KILMERSDON COLLIERY AND INCLINE

Moving down the line of the Bristol and North Somerset Railway away from Huish Colliery we come to the Kilmersdon Incline that served Kilmersdon Colliery also known as Haydon Colliery.

Located directly above the Somerset coalfield, like much of the area there is evidence to suggest coal extraction in the area from Roman times, with documentary evidence of coal extraction at Kilmersdon starting in 1437. Kilmersdon Colliery was established from February 1875 as part of the Writhlington group of collieries. Access to coal mining beneath Kilmersdon was through a network of tunnels from an entrance at Haydon, a nearby hamlet, resulting in the colliery also being known as Haydon Pit. During its life, the maximum depth of the shaft reached close to 500 metres (1,600 ft).

Coal in the 4 feet (1.2 m) high seams was extracted by hand using the “topple down” method. Once carting boys had extracted cut coal to the main shaft, it was placed into trams for extraction to the surface, at a maximum rate of 90 trams or 85 tonnes/hour. After transfer there to standard gauge 16-tonne coal wagons, these were individually transported via one of three standard gauge rope worked inclines in the Somerset Coalfield, the last gravity-working industrial rope-incline in the United Kingdom. Constructed in 1877, the double-track incline was 160 yards (150 m) long with an overall gradient of 1 in 4. Sidings were added at the head of the incline in 1900 to allow colliery dirt to be dumped there. At the foot of the incline it junctioned in a triangular-form with the Radstock-to-Frome section of the GWR’s Bristol and North Somerset Railway. Here the northern triangular section sidings held empty wagons waiting to be taken up, whilst the southern section sidings contained loaded wagons awaiting pick-up by the GWR.

THE INCLINE

Nationalised after World War II, as part of the National Coal Board, it became the last colliery to be working the Somerset Coalfield. During its later operating years, the extracted coal was transported under contract to Portishead power station. Closed in August 1973, it structures were demolished and the shaft filled, followed by extensive landscaping. Former joint-railway structures which existed at the foot of the rope-worked incline were demolished in 2005.

The Kilmersdon head frame Wheel in the centre of Radstock