The annual Craft exhibition was held again this year at the Public Hall during the last week of October. This exhibition has now been running since the early 80's and according to the visitors "gets better every year".
As usual there were many crafts on show from local residents, different every time, and this year cross-stitch seemed to dominate. We had enough patchwork quilts again to be able to hang them around the hall; this shows the off to their best advantage, and looks colourful coming through the door. There were several entries from the pillow lace club, together with needlework, knitting, crochet, pottery, etc. etc.
We had demonstrations of flower pressing, lace making, patchwork pergamano/stamping, quilting, silk painting and spinning. It was so nice to see Claire Pimm demonstrating her skills with pergamano. She is only 12 years and she spent her half term holiday showing her skill in this art. Her achievement is outstanding, so we all hope she keeps it up and comes to any more exhibitions.
We had several exhibits from the younger members of Shirehampton - Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and Cubs. The Guides made beautiful flower arrangements in baskets of oasis, and these arrangements were spread throughout the exhibition to enhance the various other tables. Lets hope some of these young people will be future organisers and stewards. This year it was decided to use the back of the hall in which to serve refreshments. New lighting has been put in the public hall, under the balcony, and all the visitors seemed to prefer having their refreshments instead of in a separate room.
As a result of advertising we had visitors from all around Bristol - Kingswood, Chipping Sodbury, Whitchurch and High Littleton. It was particularly nice to see Mrs. Betty Smith (nee Western), who grew up in Shirehampton and now lives in Frodsham in Cheshire. I think she also enjoyed meeting several people she knew from school.
We hope to carry on again next year, but cannot do without your help in supplying the crafts.
Finally, a special thank you must be given to the organisers and stewards, as well as all the ladies who helped with the refreshments and made the delicious cake. Without them in it would be impossible to put on this exhibition.
So start working now on your entries for next year!
Read All About It!! - Coming Soon
If you enjoy a good read that includes comedy, poignancy, enterprise, drama and self determination then you can't afford to miss 'a mouthful of memories' an oral history of Avonmouth.
Read about the wedding gatecrasher of 1895, the 4 year old who thought Avonmouth Church was bombed for his entertainment, and much much more in this delightful collection of memories from Avonmouth people. You can wallow in nostalgia or be educated in the reality of how this very special village successfully combined its rural culture with that of a thriving international port.
For a very special Christmas or Millennium present, or just a gift to yourselves - order now to avoid disappointment. Supplies are limited and at £5 per copy for 37 stories and plenty of photographs, you can't afford to miss this bargain of the Millennium!
To order your copy please call Judy Helme (daytime - 0117 9382849). This book is part of the Avonmouth Millennium History Project being undertaken by Avonmouth Genealogy Group.)
Mrs Bigwood accepting some presents from ex-colleague Gill Slee
Please see The Shire paper December edition for accompanying story.
Portway Community School Carol Service
7.00pm St, Andrews Church Avonmouth on Tuesday 14 December followed by mince pies and mulled wine all welcome.
Shire 2000 Millennium Quilt
Shire Stitchers, the patchwork and quilting group which meets every month in the Public Hall is making a quilt representing Shirehampton to celebrate the Millennium. The quilt design is based on a map of Shirehampton with different fabrics to represent the various sections of the village. It is a joint effort and will progress to completion over a period of several months. The finished result will hang in the Public Library in Station Road for all to see.
Shire Stitcher's sister group, "Bee in the Cove" Houston Texas
Please see The Shire, paper December edition for accompanying story.
Shirehampton Methodist Church
Sunday 5th December 11am. Family service. Friends are invited to bring to ys for the under 5;s, for distribution by Barnardos, Lawrence Weston. Sunday 11th December 11am Guest Preacher. Rev. Dr. Israel Selvanayagam B. D., M.T.H., M.A. From Parrakkanvilai, South India. 6.30pm The circuit Choir present - ³Night of Miracles² at Westbury-on-Trim Methodist Church. Sunday 19th December 4.00pm. Carols by Candlelight and Christingle Service - led by the Rev. David Alderman.
Christmas Day - Family service. Rev. David Alderman - 11am. Sunday 26th December - 11am Mrs Valerie Flint-Johnson.
Sunday 2nd January 2000 - 11am United Covenant Service - Rev. David Alder man 6.30pm United Songs of Praise Rev David Alderman.
The staff would like to thank everyone for their support over the last year and wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We look forward to seeing current and new readers and being of assistance to you in the New Millennium.
We will be holding a Christmas Coffee Morning on Wednesday 22 December from 10:30 12:30. Visitors will be given ample opportunity and assistance when needed to look at YOUR web site "Shire on the Web" and discover all the information about your village contained on it. We also hope to have some displays/demonstrations from the groups who use the Public Hall. (Anyone willing to help or provide a demonstration/display please contact the library as soon as possible.)
During half term we had a visit from Pete Ashby with his Safety Shoe. This was thoroughly enjoyed by those who attended and the library resounded to the sound of children joining in and laughing (with a few chuckles from staff as well). In the run up to Christmas we will have a selection of cards for the children to colour/make whilst in the library. This will be an unsupervised activity though staff will give advice and assistance when t hey are not too busy.
We are hoping to have our new counter fitted in the near future and would ask in advance for your patience during any disruption (this will be kept to an absolute minimum). The new counter will give more room for staff to work and will enable us to help readers more efficiently by having separate areas for those returning books and those taking them out. Thank you again for your support and patience and we hope to see you all soon.
11th December - Xmas Fayre 11am - 3pm. Tables £7 each. Enquiries to Bar bara Wylde on 9836158, or at the public hall, between 1pm and 4pm on Fridays. 11th December - 7.30pm, Te Cameo Orchestra will be giving a concert at th e public hall. Tickets on sale at the door.
31st December - New Years Eve Community get together at the Public Hall.
Tickets £2 each, can be bought at Liz's Flower Shop, High Street. 16th June, 2000 - Senior Citizens Dance and Buffet. Starts at 8pm. More details will be announced later.
Groveleaze Youth Centre
"Groveleaze Youth Centre" 40th Anniversary next March. Do you recognise anyone in this picture. If so, please phone Martin on 9822010
Shirehampton Residential Nursing Home - Now Open
Please see Shire on the Web's November version of the Shire news for more information.
