History of Yate

Yate Railway Station in 1903

The history of Yate is quite considerable. The town is mentioned in the Saxon Chronicles and also in the Domesday Book which makes Yate over 1000 years old. There are many fascinating periods in the history of the town and so much to discover!

Travel back to the 13th century when Yate's impressive manor houses dominated the landscape, and then to the period in Yate's history when farming played a crucial role in the lives of Yate's residents. 

Also there was the wealth of minerals that were mined from beneath Yate in the 19th and 20th centuries, and also the importance of the Victorians and their railways.

Yate's captivating history continued with the building of large factories which brought new communities to Yate, as well as attracting German bombing during the Second World War. With the growth in the 1960s and the new shopping centre being built, it is clear that Yate's in depth history is one of the many things to be discovered in the town.

If you are interested in finding out more then please visit Yate & District Heritage Centre, it's where Yate's history is brought to life!

Yate's Manors

Stanshawes Court Entrance

From Saxon times, there were three main manors; Yate Court, Brinsham (later corrupted to Brimsham) and Stanshawes. As the woodland cleared, agriculture became the mainstay of a very rural economy. Yate Parish once covered some 3500 acres.

The tithe map of 1842 shows 360 acres of arable land, 2400 acres of pasture land, 80 acres of woodland and over 600 acres of common land.

Also shown are approximately 25 farms, many of which were the typical gabled houses of the area, and some of the larger country houses between 1840 and the 1880’s. Of the three manors, we have most data on Yate Court; from its moat and castle fortification of the Thirteenth Century, to its medieval deer park and its partial demolition at the end of the Civil War.

Want to know more about the history of the manors?

Visit Yate Heritage Centre and you can find out more about the history of Yate and also Yate's Manors and the landholders who lived in them.

St Mary’s Church

St Mary's Church in Yate

St Mary’s Church dates back to Norman times and was rebuilt in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries and extensively restored in the Nineteenth Century.

Within the Church are the remains of a wall painting and many fine memorial tablets (one notable brass tablet depicts Alexander Staples (d1590), his two wives and eleven children.) Some fragments of glass in the north window are a reminder of the Civil War skirmishes.

The Lych Gate and the Parnall Memorial are in memory of those who died during the two World Wars. The peal of six bells is still regularly rung, the treble bell being a gift from Robert Stanshawe.

In the early 1800’s, the Poor House and a two-roomed school were located outside of the churchyard wall. The Poor House was demolished and the National School built. (later St Mary’s C of E School.) The schoolroom then became the Headmaster’s Cottage.

The old Chipping Sodbury Union Workhouse, or the Spike, was built in the 1830’s to serve the whole region. Now it is known as Ridgewood and is used for many community activities.

Want to know more about the history of St Mary's Church?

Visit Yate Heritage Centre and you can find out more about the Church's hold over the people of Yate.

Mining in Yate Parish

Miners in the Yate area

Yate Parish has had three interesting mineral deposits each of which has, in its way, shaped today’s landscape; viz limestone to the east, coal to the west and celestite (or celestine or spar) in between.

Yate's Limestone

Limestone has been widely used for building purposes and, after burning to produce lime, for manuring the ground. It was the advent of the turnpike roads and later metalled roads, which created the demand for stone aggregate which has been perpetuated by motorway and industrial/residential development.

Coal in Yate

The practice of extracting coal developed due to the diminishing supply of woodland timber, but later increased greatly to cope with the needs of Bristol’s industrial development. The Yate coalfield, mainly located around Engine Common, consisted of eight coalpits/mines that were at their peak from 1830 to 1890. A later shaft, known as the Eggshill Colliery, closed in 1906/1907.

Celestine

Celestine (or spar as it is generally known) was first dug in the late 1880’s and was initially used for the refining of sugar beet. At one time, Yate’s Spar Fields accounted for well over 70% of the world’s production. Later it was widely used in pyrotechnics, flares and more recently in electronics. The closure of the Bristol Mineral and Land Co Ltd in 1994 brought this most important industry to an end.

Want to know more about mining in Yate?

Visit Yate Heritage Centre and you can uncover what went on beneath Yate in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Yate Railway StationYate Railway Station

The opening of Yate Railway Station in 1844 gave impetus to the movement of extracted minerals and to the growth of local businesses. The line was founded by a wealthy Coalpit Heath collier to take his coal to Bristol. It was the first railway into Bristol, beating the Bath to Bristol line by five years.

The Brunel station shed, station master’s house and turntable survive from 1844, but the other station buildings were demolished after the station closed in 1966. The station was reopened on 11 May 1989 and is flourishing today.

Industry in Yate

In the early 1900’s, an Aerodrome was built alongside Station Road between the railway line and Poole Court. At the western end a depot dealt with the repair of airframes during World War I. Later Parnalls transferred their aircraft manufacture to the site from Bristol and built gun turrets during World War II.

Newmans Factory in YateAfter World War II

After the war, they continued trading in domestic appliances. The depot at the eastern end dealt with engine repairs during World War I and the manufacture of munitions during World War II. Newman Industries, one of the leading electric motor manufacturers, occupied the site until its closure in 1988.

What's there today?

Today the site is occupied by B & Q and Morrisons. The Town Council saved Poole Court from demolition and after refurbishment, it became the base for Yate Town Council.