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Centenary of the Public Hall

The Grainger Players

New Portway School

Bristol - Istanbul

Letters to the Editor

Centenary of the Public Hall

The weekend of the 27th and 28th of November saw the people of Shirehampton celebrate the Centenary of their Public Hall and what a success it was. All user groups of the Public Hall were represented to demonstrate what a key role the Public Hall plays in the day to day life of Shirehampton.

The Exhibition opened on Saturday morning at 10am. Many people streamed through the doors at opening time to see the displays of pictures and memorabilia dating back to the opening of the Public Hall in 1904 including original architect drawings and documents showing the donation of land from Napier Miles.

Emily Bull cuts the cake

Saturday at 11am saw the cake cutting by Emily Bull who was also presented with a book of the Public Hall. Joshua Owen and Katelyn Arnel, who are current Children of the Playgroup, made presentations to those who had worked so hard, Judy Helme who collected the content and authored the book, Jeannette Cossey and Kate Pollard for the organisation of the weekend and the general organisation of the exhibition.

The Exhibition was organised by (L to R) Ralph Hack, Jeanette Cossey, David Thomas, Judy Helme, and Kate Pollard

The remainder of the Saturday and all day Sunday saw a succession of people streaming through the doors to enjoy presentations from the Grainger Players who displayed videos of past performances, The Evergreens showing photographs of their involvement in the community, the Model Railway Club who have displayed their work, David Tudor for his own model railway of Shirehampton Station, Pillow lace group with a display of their lace stitch work and the Shire Stitchers Millennium quilt that was produced to celebrate the year 2000.

Station Road Playgroup displayed records dating back to 1965 where people enjoyed picking out families' and friends' names and photographs who had attended over the last 35 years. A video was displayed of the Public Hall when it was the setting of Casualty on national television.

It was clear that everyone who attended the weekend enjoyed themselves and brought back many great memories of the part the Public Hall has played in many peoples' lives young and old. If you missed this opportunity to purchase a copy of the book by Judy Helme please contact Jeannette at the Public Hall or Judy Helme on 0117 938 2849.

Thank you

It is with regret that we have to say goodbye and thank you to Bernard Waller. Bernard has been one of our stalwart volunteer counters for the past 15 years, but now feels it is time to take a rest. He says he has seen changes during his time with Shire newspaper, with old counters leaving and new ones taking their place.

The newspaper itself has changed too, it has increased in size and distribution. Bernard and his wife will continue to deliver the paper on their usual 'round', and Bernard has promised should he be needed he is willing for us to call on his help again.

The Committee and I would like to say a huge thank you to Bernard for all his help and assistance in the past. Enjoy your retirement Bernard - you have earned it.

Dog Fouling on Shirehampton's Roads

We all like our dogs and enjoy taking them for walks, but concern has once again been voiced over the amount of dog fouling there is on Shirehampton's roads.

It is most unpleasant to have it sticking to our shoes, prams, etc. or indeed for little children to fall down in it, so please may I appeal to all our dog walking readers to take a plastic bag with them and dispose of the mess in their wheelie bin. I'm sure you will have the gratitude of the rest of us.

Will Amott - BBC Hard Spell Competition

Will, who is a former pupil of St Bernards School and is now in Year 8 at Bristol Grammar School was selected to represent his school in the BBC Hard Spell Competition. This selection was made primarily as he achieved 100% in his spelling tests for the whole of year 7.

Will is an avid reader and writer, so this was a good opportunity to show his skills with the English language. On Saturday 30 October 2004 Will travelled down to Exeter to compete in the BBC Hard Spell South West Regional Round of the Competition.

Over 100 children were involved in this particular round, which involved spelling 5 words correctly in the morning round - if this was achieved, the children would go through to an afternoon round. About 1/3 of the children achieved getting their 5 words correct.

The afternoon round was performed on a knock-out basis, if a child spelled their word incorrectly they would be instantly knocked out. Will did extremely well in this round and after spelling many words correctly, he was down to the last  children. 5 children would be finalists and 1 runner-up.

Unfortunately for Will, his word was pronounced incorrectly, therefore he did not spell this correctly and was placed in runner-up position. This meant that Will had got down from 101,000 children who started in this competition in the whole of Britain down to the last 60!

