Lines and dates:


1831 - Coalpit Heath to Keynsham horse drawn dramway, via Mangotsfield.


1835 - Mangotsfield to Bristol part of dramway.


Lower Soundwell Pit to Siston Common dramway spur - On 1842 map but gone by 1880. The pit closed in 1853.


1838 - The Great Western Railway opens.


1845 - Midland Railway replaces Coaplit Heath to Bristol dramway.


1869 - Midland Railway from Mangotsfield to Bath, running alongside the southern part of the dramway.


Railway from Hollybrook Brick Works to Rose Green - ?






On Thursday 13 January 1825 the Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette reported on a shareholder's meeting about the routes for proposed railways. Included are the dramway from Coalpit Heath to Keynsham and what would become the Great Western Railway. Reproduced with thanks to the British Newspaper Archive. Bear in mind that the world's first public steam railway, from Stockton to Darlington, didn't open until September of that year!




At the meeting of the Subscribers to the above scheme on Monday se'nnight, (the resolutions of which appeared in our last,) Mr. Howe stated, that the

"Annual Income may be estimated as follows :--


It is computed that 100,000 tons of coal are consumed annually in Bath; suppose 25,000 tons of that quantity can be supplied by the rail-way for Bath alone, and 25,000 tons sent from mthe said rail-way up the Kennet and Avon, and Wilts and berks, Canala, and the remainder, 50,000 ton, sent down to Bristol for Manufactures and other uses, and taking the average of long and short distances at 2s, 6d per ton, the tonnage will amount to £12,500. - The freestone and other stone sent from Bath to Bristol, and Hanham, last year, amounted to 10,500 tons; the charge whereof, including cranage, per water conveyance, was 8s. 3d per ton. I take this quantity of 10,500 tons at 4s. £2100. There are eight waggons daily from Bristol to Bath, and which during the year may be calculated to carry 10,400 tons; the charge is 15s. a ton; this taken at one half of the carriage (allowing that some part of this may go by barge) charged per waggon, viz. 10,000 at 7s. 6d. £3,900. - The quantity of lime, manure, &c. may be estimated at about 20,000 tons per annum, as an immense traffic may be anticipated in lime, from the abundance of lias and limestone found on or near the intended line of rail-way; which 20,000 tons I take at the low charge of [unreadable figure] per ton, per rail-way, £1500. Total Annual Income £20,000 - In the above no calculation has been made upon the the anticipated quantity of bricks which may be conveyed.


"Annual Expenses may be estimated as follows:


There will be required 4 locomotive Steam Engines, of 10 horse power each, and the supplying whereof per diem with coals, &c. may be computed at 35s. each, say 4 engines at 40s. each per diem, which will amount in the course of 313 days to £2504. Four engineers at 30s. per week, each £312. Six assistants (stout lads will do,) say 10s. per week each, £156. Salaries to Clerks, Warehousemen, &c. £750, Smiths, Carpenters and other assistats, £500. Incidental Expenses, such as Law Charges, Repairs, &c. £778, 2 and a half per cent. wear and tear, on first cost of £100,000, £2500. Total Annual Expenses, £7500; which sum of £7500 deducted from the expected receipts of £20,000, there will remain a net profit of £12,500, equal to a dividend of 12 and a half per cent. on the proposed capital; and if to this I add the probable receipts for the conveyance of passengers, and taking the average number of daily coaches at present to be 16, and supposing each coach from Bristol to Bath conveys 8 to and from these cities, viz, 16 passengers, the numbers will be 356 daily, which at 2s. each person by the rail-road, will amount to £35; 6s, per diem, or £12,834: 10s. per annum, and which will yield a further dividend of 12and a half per cent. and upwards"


Mr, Tucker read the following REPORT.


"The very uneven state of the land between Bristol and Bath, by way of St. George's, Hanham, Willsbridge, Bitton, &c. or what is called the Upper Bath Road, would render a rail-road in that direction expensive, inconvenient, and laborious.


"The only reason that suggested the necessity of making the road in that direction was, its proximity to some of the collieries in that neighbourhood; but as nearly all the coal in that country can be brought into the main road by a collateral road, the necessity of carrying the main road in that direction is obviated. The line of the collateral road, above alluded to, I will describe, after I have given a description of the main or principal line into which it will fall.


"The most eligible line on which to form a rail-road, from Bristol to Bath, appears to be nearly as follows;


"To commence near the iron bridge, at Totterdown, and, having crossed the Feeder or the Float, whichever may be determined on, keep on that side of the Feeder which, upon consideration, shall be judged best; pass the Netham Brass Works, and continue on the north side of the river Avon, by Crewshole, Conham, &c. to Hanham Mill; then leave the great bend of the river, which runs to Lodge farm, on the right, and keep round by the north side of the meadow to where the Willsbridge brook falls into the Avon, where a coal wharf is now making, and which is the point where the collateral road will fall into the principle road; cross Willsbridge brook, leave the bank of the Avon again, and shorten the distance by skirting round, or cutting through, a little rising land, and come on to the Avon again, at about half a mile up the stream from Keynsham Lock. At this place a bridge must be built over the Avon; the road will cross to the south side of the Avon by means of the bridge; it will cross the meadow, and keep round on the sloping land to the village of saltford, or shorten the distance by going over a gentle rise to that village, whichever way shall appear best on taking the levels.


