudwell's Mill

Measurers and grain elevators:

Caudwell's Mill

Flour sifters at all levels of fineness, and their machinery:

Caudwell's Mill

Caudwell's Mill

Caudwell's Mill

This was less the amazing old machinery, and more the title — Baron “Dreadnought” Grinder:

Caudwell's Mill

You climb story after story, here is a view of the beautiful country from the top:

Caudwell's Mill

An old dust collector at the very top, of exquisite carpentry surrounded by bewildering belts and struts

Caudwell's Mill

This area was the birthplace of the industrial revolution, which impacted upon flour mills as much as mills of any other kind — the Caudwell Mill was in the forefront of some of these changes. It was fascinating to continue our walk, get a bit lost per usual, and stumble across further remnants of this past. Not without first passing one of the most lovely farms I’ve seen:

Stanton Moor Walk

and a chicken crossing a road — though too far away for questions:

Stanton Moor Walk

We climbed up into the woods

Stanton Moor Walk

We think we had already gone wrong at this point, but I could not be sorry. Because then we found this:

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

Something to do with the quarry we think, though perhaps another mill. Up through more forest

Stanton Moor Walk

More ruins:

Stanton Moor Walk

To find a fallen stack of old mill stones — victims of technological change left here unwanted and unneeded…

Stanton Moor Walk

and perhaps this was part of the end of these quarries, now reclaimed by the forest and more beautiful thereby.

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

This is heading up to Stanton Moor, which was more beautiful still, but more on that later. Better to sit with thoughts of human endeavour, how much everything has changed, what happened to technologies left behind and the men who once excelled in them…

Save

Wirksworth Trains and All Good Things

Look at the marvelous things people come together to get going and run in their free time — the train from Wirksworth to Duffield — the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway:

Train to Duffield

There was only one quite sad and rainy day on our little holiday this year, and so we did this, to enjoy the countryside from the safe indoors:

Train to Duffield

The trains are marvelous, and we sat in the front of course, as though we were driving — though only on the way back when we were some of the first back on:

Train to Duffield

Train to Duffield

That’s because on a wet Sunday, there wasn’t a huge amount to be done in Duffield. The foundations of the Norman castle, on a hill occupied in turn by Celts, Romans and Normans.

Train to Duffield

It doesn’t look like much of anything now, though once the keep measured 95 ft by 93 ft with walls up to 15 ft thick and an area of 5 acres.

Train to Duffield

We did love this hipster on a pennyfarthing though, half hidden behind the rubbish

Train to Duffield

And the old water pump

Train to Duffield

The wonderful door to Jacob’s Garden

Train to Duffield

The unfortunate phrasing of the plaque noting the girl’s school erected by the late Mr Jeffcock

Train to Duffield

This lovely pub reflecting the industrial history of this little town

Train to Duffield

and that was all before we reached Duck Island

Train to Duffield

Train to Duffield

or passed this window…

Train to Duffield

Train to Duffield

Save

Black Rocks — From Wirksworth to…Wirksworth

We climbed up up up the hill, past this sign that made me happy

Wirksworth Walk

Through the vertical village of Bolehill, catching glimpses of hills through the buildings

Wirksworth Walk

Finally up to the sun and the common, open spaces that I so long for when in London and Bristol”

Wirksworth Walk

A look back across the valley through which we had just come:

Wirksworth Walk

The panorama of light and shadow, sunshine and dark cloud that I love

Wirksworth Walk

Into the glorious woods

Wirksworth Walk

And finally to the Black Rocks trig point. It was quite a climb, I confess:

Wirksworth Walk

A look out across the world towards Riber Castle (a ‘new’ gothik castle built by mill owner John Smedley in 1862 — we walked beneath it coming back into Matlock, and visited his mill, but more on that later)

Wirksworth Walk

We came down the other side to meet the High Peaks Trail.

Once a lead mine stood here, the Cromford Moor Mine, shafts up to 128 metres deep where 100 men and women worked. They estimate the mine produced lead from before 1615 to about 1850. It opened again in the 1920s to mine white calcite — we remain so dependent on the mineral wealth we pull from the ground.