Proposed closure of the Portway resource activity centre
St. Bernard's road, Shirehampton
The following letter has been written by councillor Mrs. Celia Lukins to Mr. Keith Tilley, Service Manager of the Bristol Social Services, on hearing they it is proposed to close the Portway Resource and Activity Centre:-Thank you for your memo dated 20 October 1999 and accompanying report, however, it is great pity that as a Ward Councillor, I was not given the opportunity to attend the meeting with Carers and Relatives to hear your explanation and their views.
I have had a number of letter and phone calls from Constituents who are parents of some users, they have raised a number of concerns which I share.
I also have concerns regarding the Report, which you submitted to the Social Services Committee on the 25 October 1999. I am surprised and concerned that the Portway Centre is to be grouped with Hotwells, Fishponds and Southmead as this is a very wide area and will inevitably necessitate much travelling for both users, parents, carers and staff. It seems to me that a great deal of staff/carer time will be wasted and therefore, it is difficult to equate this with savings or indeed Best Value.
Much is said in your report about community inclusive days which, I believe, is already being achieved by the Portway Centre. Shirehampton is a very strong community with many community activities. The Portway Centre users are involved with the singing voices at St. Mary's Church, Shirehampton, and with projects at both Shirehampton junior school and Portway community school. They are also in acclaimed projects, like Art and Power and Artists First and Portway Players. Whilst these and other activities take users out of the building, they need a base to operate from and to use when not engaged in off-site activities. You cannot expect them to lead nomadic lives moving from one community-based activity to another. They and their carer s need a place they can all come together to help and support and enjoy each other's company. The Portway Centre is such a place, well established, within strong community, where users and carers feel safe, fulfilled and happy.
Your report talks of consultation, but I have serious doubts as to whether you intend this to be meaningful. I have already expressed my concerns that I, as an elected Member from this community, was not given adequate opportunity to attend the meeting on the 20 October 1999. Parents, carers and staff were told that they had until 2001 to resolve this problem; suddenly they have five months! There must be further dialogue with all concerned and their views must be reported to Social Services Committee or a serious and meaningful consideration.
The report tries to identify cash savings which is understandable, but this must be weighed against the service that is to be provided in line with Best Value; principles. To close the Portway Centre will inevitably have an effect on both users and carers. Excellent work has been done at the centre with support from those involved and the surrounding community and I cannot see that there are gains to be made from destroying this, we should be building on it.
The report is incomplete, it does not say whether transport are not available to them. It does not acknowledge that more staff, not less, will be required to manage people over such a wide area or that more staff, not less, will be required to manage people over such a wide area or that staff will spend much of their valuable time travelling around the City.
In recent past, I was instrumental in getting a residential house built in Shirehampton in conjunction with mencap, the idea that local residents within Shirehampton could, when the time came, move into residential care within the same community that they have lived in a and still attend their much loved and receptive Portway Centre. I would urge you to work in
partnership with the Health Authority, who appear to own the building, in order to keep this valued and excellent Centre open. The majority of users are local residents and wish to maintain links with their community, a community in which they feel safe and at home in, a community that does and wants to support their Centre.
Councillor Mrs C M Lukins JP
Avonmouth Ward Councillor.
Mrs Auriel James, M.B.E
Mrs Auriel James with the MBE which she received from HRH The Prince of Wales on 9th November 1999.
Shirehampton War Memorial, Sunday 14 November 1999
Many local organisations were represented at the War Memorial for the Remembrance Day Service.
Congratulations to Christopher Eynon
Rev. Fearnley Symons presenting Christopher Eynon with a medal and certificate for 50 years service as a Chorister at St Mary's Church
What a performance! Be Entertained at Bristol City Museum
A new exhibition looking at how Bristolians have been entertained in the cinemas, theatres, concert and dance halls of the city since the turn of the century, opens at Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery on Friday,October 23rd.
The exhibition has almost entirely come about from local people offers their treasured memorabilia and provides a fascinating insight into wealth of popular culture. It is the first time that all of Bristol's entertainment has been brought together in one exhibition.
Curator Andy King said: "Its been fascinating going around visiting people to see what they have tucked away, and it's thrown up things as varied as the beard of the Great Valdo, to a signed T-shirt from massive attack, to people's autographed snapshots with famous acts"
"On display will also be the silver disk awarded to Fred Wedlock for his top forty single 'The oldest swinger in town'; as well as the sound effects which were often instruments used in early silent films."
The front hall of the City Museum and Art Gallery will be dominated by a reconstructed theatre, complete with 30 seats from the Broadway Cinema in Knowle. Visitors will be able to see video footage of Bristol's theatre s, music halls, the history of cinema and the making of a pantomime. Also on view will be photographs of performers in action at venues in Bristol, concert programmes, clothing and a database of the events that were on from the 1900's to the 1990's.
The exhibition runs from October 23 1999, to January 23 2000, at the City Museum and Art Gallery and admission is free. Visitors to the City Museum and Art Gallery can learn how to waltz, tango, salsa or cha-cha-cha on Saturday December 11th.
A dance through time is a special one-day event and forms part of the exhibition What a performance! Entertainment in Bristol since 1900s looking at how Bristolians have been entertained in the city over the last century.
Also featured will be demonstrations of modern and traditional ethnic sty les and demonstrations form local dance schools and community groups.
The day is split into two sessions:
Rehearsals have now begun in earnest for Jack and the Beanstalk (juniors) and the Christmas Story (infants). The afternoon performance this year will be on Wednesday 8th December and the evening performance on Thursday 9th by which time all the children will, of course, be word perfect!
Cricket At St. Bernard's
For the past five weeks, the year five and six children have been lucky enough to receive cricket coaching from Stuart Barnes and Ayub Khan who play for Gloucestershire cricket club. The children thoroughly enjoyed the session s as did the coaches!
We asked some of the children to interview Stuart and to write up the interviews in a 'journalistic' style. This ties in with part of their literacy work this term which is looking at different styles of writing. A selection of the reports are printed below.
Cricket Crazy At St. Bernards
For six weeks we have had Stuart Barnes to teach us how to play cricket and. We have asked Stuart Barnes some questions so everyone will know more about him and so they will know he is more than just a cricket coach.
