Wednesday, 28 March 2018


A reminder to our members
and visitors.
our next meeting will be July 4th

The years programme includes 8 guest speakers,

February 7th
Early Avon Valley Copper
and Brass Industry
Richard Ross- from
the Saltford  Brassmill Project
March 21st
Broadmead and beyond
Chris Bigg
April 18th
Jane Austen and the
Stuart Burroughs
May 16th
History of Bristol electricity
Peter Lamb
August 1st
Bristol through maps
Jeff Bishop
September 19th
Wandering and begging: The vagrant children of Bristol
Shirley Hodgson
October 17th
The Ashmeads of Bristol
Alan and June Bambury
November 21st
Blind schools in Bristol
Veronica Bowerman

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

John Chiddy's Gravestone

Hanham Local History Society are pleased to confirm that they are funding the replacement of the missing and damaged memorial stones on the grave of John Chiddy at Christ Church, Hanham.  In 1876 John died while saving the express train, the Flying Dutchman, from disaster. The stones were replaced in 1976, one hundred years after Chiddy’s death, by C H Painter life long Church member, local undertaker and historian.  Every effort has been made by the society to contact all known descendants of John Chiddy and we are grateful that neither they nor the church have raised any objections to this replacement.  When the new stone is installed, a rededication service will take place, at which time children from several local schools will be in attendance.  The society acknowledges the valuable assistance of T M Broodrie of Summers Memorial Masons, St George in this venture.  We also register our thanks to our parish councils and the local councillors for their continued support, especially in respect of the research and documenting of local heritage issues carried out by the Society.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Hanham War Memorial gets it’s own Quick Response Code

South Gloucester council have teamed up with volunteers from South Gloucestershire museums, heritage centres and local history groups in an ongoing project to place QR codes next to each war memorial across South Gloucestershire.

By downloading a QR app to a mobile phone, information can be obtained from the website about the named people on the memorial  plaque, tablet or statue.

South Glos council have a list of war memorials which are open to the public across our area, and as the project continues more and more information about the named people will be available.

Hanham now has its own QR code sited on a post alongside the war memorial.
All the information was supplied by our society

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Bush Hill

Bush’s Hill
Report by R Williams. (Of joint investigation with Mary Antill & Roy Crew.)

Mary had asked “Does anyone know about Grotto House, apparently on Bush’s Hill?” and offered the story of John Creech Horse Dealer who lived there.
From Census and old newspapers Nos. 14 & 16 Chapel Rd were identified as the properties in question. Behind No 16 (Grotto House) was a yard with Stabling advertised for 50 horses.
This pair of houses appears on the 1st series OS Map, pre 1888,

It was confirmed that Bush’s Hill was a narrow lane running from Lower Hanham Rd to the Junction with Lower Chapel Rd. Roger said that he believed it originally ran through the narrow alley between ‘Curry Night’ & ‘Sticky Fingers’. In fact he said that before the High St was built as part of the Turnpike the lane could have joined with Anstey’s Rd
Roger Williams had spoken to the occupant of no 14 who confirmed that Albert Moss the last Horse-Dealer had lived at No. 16. The yard was cobbled then. She also said that her house had been called Coronation House, and that it had been the home of Cliff Britton the Rovers Everton & England footballer. Pictures of the Houses and of Cliff Britton were shown. Albert Moss had been enlisted as a Wheelwright in the Great War (document shown).

The Stables had been converted to 14 Garages when the yard was sold in 1938, as part of the estate of Robert Fussell, (Kingswood boot Manufacturing Family). Moss’s Mother was a Fussell.

Some time after WW2 the Yard became the property of G. Sampson’s Hardware business on the High St. and was used for Builder’s Merchants stocks.

Within a couple of weeks of the original enquiry Roger noticed that the yard had changed hands again and was now a building-site for 6 houses. The developer’s archaeology watch had reported a crudely built well of late Victorian date. We had noted this on the 1903 OS map.

We could not find a specific reason for the name ‘Bush’s’. There did not seem to have been any commercial operation to have given its name to the narrow lane. There were but 10 houses in the earliest map and census details we found, with no occupants of that name.

Roger adds this afterthought: -
In 1740 Methodist Preacher Cennick’s diary lists three, Peter, William & Aaron Bush who were of the Moravian Brotherhood. These could be the coalminers who held a mine called Bushes at the top of Stradbrook Vale by Kennard Close in the Map of Player’s Manors of 1750. That’s just over half a mile away.

Hanham House - The Mystery solved

The Story of Hanham House
A joint investigation; - Roger Windsor, Roy Crew, Mary Antill & Roger Williams

The Victorian mansion was set in a site of just over 2 acres in a corner north of the A431, and west of the old back lane (prehistoric Trackway). The corner is now occupied by the New Baptist Church, - a much smaller footprint.
The 2 acres previously extended west to the LIDL boundary and north to the line from LIDL to Wesley Avenue. The estate in 1898 included fields as far as Woodyleaze Drive to Lower Hanham Rd. and all of Wesley & Wilshire Avenues but excluding Tudor Rd / Holmwood and the old Baptist Church etc on the east.

The beginning (so far back as we know) is the site boundary on the east. This was an ancient Trackway before the Romans came. We can trace it from the Black Horse pub in Kingswood over Hanham Mount, through Hanham Hall and crossing at Riverside Cottages it appears again toward Queen Charlton. It was one of several routes between the Dobunni in the north and the Durotriges to the south. The Romans in about 79 AD created the southern boundary of the site (A431) when they built the ’Via Julia’ from Bath to Portus Abonae (Port of Avon).

