The Internet Roadshow we held in March proved to be a very popular event with many people enjoying their first taste of 'Surfing the Web'. We would like to thank Maurice and his team for their hard work and everyone who came along to have a go.
Our Under 5's Storytime has restarted on Fridays 2.15 to 2.45 (during term-time) so if you care for young children why not come along?
Do you belong to a local group? Is your group looking for speakers? Would you like someone from the Library Service to come and tell you what services are available and how Libraries are changing? If the answer is yes then give us a call and we can make arrangements for it.
Don't forget to make sure your meetings and events are in the Community Diary.
Spring Bank Holiday Opening Hours
Friday 26th May Normal Hours
Saturday 27th May Closed
Monday 29th May Closed
Wednesday 30th May Normal Hours
Eileen and staff
Summer Schools at Shirehampton Public Hall
Free courses for adults in May, June and July at Shirehampton Public Hall,Station Road
MAKE A FAMILY WEBSITE
For parents and children - Taster session: Wednesday 26th April 9.30 - 12.30 and 1.00 - 4.00
CREATIVE WRITING, SPELLING AND COMPUTERS
Find out how to put pen to paper. Word process your writing and find out how the computer can help you improve your spelling. Produce a book with your written pieces! Taster: Wednesday 10th May 10 - 12 Course Starts: Wednesday 17th May 10 - 12 and lasts for 5 weeks.
USING HOME COMPUTERS TO MANAGE YOUR FAMILY AFFAIRS
Find out how to use a spreadsheet to manage your spending. Make a computer-based address book to help you remember all those birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions! Taster: Thursday 29th June 10.00 - 12.00 Course starts: Thursday 6th June and lasts for 5 weeks.
GETTING READY FOR ENGLISH GCSE
A chance to have a look at what doing an English Language GCSE involves. We will have practice in reading and responding to texts, writing skills and discussion in a small friendly group. Course starts: Thursday 11th May, and lasts for 6 weeks. 1.00 - 3.00
PHONE DEBBIE ON 0117 903 8824, who will supply you with more information
Kingsweston Preservation Ssociety - Programme For 2000
The Spring Meeting will be held at Kingsweston School, Napier Miles Road at 7.30 p.m. on Tuesday 11th April 2000.
Dates for your diary -
SUMMER GARDEN PARTY - Saturday 13th June in the Secret Garden. AUTUMN MEETING - Tuesday 26th September, at Kingsweston School at 7.30 p.m. with a speaker from English Heritage.
CHRISTMAS PARTY - Tuesday 5th December at Kingsweston School 7.30 p.m.
Speaker to be confirmed.
(Chairman: Beryl Keller, Tel: 909 3473)
Avonmouth Hockey Club
As this winter season draws to a close, our Senior teams have experienced mixed fortunes.
Our 2nd XI won promotion to Brunel Division III - however, our 1st XI may be joining them, as relegation seeks likely unless the speculated restructuring of the Division is in place for September this year. All thoughts of promotion and relegation will hopefully be behind us when the Club tours Holland at Easter this year. With the forthcoming Summer League fixtures and a potential inter team battle in this year's Winter League fixtures, it is to the future that we now look. Two of our first team players will be leaving for a while to have children, who if I have my way will be joining the mini-section at the earliest opportunity! Our mini's section intends to provide opportunities for boys and girls aged 8 - 11 years to learn basic hockey skills and have some fun. This year we have had a couple of games against Weston and are entering an U12's tournament with 2 teams on 9th April. During this last season, there has been a junior section developed for girls 11 - 14 years. This has provided opportunity for young aspiring players to develop their skills on the Astro Turf pitch at Coombe Dingle and also get to meet and play with the senior players. This has seen 2 juniors regularly playing for the 2nd XI and towards the end of the season, the 1st XI.
If anyone is interested in joining any of these sections of Avonmouth Hockey Club, please contact Sophie Lennox on 0117 982 9515.