We followed it down passing old evidences of industry:

Wirksworth Walk

Wonderful rocks

Wirksworth Walk

The remains of the Cromford and High Peak Railway — power originating from the engine house pulled steel cables to haul wagons out of the pit and up the steep inclines. A giant wheel pulled the cables

Wirksworth Walk

Wirksworth Walk

It is a beautiful walk, this archway wonderful from this approach

Wirksworth Walk

My gaze quickly filled with awe as I walked through it, pictures cannot do it justice

Wirksworth Walk

Unlike some of the other places we visited, I feel I failed utterly here to capture how beautiful and mysterious and eerie it was.

Up we continued and up, a gentler climb but still climbing to the engine house:

Wirksworth Walk

The memories of the railway

Wirksworth Walk

Wirksworth Walk

Unexpected wildlife

Wirksworth Walk

And then down into the quarries. Here is Middleton Mine, the only limestone mine in Europe, and also this funny story: An the organ grinder would come to play his organ at the midday break and send his monkey down a deep hole to where the miners sat to collect money — one day the monkey escaped however, and was never seen again.

Perhaps its ghost still roams, like the pickpocketing chimpanzee in Glasgow’s Panopticon.

The quarries contain a wonderful succession of warning signs involving stick figures in peril, including ballet dancers:

Wirksworth Walk

Wirksworth Walk

Wirksworth Walk

Also, some naughty boys throwing rocks. Which made me laugh. Had I grown up here, I know my three brotehrs would undoubtedly have been stood in the exact same place throwing rocks into the water.

Wirksworth Walk

Then back down into Wirksworth’s lovely winding streets and alleys

Wirksworth Walk

Wirksworth Walk

Wirksworth Walk

Wirksworth Walk

Wirksworth Walk

And our first glance of their truly wonderful bookstore

Wirksworth Walk

and the beautiful church in its grounds

Wirksworth Walk

Save

Lumsdale Valley ruins

After a brief and beautiful losing of ourselves, we arrived exactly where we had been going — a series of two ponds in the Lumsdale Valley created to power the mills below, a centre of industry for several hundred years.

This whole area just south of the Peak District is a centre of industry, the springboard for the industrial revolution — though you would never guess now.

Cottages stand where an old lead smelter once sat, along with a counting house and ore house, from 1749 through the 1780s. One of the mills is perhaps from the 1600s, and a cycle of uses, from saw mill to paint mill to spinning and bleach — all of it happened in this stretch of buildings.

Starting with the old saw mill and moving through the valley — it no longer felt so important to recognise old uses, try to understand old processes and imagine what this scene looked like several hundred years ago:

Matlock Walk

Instead I wished I looked upon it with a practiced eye, so the layers of meaning and history could be sifted, brought forward in turn to form a whole. At no point in this place do you want to treat it as a museum. We didn’t linger long at the informative boards, and I am glad they remain few.

Matlock Walk

An early bleach trough, where they bleached skeins of yarn (and I imagine how toxic it all was, continues to be though you would never now guess):

Matlock Walk

This is never how I once imagined sedate English woods.

Matlock Walk

Matlock Walk

An old square paint trough, I think, I am looking back now with charts at these pictures, they don’t quite match memory, but that is all right. To the left a tunnel that once led to a bridge across the stream. A curiosity now. A place to hide from other visitors and pretend they are not there.

Matlock Walk

Matlock Walk

Matlock Walk

We wandered down the valley through one building and then another, alongside the stream for a while and the series of waterfalls that once brought power. It is hard, now, for me to imagine waterfalls as useful.

Matlock Walk

Matlock Walk

The Bleach works, with an old millstone.

Matlock Walk

Matlock Walk

The smithy:

Matlock Walk

I left the valley sadly. From there we climbed and lost ourselves again briefly through poor walk instructions, then wandered along the curve of a hill to looking back over Matlock from another angle:

Matlock Walk

Finally arriving at Starkholmes, and a well earned meal. And a cat.