His runner-up status meant that he would travel to London for the next round, when the South West would take on the North East. Will's runner-up position would enable him to be on standby in case any finalists dropped out. The finalists were all fit and well on that day, so Will did not get is chance to spell again, but watched the round in the audience at the BBC Studios - an experience he will never forget.

We are extremely proud of Will for his achievement in this competition and hope he goes on to fulfil his ambition of becoming a writer. He says he would also like to go in for the Hard Spell Competition next year and maybe get even further next time!

Bernice Amott (Will's Mum)

Thank you

Thank you to all my family, friends and neighbours for all the presents, cards and flowers etc., received on the occasion of my 90th birthday. Also thank you to Doris and neighbours of Coaley Road for the wonderful buffet. Thank you all so very much.

Mrs R. Bailey

Santa's Helpers Make an Early Visit to Stow House.

Santa made an early visit at Stow House Sheltered Scheme in Nibley Road on the 9th of December. Scheme Manager Joan Cormack and Vic Golding donned Santa outfits and arrived on horseback to bring all the Christmas presents as tenants at the Stow House Sheltered Scheme enjoyed their Christmas Party. The Christmas dinner was followed by live music and a sing along. A great time was had by all as the horse shared one of his favourite jokes:

Riding the favourite at Cheltenham, the jockey is well ahead of the field. Suddenly he's hit on the head by a turkey and a string of sausages. He manages to keep control of his mount and pulls back into the lead, only to be struck by a box of Christmas crackers and a dozen mince pies as he goes over the last fence.

With great skill he manages to steer the horse to the front of the field once more when, on the run in, he's struck on the head by a bottle of sherry and a Christmas pudding. Thus distracted, he succeeds in coming only second. He immediately goes to the stewards to complain that he has been seriously hampered!

Tom Doyle.

What a carry on ... ...

Perhaps they are silly, but I can't forget words from long ago; remembered yet. Everyone knows that you'll head for a fall If you walk neath a ladder propped up by a wall. A brolly indoors should be kept furled tight. Don't use the stairs if someone's in sight. When cutting your nails, be in no doubt.

There's three days ill-omened, which must be left out. Never peer long in any looking glass, for old Nick himself will not let this pass. The crossing of knives is a challenge to peace, And never give gloves or friendship will cease. Cover all mirrors 'gainst lightning's bright flashes, There's 7 years trouble if one of them smashes.

If you happen to mention blessings quite good, Remember! ward off misfortune by touching on wood. Try to be safe by all ways you can, And be guided by wisdom from mother and gran.

John Connett


Rosie Carter for completing the summer roller coaster reading scheme. The photographs shows Rosie receiving her prize at the presentation in the Central Library.

Penpole Tenants' Association

The committee of the Penpole Tenants' Association thank you most sincerely for your kind donation to our funds which, we can assure you, will be put to very good use.

May we also take this opportunity to thank you for the help you have been to us in the past and to wish you, your staff and your helpers, a Very Happy Christmas and a successful 2005. Thank you

Evergreen Outings 2005

April 12 Abergavenny Market
May 10 Longleat and Wilton
June 14 Bournemouth
July 12 Swanage
August 9 Moreton-in-the-Marsh and Bourton-on-the-Water
September 16 Porthcawl
October 11 Weston-super-Mare
November 8 Swindon

On 13/14 September there is a trip to London. Visit a show and stay overnight in a hotel. Return Wednesday morning. Names and deposit by 30th January 2005 please.

To book any of these day trips ring Norman on 982 3180.

Bev ... Would like to say a big thank you to all the shops in our village for donating prizes for a charity event held on Saturday 20th November - raising 406 for the blind.

May thanks to Hair by Design; Needles and Nails; Co-op; Cards and Gifts; Chicos; Elite Hair Salon; Pet Shop (Gayles); Interflora; Boots; Robin Cousins Sports Centre; Somerfield; Avonmouth Workmens Club.

Any Questions? for Shire

Chairman Jonathan Dimbleby

Radio 4's Any Questions? programme returned to the Public Hall after nearly 50 years on 17 December. A packed hall welcomed Chairman Jonathan Dimbleby, and the four panel members. Jacqui Smith MP is Trade and Industry Minister and Deputy Minister for Women. John Redwood MP is the Conservative Shadow Secretary of State for Deregulation, and a former contender for the party leadership. Andrew Gilligan is the former Defence and Diplomatic Correspondent for the Today programme, but resigned in the wake of the Hutton report into the death of weapons expert Dr David Kelly. Mark Oaten MP is the home affairs spokesman for the Liberal Democrats. They were joined on the platform by producer Anne Peacock.