Townswomen's Guilds are groups of women who meet together regularly, regardless of politics, race, age, religion or circumstances, to exchange ideas, develop new skills and interests, campaign on various issues, and above all share fun and friendship. The first Guilds were formed in 1928 and our Shirehampton Guild started in 1975. We meed on the 1st Thursday of each month at the Methodist Church Hall at 7.30 p.m. and we have a speaker on a wide variety of subjects. We also have outings, social events and visits to places of interest, often joining with members of other Guilds around Bristol. We are a very friendly group and we warmly welcome anyone who comes along so, ladies, do turn up on a Thursday evening or phone Anne Parsons, tel: 982 6004, if you would like to find out more about us.
April 6th Water Aid Miss V. Ashton
May 4th The Police Helicopter Service Sgt P Sweet
June 1st Producing Shire Mrs Jean Archer
July 6th The Friendship Clinic Mr. P. Shore
August No meeting
September 7th Alexander House Antiques Mrs A. Wood
October 5th Waste Disposal & Recycling Mr. P. Norcott
November 2nd The Gunpowder Plot Mrs. A. Bowering
December 7th Cinematic Stories Mr. W. Knight
January 4th 26th Birthday Party
February 1st Thank you Doctor Mrs. S. Marshfield
March 1st Annual General Meeting
Mother's Day or Mothering Sunday evokes memories for most of us. Our pride as young children is making or buying our cards and gifts - and being told it was the best in the world.
Sunday, April 2nd, being Mothering Sunday this year, I received two beautiful cards with lovely verses and gifts from my children and the pleasure of their company, and that of some grandchildren. When they had departed, I thought back to some of the things they had given me when they were young, but I won't embarrass them in print!
My own mother passed away in 1966 and I confess I still miss her dreadfully, she was my best friend as well as my mother. I think one of the worst things about losing a parent is not being able to ask them the questions that only they can answer.
The younger three of my grandchildren asked me recently to make them some toffee, but it had to be 'chewy'. Out came the cookbooks, but nowhere could I find the right one. My mum used to make toffee and I remember watching her concoct the delicious sticky batch many times, but can I remember the exact recipe? No. Perhaps someone can remember. I know the ingredients included butter, granulated sugar, condensed milk and vanilla essence, possibly golden syrup as well. I would be delighted if someone could help (and I feel sure my grandchildren would too!)
(If you can help, send to 'SHIRE' at the Library, Station Road)
Donation to Shire Funds
Many thanks to Mr. P.J. Moore for your kind donation to 'SHIRE' funds, which is much appreciated.
Many Thanks from the Normandy Veteran's Association
The Normandy Veterans Association would like to thank the Co-op, Somerfields and Woolworth's for allowing us to take a collection at their Stores - we are very grateful to them.
Also a very big THANK YOU to the people of Shirehampton for their generosity and interest in the Veterans' Benevolent Fund.
Many thanks to all.
PHILIP READ, N.V.A.
Letters to the Editor
Reference Mr. Raybauld's letter in the April edition of 'SHIRE'.
Readers will no doubt remember the Coffee Mornings which my friends and I held in the Church Centre in October. We raised funds to support the wonderful work of the 'Mercy Ships'.
When I talk about how the 'Mercy Ships' operate with volunteers, both landbased and on ships - and volunteers even paying their own expenses; people look very doubtingly at me. Mr. Raybauld mentioned this point in his letter.
I remember Mrs. Raybauld came to our Community Group Meetings in the Public Hall.
I wish every success to Mr. Raybauld for his walk at the Great Wall of China.
I have recently returned from a trip to Perth in Australia. I arrived there on 21st February and was met by my two daughters, both ex-Portway School girls.
Julie's baby was due on March 14th and I was convinced it would arrive early as the weather had been extraordinary at Christmas and was still 35c - 39c for my first two weeks there. But Lori-Jade decided to be late and arrived on 14th March in a great rush. I had called the ambulance at 3.15 p.m. - it took just 10 minutes to arrive, the hospital journey took another 15 minutes and Lori-Jade was delivered at 4.09 p.m.
My husband, Jim, and I are delighted - we have two wonderful grandsons here, Elliot 8 years and Frazer 6 years and now a grand-daughter!
My daughters, Julie and Joy, send their regards to all their friends in Shire.
