Local Transport through the Ages

Mail-coaches and waggons

In 1787 a morning mail coach from Bristol travelled along the Cotswold ridge to Cirencester and Oxford, while an overnight mail coach left Bristol at 7pm via The Old Gloucester Road, reaching Birmingham next morning by 10am. In 1900 waggoner James Uley began a daily service from the Swan Inn at Maryport Street, Bristol to the Globe Inn at Frampton Cotterell. Several operators ran passenger services on some weekdays throughout the 19th century from Bristol to Stroud, Wotton-under-Edge & Gloucester, halting at coaching inns along the route e.g. New Inn at Mayshill. Commercial waggoners operated similarly and would collect people’s shopping lists, returning purchases to them at the next trip. Roads were a mere carriage-width with men employed to hammer rocks into fragments to fill the damp hollows.

Each Parish had to maintain routes used by mail coaches, financing this with a toll as travellers passed a gate or turnpike, as at Frogland’s Cross along the Old Gloucester Road with a parish boundary post still visible alongside.

Railway

In 1845 the Bristol & Gloucester railway was completed with 6 trains daily to Gloucester. Yate was our local station, then between 1872-1944 a branch line from there carried 3 trains each weekday to the market town of Thornbury. On 1 July 1903 the Great Western Railway opened a link-line from Wotton Bassett to Patchway with local stations at Coalpit Heath and Winterbourne, connecting with the newly built Severn Tunnel, so a direct route was inaugurated with 3 through trains between Paddington and Cardiff. The journey from Coalpit Heath to London took 4 hours because the train picked up passengers at many stops along the way.

In the 1950s British Rail took over companies like GWR, diesel replaced steam, while the Beeching Report forced short-sighted economies upon the railway system. Many branch lines were closed including intermediate stations, so our rural area lost its services on 3rd April 1961.

Buses and Trams

The Bristol Tramways Company was set up in 1874 having the inspired vision and driving force of Sir George White (1854-1916) as Secretary and later as Chairman. Two miles of tramlines were laid in Bristol along Queens Rd. and Whiteladies Rd. using horse-drawn trams. Each horse did a 3hr shift so four horses were needed per tram and the labour intensive workforce included drivers, stable-boys, shoeing-smiths and vets.

Electrified trams replaced horses from 1895 and nearest terminals to Frampton Cotterell were at Staple Hill and Filton. City roads were coated with coal tar abundantly available from gasworks, and bedded down with gravel and this improved surfacing extended to rural areas during the early 1900s.

With advent of the internal combustion engine, Bristol Tramways Company built its own buses in 1908 at Filton. Two years later entrepreneur George White decided to produce aeroplanes and became Chairman of the Bristol Aeroplane Company. This meant that bus construction with Bristol coat-of-arms on each side, was transferred to Brislington. Trams were replaced by buses from 1938 and disappeared completely after the blitz in 1941.

Bus routes soon spread across the countryside beginning with Thornbury, until on 19th October 1914 the first bus-service in Frampton Cotterell terminated at St Peter’s Church. This changed to The Rising Sun in 1936 and when double-deckers appeared in 1958 they turned around at Park Avenue.