Stuart Barnes at the age of 29 firstly worked for Barclays bank for two years then became a professional cricketer for two years but when he was at school, he played for the Lansdown Cricket Club in Bath. Afterwards, he became a cricket coach in 1994 and has been for 5 years so far. When he played cricket he met Princess Diana when she was alive, and he met a lot of famous cricketers including all of the present England team. When he is not coaching or playing, he would have a game of golf, watch television, relax and listen to music. To keep fit he trains and goes to the gym three times a week. Overall, he has about one day a week to himself. He said the hardest game was against the West Indies. Stuart Barnes unfortunately hasn't got the bat that he played his first game with but has many other cricket bats.
Family: He has a wife and two children, he was inspired by his Dad because when he was a little boy he nagged his Dad to take him to his cricket matches. He always wanted to be a cricket player but he never dreamed of becoming a coach. His childhood hero was Ian Botham and his hero now is Darren Gough He has a younger brother who he sometimes plays cricket with. He thinks he has broken a lot of windows with cricket balls.
Rebecca Balsdon and Jennie Evans.
For the past five weeks Stuart Barnes who plays for Gloucestershire crick et club came to St. Bernards to coach cricket. Years 4,5 and 6 have been taking it in turns to learn how to play cricket properly. We have learnt how to bowl, grip the bat and how to stand when you hit the ball. We interviewed Stuart Barnes and asked him questions like how he got started and what advice he would give to people who want professional sports players.
Stuart has been playing professional cricket for 10 years. He always has dreamed of becoming a cricketer, because his Dad played cricket and Stuart always went to watch him.
Stuart said that his favourite position in cricket is bowling and he tries to bowl quickly. Stuart has a wife and two children, he plays golf in his spare time with his children. When Stuart was little he played cricket in the garden with his Dad and his little brother. When he was nine, he joined a mini cricket club. He joined Gloucestershire when he was 19. Gloucestershire has youth teams and Stuart coaches the under 15s. He worked at Barclays bank for 2 years before playing cricket. Stuart has met a lot of people including: Princess Diana and all of the England cricket team. Some of us got his photograph. He said he enjoyed coaching us and we enjoyed him coaching us. It was great fun!
Former Glos. cricket player and now cricket coach, Stuart Barnes has recently been coaching local primary school St. Bernard's. Stuart Barnes has been coaching local school St. Bernard's for the last four weeks, and he has said he really enjoyed coaching them, and when he was interviewed by the children, and someone said hove you ever thought of changing jobs, he simply said no. He has a younger brother who he used to play cricket with and he admitted breaking lots of windows. His idol now is Darren Gough, but when he was younger it was Ian Botham, one of the most memorable moments is bowling out Ian for Gloucestershire, the other moment is playing at Lord's. He has met lots of famous people, including Princess Diana when she was alive and all the England players. He has been interested in cricket as far back as he can remember. His favourite position is fast arm bowler and his hardest game was against the West Indies. He spends almost six days a week in the gym, otherwise he is jogging, swimming or playing golf. He likes all sports, a nd he used to play football for Bloomfield Rangers under elevens. Before playing cricket for Gloucestershire, he played for Lansdown in Bath.
We have really enjoyed being coached by Stuart for the last couple of weeks, we would also like to thank Ayub Kahn who took us in our first session and taught us how to bat.
Stuart Barnes a coach for Gloucestershire cricket club came to St Bernards R.C primary School to coach the children in Class 4 for six weeks. Stuart explained that he enjoyed teaching him. He had a trial in 1989 for Gloucestershire than after two years of being a professional cricket player, he slipped into coaching. Stuart said he's always enjoyed playing cricket and he will never change his occupation. Even though he likes all sports.
Stuart explained that he had always wanted to be a cricket player, ever since he watched England play when he was younger. His favourite player was Ian Botham. His best match ever was when he bowled him out!
Portway Community School for Hire
Specialist facilities for community use at Portway community school:
A large number of classrooms are also available for use as is the library for classes or meetings.
There are arranged courses starting in January 2000 in the following subjects:
The school also hosts the West Bristol Concert Wind Band and Jazz - Rock Big Band on Monday evenings. For further details please contact Nicola Berry or Milly Vinnicombe at Portway Community School on (0117) 982 8442
Whats On In December
December 1st, Wednesday A.U.S meeting 7.15pm at 115 High Street, Shirehampton.
December 1st, Wednesday Arthritis Care 7.30pm at the Public Hall.
December 1st and 3rd every Wednesday and Friday Drop in Sessions for advice at the A.U.S centre, 115 high street, next door to Twyford House.
December 2nd, Thursday Tea Dance at the Methodist Church Hall, Sea Mills, 2.30pm-4.30pm. Admission £1, with David Money.
December 2nd, Thursday Townswomen's Guild, meets at 7,30pm in the Methodist Church Hall "Secrets of the Bayeaux Tapestry" Mr A Bowring.
December 6th and every Monday Womens Bright Hour 2.30pm at the Methodist Church Hall.
December 7th, Tuesday Local Councillors available for consultation 7.30pm at Jim O' Neil House.
December 7th, St. Andrews Ladies Club meets at 7.30pm in St. Andrews Church Hall, Avonmouth for in house Christmas party.
December 8th, Wednesday Millennium meeting at 7,30pm at the Public Hall.
December 10th Friday Sequence Buffet Dance at Cotswold Centre 7.30pm.
December 10th, Friday St. Andrew;s Ladies Club Christmas Night Out.
December 11th, Saturday Christmas Fayre at the Public Hall 11am - 3pm organised by the Evergreens.
December 12th Sunday Shirehampton Choir Concert with Avon Primary Choir and the Horfield Handbell Ringers at St. Mary's Church at 2.30pm.
December 14th, Tuesday Co-Operative Womens Guild meets at 2.30pm at 6 Portbury Grove.
December 14th, Tuesday Railway Modellers at the Public Hall at 7.30pm.
December 14th, Tuesday Portway School Symphonic Band and the carol service at St. Andrew's Church, Avonmouth at 7pm.
December 15th, Wednesday Womens Institute meets at the Methodist Church H all at 7.30pm for a christmas party.