A Thought for Eastertide
In St. John's Gospel the simple and profound are wonderfully combined. Take this account of a straightforward encounter in the Easter Garden. 'Jesus said to her, 'Mary'. She turned and said to him in Hebrew, 'Rabboni!' (which means Teacher). (John 16.20) Let us tease out some profound meanings from these words.
'Jesus'. The best beloved word worldwide, down the Ages, in any language, revered not only by Christians. 'Said to her'. In the beginning the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God (John 1.1). Characteristically God speaks to us, person to person. 'Mary'. He called her by name. He calls us by name, every one. What are you doing here, Elijah?' (1 Kings 19.9,13) 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?' (Acts 9.4, 22. 7,26.14). He usually begins by asking questions, not issuing orders. He repeats to you and me the first question ever to Adam and Eve. 'Where are you' (Genesis 3.9) Where are you in relation to God 'She turned'. To turn to Jesus is the first step along the Christian way. This is also called conversion and may happen to us suddenly or gradually. 'And said to him in Hebrew'. Mary's native language was Aramaic. Hebrew was the liturgical language addressed to God and by God. Was John hinting here at Christ's divinity? 'Rabboni' (Which means Teacher). Believers and unbelievers alike accept Jesus as a great teacher. So let us all follow his teaching, the Good Samaritan, the Two sons, the Sermon on the Mount and the rest.
News From Shire Baptist Church
The Football Team needs you
A few months ago I wrote to tell you about the Church Football Team. They play in a Church League - matches are on Saturdays on the Downs. Dave Haslam (the coach) is looking for new players. Could you get involved? Do you have a son, daughter or grandchild aged between 12-15 years of age? If so, and they would be interested in playing, then please contact Dave at the Church on 982 8238. Alternatively, meet in the Church car park (opposite the Bingo Hall) at 2 p.m. on Sundays (for training sessions).
Eggs - specially for you
Before Easter we delivered fresh eggs to the houses on the Cotswold Estate. Our air was to give something to people and share a little of our faith in Jesus Christ.
The Club has arrived
Formally known as Routez, 'The Club' is open in the Church Hall on Monday evenings, starting at 8 p.m. If you are in years 7 or above, please do come along. There's a pool table, table tennis, play station and a coffee bar. Sally and Nathan are the leaders and they'd love to meet you.
The week before Easter, our Church was transformed into a Yard. Children from the village came along each day for fun and to learn about the man who can fix all things. Sadly the Yard is over, but you can meet some of the team at the Shed held every Thursday at 6.30 p.m. in the Church Hall opposite the Bingo Hall.
Please note our evening service now starts at 6.30 p.m. on a Sunday
Shire Churches 2000
An exhibition showing Jesus Christ at work today through his Church is being held at the Churches in Shire. Please do visit them between April 21st and June 11th.
Don't forget all our other activities to which you are warmly invited to come along:
TOTSTOP - Tuesday/Wednesday 9.30 a.m. in the Church Hall during term time. WOMEN'S BRIGHT HOUR - Wednesday 2.30 p.m. in the Church Hall CARING HANDS - Fridays 10 a.m. in the Church Hall.
COTSWOLD COMMUNITY CENTRE
DURSLEY ROAD, SHIREHAMPTON
WHAT'S ON IN MAY
Monday - Cotswold Monday Ladies' Club 2.30 - 4.00 Tuesday - Bingo 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Thursday - Line Dancing 2 p.m. - 3.15 p.m. Cup of tea afterwards Friday - May 19th Monthly Sequence Dance 7.30 - 10.30 p.m. Admission £1.50.
News from the Public Hall
There are a busy few months coming up at the Public Hall, which will allow us to show off our dramatic new red interior foyer decoration with blue stair railings! A great improvement on the old gloomy brown. We hope to be able to turn our hands to redecoration of the main hall in the near future to match the fine new red curtains the Grainger Players have installed on the stage.
