Dramway Information (see also timelines)
This information is derived in part from an SBL related webpage,
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An Overview and history:    

The local colliery owners were always unhappy about road transport and by the 1820s demand for coal in the glass, sugar and soap industries of Bristol made a better transport link essential.

The "Avon and Gloucester Dramroad". / Dramway" was started in 1828 by the Kennet and Avon Canal Company. It was the second oldest overground rail system in the West of England predating Brunel's GWR by 10 years.

Artist's impression of the Dramway near Siston Common

It was a single-track railway and the rails were laid 4' 8˝" (143.51cm) apart. This distance is the railway's "gauge", and was later known as the "standard gauge" because it became usual on all British railways.

In 1830 Hole Lane pit in Warmley and Avon Wharf in Keynsham were linked. By 1831 the line ran to Siston Hill Pit. The first passengers also used the railway in 1831, all were company managers they made the journey from Siston Hill Pit to Keynsham in about 45 mins.
The line was officially opened in 1832.

Each of the wagons  on the dramway held four tons of coal and ran along rails which were fitted to stone “sleepers”  quarried in Wick and North Common.

One of the few remaining dramway sleepers, with characteristic round 'bolt' holes, still in place is shown here.

The wagons were pulled by horse up the line (there is a drop of 198 feet from Mangotsfield to the Avon) so they were only used on the downward journey in the passing loops, or where the incline was shallow.

The horse walked between the rails, the driver beside the wagon operated the brakes. This was known as a "horse and gravity" railway. The horses were stabled at Avonside Wharf.

From the wagons the coal was transferred to barges at the two wharfs or “backs” – the Londonderry and Avonside.  The barges held 60 boxes, each containing three tons. The cargo was then shipped down river to Bristol.

Accidents happened infrequently, though on at least one occasion the driver failed to apply the brakes and the wagon over-ran the horse and killed it.

Most of the dramway closed in 1865, but the last part was not shut down until much later in1904.

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