"From the village of Saltford, pass Saltford Mill, and near to the turnpike-gate at Saltford; select the best ground from this place through the lands to the Globe Inn, at Newton, and from thence on to the turnpike-gate, near Kelston bridge, where the bath turnpike-road branches into two roads; keeping above the turnpike-road or below it, as the level of the land shall render neccessary. After passing the said turnpike gate, the road will cross a small brook, which, after separating the parishes of Saltford and Twerton, falls into the Avon. After passing this brook the road must take an easy ascent along the sloping side of the wood on the south side of the turnpike-road near to Twerton, so as to gain a summit, and thus avoid Mr. Wilkin's cloth manufactory and his dwelling house at Twerton, and pass near to Twerton Church.Having gained the summit, the road may be kept up in the land, at some considerable from the turnpike-road, or may be made gradually to descend again, according as it may be found more convenient for it to terminate at Bath on a higher or lower level; or as gardens, buildings, or any obstacles may prevail more on the one line or the other; extending the road forward as near to the Kennet and Avon Canal as circumstances will admit.


"On the line of the main road as above described, I would beg leave to make the following observations:


"A considerable part of the proposed line beween Netham Brass Works and Hanham Mill, a distance of about 3 miles, is subject, in high floods, to inundation; but over the same extent there are large heaps of cinders, rubbish from the adjoining quarries, and other materials, with which the the road can be raised, and kept out of the flood's way. On quitting Hanham Mill, the road can be kept out of the flood's way by inclining a little to the North, and taking higher ground. on crossing the Avon, where a bridge must be built, the road must be raised across the valley, but each side thereof there is plenty of materials. The floods must be guarded against at Saltford, the materials for which are near.


"The most prominent obstacles are at Twerton, and between Twerton and Bath; but I think they may be readily overcome by the means before mentioned. At Hanham the quarries afford fine stone blocks within 30 yards of the line. Immediately at the place of crossing the Avon are good beds of lias, which will answer the triple purpose of burning lime, building the bridge, and furnishing blocks for the road. At Saltford and Twerton are good beds of lias, applicable to the purposes above mentioned. - Between Twerton and Bath the line can be supplied with lias from one end, and with Bath freestone from the other. The line, therefore, appears to me to possess a great many advantages, and to present but few difficulties. - The length of the road by the route above described will be nearly as follows: -


From the iron-bridge at Totterdown to the junction of the collateral road at Willsbridge Brook - 5 1/2 miles


From Willsbridge Brook to Bath Bridge - 8 miles


The whole length is therefore about 13 1/2 miles


"The COLLATERAL RAIL ROAD will commence near the place where the Willsbridge Brook falls into the Avon, and proceed along the land on the east side of the said brook, leaving Londonderry on the right; and crossing the turnpike-road, it will pass on to the village of Willsbridge. It will then proceed along the land on the east side of the valley, passing the Iron Works and Ivory-Black Works, to near the public house on Oldland Common. Then pass on to Warmley, taking the Hall-Lane Coal Works, Grimsbury Coal Works and Smelting Works at Warmley. At Warmley it will cross the Marshfield turnpike-road, and pass on to Siston Hill, taking the New Warmley Coal Works and other works on that line, the Siston-hill Coal Works and Smelting Works, the Soundwell Coal Works and Smelting Works. Then taking the course of the stream at the foot of Rodway Hill, it will keep along the valley to near Shortwood Coal Works, in Pucklechurch parish, and take the other coal works in that parish. From thence it will pass near to the village of Westerleigh, and on to the coal works at Coalpit Heath.


"The length of the collateral road from its junction with the main road to Pucklechurch is about seven miles, and from Pucklechurch to Coalpit Heath about two miles and a half, making the whole length about nine miles and a half.


"In the nine miles and a half the road will serve at least ten coal works, namely Hall Lane, Pill Leaze, Cowhorn, Grimsbury, a new work at Warmley, Siston-Hill, Soundwell, Shortwood, Pucklechurch, and the Coalpit Heath Coal Works, and several other Coal Works which are now at a stand-still for want of a market. In addition to which it will pass the Iron Works and Ivory-Black Works at Willsbridge, Harfords and Co.'s Smelting Works at Warmley, and Pope and Co.'s Smelting Works, at Soundwell.


"The land on this line is exceedingly favourable for a railroad, particularly for a descending trade, such as the trade here will be, it being on an inclined plane in nearly its whole length. The Collateral Road, from one end to the other, will pass directly through a field of coal of vast extent, and of immense value; but which is, at present, for want of a market, to a great extent locked up, and rendered unproductive.


"That this road will be a key by which markets will be opened, and by bwhich this immense treasure will be brought into action and be rendered productive, is a position, the truth of which I think it is impossible to deny.


"Viewing the whole of the undertaking in all its bearings, there appears to be every chance that it will be of the greatest public utility, and that it will pay the subscribers a liberal interest for the capital employed.




The collateral route was built and became the dramway, which opened in 1831. The main line though, which became Brunel's GWR, opened in 1838 and took a route to the south of the River Avon all the way from Temple Meads to Bath.



Staple Hill Station. This was on the Coalpit Heath to Bristol route but built later (1866). Now the cycle/footpath runs through it.

The bridge at Bridge Road, which was also part of the original 1835 dramway route from Coalpit Heath to Bristol

Part of the 1831 dramway running across Siston Common (alongside the small building)