May 27th - June 3rd sees the SHIRE ART EXHIBITION and on 16th June the MILLENNIUM BUFFET FOR SHIRE SENIOR CITIZENS which promises to be the social event of the year - with our Norman on the case it's bound to be a winner! THE PUBLIC HALL SUMMER FAYRE takes place on Saturday 24th June, and stalls can be booked in advance for a mere fiver through Barbara Wylde, either at the morning playgroup or by ringing her on 983 6198. On July 7th will come the formal opening of the NEW COMMUNITY GARDEN OUTSIDE THE PUBLIC HALL WITH AN EARLY EVENING GARDEN PARTY FOR ALL FRIENDS AND SUPPORTERS OF THE HALL. June is rounded off with an Exhibition - PAINTINGS OF SHIREHAMPTON, which will take place from June 30th to July 2nd.
If you have not popped into the hall for sometime, then you'll find it a hive of activity these days with classes and events taking place all over the building. The Hall is still available on Friday nights and some weekends for regular events or social activities and most weekday afternoons, so give our Bookings Secretary, Jeanette, a ring on 982 3174 if you are interested in hiring the hall or meeting rooms.
Shirehampton Methodist Church
Saturday May 13th - 10 a.m. MAY FAYRE Admission 10p Various stalls, refreshments etc. COME AND BUY A BARGAIN!
Sunday May 14th 11 a.m. We invite you to our Family Service, with our Minister Rev. David Alderman - A warm invitation is extended to all.
14th - 20th - CHRISTIAN AID WEEK PLEASE GIVE GENEROUSLY
The Revolution project, a community safety motorcycle initiative run by the North Bristol Police in partnership with the Council and local schools, and in which the Council's Youth Service is heavily involved, have been awarded a grant by the Bristol City Leisure Services of £5,000. This was announced at the launch in Avonmouth on Saturday, March 25th, by Ward Councillor Pat Roberts and was attended by the Lord Mayor, Councillor Graham Robertson together with the Lady Mayoress, and Avon and Somerset Constabulary Chief Constable Steve Pilkington.
Some 80 people were there to see the project start, including young people from the local community who have also been instrumental in working with the Council to develop the design for a BMX Park which the Council is building in Lawrence Weston. It is anticipated that the park will open by the Summer and include skateboarding facilities.
POLICE ADVICE SURGERY HELD AT THE CHURCH HALL, PENPOLE AVENUE (off the HIGH STREET) EVERY WEDNESDAY 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Bristol Merchant Navy Memorial
As previously reported, the Bristol and District branch of the Merchant Navy Association are to fund the erection of a memorial on the Bristol harbourside later this year in memory of all Merchant Navy seamen who gave their lives in the conflict of the 20th Century.
The City Council has given the land for the scheme and officials from the Bristol branch have appointed a Project Manager to oversee the work. Artists will now be asked to submit suggested designs for the garden and they will go on show to the public before the final design is chosen.
A £100,000 appeal launched to meet the cost of the garden is now closing in on its target, with more than £80,000 pledged so far.
To help raise the rest of the money, the Association has commissioned a limited edition print of the paddle steamer RAVENSWOOD, which will be sold to benefit the fund.
The ship was built in 1891 and was the first P & A Campbell's steamer specifically designed for the Bristol Channel. The print captures her as she looked in 1937 en route along the Bristol Avon.
RAVENSWOOD was pressed into service in both World Wars after which she resumed duty with Campbell's. She was scrapped in 1955 after failing a Board of Trade inspection. Mr. Williams said 'She was a grand old lady of the Bristol Channel and the painting is a fitting tribute to her'.
The painting is by John Parsons, of Portbury, who worked for years in the shipping agency business. He said 'I used to see her going by and it was a pleasure to do a painting of her'.
One thousand prints are available of the vessel. The first 100 to be ordered will be signed by Captain George Gunn, a former master of the RAVENSWOOD. Print image size 16 ins x 11 ins.
They cost £25, or £27.50 inclusive of postage. For details write to Mr. Williams at 136 Hungerford Road, Brislington, Bristol, BS4 5HP or call him on (0117) 977 9748.
ST. Mary's Toddlers Group
St. Mary's toddler group is held in the Church Centre, Pembroke Road, every Monday morning from 9.15 to 11.15 a.m. The charge is 50p per session.
If you have any suitable toys, wooden puzzles or hard backed books in good condition for 0-4 years, of age now unwanted, please donate them to us as we need fresh supplies. Please bring your toys, etc to St. Mary's Church between 10 a.m. to 12 noon, Mondays to Fridays, during MAY ONLY. With many thanks.
