Beneath our Feet
Mining, Quarrying & Celestine
The Yate area was blessed with a variety of minerals which enabled industrial growth. In the 19th century local firms took advantage of railways to transport coal, stone and Celestine to Bristol and beyond.
Local companies worked out remaining local coal and Celestine stocks during the 20th century. Stone quarrying, however, remains one traditional industry still thriving around Yate and Sodbury.
A Change in the Landscape
Quarrying has been a major feature of the Yate area for centuries. Traditionally local farmers dug small stone quarries on their own land. The stone was sold locally. Poole Court and St Mary’s Church were built from local lime and sandstones.
Local quarries enjoyed steady growth during the 20th century when mechanised equipment and explosives started. Quarrying has dominated the local landscape to the north of Chipping Sodbury and provided employment for hundreds of local people.
Mining in Yate
References to early opencast mines in Yate appear from 1608. Maps from the 1800s show Yate had several coal mines.
The most well-known was Yate Colliery, which had two shafts, called Number 1 and 2, which were active between 1830 and 1880. Eggshill Colliery on Eggshill Lane existed from around 1890 to around 1916. Many local people worked in Yate’s collieries until the 1880s.
What was the Yate mining area like?
The mining community was concentrated around North Road. Miner’s children attended the British School on North Road. The names of pubs in the area, the Colliers’ Arms and Engine Inn suggest a strong mining link. Miners also attended Non-Conformist chapels around the North Road area rather than grander churches such as St Mary’s.
A unique investment
There is evidence of Celestine or Spar being mined as early as 1820. Celestine extraction took off in the late 19th century when local firms saw the value of the mineral. At one time 90% of the World’s Celestine came from Yate.
The mineral was extracted for use in the chemical and explosives industries, and even for colour televisions and ceramics.
What is left today?
Quarrying still goes on at Sodbury Quarry. workings and lime kilns could, until recently, be seen in the old Bury Hill quarry at Yate Rocks. Production of Celestine in Yate ended in April 1991.
Some Celestine pits were left as “spar pools” which led to drowning accidents. All the pits have since been filled in. The main Celestine site now lies beneath Yate Shopping Centre.
Evidence of mining buildings and transport links exist all around Engine Common, North Road and Broad Lane.