Yate

Gazette Series:

Originally part of Gloucestershire, Yate and its neighbouring towns and villages became part of the newly formed country of Avon in 1974 before being renamed South Gloucestershire.

Yate may appear to be a thoroughly modern town but root round the archives and you will discover a long and interesting history. The name Yate is derived from the Saxon word Giete or Gete meaning "a gateway into a forest area".

During the Saxon period and well into medieval times most of this part of south Gloucestershire was covered with scrub, woodland and forested areas. The 1800s saw agriculture become the mainstay of the area and it is recorded in the history books that the parish of Yate covered some 3,500 acres.

The town's parish church, St Mary's dates back to the Norman times but was remodelled during the 15th century and underwent extensive restoration work as recently as 1970. St Mary's Primary School, situated outside the churchyard walls was built on the site of a former poor house in 1855.

The landscape as we know it around Yate today is primarily a result of three mineral deposits discovered within the parish. Limestone to the east, Celestine or Spar in the centre and coal to the west.

The need for limestone increased with the advent of the Turnpike Roads and later the metalled roads while the demand for coal grew with the diminishing supply of timber. Spar was first dug in the late 1880s and was initially used for the refining of sugar beet. In fact, at one time Yate Spar fields accounted for over 70 per cent of the worlds production.

In more recent times Spar was used in the electronics industries. Because of the importance attributed to this mineral the land, stretching from Stanshawes towards Wickwar, could not be built on until all the mineral had been extracted. The Bristol Mineral and Land Co finally closed in 1994.

It was the opening of its railway station in 1844 that finally established Yate as a thriving centre with Station Road becoming the central thoroughfare. It was here that the cattle and produce markets were originally held and where local businesses began to spring up.

It was in the 1960s that Yate was designated as a potential development area and the building boom began in earnest. The creation of the 'new town' included a large retail shopping area, a well-equipped sports and leisure development together with numerous public buildings. Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, Yate has spread northways following the path of the old spar workings.

Whilst close enough to the amenities on offer in Bristol Yate is a modern town in its own right, providing a wide range of facilities and catering effectively for the needs of those living within it. However the past is never far away and the exhibitions housed within the centrally located Heritage Centre are a remainder of its rich history.

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