S. Neate - Tel: 377 7999.
120th (BRISTOL) ST. Maryls Guide Company
Hello again, spring has arrived and the year is truly underway once more, so we thought you may like to hear some more of the things we have been doing or are planning soon. The Guides are currently halfway through a First Aid badge course, and so far are doing really well. Of course this is not the only thing we have been busy with and two weeks ago we visited Shirehampton Nursing Home to deliver a gift of Spring bulbs we had grown for them. We had rather hoped they would make a nice Easter present, but Mother Nature had other ideas as they flowered a bit early. Still we hope the residents will enjoy them and look forward to seeing you all again later in the year. On the subject of flowers, did anyone see us planting over 100 pansy plants in the border near the fence last Friday night. The plants were given to us and we thought they would add a nice bit of colour to the grounds.
We have also been very busy with games and crafts, and by the time you read this all our Mums will have received the gifts the Guides have been making for Mothers Day, and we will then be hurtling into our Easter preparations, phew! Some of the Guides, Brownies and Rainbows are off to explore the Millennium Dome on 14th April, and attending a Dream Concert at the Colston Hall on the 18th. We also have a camp skills preparation day, and family cookout and abseiling trip planned for the Easter Holiday.
A large number of the Company are attending the Millennium Camp on Lord Wraxalls Estate in May, for most if will be their first experience of camping in Tents. Add to that the fact that Sharon has decided to take her Camp Licence and we will all be going away again in August.
The cooker we raised funds for last year is now in situ and the girls have been practicing their cooking skills, it's OK girls we know you all want to do more of this.
So you can see we are still exceptionally busy and having a great time... and I haven't even been able to mention planned swimming and boating training to let them achieve their Oarswoman badges.
Well enough from us, we hope all Shire readers are well, and send special wishes to all the ex-members who we so often hear look out for news from us.
Bye for now
On The Beat
Shirehampton's Community Beat Officer, Gareth Davies, being presented with a bicycle by Ted Wiltshire, Manager of the Gala Bingo Hall, on behalf of the residents of Shirehampton. PC Davies, an ex-soldier before joining Avon & Somerset Constabulary, has become a familiar sight in the village. He welcomed the gift as it will contribute to his efficiency. PC Davies holds a weekly surgery at the Methodist Church Hall, Penpole Avenue, Shirehampton, on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. for anyone wishing to speak to him.
Shirehampton Directory - New Edition
If there are any changes required to the information contained in the Directory of Clubs and Societies published in 1999, please let me know.
Send details to SHIRE PUBLICATIONS, c/o The Library, Public Hall, Station
Road, Shirehampton, Bristol BS11 9TU
Avon Primary School
Following the success of the collections at the school Christmas Concerts in December, the staff and children of Avon Primary School decided to give more support and fund raise for the NSPCC this term.
After a couple of talks from a representative, when the children found out more about the worthwhile work of this charity, they undertook a number of activities involving sponsorship. A lot of children also organised several competitions and a show to raise more funds.
Including the concert donations, Avon Primary will have donated nearly £1,000 to the NSPCC in four months. Headmaster, Duncan Jenkins, said that the school is always looking for opportunities to increase the children's social awareness and sense of responsibility. 'We are very proud of the children's efforts and commitment to this venture. We would also like to thank everyone who has contributed'.
Public Hall Garden News
Not the lost gardens of Heligan, the lost garden of Shirehampton! After years of minimal maintenance the Public Hall garden in Station Road is having a facelift for the Millennium. With willing help from some Sea Cadets the brambles have been cleared, the lawn extended and a range of new shrubs have been planted to give colour and interest throughout the year. Underneath the tangle there were several lovely mature shrubs that have now got space to breathe, a Camellia, Magnolia. several old peonies and lots more. A Rowan tree has been planted to celebrate the Millennium and there will be seats from which to admire the results.
All we need now is a helpful and reliable person with a sturdy mower to cut the grass once a fortnight during the summer months. Take a look when you are next visiting the Hall or the Library or walking down Station Road. I hope you will agree that this is a job that for a small commitment would reap great rewards. if several people offer the job would not even come round very often! Phone Janet Thomas on 982 2941 with your offers.
