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Shirehampton Public Hall Clock

25th Anniversary Celebration

Shirehampton Public Hall Clock

The Shirehampton Public Hall is a Grade II listed building which this year, 2004, is celebrating its centenary. The year got off to a flying start last October  when HRH the Earl of Wessex visited the Hall to mark the centenary of the laying of the foundation stone. He planted a tree in the Millennium Garden and unveiled a plaque to commemorate his visit. The Hall also accommodates the Public Library whose centenary is due to be celebrated next year.   

The Public Hall building has a tower with a chiming clock which is a prominent landmark in Shirehampton. The clock is also one hundred years old and it has become progressively  more difficult to maintain it in recent years. The Hall Association is now delighted to announce that it is to receive a grant of up to 11,100 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to enable a full professional restoration of the clock and our voluntary community newspaper 'Shire' will also be contributing to the cost!   

The Hall Association will be compiling a history of the clock and the Hall based on documentary evidence and verbal recollections and many volunteers will be collecting memories, documents and photographs to contribute to this history project.   A preliminary 'get together' was held in November 2003, at which 20 people came with material and stories, including a lady who told who she had attended school in the Hall in 1918. This has demonstrated that many local people wish to contribute to the building's history and Judy Helme, who has edited books of recollections of people in Avonmouth, aims to record their stories. The construction of the Hall has already been well documented by local historian Ralph Hack.   

Commenting on the Heritage Lottery Fund grant, Association Chair David Thomas said: 'We will have further events as part of the research phase. We intend to publicise the results by holding an exhibition about the Hall and clock, and producing a booklet as a permanent record. The results will also be included on the existing Public Hall Association website  

The climax of the Hall's centenary will be a rededication by the Shirehampton Vicar, Canon Christine Froude, on the anniversary of the opening of the Hall on 29th September, 1904.

A Letter from the Public Hall Clock

I was delivered to the Public Hall by horse and cart and hoisted up the newly built clock tower to be assembled by the men. I worked very well, chiming the hours and quarters for all Shirehampton to hear, including the children at the local school just up the road. Everyone came to find out the time and the locals listened for my chimes. I myself heard the bells ringing in the village church and the sound of people hurrying past to catch trains for Avonmouth and Bristol, some riding horses.   

Then came hundreds of soldiers on leave from the trenches in the 1914-18 wartime France, some of them billeted close to the village. I heard the ships using the docks hooting and whistling, especially on New Years Eve. A good friend used to visit me once a week to wind my drive weights back up to keep me going. Then in 1939 another war started with aeroplanes flying over, some dropping bombs which made a big bang and shook the Hall and things fell out of the sky onto my roof with a clang. I was stopped for some years because my chimes were not allowed, something to do with parachutists, I heard.   

After getting going again when the war ended, my ropes and pulleys were replaced with an electric motor and the helpful friend stopped visiting me so often, only to alter the time and oil my parts which were becoming a bit worn, but I still kept good time. I lost the drive to the clock face nearest the swimming pool because of a broken gear and another friend gave me a clean, getting rid of all the pigeon mess and rubbish, getting me going again for a time until the bearings on my main drive shaft collapsed and a new one had to be fitted.

I was all right again for a long time, getting looked after and oiled by my good friend who kept me going for the millennium celebrations and the Royal Visit but I was needing attention to my parts at the top of the tower which my friend couldn't get to because he suffered from vertigo. The clock engineer visited and looked at me, noting the repairs and work which would have to be done to make me young again. Another kind man, who is leader of the group which looks after the hall, started collecting money to pay for the work which I am told has now been done. I can start my next hundred years hopefully later in the year after the engineers have finished their work.


A History of the Public Hall - The Book!

Earlier this year I asked you to watch this space regarding the production of a book on the history of the Public Hall, to mark the centenary. Well, you will be aware that a grant has been made for the repair of the clock and a history project including the book so it's all systems go.   Please let us have your own personal memories of the hall and any photographs you would allow us to scan for use in an exhibition and/or the book. If you head up a user group and can write or dictate a brief history of your organisation we would be very grateful.

If you appeared in any concerts, revues, the Twyford House productions or any of the dramatic groups since those times, or just have stories of memorable events you attended in the hall or library, then we would love to know about them.   Please contact myself, Judy Helme on 0117 938 2849 during office hours or e-mail me on (there's an underscore between judy and helme) if you have anything you'd like included, or contact Jeanette Cossey at the hall.

We'd like to get going as quickly as possible now to meet a pre-Christmas deadline, so we look forward to hearing from many of you with your memories.

Many thanks - Judy Helme.

Puzzle Corner

Answers to last month's competition. 1      E N T The letters are the first letters of the numbers 1-10 2   Each of these letters looks the same  upside down 3      These are the only letters in the alphabet not found in the names of the twelve months.

