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Colliery, Shortwood, Bristol. | by Fray Bentos
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Colliery, Shortwood, Bristol.

Between the pennant sandstone of east Bristol and the oolitic limestone of the Cotswolds, there is a band of Blue Lias. Places such as Pucklechurch and Chipping Sodbury, which lie on it, are entirely built from this material. It is not the most beguiling of building stones and I think for this reason Brandy Bottom Colliery at Shortwood, despite its impressive remains, has never been one of my favourites. Nevertheless the chimney is elegant and the brick dressings reduce the cold, colourless look of the stone somewhat.

The colliery is thought to have been sunk in the late 18th century. In 1871 it was acquired by Handel Cossham, owner of nearby Parkfied Colliery. A new shaft was sunk, becoming known as Parkfield South Pit. By 1899 it was being used only for pumping and ventilation. As part of the same complex, the mine closed along with Parkfield in 1936.

The photo, taken on Wednesday 29th October 1980, shows the view from the top of the heapstead. The capped shaft is in the foreground with the chimney and engine house ruins beyond. The last time I passed this way, about five years ago, the cycle path, which follows the course of the Midland railway line (on the extreme left of the photo) had been diverted to pass closer to the site. At the side of the path was half a colliery winding wheel. For a split second I was deceived into thinking that it was the mine's own wheel, left lying in the undergrowth ever since closure. What a thrilling, romantic survival! Then I realised, of course, that it was a piece of fakery. The wheel must have been acquired and brought here by heritage-mongers to "increase awareness" among passing joggers and dog-walkers. There are, I believe, plans to further sanitize the site ...that's if they haven't already been put into effect.

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Taken on November 28, 2008