December 15th Wednesday "The Happy Hearts" meet at the Church centre at 7.30pm.
December 15th, Wednesday, Shirehampton Stitchers at the Public Hall at 7.30pm.
December 16th, Thursday Tea Dance-American Xmas Tea Special at Sea Mills Methodist Church Hall 2.30pm-4.30pm with John Hutton.
December 17th, Friday All Local Schools break up for the christmas holidays.
December 19th, Sunday Portway School Symphonic Band play at the I.C.I Severnside at 7.30.
December 24th, Friday, Christmas Eve Carols on the Green with the Rev. Tim Baynes Clarke and the Portway School Symphonic Band and the West Bristol Music Centre. Please bring the carol sheet from the middle of the December Edition of 'Shire' with you and a light, a torch or candle, and just come. If the weather is wet then it will be in St. Mary's.
December 31st, Friday New Years Eve. Millennium Party for all the family at the public hall. For details see Shirley James Tel 987946
Calling all secretaries of clubs and societies please will you let us have your club or society;s programme for 2000 year as soon as you can via the Library, so that we can keep the details of the 'Whats On' up to date.
Student to Cycle through Desert In Aid Of CLIC
Rob Wheeler from Shirehampton is to cycle from Shirehampton 300km through the Israeli desert in aid of Clic - Caner and Leukemia in Childhood. The trip begins in King Davids Golden City of Jerusalem and ends at Eilat on the Shores of the Red Sea. Rob will cycle for five days with a group of fundraisers in March 2000 to complete Desert Challenge. Rob said "This is the first time I have done anything quite like this and I am really looking forward to it. I am hoping to raise over £2,000 in sponsorship for CLIC with lots of help from my family and friends."
Leading childrens cancer charity CLIC has been supporting children with cancer and leukemia and their families for over 20 years. All funds raised from Desert Challenge will enable CLIC to continue its vital work. Event organiser Mel Stead said "We are very grateful to everyone who ha s agreed to take part in Desert Challenge. As well as raising money for an extremely worthwhile course, we are all looking forward to a challenging and memorable trip. We arranged a similar challenge earlier this year and had a great response from people all over the country. Formula One racing team owner Eddie Jordan and his wife took part along with Fashion designer David Emanuel"
If you would like to sponsor Rob or help with his fundraising he can be contacted on 0117 982 5045 or at 73 Lower High Street, Shirehampton. For an information pack about Desert Challenge or CLIC please contact Mel Stead at CLIC on 0117 9248844.
I have a couple of things that may be of interest to people in local History/family history of Shirehampton.
If you are interested or know of anyone who might be, please let me know, by email at email@example.com
Yours sincerely Julian Culliford.
The Mystery Of The Vanishing Cane
During the spring of 1939, the few misdoes and many innocents attending Portway Senior Boy's School who were awarded the frequent punishment of being caned, managed for a day or two to forego the chastisement. Canning was inflicted on the victim for the slightest reason, or at the slightest whim of their teachers or headmaster, Mr. Heales.
The reason for this short respite was that the dreaded instrument of torture had simply vanished from just inside Mr. Heales study. During those few days before the cane could be replaced, Mr Heales and staff were very angry. The school was diligently searched and many pupils were questioned without reward, much to the relief of all the pupils.
Now I can reveal that it was removed deliberately from the school premises by myself, David James, and an accomplice. I have not revealed his name as for many years he has been living abroad as we have rather lost touch.
We removed the cane solely in the hope that we might save other youngsters from punishment. Most were innocent of no other crime having to attend that school at that particular time. I remember after many years to rest with great joy, relief and satisfaction of the end of Mr Heales' headship under whose misguided direction Portway Senior Boys School certainly we no school of happy learning and enlightenment.
Skittle Players Wanted
Four players are wanted for a mixed skittles team. The home alley is at Shirehampton social club and own transport is essential. For details, please ring 982-4276.
My sister wrote to me the other day telling me of the demise of Portway Lower School. We both went to school there and well remember the dividing wall between 'boys' and 'girls', I remember it very well as I had many a scraped knee by being lifted up to pass notes over the wall. We had to walk from Sea Mills to school twice a day - not for us the luxury of cars or buses. Now, at 74 years old, I remember the school with pride.
Best wishes to your newspaper. From ex pupil, at WRAF, but still a Bristolian at heart. Dorothy Thomas, 19A Dunalley Parade, Cheltenham.
History of the George Inn
The "Old" George Inn
On the north west-side of Shirehampton Green stood the 'George' probably re-built about 1760, and named after the accession of the new King George III in the October. The only road to the village was from the outer Kingsweston park, a rough narrow road with cart ruts and pot holes filled up from time to time by villagers supervised by the Vestry waywarden. But by 1756 Britain was at war with France, the Seven years War 1756-1763 to meet the needs of the emergency, the old road was made a turnpike. With a good road surface, travel was easier and more comfortable which led to increased traffic. It also improved the approach to Kingsweston house where the Southwell family lived. At the Green Lamplighters Hall from where there were good views to Pill across the river, the Hungroad moorings and the mouth of the Avon. With the river only navigable at certain times, the turnpike was used by a number of merchants who had interests in ships in the roadsteads and other trades; people involved in their provisioning as well as fitting out with ropes, sail cloth and other needs. For here, in the war emergency there was considerable activity. The other part of the turnpike divided the Green to run on through the village street and on down to the Common in the flat marshland to the Gibbet post.
The 'George' Inn sign suspended from wrought-iron work was a welcome sight to travellers. At times the narrow frontage was busy with arrivals and departures of coaches, farm carts and with horses tethered to the hitching posts outside. Often there were shouts of drovers taking animals through the village who would leave them to a boy with a dog who watered them at the pond below the village green, whilst they went in the tavern. On market days, great lumbering broad-wheeled carriers; carts were pulled by a team of eight horses led by a man with a long whip & on such conveyances the poor of the district rode with their produce to the Bristol markets. Ann Chadwell had the 'George' until February 1769 when she left to take over as landlady of the Old Passage House (Now built new by Mr Swetman) called Lamplighters Hall.