ST Mary's News
Thanks to the hard work of the Vicar's brother-in-law, Sgt Carlo Savini, the curious model church offerings box, designed and made by the late Dick Devey from eight inch steel plate, has been restored. Several years ago a would-be thief managed to open the box. He didn't discover the 'secret' extra catch Dick had installed. The box, which must be unique in Christendom, has now been restored with a new lock, a job involving many hours of filing out the mountings and fixings to accommodate it, for an exact replica of the original lock could not be found.
Unfortunately, the keyhole, is now exposed to view - the imitation church door and porch behind which it once sheltered was lost when the box was vandalised. We are indeed indebted to Sgt Savini for his time and skill!
The memorial plaque commemorating the Society of Merchant Venturers paying an annual stipend for a minister to attend to the spiritual needs of seafarers from ships at Hung Road, was not in place for Easter as was originally hoped, but if all goes according to plan, it should be in place on the North Wall of the Chancel by Whitsun. Watch this space! - or should I say watch this wall!
At the last session of the P.C.C. before the Annual Meeting, it was agreed a Mission Statement text would recognise our place alongside the other three denominations in Shirehampton. The Mission Statement is as follows: The Church comprises the congregations of the several denominations in Shirehampton. Within that fellowship we will
1) promote and spread the good news of Jesus Christ
2) provide a centre of worship and be of service to a changing community.
The Mission Statement will be published in various formats, and the PCC intends to use it as the yardstick against which to judge the quality of its policy decisions. We shall submit our Statement to the other three denominations in due course, in the hope that it, or something like it, may eventually be formulated as a common statement by all four. Now for details of the Skittles Evening held at Hallen Community Centre on Friday 31st March. This was the most successful event organised by Nan and Bernard Waller. 44 people enjoyed a wonderful social evening. Here are the results:
Highest Ladies Score - Della Symons, who astounded us all with her skill on the alley. Where did she spend her youth before she met Fernley?
Highest Mens Score - Steve Simmons, known for his frequent late arrival at functions!! But he didn't leave the skittle pins waiting - they were demolished with immense haste!
Lady - Shelley Eynon, expatriate from Budgnorth, Shropshire! (The little 'chocoholic' won a Belgian Chocolate Easter Egg).
Man - Andrew Eynon (husband of the above) won a bottle of Italian red wine).
Chris Hearn reckons it was all 'a fix', to prevent a domestic dispute!
It was much appreciated by all participants - so thank you Nan and Bernard we all appreciate how much time and effort you both put into these events to make them such a resounding success.
Well that's it for this month.
Bye for now!
Coach Tour of Avonmouth And Portbury Docks
As we entered the St Andrew's Road gate into Avonmouth Docks, we happened to be behind one of those lorries piled high with partly flattened cars, and then directly in front of us was a huge pile of crushed scrap metal. Away in the distance we could see shiny new cars, both in Avonmouth Docks and over at Portbury Docks, and that seemed to sum up the cycle of events which is the mainstay of activity in the Port today - brand new cars imported, worn out scrapped cars brought in to be crushed and sold as scrap metal to Poland, where new metal is produced to be turned into more new cars to be imported again - it reminds me of that old song 'the music goes round and around' - but we were to find out that there are more things than cars to be handled in and out of the port.
The Avonmouth Docks area has certainly changed a lot from what many of us remember, or imagined it to be from all the old pictures we have seen, or the stories we have heard from relatives and friends. We saw the last of the old grain storage sheds being demolished (the metal reinforcing bars all being reclaimed for scrap, of course) but had a job to find a crane. Lots of oil storage tanks are still in existence, some with familiar names and some not so familiar.
A dominant feature is the new conveyor system, which brings coal over from Portbury via a tunnel under the River Avon to the two orange coloured silos which stand in the area adjacent to where Fisons had their two big tanks for storing ammonia; some smaller spheres further back are used for storing liquified Petroleum Gas which is brought in by sea and then distributed by road and rail tankers throughout the UK. The conveyor serving the Smelting Works is still in place, but usage appears to be much less than it used to be not even like the old Ropeway with its big swinging buckets, which is replaced.
