Giant Strides by Richard Coates

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Shire Publications. All Rights Reserved"/> Giant Strides

One of the biggest impacts on modern Bristol made by any family must be that made by the Stride family of Shirehampton.

Its full story still needs to be written, and this is just a concentrated version of the bare facts about some of the male characters.

The story must start with Edmund Stride, born in Parbrook near Glastonbury, who traded as a builder in Cardiff in 1871, but came to Shire as a partner in the Crown Brickworks at West Town with his sons Jared and Jethro and other men. This works made bricks and tiles out of local clay for major projects, particularly the first Avonmouth dock in the 1870s, but the firm clearly ran into difficulty and the partnership was dissolved in 1886.

Edmund must have retired from building at this point, and his dynamic son Jared takes centre stage. He is described as a founder of the Methodist church in Shire, though I haven’t discovered whether he or any other Strides built it. He was musical, playing the flute and running a string band, as well as conducting, and he wrote letters to the local press on topical affairs. Most of all, though, he became recognized as a successful joiner and builder responsible for some stone‐faced houses in Station Road, and as a letting agent in Shirehampton and Avonmouth. His brother Jethro and his cousin Albert, born in Parbrook and nearby West Bradley respectively, were also involved in both the building and letting trades, but in a more low‐key way. Albert married a woman living in Shirehampton called Alice Barton, and was a house furnisher as well as a builder.

built houses in Medicine Hat

The dynasty flourished further as builders. Jared’s sons Ernest, Frederick and Arthur, at least two of whom were skilled woodworkers, emigrated to Canada in about 1906, and built houses in Medicine Hat, Alberta. Other building Strides from the Glastonbury area, including a cousin Eber who was a stonemason, also emigrated to Canada and remained in the Vancouver area, where Eber became a respected local councillor in Burnaby. It is probably he who is commemorated in the name of the major road Stride Avenue in Burnaby. The families clearly remained in contact: the brothers’ house in Medicine Hat, Kitsilano, was named after a suburb of Vancouver.

Ernest contracted TB, and all three brothers returned to Shirehampton in around 1919, not wishing to bury him in the colonies. He died in 1926, but Frederick and Arthur flourished especially in the 1930s and 50s as Stride Brothers, building the high‐quality dwellings which are still marketed as classic Stride houses. These are mainly in Stoke Bishop and Sneyd Park, but in other places too including locally in Park Hill, where the surviving brothers themselves lived as next door neighbours, just down the hill from cousin Albert.

WW 1 Remount Depot in Shire

Two of Albert’s sons also lived in Shire and entered the building trade in contrasting ways. Robert’s flair led him in a different direction from Jared’s brood. It was he who bought up surplus materials ‐ wood, expanded metal, asbestos ? from the huts of the WW 1 Remount Depot in Shire and built many bungalows, kiosks and other holiday amenities out of them in Severn Beach. In many ways he was the father of Severn Beach, and his efforts are commemorated in the name of Stride Close there. His brother Horatio remained in the building trade in Shire and was responsible for some of the houses on the south side of the Portway. He was also an early participant in the new art of cinematography.

Housing remained in the blood of the next generation, the fourth since the exodus from Glastonbury. Frederick’s son Raymond (Ray) was one of the founders in 1953 of the still active Bristol architectural practice Stride Treglown. Other family members of Raymond’s and the next generation still have interests in the current incarnations of two of the Stride building firms, Stride Brothers and Stride Holdings, which are mainly in the business of letting.