In 1770 the George was the property of Captain Bishop, until 1775 when it belonged to Thomas Saunders who with his wife Ann ran the inn and tavern. Accommodation was available in the inn, & the tavern was for those who only called in for food and drink. One may picture Thomas, his hair tied back with a ribbon, wearing a shirt with wide sleeves, waistcoat, knee breeches over white socks and buckled shoes. At times wearing a long white apron.
In the summer months, the district was a popular venue, particularly for the gentry who came in their private carriages from Clifton, Hotwells and as far away as Bath. Kingsweston House at this time was the seat of Lord deClifford who owned much of the land in the district. When he and other members of the family were away a select number of visitors were allowed to visit the house to see the great collection of paintings, the gardens and the menagerie. They could then go out to the tall Lodge or Belvedere at Pen Pole, the hill above Shirehampton village where they could take tea and from where there were extensive views, for it was said, there are some of the most beautiful prospects imaginable, at the mouth of the Avon, King Road, the Denny Island, with ships at anchor and under sail.
Having seen Kingsweston and Pen Pole the visitors could then descend to the picturesque village of Shirehampton, embowered amidst orchards and elms. Over the years they arrived in a variety of horse drawn carriages, barouches, curricles, phaetons and gigs, some with coachmen and servants in livery, and others rode in on horse back. On arrival at the forecourt of the George they were helped down by servants and greeted by the innkeeper with a bow, for they were wealthy customers. The men well dressed in shirts of fine linen with neck cloths and ruffles at the wrist, embroidered waistcoats, long skirt coats, with large buttons and turned back cuffs, knee breeches, white socks and buckled shoes. Hair was in short wigs or tied back. Depending on the weather, some wearing three-cornered-hats, cloaks, swords and riding boots. Their women wore long flowing dresses off the shoulders with elaborate hairstyles. If they planned to stay a night or two, the inn servants after a greeting by forelock or cap touching unloaded the luggage and followed them into the inn.
On entering through the main door, mine host the innkeeper would show them into the parlour where orders were given for food and drink, or if they were special visitors, into a private room. The parlour was also frequented by yeomen and the large tenant farmers of the Kingsweston estate, often know n by their labourers as 'the masters'. As the best room, it would have been well furnished with mats, chairs and a long table with a cloth. On one side of the room would be a large fireplace with a mantelpiece on which there were ornaments, and either side of the fireplace were settles. On the walls, were candlestick holders, prints, a cupboard and a dresser for china ware. Here the visitors brought news from afar and heard news of the district. With coats removed, a servant attended to their needs. A popular dinner at this time was the 'Roast beef of Old England' with vegetables, followed by plum pudding washed down with the choicest wines.
Those staying overnight were escorted upstairs to a bed chamber followed by a servant with the luggage. The floorboards were covered with a carpet, four-poster bed, a chair or two, wash-hand stand and a night commode. Also fireplace, a warming-pan on the wall, a few prints, curtains at the window from where there was a fine view of the village green below. A chamber-maid brought up the hot water for washing and attended to the fire. Other room s were more basic, some of them up in the attics contained several small beds shared by other travellers.
The Tap Room
The social centre for the 'labouring poor' as they were called was frequented by agricultural labourers, blacksmiths, wheel-wrights, carpenters, coachmen, drovers, sail-makers, seafarers, pedlars and others from different walks of life. Often crowded, this was a plain room with a table or two, a settle and a fireplace. On the floor sawdust and spitoons. There may also have been a large cartwheel suspended from a wooden beam in the ceiling. It was turned on its side, and on the rim at intervals where the spokes joined were candles which were lit at night. A common feature of inns at this time. There dress was plain in contrast to the gentry in the other room, some were in wide sleeved shirts, neck cloths, plain waistcoats, short jackets and large belts. Knee breeches were worn with socks and stout boots, and some were wearing smocks and gaiters, the common farming attire. Their hair was cut short or tied back. Broad rimmed hats were common to take the rain off in their out door work. Here beer was drawn from 'the wood' in large barrels on a stand and served in pewter tankards. Casks of rum, brandy, gin and other spirits were available. After long hours of work, some of their hard-earned money was spent in drink with bread and cheese. Often a room was filled with a tobacco haze from the long clay pipes some of them smoked. A place of fireside talk and 'when the drink was in' strong language, raucous laughter and at times arguments usually about the news brought by travellers. It was by word of mouth for very few could read. Their women in bed gowns which they wore working in the fields.
Kitchen and Cellar
The kitchen had a large open fireplace that seldom went out, where meat was roasted on a spit and a long table where the food was prepared. Also cupboards for vegetables, plates, racks for cutlery and barrels of salt meat. Water for washing and cooking was drawn from the well outside. There was a large cellar from where barrels of beer, casks of brandy and other spirits were hauled up. At the north-east corner, the coolest part of the building, was the dairy where meat was hung from hooks from wooden beams. They may also have had an icehouse.
Stabling and Brewing
On the west-side was extensive premises. There was 'ye brewhouse' where the beer and cider was made. Hops were obtained from the Hop Yard field which adjoined Bradley field to the south of the village. Barley and oats came from nearby fields. The apples for cider making probably came from across the road at 'Southwells new house' known later as Walton house, to the rear of which was a large pleasure garden and orchard running back to Church Lane, Pembroke Road. Storerooms for the harness, hay and corn were looked after by the ostler also hitching posts, water troughs and manure heaps. At times also the activity of changing horses, feeding and watering. Over the way was John Wilding's blacksmith shop if a horse had thrown a shoe. There were also coal and wood stores.
There would have been much talk particulaly about another war that had broken out in 1775 when the English settlers in the American colony declared their independence. Britain then declared war on France because of her alliance with the rebellious colonists, Spain in turn declared war on Britain. At the George the visitors heard the news from Pill where an effigy of Washington had been made with a halter around the neck and this was carried through the village where it was tarred and feathered and was set fire, much to the enjoyment of the locals. This conflict again resulted in considerable activity in the roadsteads of Hung Road and King Road wit h privateers and men-of-war fitting out. There was often 'a warm press' with press gangs combing the district to force men to crew ships. Some innkeepers were crimps paid by the impress service to give customers strong drink and then to send for the press gang. Ships arrived with news of engagements, sometimes enemy ships were brought in as prizes. Captain Shaw who commanded the 'Lion' of 44 guns and 168 men in December 1778 engaged a French man of War 'L' Orient' of 74 guns and 800 men in the Bay of Biscay. After two hours close engagement the enemy lost 137 killed and 244 wounded. The 'Lion' arrived back in Kingroad in a shattered condition with 22 killed and 19 wounded. For his exploits Shaw was to be known as the 'bold privateer'.