Thank You from Lena, Paul and Gerry Hayward

Many thanks from Lena, Paul and Gerry Hayward who would like to thank Family, Neighbours and Friends for all the cards, flowers and messages of sympathy received on the death of Harry Hayward who passed away on the 13th March 2004 after a short illness.   A special thank you to Canon Christine Froude for such a beautiful and sensitive service, a very fitting tribute to Harry.

Thank you also to Shirehampton Working Men's Club and Special Thanks to neighbours and friends of Meadow Grove who raised 118.00 in aid of St Peter's Hospice. God Bless you all.   As many of you know, Lena has been in hospital for the last couple of months and we wish her a speedy recovery and hope she will be with us again soon.


We apologise for the following 'whoops' in the April edition of Shire. Two dates were erroneous. Firstly, in Ken Perry's letter on page 17, it should have read '2020' not '2002'. Secondly, in 'St Mary's News', Palm Sunday was on April 4th, not the 14th.

Congratulations to Dorothy Earp

Many in Shirehampton will remember Dorothy Earp who was for many years the respected Head Teacher at Shirehampton Infants School. We hear that she was recently presented with an Avon and Somerset Police force shield by the Chief Constable for her work as a Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator.

Dorothy was one of two Co-ordinators in Bristol to receive a National Award for keeping watch in their areas in 2001 - only eight of these certificates were given out in the country and two came to Bristol.   Dorothy has now retired from her position as Co-ordinator due to health problems over the last two years.  

We congratulate her on her award and wish her improved health in the future.

Line Drawing of the Public Hall

Many thanks to Mr Ralph Hack for the gift of the line drawing of the Public Hall, which is very much appreciated by the Library staff and creates much interest when visitors call.

Eileen, Marilyn, Lynn and Liz

25th Anniversary Celebration

To celebrate 25 years of sheltered housing at Jim O'Neil House, Shirehampton, the tenants and Scheme Manager, Lynne Southwood, arranged a party.   The Lord Mayor was invited to lead the celebrations along with the local MP and numerous other councillors both past and present who take an interest in sheltered housing or have had direct association with the scheme itself.   

Even though the party was organised at short notice the tenants were very pleased by the response of those invited, so many of whom made time in their busy schedules to attend the celebrations.   An opening speech was made by Councillor Graham Robertson OBE who, as Chair of the Housing Committee, also attended the opening of Jim O'Neil House 25 years ago. He spoke about the importance of sheltered housing and about Councillor Jim O'Neil whom the scheme is named after.   

Left to right: Cllr Graham Robertson, The Lord Mayor Bill Martin, Doug Naysmith MP, Mrs Emmleen and Mr Henry Limbrick, Mrs Mary Nolan, Cllr John Kiely and Mrs Anne Moore

Presentations were made by the Lord Mayor, Councillor Bill Martin to the following.   Mr Henry Limerick (aged 94) and Mrs Emmleen Limerick (aged 92) husband and wife who are the two eldest tenants living at Jim O'Neil house, moving into the scheme in August 2003.   Mrs Mary Nolan who has lived at Jim O'Neil house longer than any other tenant. She moved in in 1986 and has been a tenant for the last 18 years.   

Mrs Anne Moore who is a Social Service Homecare provider and has been providing care for tenants at Jim O'Neil for the last 25 years. She provided care services to the very first tenant to move into Jim O'Neil House 25 years ago and is still providing care services to the current tenants.   This was followed by tea and cake and a sing-song.   

Further information available from Mrs Lynne Southwood, Scheme Manager, Jim O'Neil House. Tel. 0117 982 2934 or Tom Doyle, Housing Officer, Shirehampton Housing Office. Tel. 0117 903 9678.

In Memory of Hilda Evans

The family of Hilda Evans would like to express their gratitude to all family, friends and neighbours who attended her funeral.   We would also like to thank those who gave money so generously and a large donation has been forward to Cancer Research UK. Thank you for your donation to SHIRE funds.

New Books at the Library

425 Sheppard, John Teach Yourself English Grammar
641.692 Readers Digest

Fresh Fish and Seafood

643.7 Walsh, Tommy DIY Survival
914.36 Travel Guide Austria
942.393 Helme, Judy In the Footsteps of Giants


Carew, Alexandra Getting Away From It All
Heyer, Georgette Sprig Muslin
Hunter,Evan The Moment She Was Gone
Johnson, Jeannie A Penny For Tomorrow
Laws, Stephen Spectre
Leather, Stephen Hard Landing
LeClaire, Anne Leaving Eden
McCullough, Colleen The Song of Troy
Marshall-Andrews, Bob A Man Without Guilt
Michie, David Expiry Date
Moggach, Deborah Changing Babies
Morgan, Fidelis Fortune's Slave
Proulx, Annie The Shipping News
Proulx, Annie Postcards
Reeman, Douglas The Pride and The Anguish
Robb, JD (Nora Roberts) Holiday in Death
Rowlands, Betty No Laughing Matter
Ryan, Chris The Hit List
Ryan, Chris The Kremlin Device
Stewart, Mary The Pride and The Pilgrim
Tyler, Anne Earthly Possessions

Public Hall Garden Plants Needed

The garden is looking its best in the spring. Like all gardens it is continually evolving. We had a substantial grant to refurbish the garden for the Millennium and the shrubs planted then are nicely established.   The Mountain Ash tree is bursting with blossom. Money raised by the Womens Institute enabled me to add further shrubs and a lovely Golden Acacia for the Queen's Golden Jubilee.