The Norman Kings held the Forest of Kingswood and Filwood. What remained of the Kings Chase in 1610 had a southern boundary that passed down the back lane and along the high Street. That is, - the site was within the Forest of Kingswood.By 1652 the eastern and southern boundaries of the site were still the boundary line of Kingswood Chase in the Government Survey under Cromwell’s Commonwealth. However already in 1638 the main road frontage as far as the Community Centre had been split into a number of plots and leased by Lewis Evans for the building of cottages, but these were still officially within the Royal Forest.  
Lewis Evans was the grandson of the Vicar of St. Mary’s Bitton. He and his father Thomas are recorded as Taylors in Hanham. If they claimed title to a piece of the King’s Chase it is not clear how they had any right to do so.
By 1657 all that parcel of land between the A431 and Mounthill appears to have been in the possession of Arthur Farmer, Brewer and Alderman of Bristol. This is recorded as “Late Farmer’s Lands” in the Mapp of Kingswood Chace of 1672. Farmer had bought several parcels of land in the Parish of Bitton from the Read family.

The first record we have of there being a house on the site is in the Tythe map of the parish of Oldland of about 1840. The footprint of the House then is the same as that which persisted until its sale in 1898.
John Whittuck Palmer, JP (1809-1871) lived there in the 1871 census with some of his family and four servants. He died shortly after and we have not yet found a subsequent owner between him and Mrs Jones - the last occupant.   We feel there must be one.
By 1898 a number of improvements such as the 64 ft. long heated conservatory across the south elevation had been added.

Here is the Auction Offer handbill. It is the last record 
we have of the house, as it has disappeared in the O.S 2nd series Map published as 25‑inch in 1903.
The building of the New Baptist Church did not begin until 1905.

All that FREEHOLD substantially-built and conveniently-arranged RESIDENCE known as
With the Flower and Kitchen Gardens, Lawns and Orchard, Conservatory, Greenhouse, Stabling and Coach-House, Cowshed and other buildings, situate in the Parish of Hanham, and late in the occupation of Mrs J A S L Jones, deceased.
The house contains on the Ground-floor Large entrance Hall and Drawing-room and dining-room, both communicating with a Conservatory (heated by hot water) 64 feet by 7 feet, 9inches extending nearly the whole length of the front of the house. Panelled Morning-room, Smoking-room, two w.c.s, one fitted as a lavatory, Servant’s-hall, Kitchen, two China Pantries, Larder and Offices.   On the first floor, approached by two staircases are nine Bed and Dressing rooms, Fitted Bathroom and w.c. In the Basement is extensive Cellarage, the Wine Cellar being fitted with stone bins having lock-up fronts.

The STABLING comprises 3 large Loose-Boxes with capitally fitted Harness-room, Large Coach-house and Loft.   The OUTBUILDINGS comprise Cow-shed, Fowl-houses &c. The FLOWER and KITCHEN GARDENS and ORCHARD lie well to the sun and are plentifully stocked with Choice Fruit Trees.   There is a well-built GREENHOUSE, 26 feet by 13 feet.

We don’t have any pictures of Hanham House but the external features must have been similar to those of Oldland Hall
(Now Grade 2 listed)

 Picture dated 1938. 

                                                              R J Williams May 2017.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Polishing the “Small Gem” - a Diamond Anniversary

By the mid 1920’s man had finished with our Avon Valley - the copper, zinc, coal mining and quarrying industries had gone and left their scars.   All that remained of man's touch was sewage - pipelines and treatment works.

Although nature was starting a healing process, holes and quarries were the readymade landfill sites for man’s rubbish post-war - notably in Bickley Woods and at Conham Farm. 

Thankfully in the early 1950s Kingswood Urban District Council had the beginnings of a ‘conservation conscience’ and was looking positively at the idea of National Parks. It looked  at the Avon Valley plateau at the bottom of The Swan Field bordering on the edge of a pair of the biggest quarries.  Here there was an extensive panoramic view of the river valley - upriver to Keynsham, downriver towards Brislington.

With the idea of creating a Park the plateau was compulsorily purchased in 1960 and fenced-off with iron railings.  Then there followed a few years of development - the rebuilding of 100 Steps; removing the colliery tramway and building some steps down towards the river;  fencing  at the quarry top’s edge and seating at the viewpoint.

The finished scheme had been officially opened in April 1957 and the souvenir proudly claimed the Park to be a “small natural gem”. Commentary in the programme held out the hope that around the horseshoe bend, when the Conham sewage works was eventually closed, the land it was on would be restored to a water meade.  In fact it was tipped on!

In the 60 years since the Park was opened many trees have grown - and fallen.  The unwanted consequence has been the partial obstruction of the panoramic view. The Friends and South Gloucestershire Council proposed to restore the view; the amenity of the viewpoint; the safety standard of the fencing; and the waymarking of the Panorama Walk circuit. Plans have been drawn up and costed for this restoration project and grant funding sought - ironically from the Landfill Communities Fund. If the project goes ahead and the new Panorama Wildflower Meadow on the plateau grassland blooms - we will have a Park to be very proud of!

PS:  Note that the souvenir programme for the Avon Valley Park opening stated that it was being dedicated to the public for their perpetual enjoyment.  What is that worth in these times??

Robin Champion