In 1782 a stage coach service was started from the 'Bush' inn at Corn Street. It ran out to Westbury, Henbury, Kingsweston and Shirehampton every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday at 8 a.m. The coach returned to Bristol at twelve o'clock. It was used by passengers who could afford it, for coach travel was expensive. A coach had a top covered with black leather with four windows and a basket at the rear for luggage and was pulled usually by a team of four horses. The passengers who travelled inside paid more than those who rode outside on the top. When the coach arrived the travellers brought news from as far away as London. This coach service was good business for the 'George' and 'Lamplighters Hall' particularly for passengers bound for ships in the roadsteads. If the ship was not ready they could stay at one of the inns. News reached the 'George' by way of the coach of a peace settlement in September 1783 which was followed by celebrations.
The Squire's Marriage
There would have been much talk at the George of Lord de Clifford's marriage to Mary Bourke, daughter of Joseph Bourke, 3rd Earl of Mayo in County Galway. In February 1789 they were married in Dublin. As the local squire, he brought his bride home to Kingsweston in the June to a great homecoming greeted by his mother, sisters, brother, local gentry, household staff, estate workers and tenants. Captain Shaw who had distinguished himself in the late war was now Haven Master of Hung Road where he rented the old Ship Inn near the Hung Road slipway which he called 'Liberty Hall'. As a good tenant of Lord de Clifford and to celebrate the occasion of his marriage he had cannons from the platform in front of his riverside home, drawn by horses through the Hung Road land past the Green and up the hill to Kingsweston house. It was a great event that brought people out of their homes and the George to follow horses and cannons to Kingsweston. In front of the mansion, Shaw has his men fire a salute of welcome to the newly weds, and on the hill nearby he had a display of colours flown from flagpoles.
Beating the Bounds
The perambulation of the parish boundary, was at one time an annual event which usually took place on Ascension Day and was sometimes called Bounds Day. Shirehampton tything, along with Stoke Bishop, was part of Westbury Parish at this time. From Westbury Church it took three days to walk over the three tythings to inspect the boundaries. The Shirehampton walk took most of a day starting from Lamplighters and following the river up to the Powder house through the Cliff wood across the outer Kingsweston park and down to the Commons in the marshland. Then along, after the sea bank, on the Severn to King Road. From there along by the river to Lamplighters Hall and up to the George. At the end of the day dinner was served in the parlour. The Chapel Warden, Edward Russell, was to record, May 1790 - to paid Thomas Saunders (Landlord) for Procession dinner £19-15-1.
It was also the meeting place for the Chapel Warden, the Overseer of the Poor and other members of the Vestry, particularly during the 1780s-1790s, who had drawn up a list of the village poor. They then distributed the 'Aide Money' as it was called. It was the duty of the Overseer to collect the Poor Rate from people who could afford to pay. At this time each parish or tything was responsible for the care of its own poor.
St Peter's Hospital, often known as the Guardians of the Poor or the Mint, had an estate at Shirehampton. When the leases ran out in February 1790 an auction was held at the George for new leases to run for fourteen years.
This included several closes of arable and rich meadow in tenures of Mr Edward Russell, Mr Edward Painter, Thomas Hill, and Mr John Hopkins. It was a crowded room with some of the Guardians present, their lawyer and members of the public. The Guardians made an annual inspection of their estate once a year, followed by dinner at the Inn.
The Hundred Court
The Hundred Court of Henbury also met here. Below the village lay the Common in the marshland on which villagers at certain times of the year could put their livestock to graze. Sometimes they overstocked by putting out too many animals and so were fined by the Hundred Court. They could appoint various officers such as the tythingman, haywarden and drivers of the Common. A jury was appointed and fines were imposed for various offences.
In October 1778, William Legg a carpenter, had a 'Saw-pit', a shed and a quantity of timber on the Batch; close to the George. It was found to be 'very dangerous' to horse and foot passengers. His saw-pit would have been some six feet deep by about five feet wide and some eight feet long. A driver with horses would drag the trunk of a tree in from a nearby wood.
Shirehampton Village Green showing the old 'George Inn'
At the saw pit it was pulled over the pit to be sawed up into planks or beams for use in houses, ship repairs, and mooring posts on the river bank. The saw-pit was worked by two men, one above on the top of the trunk the other underneath in the pit. With a cross-cut saw they worked with backward and forward strokes. An arduous task. William Legg was ordered by the Court to fill in the saw pit and remove the pile of timber. Legg lived close by in the Georgian property on the south side of the Green, Keswick House. In 1805 'The Jurors' presented the Churchwardens of the Tything of Shirehampton with Notice for not repairing the Stocks. The same to be put into repair within one month after Notice under penalty of £5.
Keswick House, South Side of Village Green
Trustees of the Bristol Turnpikes
The Trustees of the Bristol Turnpikes held their meetings here after inspecting stretches of road, along with milestones and gates. The money for making the turnpike road was obtained from local landowners and when completed people using the road had to pay a toll which many, particularly the poor, resented. Many of the trustees would have remembered the turnpike riots of 1749.
By November 1761, the commissioners had received thirty pounds towards widening and amending the road from Lamplighters Hall and the village of Shirehampton towards Kingsweston. A further sum of ten guineas was paid by the Society of Merchants in September 1762 towards completing the road from Shirehampton to Pill Passage, and also to Thomas Lavender blacksmith for repairing turnpikes.
The turnpike or toll road from Durdham Down to Shirehampton was inspected in 1818 along with the Eastern and Western lodge gates at each end of the outer Kingsweston Park. At the bottom of Park Hill the farm outbuildings and a stable were taken down to widen the turnpike. From the village the road ran on down to the Passage Way where land was taken from Mr Onion's Inn, Lamplighters Hall, for more widening. A decision was also taken for the Henbury road to be made a turnpike. After business at the George making recommendations and examining accounts, the trustees concluded their meeting with a good dinner.
