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Siston Hill Colliery. | by Fray Bentos
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Siston Hill Colliery.

The much-photographed (see www.flickr.com/photos/29742055@N00/147803886/) shaft top of Siston Hill Colliery, seen on Saturday 13th September 1980. Kingswood Great Vein at 470ft; Gillers Inn Vein at 500ft. The concrete cap is marked "NCB 1. 8. 50". In the background is the cutting and overbridge which carried Norman Road across the Avon & Gloucestershire Railway, a horse-powered tramway laid on stone sleeper blocks, which took local coals to a wharf on the River Avon opposite Keynsham.

When I was a teenager the tramway was a mysterious waterlogged, bramble-choked scar running through the district. Its existence was little-known, even to residents of the area. Intrigued, I went to the library, looked at old Ordnance maps and discovered Colin G. Maggs's book on the subject. In other words my curiosity was aroused, so I investigated and learned for myself.

Since then the "Heritage" industry has arrived. The trackbed of the little railway, tidied up and "branded" as "The Dramway Footpath", bristles with signposts and waymarks. Do those who come here to indulge in that curious modern St Vitus Dance called "jogging" really appreciate it? My guess is that they would be just as happy at home watching "Cash in the Attic" or jogging in some municipal park. Meanwhile, for those few who are genuinely interested, the subject is poisoned as it is democratised and becomes the property of the too-many. The strangeness and mystery are gone. Nobody gains.

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Taken on December 31, 2006