The audience filling the Hall

Although the programme did not start until just after 8 o'clock, the audience had been requested to be seated by 7.15 pm. There was a warmup session, during which the BBC's technicians were balancing microphones and preparing for the live broadcast. At ten to eight the panel came in, and answered a preliminary question from Janet Thomas, on whether things had changed for the better since the programme last came to the Public Hall.

The front row waiting to ask questions

The live broadcast began as soon as the 8 o'clock news summary was complete. Paul West asked the first question, on the Law Lords decision that the detention of the Belmarsh terror suspects breached human rights. At the end of the answers Jonathan Dimbleby asked for a show of hands on whether the audience thought they should be released or remain in prison. He was surprised when very few people responded to either suggestion. Mark Oaten prompted him to offer a third option, to charge with an offence or release. This received overwhelming support.

The Panel (L to R John Redwood, Andrew Gilligan, Jonathan Dimbleby, Anne Peacock, Mark Oaten, Jacqui Smith)          Photos: Eric Verey

Alan Cossey asked whether David Blunkett's resignation arose from his liaison with a publisher, or the comments he made about colleagues in his recent biography. This was followed by a question from Gary Hopkins on public enquiries, and who should appoint the judges who conduct them.

Father Vincent Ryan asked the panel about the Mental Capacity Bill, which had had a turbulent passage in the Commons earlier in the week, and in particular about the euthanasia implications. This prompted some heated exchanges between John Redwood and Jacqui Smith. Jonathan Dimbleby brought Father Ryan into the debate and sought his views before moving on to the next question. Christine Cuthbert asked about the pensions time bomb. She was concerned that we will all have to work till we drop in future.

Maureen Mitchell posed the final question, both of this programme and of the year. She asked what Father Christmas should bring the Prime Minister. The answers included the joys of retirement, David Blunkett's biography, and a peaceful Christmas break to reinvigorate him for a general election victory. Generous John Redwood offered three gifts, all with stings in the tail.

The end of the programme came much quicker than we were all expecting. The panel and production staff joined the Hall Association Committee afterwards for drinks and nibbles. It was very pleasant to talk to them informally, away from the pressures of the live broadcast. Jeanette Cossey had obtained a copy of the Radio Times covering the 1955 visit. Jonathon Dimbleby was particularly interested in this. On the page before the Hall's Any Questions? details there was a large display of the 1955 television general election coverage, presented by his father.

Many people worked very hard to make the visit a success. I would like to thank everyone who helped on the day, but in particular Marilyn Gorry and Mary Hayball, who did much detailed planning and support. We are also very grateful to the Library for distributing the tickets, and St Bernard's school for the loan of extra chairs, and the use of the playground for parking.

David Thomas 

The Grainger Players

We had originally planned our latest show - an 'Olde Tyme Music Hall' for November 2004 to coincide with the centenary of the Public Hall, but due to unforeseen circumstances that was not to be. Make a note of the 17th, 18th and 19th of February 2005.

It's a show to suit everyone and if you feel you would like to blend in with the atmosphere please do so, even if it's only wearing an old fashioned hat. Remember the TV programme 'The Good Old Days', well this could be Shire's Good Old Days. Now the balcony seats have all been refurbished you will find them much more comfortable, but still bring your cushions for downstairs.

We thank you for your continued support and also our charity M.S. Look forward to seeing you.

The Grainger Players

New Portway School

Mr Steven Davis, Headmaster of Portway Community School, pointing out the aspects of the new school, which should be finished in early2006. The existing school will then be demolished and the ground made into playing fields.
Photo:   E Verey

Bristol - Istanbul

I have recently returned from a five-night stay in Istanbul, Turkey. I stayed at the Pera Palas Otel, the end destination of travellers on the Orient Express. Passengers used to embark on the train in Paris and end up at the special Orient Express railway station in Istanbul, where they would be carried to the hotel in sedan chairs (they still have one at the hotel).

The hotel remains almost exactly as it was in Victorian times and is a fantastic place to stay. I joined the role of previous famous guests, such as Mata Hari, Greta Garbo and Agatha Christie (I visited her room)! I had pre-booked a boat trip along the Bosphorus (basically the stretch of water joining the Black Sea to the Mediterranean).