Our tour then took us out via the West Town Road gate onto the Portway and it was difficult to imagine that West Town was once a thriving little community, but I did notice that the name 'Victoria Road' has been retained. Here I must pay tribute to our excellent guide, Mr Patrick Kearon of the Bristol Port Company, who supplied us with fascinating facts and figures about all activities in the docks. Around Avonmouth we were able to compare th present with what we knew of the past, but when we got to Portbury Mr Kearon was definitely on his own, but I'm sure it was new territory to all of us. The cars we see as we pass over the M5 bridge are only a small proportion of the whole number, as there are 100,000 cars stored on site and the rate of unloading a giant car transport is such that the ship can be in on one tide and out on the next. To enable these huge ships to enter, the lock at Royal Portbury is 42 metres wide, which allows ships of up to 143,000 tons to get in - over 4 times the size of the largest ship to get into Avonmouth.
In addition to cars, which are exported as well as imported, Portbury handles many other commodities, such as animal feed, timber, coal, gypsum, molasses, and exports grain from the whole of SW England. We were shown dust handling arrangements for the coal imports, which includes recovering and recycling all the water used for spraying, and even our coach had to have a wash to ensure we did not bring any dust out of the area. Concern for the environment obviously pays dividends, as we saw pheasants strutting around, and the original pair of barn owls which were on site before development started have now increased to 9 pairs, one of the largest concentrations of barn owls in the UK.
Our tour was summed up by Mr Ralph Hack, who reminded us of the original concept of the Miles family, of building a port at the mouth of the River Avon linked by a railway to Bristol and beyond. The wheel seemed to have turned full circle now with the massive extensions at Portbury and the efforts to revitalise Avonmouth and re-establish the rail links which have been allowed to decline.
I'm sure the information we picked up gave us great encouragement for the future of Avonmouth and Portbury, and our thanks must go to the SHIRE 2000 Committee for organising the tour and especially to Mr Patrick Kearong for his very informative and clear commentary. Due to safety regulations we were not allowed to leave the coach, so unfortunately there are no photographs to record our visit.
The spectacular opening of the Show was intended to remind us of the reason we were celebrating the year 2000, and The Grainger Players' performance of the hit number from 'Jesus Christ Superstar' certainly did that. They then followed up with forceful reminders in music and comedy of some of the major events and personalities of the past 100 years. The choice of events and the musical numbers to illustrate them can only be described as inspirational considering how much there was to choose from, and who could argue with the whole cast singing 'Congratulations' to the Queen Mother as one of the outstanding personalities of the 20th Century.
The Show was intended to cover all age groups and it did that with 'Tipperary' from World War One, through the roaring 20s and the famous 'Black Bottom', via songs of World War Two up to the Beatles, Elvis and Abba. On the way we remembered songs from the well-loved Disney films, many from the golden age of musicals, and were reminded of other conflicts with 'Don't Cry for me Argentina' and 'Cavatina', and also some of the fun dances and songs which made their mark.
To most people the greatest feat of exploration of the century was landing men on the Moon, but it seems that two of the astronauts got lost and have just landed in Shirehampton - their space suits were still in immaculate condition after such a journey, and we hope that they have sorted out their 'samples' by now! (What would the comedy sketches be without these two 'out of this world' performers!)
This Show was well up to the standard we have come to expect from The Grainger Players and in many ways exceeded expectations. All the individual performers did really well with the youngest and latest recruit being so composed and relaxed that you would have thought she was a seasoned trouper. The tap dance and comedy scenes were well received in their numbers. The costumes were superb and the number of changes carried out appeared to go without a hitch. The finale, paying tribute to "Tomorrow and the Beginning of a New Age" ws really great, being led by the new young star, and rounded off by a memorable performance by all conscerned.
Knowing the personal problems that have affected several members of the Company recently, one can only admire their determination and courage in carrying on and putting on such an excellent show; a fitting tribute to the memory of those who are no longer able to contribute. Ably supported by the orchestra and a whole army of backroom support, Shirl and the Grainger Players thoroughly deserve a sincere 'Thank You' for all their efforts in putting on such wonderful entertainment.