The Society Of Merchant Venturers
The Hall Committee as it was called who, with the Bristol Common Council, were responsible for the movement of ships in and out of the river. They inspected the mooring roadsteads of Kingroad and Hungroad and the pilots; boats at Pill. From time to time new pilots were appointed, others were disciplined for 'being in drink' whilst handling a vessel in the river. This information was reported to the Committee by the Haven Master. After the inspection they repaired to an inn for a dinner which was sometimes the George; Lamplighters Hall, in Hung Road or the Lamb and Flag; or the Kingsweston Inn.
Another war War broke out again with Britain's arch enemy Revolutionary France in 1793. There was once again considerable activity in the Kingroad and Hungroad moorings with ships fitting out and the impressment service active for manning ships. In 1797, there was a threat to invasion by the enemy and the Royal Bucks Regiment marched through the village to the riverside for embarkation on transports from Pill to Tenby to defend the coastline there.
An end to hostilities came in 1802 and after a brief peace, war broke out again in 1803. With Napoleon master of Europe there was another real threat of invasion. Because of the emergency many local men enlisted in the Westbury Parish Volunteer force. Those who frequented the George had heard and even helped to erect the flagstaffs on the hills and light the beacons to alert people of a French landing. At Rivers Mouth, many locals helped build the battery as part of the defence system.
As the war dragged on, French prisoners of war held at Stapleton prison were repatriated. Under guard, they made a long procession to cartel ships in Hung Road. Many were in a wretched condition too ill to walk and rode in carts with their few belongings, others walked by the side. A sad sight as they made their way down through the park and village green watched by villagers.
Owners And Landlords
Thomas Saunders advertised his property in 1806 giving details of dinners available along with good stabling, prime hay and corn. He retired in 1810 due to ill health after being at the George for 36 years. It was advertised to be sold at the George Inn by auction together with all the household furniture, plate, collection of caricative prints by Bunbury and brewing utensils. His departure was followed in the June by John Collins, late cook to Lord de Clifford who has this day taken and entered upon the above well-known and long established inn lately occupied by Mr Thomas Saunders. The George was later the property of Moses Kilminster, farmer, who lived at Bradley House at the west-end of the village. From here, he could supply meat, vegetables, apples and cider for the tables at the inn. He appointed one Richard Thomas to run the inn and to improve trade he advertised in May 1813, "An ordinary meal every Sunday at 2s (10p) per head. Patrons who may honour him will be assured that his chief study will be to provide them with the choicest Wines and Spirits on moderate terms".
The Benefit Society
In June 1813, the Shirehampton Benefit Society was formed at the George Inn. Membership to this Society was restricted to 130 members of good moral character, whose trade and profession was not considered dangerous to health. The age of members was not to exceed thirty-two years. They had to be in good health at the time of admission and whose average earnings had to be at least ten shillings a week. Anyone who wished to become a Member had to be proposed on a Quarterly Night and produce a certificate from the Surgeon of the Society stating his health. If accepted by the Society he was admitted on paying half a guinea and within one year from his admission pay a further sum of two shillings. The Society met at the Inn on 12 Mondays in the year from Michaelmas to Lady Day between seven and nine in the evening, each member to pay to the fund the sum of 5s 6d out of which he was allowed 6d to spend. In return, the member was entitled to the following:
"Any member who by sickness or any other infirmity shall require the benefit of the Society shall at his own expense, give notice in writing (signed by the surgeon of the Society, if any) to the landlord. That two stewards shall each visit the sick member if within three miles of the club house at least once a week during the time such member receives pay from the funds. The landlord to have a good fire in the winter season, or be fined one shilling for any such neglect".
The locals heard of Napoleon's invasion of Russia although news took some weeks to reach the village usually by stage-coach. Then later was heard news of Napoleon's defeat by the Russians and of his army's retreat across Russia in the winter of 1812. Many heard the saying, "On Russia's plains the tyrant's cause was lost, defeated there by General Frost". There followed Napoleon's defeat in March 1814 and his exile to Elba which led to a great celebration. Outside of the George some 400 villagers were regaled with a plentiful supply of roast and boiled beef, mutton, veal and pork, forty four large plum puddings and several barrels of beer and cider, the tables surrounded with the emblems of honour. In letters a yard long covered with flowers were the names of our great and good old king, with our faithful allies, and our immortal Wellington. A Maypole had been erected fifty feet high covered with laurels and garlands of flowers with colours displayed of different nations from houses and trees. The American flag reversed under all tarred and feathered. The Worcester militia band played. Napoleon returned from his exile for his 'Hundred days' during which time he rallied his old soldiers. However, in June 1815 he was defeated at Waterloo. The long war as at least over and there was again great celebrations. In June 1815 landlord Thomas again advertised. The George Inn in the beautiful village of Shirehampton - comfortable style of well aired beds, a good larder. Ladies and gentlemen about to embark for Ireland may be supplied with sea stock at the shortest notice.
EXTRA! EXTRA! The Following Text will not be published until the January 2000 edition of 'Shire'. EXTRA! EXTRA!
The Catlin-Baron Families
A family who played an important part in running the George were the Catlins. Up at Kingsweston lived Thomas Catlin and his wife Lydia, who occupied a tied cottage in the narrow Kingsweston lane. Thomas was head groom to Lord de Clifford of Kingsweston House, having been in his service many years. It was but a short walk for him up to the Kingsweston stable block where he could supervise his men cleaning out stables, feeding and grooming horses, polishing coaches and seeing horses harnessed and put to coaches when required. He also had to oversee the blacksmith's quarters in the same building. When called upon by a messenger from the house he would then arrange for a coach and four in hand to await on Lard and Lady de Clifford or their relations at the main entrance of Kingsweston House. Lord de Clifford when in London had made the acquaintance of Prince Esterhazy who was Austrian ambassador to the Court of St James. Esterhazy visited him at his Kingsweston seat. The war was now over and Napoleon ha d been exiled to St Helena. In his retinue Esterhazy had a chef, Francois Baron, who had served in the French army at the battle of Waterloo. It was during this time that Baron made the acquaintance of the Catlins. He met their daughter Ann, whom he married in May 1822 at St Georges Church, Hannover Square, London. Ann's mother Lydia was present along with two members of the Embassy staff.