The razor sharp Pampas Grass eventually succumbed to attack! The Earl of Wessex planted a Whitebeam last September when we kicked off the Hall's centenary celebrations.   Now that we have a fence to protect the rear of the Hall from intruders I have been able to clear the old rockery and it would be great to restock it with suitable plants. If you have any cuttings or offshoots from your own garden I would be very grateful to receive them.

Janet Thomas 0117 982 2941

Untaxed Vehicles Tow-Away Scheme

Residents of Bristol who are concerned about untaxed vehicles parked on the city's streets can now get them removed promptly, thanks to a new partnership between Bristol City Council and the DVLA.   Historically the DVLA has dealt with untaxed vehicles on the highway. Now they have recognised that local authorities that already remove illegally parked vehicles from the streets can provide the public with a speedier and more effective way of dealing with untaxed vehicles on the highway.   

The police have also welcomed the partnership as a way of reducing arson attacks on abandoned vehicles and reducing fear of crime in communities.   Bristol City Council is one of a number of local authorities who have taken over responsibility for removing untaxed vehicles on behalf of the DVLA. A new electronic link between the council and the DVLA has speeded up the process of checking the registered keeper of a vehicle and abandoned vehicles are removed quicker.   

Authorised parking services staff working under DVLA devolved powers will call in removal trucks to untaxed or abandoned cars. Motorists wishing to reclaim their vehicles will have to pay an 80 release fee within the first 24 hours. If not reclaimed within 24 hours the release fee rises to 160 plus 15 for each day the vehicle is stored. Motorists are also required to produce a valid tax disc or pay a 120 surety payment, which will be refunded on the production of a valid tax disc.   

If the untaxed car has not been claimed after 7 days and is assessed as being worthless, it can be crushed.   Anyone who wishes to report an untaxed vehicle within the city boundaries should now call Bristol City Council's Parking Services on 0117 922 3181 or email:

New Appointments at Portway Community School

The Governing Body of Portway Community School has appointed Steve Davies as substantive Headteacher. Steve Davies currently works in Pontllanfraith Comprehensive School in Caerphilly and will be joining the school from the start of the Autumn term.   There is also a new Chair of Governors.

The previous Chair stood down as he was unable to continue to give the required amount of time because of other commitments. The Governing Body of Portway Community School elected Rosemary Clarke as their Chair. Rosemary Clarke was a pupil at the school in the 1970s and lives in Shirehampton.   

Adverts to appoint two new deputy headteachers have been placed. It is expected that they will be in place for September 2004. Rosemary Clarke Chair of Governors The Friends of Portway At the recent meeting of The Friends of Portway, a unanimous vote was registered by the committee to invoke clauses 17 and 18 of the Constitution and to call a Special General Meeting to discuss its future.   

As the recognised Parent Teacher Association for the school that is a member of the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations and a Registered Charity, the support it renders is both financial and pastoral.   The meeting will be convened on Wednesday 12th May 2004 at 6.30pm at the School in Penpole Lane.

A E Stewart, Chairman For and on behalf of the Committee 10th April 2004

The Twins

In form and features, face and limb   I grew so like my brother That folks got taking me for him   And each for one another. It puzzled all our kith and kin;   It reached an awful pitch; For one of us was born a twin   Yet not a soul knew which! H H H When quite a little infant child   My trouble did begin; For, when I called for nourishment,   'Twas given the other twin. They gave me Codfrey's Cordial,   When he kicked up a shine And, when his nose was troublesome,   They took to wiping mine. H H H One day, to make the matter worse,   Before our names were fixed, As we were being washed by nurse   We got completely mixed. So thus, you see, by Fate's decree   (Or rather nurse's whim) My brother, John, got christened me   And I got christened him! H H H This fatal likeness even dogged   My footsteps when at school, For I was always being flogged,   'Cause he turned out a fool. But once I had a sweet revenge,   For something made him ill; The doctor came and gave poor jack   A black draught and a pill. H H H This fatal likeness turned the tide   Of my domestic life, For somehow my intended bride   Became my brother's wife. Year after year and still the same   Absurd mistakes went on And, when I died, the neighbours came   And buried brother John!

