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About the AIBT

The Avon Industrial Buildings Trust (AIBT) was formed in 1980 to promote the conservation of industrial monuments. It was a joint initiative between the Bristol Industrial Archaeological Society (BIAS) and the then County of Avon Conservation team. In its early years the trust was funded by the Community programme of the Manpower Services Commission. This ceased in 1988, and since then the trust has received grants from bodies such as English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund for work on specific projects. The Trust has charitable status and acts as a focus of interest in the industrial archaeology of the area. The definition of the word 'industrial' used by the trust is a broad one, which includes transport and agriculture as well as manufacturing and mining.

In the 1980s the AIBT published a booklet on the route of the Dramway and undertook exploratory excavations at the Nailsea Glassworks and Middle Engine Pit in North Somerset, the Ram Hill Colliery in South Gloucestershire, and at a number of other sites. It has also assisted in a several restoration projects, such as work on William Championís grotto at Warmley. The trustís largest project to date has been management of the restoration of the Midford Viaduct on the Somerset Coal Canal, which cost around £1 000 000 and was carried out in 2000 and 2001. During the Brunel 200 celebrations in 2006, it mounted an exhibition in partnership with the North West Bristol Camera Club entitled ĎBrunel Through the Lensí. Its aim was to introduce Bristolís industrial heritage to a wider audience through photographic images.

One of its current (2007-to date) projects is the preservation of the surface buildings at the Brandy Bottom Colliery. This is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and the AIBT's plans for conservation have to be approved in advance by Historic England. Members of the AIBT, assisted by volunteers from other organisations such as the South Gloucestershire Mines Research Group, are working on various parts of the site. Other areas, such as repairs to the top of the chimney, have had to be done by specialist masons. In 2013 the trust published the results of a historical survey on the pit.

The AIBT was the lead organisation in the early stages of the development of the long term plan for the site in Warmley where William Champion established his zinc smelter and brass works. This role has now been taken over by a separate body, Kingswood Heritage Projects (KHP), which is working with other interested parties on the plan. AIBT members were involved in major roles within the KHP in the initial stages of the project. The AIBT is no longer involved with this project.

In 2013, the AIBT joined the Bristol Other Bridge Group, where the AIBT, the Bristol Archaeological Society (BIAS) and the Clifton and Hotwells Improvement Society (CHIS) are working in partnership on the preservation of Brunel's Other Bridge, located by the entrance dock to Bristol's floating harbour.

The trust is a charity, No 279998, and acts as a focus of interest in the industrial archaeology of the area. It normally works with partners, such as local councils and/or other heritage organisations, on its conservation projects, and aims to hand over the long term running of the sites to local groups. The AIBT is also a limited company, No 1483387, which allows it to execute contracts, such as those in the restoration of the Midford Aqueduct. Many of the AIBT members are also members of the societies or groups involved with the day to day running of other restoration projects.

Joining the AIBT

The AIBT is looking for people to join us†Ė†not just those with experience in conservation work, but also those who would like to gain experience, or even those who would just like to spend time outdoors working on conservation projects. Possible areas of experience/interest include:

  • Fundraising
  • Working with local government departments and statutory bodies such as Historic England
  • Industrial archaeology
  • Civil and mechanical engineering
  • Specification and supervision of contracts
  • Maintenance of buildings and other structures
  • Historical research
  • Conservation of artefacts
  • Wildlife identification
  • Website design and maintenance

The AIBT does not have a formal programme of lectures, though its members do give talks to other societies.

The trustís management committee meets formally every quarter. Management of individual projects is devolved to sub-committees, who meet as and when required.

If interested, please make contact with Hamish Orr-Ewing, the AIBT Chairman, at our email address of info@aibt.org. He will then pass on your enquiry to the most suitable member of the management committee.

A printable copy of a leaflet about the AIBT can be downloaded by clicking on this link

Websites of Other Organisations

  • The Bristol Buildings Preservation Trust works on saving and conserving historic buildings at risk within the city of Bristol. Its website is www.bristolbuildingspreservationtrust.org.uk.
  • The Bristol Industrial Archaeological Society (BIAS) organises lectures and visits on the industrial heritage of the Bristol region. Its website is www.b-i-a-s.org.uk.
  • Brunel's Other Bridge is a partnership between the AIBT, BIAS and CHIS, which is conserving Brunel's swing bridge at the entrance lock to Bristol harbour. Its website is brunelsotherbridge.org.uk.
  • The Clifton and Hotwells Improvement Society (CHIS) aims to improve the ameneties, preserve the best features, and maintain the quality of life withing the BS8 postcode area. Its website is www.cliftonhotwells.org.uk.
  • The remains of the surface buildings of a 19th Century coal mine can be seen at the Ram Hill Colliery. The site is owned by the South Gloucestershire Council, and is maintained by the Friends of Ram Hill Colliery. The latter's website, www.ramhillcolliery.org.uk, is currently undergoing a revamp.
  • Industrial Heritage Network South West is an umbrella body for industrial heritage organisations in the region. Its website, https://industrialheritagenetworks.com/ihn-south-west, has links to the websites of the member organisations.
  • The Kingswood Heritage Museum covers the social and industrial history of the local area. Its website is www.kingswoodmuseum.org.uk.
  • The Nailsea and District Local History Society has information on the history of the Nailsea area on its website www.ndlhs.org.uk.
  • The SS Great Britain Trust is a charity that manages and maintains Brunel's ocean liner - the SS Great Britain. It is also responsible for Being Brunel and the Brunel Institute. The website is https://www.ssgreatbritain.org/.
  • The Somersetshire Coal Canal Society works on the preservation of the canal, and there are details of its programme on its website www.coalcanal.com.
  • South Gloucestershire Council website, www.southglos.gov.uk, has information on the Dramway, and the Warmley Conservation Area, which can be found by using their search engine.
  • The South Gloucestershire 'Know Your Place' website has information on sites of interest in the county. It also has old Ordnance Survey maps which can be superimposed onto a modern one. The website is 'maps.bristol.gov.uk/kyp/?edition=southglos'.
  • South Gloucestershire Mines Research Group is interested in the history and preservation of the areas's mines, and its website is www.sgmrg.co.uk.

Page updated 20 Mar 24