Matlock Walk

then back down the hill to the bus, through a gimlet of holiday makers enjoying Matlock Bath. The Paignton of the North. Which I might ignore, but the country’s first pleasure parks were there? I meant to look into that a little more…

Save

Save

Antediluvian Quarries, Peak District

We climbed stone stairs no one had tread regularly for a very long time…

Matlock Walk

we were off our path but we didn’t yet know it, because we were on someone’s path — though no one in the past few days perhaps. We followed faint traces to climb through heat and humidity, nettles and brambles stinging against our legs. Drawing blood. The valley opened up beneath us and we entered into pine forest — the first we had been in this trip.

Matlock Walk

A lovely, open pine forest scenting the air and full of light, not the close packed replacement and industrial forests. We had strayed from the way, but it didn’t matter because we found this.

Matlock Walk

A beautiful, eerie landscape

Matlock Walk

where stone-built walls and quarried stone faces mingled, all of it swallowed by moss and pine needles and trees so the natural world and the human one were almost indistinguishable.

Matlock Walk

Great slabs of stone, whether tumbled down or piled up almost impossible to tell, alongside great chimneys of rock.

Matlock Walk

Matlock Walk

Ferns of a green I still find hard to imagine, coming from the desert. The green of my dreams as a little girl.

Matlock Walk

Enormous mossy stones in piles

Matlock Walk

Sunlight streaming down through the trees, and everywhere a verdant landscape spilling across the distance. And us there, up above it in this place of human effort and labour swallowed up by the forest. This lonely place of memory now, and stillness.

Matlock Walk

Happy accident that brought us here. We followed this track back down the hill, and then found our way.

Matlock Walk

Of that more tomorrow…

Save

Pensford to Stanton Drew and Back Again

One of the best walks we’ve done in terms of things it threw up for further investigation, but I thought I’d start sharing the photographic journal of rambles through the wonderful English countryside made accessible through the networks of public ways. One of the things England should be proudest of, I think. We started in Pensford, it’s lovely:

20150802_110509

20150802_110614_003

20150802_111349

20150802_112443

20150802_112455

20150802_113422_001

An old orchard between fields, I love these reminders of how we live well on the land:

20150802_114143

Then on the stone circles at Stanton Drew, a reminder of how long we have been here and of very different ways of being:

Stanton Drew Stone Circles

(and much more on these stone circles here). The old church

Stanton Drew

with the monastic farm next door recalling a different history in its glorious medieval windows

Stanton Drew

and reminders of what once was half buried in the graveyard soil:

Stanton Drew

These graves also quite fascinating, both in carving style, and in their poetry, which I confess to have only realised was there after reviewing my photos:

Stanton Drew

The masonic triangle being rather more arresting:

Stanton Drew

I love village post boxes:

Stanton Drew

winding paths through cathedraled ceilings  of ancient trees:

20150802_140051

20150802_140121

20150802_140134

20150802_140210

Another medieval memory in the form of an old bridge

20150802_140439

Trees that somehow remain standing when you can see through them

20150802_141445

Open fields:

20150802_142142

Amazing old oak trees:

20150802_143114

Unexpected memories of home:

20150802_143926

the excitement of climbing something as beautiful as this to see what is on the other side:

20150802_144035

Phacelias (I think), which also unexpectedly reminded me of home:

20150802_161705_001

The haunting ruins of the old colliery:

20150802_162050

and back home over concrete stiles put in for the miners in the 1930s

20150802_163547

Industrial detritus scattered along the old train tracks

20150802_163553

20150802_163621

and sadly, too late for tea:

20150802_165427

Save

Somerset Coal

We went on a brilliant walk last weekend, starting in Pensford, taking in the Stanton Drew Stone Circles and the village, and then along to Stanton Wick and Pensford Colliery and back down to where we had started.

It was strange to be so deeply affected by first ancient Neolithic ruins of life and worship, and then the modern ruins of coal mining. Everything about them is so different, and yet they share the Chew Valley and both stand as a record of the people who have lived here.

A brief history of the various historical monuments of the area can be found here, in the Banes placemaking plan.

The Old Colliery is now the only large scale remains of the 20th century mining industry in North Somerset.