Charles Antill (of Walton Road) 1893-1960

Christian Aid Week - 9th to 15th May 2004

There will be no generous house to house collections in Shirehampton this year during Christian Aid Week. However, envelopes will be available throughout the week in St Mary's Church and we hope as many people as possible will be able to make a donation in this way. The church will be open from 10am to 12 noon and information and materials will be available about the valuable work of Christian Aid.

If you make an envelope donation and you are a taxpayer please fill in the back of the envelope which will add 30% to the value of your gift at no extra cost to you. If you would particularly like to receive an envelope at home and have it collected please ring the number given below.   The following fundraising events have also been arranged and are open to everyone.

Sat 8th May Barn Dance in Shirehampton Public Hall, 7.30 to 11pm    6
Sat 15th May Coffee Morning and Table Top Sale with singing in the Churchyard, 10am to 12noon in St Mary's Church
Tues 8th June       Strawberry Cream Tea Dance in St Mary's Church Centre, 2.00 to 4.30pm   3
Sun 13th June         Sponsored Cycle Ride

For tickets or more information about any of these events please contact Jane and Richard Powell on 983 6186.

Shirehampton Townswomen's Guild Programme 2004-2005

2004 April 1st    The Avon Ambulance Service - Mr D Giles May 5th 'Memories of the 1950s' - Mr D Elsbury June 3rd 'Running the Marathon' - Mrs A Burke July 1st   'Mji Wa Neema Orphanage' - Mrs A Mitchell August        NO MEETING Sept 2nd      'Social Event' Oct 7th  'Tenovus' - Mrs G McDade Nov 4th         'Mini Breaks' - Mrs S Marshfield Dec 2nd         'Tatrus (Poland/Slovakia)' - Mr M Reed 2005 Jan 6th  Birthday Party Feb 3rd  'Tyntesfield' - Mrs A Bowring Mar 3rd    Annual General Meeting

Disabled Parking in the High Street

Traffic management have found some money to mark out the parking bays on Shirehampton High Street between Alldays and Somerfield. Following a request from Councillor Pat Roberts they are going to put in another disabled bay, making four in the village. It will be done during the summer on a Sunday.

Two Consultants Appointed by the Tenant Participation Team

As a result of Neighbourhood Renewal funding the tenant participation teams have recently appointed Martin Vegoda and Philip Parry from Philip Parry Associates to work with them. The two consultants will be working closely with tenants who live in Neighbourhood Renewal areas and are currently under-represented in the decision-making process within The City Council's Neighbourhood and Housing Services Department.

The team is particularly interested in how they can make the whole decision-making process more accessible to younger tenants and tenants from black and minority ethnic groups. If you would like to know more you can send an e-mail to: or phone Lindsay Wall on 0117 903 9846.

Martin Hucker Tenant Participation Officer (0117) 903 9856

A Record to Break

The Blowout Saxophone School of Bath and Bristol are set to break the current world record for the largest saxophone ensemble - a record held at present by a group of 321 saxophonists from Tilburg, Netherlands. The new world record attempt - The Big Blowout - will take place on May 21 on the opening night of the 2004 Bath International Music Festival in the world famous Royal Crescent.   

The event will involve over 400 saxophonists performing a specially commissioned piece. There will be media coverage from television, film, radio and newspapers. The Big Blowout team are still keen to gain new saxophonists of all abilities to meet this great British challenge.

Any saxophonists who still haven't registered for this new Guinness World Record can contact the Big Blowout at or telephone 01225 339007.   Mark Archer who founded and runs the Blowout Saxophone School was brought up in Shirehampton and went to Avon Primary School and St Mary Redcliffe.

A letter received from Peg Rose

I would like to thank everyone (over 100 friends) who sent Roland and I Get Well cards when we were both in hospital, also all the kind people who are sending me cards and letters of condolence owing to the death of Roland.   I would particularly like to thank all the people who have taken time to travel to hospital or to Henbury to visit me.

This has been very much appreciated.   Ro never really got over the motor accident and suffered much pain. I am going to miss my husband dreadfully, having been married for 62 years - and he has done a splendid job lately looking after me.   I have some lovely memories and have much to be grateful for.

Peg Rose

The members of Shire Newapaper extend their sincere sympathy to Peg, who is a former committee member, on the tragic accident which caused the loss of her husband Roland, and also hope she will soon make an early and good recovery from the operation which caused her stay in hospital.

St. Mary's News

Hi folks! Easter has come and gone and we now look ahead to Whit Sunday at the end of this month.   On Maundy Thursday a group from St Mary's went to Bristol Cathedral for a service of Holy Communion which included the 'blessing of the oils'. This is the oil used at Baptism or for anointing the departed. The Cathedral Girls Choir provided some really angelic sounds during the time of Communion. In the evening Canon Christine conducted a Holy Communion Service and re-enacted the washing of feet.   

