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BIAS Bulletin December 2022



BIAS has close links with an important industrial archaeological excavation in South Gloucestershire – Brandy Bottom colliery – where some features, possibly globally unique, have been discovered.
Secretary Mark Bonson is foreman at the site and he reports that it’s one of the best preserved Victorian coal mines in England. Workers have uncovered a boiler house which would have held an “egg-ended” boiler – unique to the UK and possibly the world.
The excavation is featured on the Projects part of the BIAS website. Meantime, BIAS member Robin Whitworth, who is also closely involved (he produces the Brandy Bottom newsletter, for example), writes:
Brandy Bottom colliery is located just over a mile to the west of the village of Pucklechurch. The first shaft was sunk in 1837-38 and the colliery closed in 1936.
In 2001 the remains of the surface buildings, together with the adjacent batches, pond and some other ground became part of a Scheduled Ancient Monument, as they are a rare example of the surface layout of a 19th Century coal mine.
The site includes a 25m high chimney of an ornate design, and the brick base of a Sirocco pattern ventilation fan. The Avon Industrial Buildings Trust, or AIBT, has been working on the conservation of the surface buildings since 2010.
Initially a stand-alone operation, Handel Cossham took over the lease in 1871, renaming the original pit as ‘Parkfield South’. He started to sink the New Pit in 1875 and connected it underground to his nearby Parkfield colliery.
Brandy Bottom effectively became an outpost of Parkfield, and this would have contributed to the survival of the original layout of the buildings at Brandy Bottom. The colliery became derelict after closure and was nearly demolished in the 1960s.
It is thought that the machinery was removed by scrap metal merchants around that time, leaving only traces of the engine settings.
AIBT has had to rebuild many of the walls around the site, with most of the work being done by contract masons. The walls of the Horizontal Engine House were in danger of collapsing, as was the top of the chimney.