Conservation

The mine lay forgotten until 1981 when local archaeologist and author, the late John Cornwell, with assistance from a job creation scheme, started to excavate parts of the site.  This work continued sporadically until 1987, when the funding for the scheme ran out.  A large pile of waste earth was left at the bottom of the site covering part of the dramway and another large pile of earth was left on the upper level of the site, partially covering the north side of the Engine house remains.  After this the site became overgrown and neglected, hence the need for a lot of conservation work!

In 2003 David Evans (Historic Environment Record Officer at South Gloucestershire Council) commissioned Bridget Hetzel, a Bristol University student, to study the site and write a report for an M.A. thesis.  Her report can be seen here.

In July 2004 at a meeting held in the Miners’ Institute, Coalpit Heath, Bridget Hetzel gave a presentation on the history of the site, based on her research.  After this meeting, the ‘Friends of Ram Hill Colliery’ was formed.

After an unsuccessful bid in 2006 to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant for remediation on site, the Friends started clearance of the site of undergrowth.  Between 2007 and 2011, the two large spoil heaps have been removed, thanks to other grants obtained by the FoRHC (see Grants).  Also work has started, with the necessary consent from English Heritage, on conservation of the standing remains, by repointing and rebuilding where necessary.  Except in the winter, regular work parties are held at the site and new volunteers are always welcome.  See work parties.

The Friends are now well on the way to securing the longtime management of the site.  We aim to maintain a balance between archaeology and ecology by maintaining it as a grassed area.  Our main achievement has undoubtedly been the removal of the both spoil heaps revealing, for the first time in many years, the dramway terminus at the lower part of the site.  The removal of the spoil heaps was made possible by financial support from SITA Trust and South Gloucestershire Council, and was carried out by C R Belcher and Bristol & Avon Transport & Recycling.  Some of the stones removed from the site have been used as part of the ‘Wild about Nature Project’ in March 2011 at Wheatfield Primary School in Bradley Stoke.

Volunteers from the “Green Gym” have been on the site helping to remove undergrowth and general ‘gardening’ and also improving the look and stability of the lower part of the site.

Using his lime mortaring skills (learnt on a course funded by SGC), David Godden (primarily, but with some assistance from other people) has carried out some repairs to the horse gin wall, the chimney base and some other parts of the site.  Marian Godden is also on site frequently and is usually hard at work “gardening”.

A scheme of work has been produced by David Hardwick, detailing more major maintenance needed at the site, was submitted to English Heritage in Feb 2012. The first phase of this work, repair to the dramway retaining wall, was completed in August 2012 by OJ Thompson Conservation Services.

On site we now have bird and bat boxes; these reflect the Friends’ commitment to maintain and improve the natural habitat as well as the man-made environment of our site.  This was made possible with assistance from John Morris (Environmental Projects Officer at South Gloucestershire Council).

Geophysical survey

Geophysical surveys have been carried out at Ram Hill Colliery and more surveys are planned.  The surveys so far have revealed traces of what may be a reservoir in the northern corner of the site.  The first of these surveys was carried out for the FoRHC by Sagascan.

The second survey was carried out (in November 2011 and June 2012) by members of the FoRHC and members of the South Gloucestershire Mines Research Group under the instructions of Dr Robert Vernon and Paul Driscoll, as part of the “SCARP Project” which is funded by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The method of remote sensing used by Sagascan was resistivity;  the SCARP project  survey was carried out over a larger area and used resistivity and magnetometer.