The couple returned to Kingsweston to live with Ann's parents in the cottage and Francois for a time was employed as a chef at Kingsweston. A son was born to them in 1824 who was called Francois. Shortly after this, Francois and Ann Baron with their boy Francois took a cottage on the north side of Shirehampton Green near to the George Inn where two more children were born to them. As the boy Francois grew older, he heard from his father about the military campaigns of Napoleon, and on the wall over the mantelpiece there was a portrait of Bonaparte. Francois was a lively boy who attended the local dame school where lessons were taught by a cobbler and his wife. For their tuition the children brought cakes, pies or a dozen eggs. He was also interested in nature and did water colours of the local scene.
At this time the George was still owned by Moses Kilminster and run by Thomas Catlin junior and his wife Ann. Living close to the George the boy Francois Baron could go in and see his uncle and aunt where he got to know the regulars. Many years later he recalled the scene, The masters sat in the parlour and discussed all the affairs of the neighbourhood and national concerns (as far as they knew them), as literature was scant and newspapers were very dear. Fashion had now changed, they wore shirts with neck cloths, long jackets with high collars and long drainpipe trousers called pantaloons.
The men sat in the tap room and were supplied with drink as they called for it by the ostler, who was a stalwart fellow who used coolly to pick up those who could neither sit or stand, throw them over his shoulder and deposit them in one of the stables on the straw till they regained sufficient sense to try to reach home. There was one frequenter of the George, who was a terror to the villagers, who let him have his own way, but with strangers he loved to pick a quarrel or dare them to fight. He was seen (though but of medium height) to knock down men much bigger than himself as if they were ninepins. The contests took place in an adjacent field, whither the combatants were accompanied by the drunks from the inn.
The Stocks Tree
On the east-end of the village green grew the 'Stocks Tree' an old elm of great age. At the foot of the tree stood the village stocks where persons for small offences were confined, some for drunkeness, brawling, damaging property and other offences. The Petty Constable, who at this time was appointed by the Vestry, confined wrong doers in the stocks where they experienced some discomfort with their legs and arms secured. If well known trouble-makers, they were sometimes exposed to the jeers of passers by and the rough jokes of boys who pelted them with rotten fruit.
When Francois Baron was about seven, he went with his mother to see her friend the housekeeper at Kingsweston House. On one such occasion, Francois was allowed to roam the passages on the ground floor where he caught sight of a rope by which the big bell at the top of the house was rung. It was tolled when the de Cliffords were at home, if out riding or walking in the gardens telling them it was time for luncheon or dinner. If the bell was sounded when the de Cliffords were away it meant something was wrong and would bring gardeners, stablemen and domestics out to see what had happened.
The boy seized the rope and tugged it swinging up and down. Francois' mother after seeing her friend went down, collected him, and on their way out crossing, the courtyard saw men running towards the house one with a pitchfork alarmed at hearing the bell. Francois kept quiet and with his mother went home.
Bonfire night was an exciting time for the villagers particularly for those in the George;. The Old Stocks tree had some ten feet from the ground a vast hollow; where wood for the bonfire was stored for the 5th of November which was a great village occasion with many villagers attending. The farmers had to watch their palings and hurdles carefully, for unscrupulous marauders were numerous;. When the Bristol riots took place in the October of 1831 many villagers on the Green could see the flames of Queen Square reddening the night sky. As a result, the traditional bonfire on the green was prohibited for fear large gatherings of people might cause more rioting and the powder from the magazine on the Horseshoe bend was removed to a secret place by the Severn for fear of rioters.
In September 1832 Lord de Clifford who was in his sixty fifth year died at Brighton and his remains were brought back to his country seat for internment in Henbury Church, Francois, a boy of eight, with his parents and other villagers saw the funeral cortege pass through the outer Kingsweston Park. The horse with its nodding plumes, the board of feathers, the Earl's coronet borne on a velvet cushion, the long line of carriages with friends and domestics was the grandest sight he had ever seen.
Francois Baron's grandparents, Thomas and Lydia Catlin, heard much about the demise of Lord de Clifford and would also have been present at Kingsweston and Henbury Church along with other estate retainers. Lord de Clifford died without issue and his widow, along with other relations and trustees, decided the estate should be sold. The house was cleared, apart from the great collection of paintings, and what furniture and effects the relations did not want were to be sold by auction. In March the following year, the Catlins and other members of the household moved furniture, china and other effects to the Kingsweston Inn where the auctions took place. There was now much speculation particularly among the local gentry, tenant farmers, gardeners, carpenters, grooms and others in tied cottages about what was to happen to the estate.
In his will, the late Lord de Clifford left Thomas Catlin Senior, who had been in his service forty five years, an annuity of £40 and his wife Lydia £20. In 1833 Thomas Catlin Senior and his son Thomas Junior bought the old George Inn at Shirehampton from Moses Kilminster for £1,300. Thomas Junior was now 32 and his wife Ann, 27 who as owners were to run the place. They were assisted by one male and two female servants. His parents, Thomas and Lydia, lived on at the cottage in Kingsweston. Thomas was a familiar figure riding on horseback through the park to see his son and his wife at the George. Lydia on one occasion walking over in the dark in her long cloak finding the way with her lantern was confronted by a man who came out of the trees near the milestone who said to her in a demanding voice, "Your money or your life!" To which she replied boldly, "Money I have none and my life would not be much good to you". Whereupon he made off. It was about this time, that an itinerant artist visited Shirehampton where the Catlins had their portraits drawn - at the time when there was no photography. Thomas and Lydia were now in their early seventies.
After much speculation about the estate, news reached the inn that it had been purchased by Philip J. Miles of Leigh Court, Abbots Leigh, for two hundred and ten thousand pounds. Old Thomas Catlin and his wife Lydia stayed on at the cottage in Kingsweston and as long as he was able he continued as Head Groom. Lydia died in 1840 the following year her husband Thomas. After the service in Henbury Church, probably attended by their son Thomas and his wife Ann, their mortal remains were interred in the churchyard where a stone was erected to their memory.
To be continued in the January 2000 edition of Shire on the Web...