Camerton Coal Mines – A Potted History:
Camerton had two coal mines which were part of the Somerset Coal Fields. The old pit (now the site of the Local Nature Reserve) was first sunk in the late 1780’s and the new pit shaft some 20 years later. The old pit was in coal production to the mid 1890’s from when its tunnels and shaft were used as an emergency exit fro the new pit; in 1937 being finally abandoned altogether. The new and much larger pit continued mining through the second world war until its closure in 1950. For many years the two Batches were abandoned until the Camerton Parish Council purchased the old Pit site from the National Coal Board, subsequently developing it as a mining and natural heritage site. In the mid 1990’s the council formed a ‘Heritage Committee’ and the area has since been manage as a woodland site with a Heritage Trail being created; in 1997 the Old Pit Batch was designated a Local Nature Reserve (LNR).
Another useful source of the areas industrial Heritage can be found by clicking on the following link: Radstock Museum
Of course, the Batch only exists today because of its industrial history; the actual LNR is a woodland covering the spoil heap deposits from the Old and New Pit workings. However, these industrial workings are intrinsically linked to the Somerset Coal Canal, the remains of which can be found on its Northern boundary and the Bristol and North Somerset Railway System on its southern border. The Somerset Coal Canal dates back to 1798 and connected to the Kennet and Avon Canal at Dundas. The coal canal system became one of the most successful in the country, during the 1820’s it was carrying over 100,000 tons of coal per year; however, this prosperity was soon to be halted by the coming of the railways; the canal falling into the hands of the Liquidator in 1894 and finally closing in 1898. Click on the following links for more Coal Canal history: Somerset Coal Canal History Society and the The Kennet and Avon Canal Trust
The Limply Stoke and Camerton Railway link (part of the Bristol and North Somerset Railway) opened in 1882; the old line of the track, tunnel and bridge under and over the river Cam is till be seen along the Southern Boundary of the LNR. Within The Batch itself will be found the be found the remains of a railway siding; sections of the lines are still visible as well as many metal artefacts from the track system.