When approaching the Bosphorus (suspension) Bridge, I jokingly said to some English tourists 'Who transplanted the Severn Bridge here?' at which the Turkish Guide said 'Actually, it was built by the same firm who built the Severn Bridge'. The Bosphorus Bridge, by the way, was the first bridge in the world to link two continents - Europe and Asia.

It was built in 1973. A little later, the guide (Mehmet) approached me and asked where I came from. When I told him, he said 'Oh, I like Bristol!'. A little surprised, I said 'Have you been there?' 'Yes,' he replied, 'I lived there as a student in a flat in Clifton.

I was studying for a degree in business studies at the University of the West of England'. I was flabbergasted. During the course of the following conversion, he told me of an incident which had forever enamoured him of the English policeman. He was driving to Wales, across the Severn Bridge, when, upon reaching the toll booths, he discovered, to his horror, that he had left his wallet at home and had absolutely no money!

It was impossible to turn back and he was at his wits end. Then he noticed a police car parked at the side of the motorway. He approached the officer and explained his predicament. The officer gave him the fare! Needless to say, Mehmet later returned the money with a thank you letter.

But, obviously, the incident had so impressed him, that he had to relate it to me - on a river boat in Turkey!

The Vickie Hall School of Dance

The Vickie Hall School of Dance attended the West Coast of England Freestyle Dance championships 2004 in Exmouth at the beginning of October. All the girls have been training extremely hard for most of the year and this paid off as the school brought home a total of ninety nine (99) trophies for the weekend.

The U12 street team 'The Hip Hop Juniors' came first place and so did the U16 Intermediate team 'Mission' and 'Spirit" the U16 championship team came second place. Vickie would like to say a big 'Well Done' to all her dancers. The school just this year have won an amazing 610 trophies by going to different competitions through the Wales and South-West area.

The girls are now practising for their annual display in November. Anyone who is interested in joining the dance school can contact Vickie on 07989 841856 for information.

Bogus Charity Clothing Collections

Bristol Trading Standards has received enquiries from concerned consumers about flyers through their letterboxes asking for donations of clothing and other households goods. The flyers might state in small print that they are a commercial operation, but the overriding first impression from the leaflet is that items are being collected for charitable purposes.

In reality they are being collected by commercial organisations that sell the goods for profit. Also references to a Ltd Company registration number can easily be mistaken for a registered Charity number. If you have doubts about any leaflets through your letterbox asking for donations you can:

Contact the Charity Commission helpline on 0870 333 0123 to check whether the collection is for, or on behalf of a registered charity. Contact the local authority to see if the collector has been licensed to collect in the  area. In Bristol City Council area the no is: 0117 914 2500.

Donate your items to a charity shop of your own choice, or use registered charity collection bags. These should have their registered charity number clearly on the bag.

Letters to the Editor

Thank You

Dear Editor

I read 'Shire' from cover to cover (including the ads), and it is a delightful addition to my normal reading - thank you. Could you please help me by giving my heartfelt thanks to the Manager and Staff of the Co-op Store. They came to my rescue when my 'old faithful' electric scooter gave up the ghost whilst in the store.

The Manager physically manhandled it to a space where he allowed it to stay overnight and I awaited someone to take me home. Alas, it is not repairable, so my daily jaunts to the village have been reluctantly curtailed for the near future. It is always gratifying to see that there are still some good Samaritans around if you are in trouble.

Luckily, my neighbour Jean Easby is shopping for me now.

Thank you all,

Audrey Stone ['Speedy']

Nail Bar?

Dear Editor

Now, like most men, I love a bit of DIY. There is nothing I like more than knocking a wall down and building another in its place. Or taking a shelf down to make way for a new shelf. Or even knocking a nail in the wall to put up a picture and then re-wiring the whole room because there was a cable in the wall where I wanted my picture

I was taking a walk through Shire the other night and counted no less than THREE nail shops. Even to a hardened DIYer like myself with a personal collection of many hundred of nails, this seems a little excessive. True, if I am embarking on another project that involves hanging another picture, it is comforting to know that if I have run out of a nail to hang the pic there is an establishment in Shire purpose built to satisfy my lack of basic materials. BUT 3?