Good Friday was a busy day, too - a Family Service mainly for children followed at 10.30am with Hot Cross Buns when we were also joined by those on the 'Walk of Witness' around the village. At 1pm Canon Christine conducted 'The Stations of the Cross' followed by an act of worship by the Shirehampton Area Choir's performance of the cantata - Pardon, Penitence & Peace. Easter Day saw the church transformed from bare and colourless on Good Friday to brightness, joy and light. I think for many of us the Easter Resurrection meant so much more after seeing the film 'The Passion of Christ' were the suffering of Jesus was portrayed in graphic detail.

Before leaving my notes on Easter I must make mention that on Palm Sunday Canon Christine was licensed by the Bishop of Bristol as the Dean of Women's Ministry. She has been performing this duty for some considerable time, but this was the official day of her appointment to that office.   Now for some details of future events. On Saturday 8th May a Barn Dance is being held in the Public Hall to support the work of Christian Aid. Tickets are available from Jane and Richard Powell.   

The next Saturday (15th May) a group will be singing in our church yard, also for Christian Aid funds. Please give them your support when you pass through the church yard - any amount, no matter how small, will be very much appreciated.   Later on during the month, at 7pm on Friday 28th May, Jane and Richard Powell come to the forefront again when they organise their first Skittles Evening, after taking over the reins from Nan and Bernard Waller. The venue is the same - Hallen Community Centre/Football Club. Please put your names on the list at the west end of the church and pay your cash to Jane or Richard. The Buffet Supper is always superb.   

On Saturday 29th May the church is open between 10am and 4pm for anyone who may be interested in 'Weddings'. Were you married at St Mary's? Had you thought about renewing your marriage vows? Have you any memorabilia from your Wedding Day? We hope we may be able to display different wedding dresses throughout the decades. Perhaps you are thinking of getting married - come and see what St Mary's has to offer you! The next day is Whit Sunday and as it is the last Sunday in the month there will be a Family Service which will include a Baptism. This will be followed at 6.00pm with a service of Holy Communion with the main theme of healing.

You don't have to be in poor health in order to attend the service - you may wish to pray for someone whom you know, or is close to you, who is unwell at this time.   The following Sunday, 6th June, is Trinity Sunday and at our 10.00am Holy Communion the Preacher will be The Venerable Alan Hawker who is the Archdeacon of Malmesbury. This day is also the 60th Anniversary of the 'D' Day landings in France and it also the birthday of a certain lady priest who is far too young to recall such events. In fact she wasn't even born then!

Also, it is the sixth wedding anniversary of a young couple in Walton Road. I am sworn to secrecy not to reveal their identity, so I think I can safely say, without giving anything away, that one of them refers to me as 'Dad'!   Our very sincere thanks go to Colin and Theresa Mamber, ably assisted by Dick Helme, who organised our Cowboy Evenings. It was a wonderful idea of theirs to raise funds for St Mary's and was very much enjoyed by all of us. After eating beans my wife makes sure I walk down wind from her - the word 'wind' aptly describes my predicament.   Now I'm afraid I have to report some sad news. One of our stalwart members recently died, Roland Rose.

Roland was making a good recovery from injuries he received in a recent road traffic account when he suffered a massive heart attack. He was one of our regular 'coffee servers' and was a most interesting character to talk to. He knew of my interest in steam locomotives and would often tell me of his days as an Apprentice at Swindon Railway Works when he made the brass safety valve covers and copper caps around the chimneys of the former Great Western locomotives. Roland will be sadly missed by us all and we extend our heartfelt sympathy to his wife Peg, son Tim and daughter in law Sue. On the subject of bereavement I sadly have to report that over the winter months there have been numerous funerals at St Mary's and to those relatives we also extend our deepest sympathy.  

Finally, to end on a more cheerful note I must tell you what happened to me one Sunday morning after the service. I was approached by four ladies, Joan Woodward nee Buck who lived at one time in Coaley Road, Janet Rudd nee Minchin also formerly of Coaley Road, Maureen Batstone nee Collins formerly of Park Road and Elaine Hodge nee Richards formerly of Avonmouth Road. They are all former members of 120th St Mary's Guide Company. Although they are all scattered around - Joan lives in Axminster, Janet lives in Plymouth, Maureen lives in Wellington and Elaine at Pilning - they still maintain close contact with one another and read 'Shire'.

On this particular Sunday they decided to meet up at St Mary's to view our re-ordering and to meet Canon Christine. Joan says she could remember me in short trousers and taking me across the Portway to Shirehampton Infants and Junior Schools (I did roll up my trousers but I got no offer to see me across the High Street). Janet's mother, Mrs Minchin, was my teacher at Shire' Junior School and her father Ken used to play cricket when St Mary's, all those years ago, had a cricket team. It was wonderful to see the four of them and recall old memories again. Elaine did mention she was married at St Mary's some forty-nine years ago!