6977769656_309245481d_zWe wandered into its ruins, trying to find the old public right of way down the hill our book insisted was there — as like its author we believe in standing firm on old rights of way. It is no longer accessible, but we found a footpath down the road beyond the piece of the colliery that is now a private residence, and it does join the old path the miners took as described in our old book.

20150802_162048

20150802_162050

20150802_162103

20150802_162125

20150802_162151

20150802_162218

20150802_162225

This Colliery employed over 400 people.

5704577
A Dirty Job, but we had to do it’ – The Bristol Post

There is a letter in The Bristol Post from Leon Thomas who once worked here as he studied, now a lecturer at University of Sydney, and then a professor of mining engineering in the University of New South Wales.

The carbide lamps show we were still a naked-light pit, and I recollect electric cap lamps came in for officials in about 1950 and the mine changed over to safety-lamp operation soon after. There had been an explosion at a naked-light pit in the North of England, and the NCB stopped all naked-light pits in the 1950s.

Pensford had just installed its first belt conveyor face in late 1949, and the signal whistle around the neck of the third person from the left in the front standing row was used by the puffler – face charge hand – to give stop/start signals for the belt, and to warn the colliers that it was starting. There has been an incredible increase in mechanisation since those days.

I remember the name of only two other people after this long period. Second and third from the right in the front row are the Packer brothers, reputedly the two highest-paid men in the pit. They worked as partners in a stall. The one on the left is Bill Packer, who worked in bare feet. There was no mandatory safety footwear in those days, or mandatory fibre helmets. Both Packer brothers are wearing the old canvas hats. Bill scavenged old boots out of the scrap heap in the pithead baths so that his toes would not get stamped on while waiting for the man-riding dolly cars or the cage. But he had worked at the face in bare feet since his youth at the Mells and Vobster pits with their very steep seams where bare toes could get a better grip on the timber props that were set almost like a ladder, and on the slippery floor. He was an inveterate gambler on horses but, to my recollection, not particularly successful.

I also remember him getting a bad gash on one of his shins, requiring three stitches after he had finished his shift, and he was back at work the following morning. He could not afford sick leave, with his numerous family and a bookmaker to support, and he was really tough. The photo was taken in front of the banksman’s cabin, alongside the downcast shaft. You can see on the wall the large bell that repeated the shaft winding signals.

Somerset archives contain some other real riches connected with the mining industry, but to return to the Banes placemaking plan, the mine was extensive, reaching:

towards Stanton Drew and Byemills, through to the Station Approach area of Pensford, to Publow Church, out to Lords Wood and included a drift mine at Common Wood, Hunstrete.

20150802_161822

Old Colliery Buildings

The Old Colliery now comprises an extensive range of unusual redbrick buildings, including the former Winding Engine House (known as The Winding House), that has been converted as a private residence.

The remaining red brick buildings are standing redundant and comprise:

Larger road fronted building – known as The Power House (where electricity was generated prior to SWEB installing a substation)

20150802_161412

Smaller road fronted building was the blacksmith workshops and stores for miners tools and other necessities.

Small building to rear of The Power House is the hauling engine house from which 2.5 miles of wire rope hauled the 500wt tubs between Pensford Colliery and Bromley Colliery along the tramway. Part of the tramway embankment wall and embankment have also survived.

20150802_162025

The small single storey building (located in Filer’s Coaches yard) was the weighbridge, electricians’ workshop and small store.

On the opposite side of the road, the bath house has been rebuild, only a section of the rear wall remains as original, and was incorporated into the design.

The brick lined tunnel also remains, which miners walked to give them easy access to and from Pensford village.

Brick lined tunnel! We saw no hint of that. But we did find memories of an industrial past already being swallowed by the woods:

20150802_163621

20150802_163553

the old concrete stiles used by the miners

20150802_163547

The memories of a community grown up around this industry, even if the coal and soot and steam are gone. The website does mention that a collection of stories and oral histories of the collieries are being collected, which would be a wonderful thing. Especially as all but a few marks of the jobs and the lives that shaped this place for so long have been erased, and a much wealthier group of people is clearly moving in to enjoy the newly verdant countryside:

20150802_165427

20150802_110510

20150802_110614_003

20150802_112455

20150802_140051

Save