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However for a number of years, following local government reorganisation in the 1970s, it was administered as part of the new county of Wansdyke. Further changes in the 1990s gave rise to Bath & North East Somerset, where Clutton found its new administrative home.
Clutton’s population has grown significantly over the last 200 years, with bursts of growth towards the start of the 19th and end of the 20th Centuries:
Coalmining In The Clutton Area
Coal has been worked in North Somerset and the Bristol region for many centuries, and was possibly even being mined in the region during Roman times.
Locally, mining was being carried out in Pensford and Stratton-on-the-Fosse by the end of the 17th century. In 1763 a deep coal seam was discovered in Radstock, and soon many other shafts were sunk in the surrounding villages. Pits in Radstock and Clandown had reached depths of over 1000 feet by the early 19th century.
Demand for coal was at its peak during the early decades of the 20th century, but gradually demand fell for coal and the mines in the region closed one by one.
In the post-war period local mining was centred on the Norton Hill (Midsomer Norton), Old Mills (Paulton), Writhlington and Kilmersdon mines until finally the last two mines in this area, at Kilmersdon and Writhlington, closed in 1973. Norton Hill and Old Mills pits had closed in 1966.
In the final years much of the local coal output was used to fuel Portishead Power Station for electricity generation, until it converted to oil.
Clutton had three pits in the vicinity – Burchells (sometimes spelt Burchills or Birchill’s) Fry’s Bottom, and Greyfield. They belonged to the Earl of Warwick’s estate, which owned all the land in the parish of Clutton.
Clutton’s main pit, Burchell’s Colliery, opened (or rather was re-opened and enlarged) in 1911 but had closed by 1921, after it became partially flooded (and also due to its poor financial state).
A brickworks replaced mining on the site for a few years, before it too closed at the end of the 1920s. The site is now occupied by the recent housing development in Burchills Close. The batch (spoil heap) is partly covered by woodland (beyond the Scout Hut and beside the old railway track bed).
Fry’s Bottom pit (a little further along the Lower Bristol Road, off to the right, as you come out of Clutton) opened in the 1830s and closed in 1885.
The nearby Greyfield pit (between Clutton and High Littleton) was the largest colliery in the Clutton neighbourhood but it closed in 1911. Much of the equipment was then transferred from Greyfield to the newly reopened Burchell’s pit.
There are still a few old mine shafts and remains of small spoil heaps and drift workings, mostly overgrown, scattered around the locality as evidence of past mining activity. Most of the surrounding villages had their own pits, too – Timsbury, Camerton, Farrington Gurney, etc.
The seams in the North Somerset coalfield were very hard to work as they were thin (2 feet thick or less), often faulted, and not always of the best quality. Many mines only lasted for a short time before extraction became too difficult and unprofitable.
From Clutton and other neighbouring mines, coal could be sent by road or rail to the port at Bristol or to Bath, or along the old Somerset Coal Canal (closed 1894) which ran from nearby Paulton towards Bath. However, in its heyday, most of the coal was used locally and was not exported far.
Reminders of the area’s Mining Heritage
The winding gear wheel outside Radstock Museum is one of the more obvious examples of the region’s mining heritage, as is the batch – a large black pyramid – located at Old Mills, outside Paulton.
Many of the stone cottages that are prevalent in the area were originally built for mine workers and some colliery office buildings still survive, having been converted into homes – for example Greyfield, Burchills Close.
The origins of pub name such as the Miners Arms are clear. Less obvious is Timsbury’s ‘Guss & Crook’ pub (a guss & crook was a rope and hook device used by men or boys to help haul coal up from the coalface).
Another mining-related name is that of Cuckoo Lane, running from the top of Clutton Hill towards High Littleton. This is named after the Cuckoo drift (mine working) at Greyfield.
More of the area’s mining history can be explored at the award-winning Radstock Museum.
Please do share any additional information which you have about Clutton’s history – contact the web site editors.