When they left they were going to have lunch together at The Plough Inn, Pilning. I hope you enjoyed your lunch as much as I did meeting you all again! Also, on Good Friday, after the Area Choir's performance of Pardon, Penitence & Peace, I met an old school chum who was in my class in Shire' Junior School, Francis Goodhind. I last saw Francis in 1950 when he left to go to Kingsweston House which was then opened as a Primary School to accommodate children from the Lawrence Weston area, which was then a new council estate! It was wonderful to see him again - I'm surprised he recognised me - grey hair, bags under the eyes, wrinkles and all!   

On this note I had better stop 'waffling' and draw to a close!

Bye for now! C.M.E.

Blackbird Turns a Worm

Hush! Happy Bird. I should be sleeping, The eastern sun is not yet peeping; Though it's light is o'ver the hill, And soon will every hollow fill. Must you drag the night along With your punctuated song? Please let me lie an hour more: Willingly I will - for sure John Connett

Shirehampton Primary School Events

The children of Shirehampton Primary School performed their Easter Production 'The Rocky Monster Show' to a full house last Tuesday.   Through singing, dancing and acting the story was told of a masked professor of genetics who spends his time in the laboratory creating life. There were guest appearances from 'The Superbs' and Elvis, who stole the show with his performance of 'A Hard Act to Follow'.


The show was very much enjoyed by all who attended. The children involved are all part of drama and dance after school clubs that take place in the school.   Also some of the children have been taking part in a new lunchtime club. They have been learning to play and dance to Samba music.

They performed in the end of term assembly to the rest of the school and some parents, who all thoroughly enjoyed the fun, lively performance.

Shirehampton Reminiscences

Reminiscence Collecting Sessions

Thanks to our article in SHIRE Newsletter and some posters around the village, we have been deluged with fascinating memories of Shire's past times. People who were born in the 1930s, '40s and '50s have taken part so far and war time memories and remembered war activities are also flowing in. We are absolutely thrilled at the response. Thank you to all who took part! Not only is there a lot of material but people have really enjoyed getting together and sharing past events. The 3rd April session has now happened and at the time of writing this, the 17th April session, is tomorrow. We will report back fully in the next issue of Shire.

Reminiscences - and how you can get involved!

We are putting together an album called 'Shire Reminiscences by Shire People', which will contain all that we have gathered plus space for you to add anything you'd like to, answer some of the so-far unanswered questions and correct anything you think is not right. From 1st May it will be kept in the Library and you are welcome to go and look at it and add to it whenever the Library is open. We look forward to all your additions and will produce a finished album by the Autumn. Reminiscence Outcomes A Public Hall Centenary display, a book and a website are in the pipeline. Three of us are involved: Jeanette Cossey and Judy Helme are collecting the Hall memorabilia; this is linked in to the Hall's Lottery award to repair the clock and make centenary year memorable. Kate Pollard is collecting wider village memories for a permanent record and public display. You can contact us thorough Jeanette Hall at the Hall on 982 9963

Dear Editor,

I have been living in Oxford for a long time now but I came from a large family, born and bred at 11 St Mary's Walk with 7 brothers and sisters. I'm sorry to say that they have all passed away now, so I'm the only one who can say things about the war years. I was born in 1932 so I was only seven when the war started, but I can remember quite a lot of things that happened during those years. First I remember everyone being called up for the armed forces in 1939.

My brother Tom was called up and joined the Army in 1940 and served in the Dorset Regiment for two years before he was killed at the age of 21, like a few more around Shirehampton. They were very sad days for everyone.   Everyone in the village used to have a quick tea and all go up and line the High Street from Shire Green to wave and cheer all the soldiers being marched down to the docks in Avonmouth to be shipped out for the D-Day landings and other parts.

They were quite a cheerful bunch, singing and waving back, especially when you know that more than half of them didn't come back. I should say that most people in Shire went to cheer them and you hope that everybody appreciates all they did for us when you look back now.   I remember all the bombing nearly every night of the week and having to go down the shelters in the garden, not that we went down every night. We thought that we might as well get blown up in the comfort of our own house, sheltering under the stairs, rather than under the ground in the garden. At least that was my Mother's thought, but we had the choice.

Most of the mothers used to have some troops in for tea two or three afternoons a week before they boarded the ships.   I remember a land-mine being dropped in one air raid, it landed in the infants school playground which was just across the road from where we lived. Every time they tried to get it out, it sank deeper and deeper. The tale was that they never did get it out and the hole was filled in because it was thought that it wouldn't be a danger. Whether the tale is true or not I don't know, I never did find out.

I remember the underground shelter in the Junior school playground, we had to go and stand by the entrance to the shelter when their was an air raid and shut the doors when everyone was inside. There were air raids most nights of the week, we used to be able to see all the docks on fire, as well as the barrage balloons all around Avonmouth and Shirehampton being shot at.   

