Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Welcome


Our next meeting will be on Aug 2nd, keep an eye on this space for the topic.


Visitors welcome for just £1.50


Lots of interesting things to read below. if you are local, Panorama Walk and the Kingswood museum are both worth a visit.


We would be delighted if when you are clearing old photographs or documents to think of us before throwing out anything appertaining to Hanham and it’s history.  If you have any pictures or stories that we could share please get in touch.

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
“HANHAM HOUSE”
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

Thursday, 6 October 2016

John Chiddy

We would like possibly, with the help of others to replace the badly damage gravestone of our local hero John Chiddy. 

The stone is cracked and we think that a more fitting memorial should replace it.

 Before this could be done permission would be required from the descendants of John.

We have contacted many of Johns descendants? and hope to make good progress on this project in 2017.

Many Thanks.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Old Hanham


I remember!  I remember!



I am old enough to remember when Hanham was just a village; when all knew everyone by name; before any of the Avenues were built – Wesley, Whitfield, Wiltshire, Creswick, etc., or any of the roads between Abbots Avenue and Memorial Road, and when there were only a few scattered houses between what is now Plowright House and our Hanham Abbots Church, with no street lighting either.  There was none of the infilling there now is in Church Road, Conham Hill, Martins Road and the Hanham end of Lower Hanham Road, and the last few hundred yards before reaching the High Street.  A large orchard stretched there on to Tabernacle Road, that part being named Orchard Road.

In those days you could enter field paths direct from our High Street, known as Hanham Street, and walk almost all the way to Hanham Mills by field and woodland.  There were not more that half a dozen houses in Whittucks Road and about the same number in Greenbank Road, then known as Herring Lane.  The two avenues leading off of it and going back to the High Street together with Woodyleaze were all green fields.

In those times there were large families, six, eight or more children.  I was one of eight, so was my dear wife.  Mothers of such large families had too much to do, with cooking, washing etc., (with no modern appliances).  In most cases there was only one breadwinner until some of the children were old enough to go to work.  For the majority, holidays were out of the question.  The only time I ever saw the sea was when we had our annual family outing by train from Lawrence Hill to Portishead and one outing to Weston with the temperance Group from Christ Church.  I recall a church outing more than 75 years ago to Castle Combe by four horsebrake; all able bodied men being asked to walk up Tog Hill to ease the load on the horses, with a halt at The Crown for refreshment and a rest for the horses.

Another Church outing was from Conham, opposite Beese’s Tea Gardens, to Saltford by steamer.  I remember how I and most Hanhamites enjoyed our much frequented tow path walks all along the river to Hanham Mills.  On our way we could hear the sound of hammer on chisel which seemed to ring out from the great hollows of the quarries all along the river bank and which was once described as the anvil chorus.

Those locals working in Hanham were mostly in the boot factories, market gardens, the pit and quarries.  I know of one boot factory where there was no heating in winter time and men worked in their overcoats and a heavy sack over their shoulders, fastened in the front with a large nail.  The usual time to start work was 6.30 am with a breakfast break from half-past eight to nine, then on to six o’clock!  Start the same time on a Saturday and work until one o’clock.

Hanham Post Office, on the same site as now, was in the front room of a Victorian type bay window house with the letter box in the side window, and you could send a postcard for a halfpenny and a letter for one penny, (old coinage) and be sure it would be delivered next morning.  I remember the pillar box built into the wall near the corner of Tabernacle Road bearing the name “Hanham Village”.

In those days there was no pension for elderly people nor children’s’ allowances, so the majority did not retire at sixty or sixty-five as now, but worked on as long as possible.  When they could no longer manage a full day’s work and had to give up their job they sought ways and means of earning a few shillings.  I have seen in a cottage window “Boots and shoes neatly repaired here”; in another “Plain sewing done here”.  I remember another woman who once a week made faggots and found a ready sale for a quick dinner, and another woman who made herb beer!

Some of the former pit and quarry workers could occasionally earn a little bit as grave diggers in one of the local burial grounds – anything to earn a few shillings.  The destitute had to rely on getting a little money and a couple of loaves of bread from “The Board of Guardian’s of the Poor” and a bit of help from relatives, friends and neighbours.  The only alternative was the workhouse, so different from the County Council Elderly People’s Home where I now reside, with carpeted lounges and easy chairs, a well furnished bedroom and hot and cold running water, and there is an excellent variety of food!

Yes!  I remember!  I Remember!


C A Painter



Taken from an article in the Parish Magazine of Hanham with Hanham Abbots (Feb 1988)

Friday, 18 March 2016

Our River and Woods

The river, - one of 9 “Avons” in the UK is 75 miles long but its source and mouth are just 20 miles apart.  It forms the southern boundary of Hanham and was important for the transport of coal and pennant stone from our quarries.  Fresh water was at one time taken from the river at Hanham Mills to supply Bristol.
The Bristol Avon Navigation, which runs the 15 miles from the Kennet and Avon Canal at Hanham Lock to the Bristol Channel at Avonmouth, was constructed between 1724 and 1727; the first cargo of 'Deal boards, Pig-Lead and Meal' arrived in Bath in December 1727.
Until the completion of the Navigation and the Floating Harbour in 1809, the river was tidal, this made transport slow.  At one time at low tide the river could be crossed at Hanham Mills by stepping stones.  The Highest tides were known to run as far as Bath. And so we have Saltford, and the other side of Bath is Freshford. There were two ferries regularly running; the one at Conham, and one at Hanham Mills. Only the one at Conham now runs for access to the Beeses Tea Gardens.  We have an old map that shows the river running through “Hanham Gorge”  How much of a gorge it was I do not know, but it was massively quarried leaving the landscape that we have today,
This leads us into the woods. There are 4 named woods, we start to the east of The Chequers with Cleeve Woods, known to me when a lad as Fry’s woods. This is a private area with no public access on a steep south facing slope. So far as I know it has never been quarried and is a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest 
There is a particularly large population of Bath Asparagus. The Bath Asparagus in Cleeve Wood represents what is considered to be the largest and most stable population of this plant in the country.  The wood has been planted with Beech, Sycamore, Horse Chestnut, Cypress; Ash is dominant with the occasional Oak.
The undergrowth in many areas is dominated by Ivy; other common ground flora includes Dog's MercuryBluebell , Stinking Iris, Traveller's Joy and Slender False Brome.
Next we have Bickley Woods, if you cross the river by way of the ring road you pass across these woods.
Walk down common road, keep going and you are in Hencliffe woods, here in the 1940s the Nott’s murder took place.
Further west we have Conham woods, Conham, Hencliffe and Bickley woods have all been quarried, 13 different quarries taking many tons of stone every day. This stone was transported in barges into Bristol and Bath.

                                Roy Crew and Roger Williams