We were evacuated to St Bernards Road school hall for a few weeks while they were dealing with the time bomb in the playground and the land mines in the cemetery at the top of our road which blew up dozens of graves. All of us kids used to go out and collect sackfuls of shrapnel the morning after the raids. It's a pity nobody wanted to buy it, we would have been quite rich. It wasn't all doom and gloom for us kids, though. There were two Army camps at the top of Shire Park Hill, the British Army at Penpole and the Yanks on part of the golf course. We all used to be invited up to both of them for a party now and then and a film show.

The Yanks always had more money to spend than our soldiers but it was always nice for us kids. We always used to have a big food parcel at Christmas if you didn't have a Father. Mine died when I was five.   There was a public house called the Greyhound just around the corner at the bottom of Park Hill, which was blown up, also the underground shelter in Pembroke Road opposite the Rising Sun.

I think people in both buildings were killed and injured.   I remember being in Portway School as a child, trying to do lessons, while all the tanks and big guns were rumbling down to the docks. We kept jumping up to see out of the windows so the teacher eventually gave up trying to teach and stopped the lesson and allowed everyone to watch. I think he was called Mr Sissions.

I think the convoys went on all day and night.   Of course, all this time we had food rationing to cope with, or rather our parents did. We got used to managing on small amounts; with a big family it somehow seemed easier. We found that soups and stews went a long way; everybody used to grow veg and kept chickens. The meat you got from the butcher helped with the stews and Sunday dinners.

We always had enough left over for Monday. Sometimes Monday's dinner was better than in the week. Mothers then used to be able to work miracles. Plenty of home-made cakes and puddings and plenty of bananas from neighbours who worked on the docks - all above board I have to say, not stolen.

Then there were the sweets and clothing coupons. We couldn't afford many clothes apart from Sunday best, any clothing coupons my brother and I had left over we exchanged with my younger sister for lots of bars of chocolate once a month. She used to work at Frys Chocolate Factory and was allowed to bring home chocolate once a month. That was her story, anyway.   Hope that you can make use of some of these memories in your Newspaper.

Yours faithfully,

Mr F Coker

Dear Editor

I hope this letter will be read by the person who drove through Shirehampton at about 10pm on Sunday the 4th April 2004. You hit a small dog near the zebra crossing outside the Co-op. You just drove away as if nothing had happened. No doubt you were speeding as do most people at that time of night. You would certainly have known that you hit something.   

Two cars following stopped to help the dog. Unlike you we had to listen to the pitiful cries as it dragged itself to the pavement. My husband went down to see if he could help and brought the dog into our house. We spent the next hour caring for it while waiting for the RSPCA to pick it up. They were most helpful and very quick. Luckily it only had a broken leg.   

It was an old dog and the outcome could have been much worse had no one been around to care for it. This dog was not a stray; it had been micro chipped and the owners traced. I think you will find that the law requires you to report such incidents and to seek help for the animal. You chose to ignore this and leave it to other people.

Mrs Brenda Turner

Dear Editor

I stumbled across the wonderful Shirehampton web-site whist doing a search for information about the Remount Department for Avonmouth/Shirehampton. If anyone has information on the Remounts generally or has any recollections of the Leaver family of Kingsweston Avenue, Shirehampton, I would be thrilled to hear from them. Charles Edward Leaver, my grandfather, was an officer in the Remount Department during WWI.   Please contact: John Leaver 'Lilac Time', Quietways, Stonehouse, Gloucester

Editor's Note: We are pleased that Mr Leaver appreciates Shire on the Web. You can access it from any computer with an internet connection at   The website contains general information about Shirehampton, an archive of SHIRE Newspapers back to March 1999, extensive picture galleries from Art and Craft exhibitions, a Directory of local organisations and web pages and links to websites of local businesses.

The Late Catherine Mary Coates

Ray, Ian, Paul, Nick, Andrew, Mary, Pat, Paul, Louise, Debs and Katie would like to thank most sincerely all family, friends and neighbours for the cards and messages of sympathy received in their recent bereavement.   Special thanks to the Rev. Canon Christine Froude and the Rev. Jackie Searle, for the lovely service on the life of Catherine. Thank you also for donations which were sent to"Friends of Bristol Oncology Centre" to help purchase new equipment.     "God Bless You All". (Thank you for your donation to "SHIRE" funds)

Watkins (Bennett) Rob

I would like to thank my family and my stepson, Barrie and wife, Rosemary for their wonderful help and support in my sad loss of Rob.

Dear Editor

Well, here I am again and as promised some memories of Shire during those war years.   Firstly there's mum, Eileen Kays (nee Allsopp). She was born to Margaret Hannah and Matthew Allsopp, in Swansea, South Wales. The youngest of three, two elder brothers Idris and Gwylym. They lived for a short time in Cotham before moving into 10 Portbury Walk, Shire, when mum was 21/2. She was a pupil at Shire Junior School and aged 7, when war broke out. She remembers having to take her gas mask with her to school and being sent home for it if it was forgotten! Mum's brothers later rallied to the call to arms and Idris joined the army and Gwylym became a Royal Marine.   

Mum (Eileen) remembers going shopping with her mother and having to queue for fruit, vegetables and meat when ration books were issued. Salmon and Hutchins were the general grocers. They had sawdust on the floor and tins of mixed biscuits fronted the counter; there was always a strong smell of bacon. Butter and lard came into the shop in big blocks and Mr Chiddy would slice off 2 ounces of lard and 4 ounces of butter per person per week; that was the rationed amount. Bananas, well if you could get your hands on one, it was a real treat, same went for oranges!   There were a couple of butchers in the village where you could exchange your vouchers for offal, sausages and some meat at Clark's, Newman's and Constables at the top of Bradley Crescent.   

The rationing continued until 1951-52 as mum recalls my grandmother saving up clothing coupons to buy her wedding dress and meats for the reception. Women became a dab hand at make do and mend and my grandmother was amongst them. She managed to get parachute silk from the US troops stationed on the golf links and from this designed and made some lovely underwear for my mother. Mrs Chancellor who lived at the bottom of St Mary's Road managed to collect empty flour sacks from the flourmills (Spillers) on the docks and bring them home. My grandmother unstitched them, boiled, bleached, dyed and dried them and then made dresses out of the material.   

Mum remembers air raid sirens going off and having to run out of the house and into the air raid bunker or Anderson shelter, as they were known, semis submerged into the ground. There were those who absolutely refused to leave their home and would crouch under the stairs for cover!   Just along the road from Portbury Grove was Kilminster Farm. It was here that German prisoners of war built the prefabs that stood there for many years. My grandfather (Matthew) during this time was an air raid warden, whilst my grandmother (Margaret) acted as the local nurse. She was often called out to attend the injured after an air raid, she would always be found carrying her bag which contained bandages, pins, plasters etc and a bottle of Savalaty? (sal volatile? - ed.) 

Some kind of antiseptic lotion that was used for all sorts of wounds or infections.   My grandmother (Margaret) was never one for sitting still, always on the 'go' and never more so during these times. She put a lot of effort into running the 'Cheer Up Club', always held on a Tuesday at the 'Old Hut' in Groveleaze. This club ran for about 25 years, continually through the war. Members would enjoy afternoon tea and biscuits and talks. On the 21st birthday of the club they celebrated with a party and a guest appearance by Robinson Hare who was a well known movie star. Mr Dickson and then later Mr Lovejoy, the local vicar, made many a visit to the club during the war years.   

Grandmother was a dab hand at writing and putting on shows too, which many of the locals took part in. That was when there was true community spirit. One year my dad (Ken Kays) adapted Cinderella and my grandmother put it on. Mum can remember a few of those who took part - Frank Derrick (Scenery); Joan Hawksby (Cinders); Sadie Brown (Prince Charming); Eileen Allsopp (Fairy Godmother) and Mrs Boon (Ugly Sister).   There were many more and five ladies who mum taught to tap dance performed a military sequence to the music 'Soldiers of the Queen'. Unfortunately their names escape her now.   

As well as the 'Do's' at the old hut, they had dances in the hall above the Co-op Store on a Tuesday evening dancing to records or Mrs Vowles on the piano.   Dad (Ken Kays) who was one of five children was born to William Alfred James and Ellen Kays (nee Lear) in Bedminster in 1929 and moved into Shire in 1930 to 64 St Mary's Road. Dad had just started at Portway Boys School and was 10 when war was declared. As the war escalated they implemented an evacuation scheme and the two youngest children of the family were sent to Holesworthy in Devon.

Dad stayed with a Mr and Mrs Jury at Tetcott Farm whilst my aunt (Gwyn) was put up by a Miss Heard and her daughter in the same village.   Dad's two older brothers joined the forces. Ronald joined the Black Watch and William the Royal Artillery. Dad returned to Shire at the age of 14 and into Miss Wyatt's class at Portway School. He remembers well when an air raid was imminent, there were 45-gallon oil drums strategically placed around the village that would be set alight.

This would give off a thick black acrid smoke that would obliterate Shire from enemy aircraft bomber sights.   He recalls one occasion when his elder brother William, home on leave from the Royal Artillery created a commotion with the local constabulary by climbing the church tower (St Mary's) with a mate, both of whom were slightly intoxicated and setting off the church bells!

Well, so what's the harm in that I hear you say? Unfortunately the church bells were to remain silent and only in the event that we were being invaded were they to be rung! So you can imagine the events that followed. William later lost his life serving in Indonesia. Once dad was old enough he signed up to serve as a Royal Marine.   I hope that you will find some of the enclosed information interesting and maybe a little informative.

It has been a rewarding experience for me talking over old times with mum and dad and so much has come to light, things that I never knew about my own family. All this information I can now pass on to my children and grandchildren, who will be all the richer for it.   I'm looking forward to reading other people's memories in the hope that some may tie in with those of my family.

Janet Witcombe (nee Kays)