We now have a kebab shop to go with the 3 cafes, hot chickens in the Co-op and Somerfields, a chippy, a Chinese takeaway and an Indian takeaway. I am drawing plans up to offer help to anybody who wants to open another Library, used car lot and a second public toilet and maybe something that we really  need ... a takeaway where you can get your nails buffed up and painted in odd colours while you wait for your cod 'n chips.

Chris Napier

Missions to Seamen Wheel

Dear Editor

John Rogers is correct in that the Wheel that was in the 'Missions to Seamen' was from the William Ashburner. The Wheel and the Ships Bell were on loan to 'MIssion' by Captain Sinnott, master and owner. On his death they passed to his son Harry of Limerick.

When the 'Mission' moved to the Portbury Dock they were returned to Harry. There is an interesting book about the 'Ashburner Schooners' by Tim Latham, published by Ready Rhino Publications 1991. I obtained a copy through Amazon. There is quite a bit about 'The William Ashburner'.

Gerry Weatherhead,
Severn Beach

Re: Kebab Shop letter

Dear Editor

I personally feel that this shop is doing no harm in the position that it is in, yes I do agree that they should have gained permission. But there was littler and youth problems in the village before the kebab shop was there. I have, may I add, seen older residents drop litter during the day on shipping trips!

Youths have to go out in the evenings to meet up with their friends, what else do they have - stay at home on the internet? I am 58 and can remember hanging around Shire in a crowd talking and having a laugh, the local bobby used to move us on from time to time (more law on foot needed now).

At least having the kebab shop there keeps it light and bright and I must add the kebabs are great. I do go into the village often in the evenings to catch the coach for bingo and may I suggest that I think that it's the 20s to 30s that should be kept an eye on coming out of all the pubs around Shire.

Mrs Kay Poole,
Sea Mills

Re: Any Questions? I wuz there!

Dear Editor

In last month's issue, MR wrote that the BBC's Any Questions? programme was not broadcast from the Public Hall  50 years ago. She has a clear memory of a broadcast from Portway Girls School and remembers that Jennie Lee wAs one of the panel.

I am sure that MR's memory is entirely correct. However, she is wrong when she asserts that there was no visit to the Public Hall. The solution to the puzzle is that the programme visited Shirehampton twice in a relatively short period, once to Portway Girls' School, and once to the Public Hall.

The Public Hall programme was broadcast live on 27 May 1955. The panel included Mary Stocks, Frank Byers, Ted Leather MP and Bill Mallalieu MP. The attached ticket for the programme confirms the visit. The programme's visit to the Public Hall on 17 December 2004 was its second to the Hall, and at least the third to Shirehampton.

Yours sincerely

David Thomas,
Chairman of the Public Hall Association.

Re.The Kebab Shop, 2 The Parade, Shirehampton

Avonmouth Labour Party
Councillor Pat Roberts
10 Berkshire Road
Bishopston Bristol BS7 8EX

Phone/Fax 0117 9427370
e.mail: pat_roberts

Friday 10 December 2004

Dear Editor

I am replying to BM's letter in "Shire" and to the many residents of Shirehampton who have telephoned or Emailed me, both objecting to the planning Application, and to the owners continuing to trade. It might be useful if I explained what will happen next.

The owner has a right of appeal against the refusal to the Planning Inspectorate at Temple Quay in Bristol. He has done this, and has opted for an oral hearing. All the people who objected originally have been advised they need to write to the Planning Inspector if they wish to object again.

Unfortunately the closing  date is the 24th December. The difficulty is that there is a 12 month delay on planning appeals, during which period he can continue trading. The Council intends to serve an enforcement notice on the owner, enforcing the refusal, but again he has the right of appeal, with the same delay.

As a last resort the Council can serve a "stop" notice, which if the owner still ignores, the council can prosecute through Court. This type of action is rarely used and the Council could be liable for compensation out of the Council Tax payer's money, which could be expensive. Officers are currently considering whether this form of action should be taken.

BM is right to suggest the law is ineffectual and is not the only person to say this. Several residents, the Police and the Area Development Control Officer hAd a meeting with Doug Naysmith MP, to ask him to get the law looked at, with a view to updating it and giving more power to the Local Authority to impose decisions.

There is currently a review of some of the Planning law, so Doug will communicate our views to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. In the meantime, as we await the appeal (and the Local Authority wins two thirds of them) please can residents continue to record incidents and report complaints to the Police, who are well aware of People's views on the matter.

If I can be any more help, please telephone me.

Pat Roberts.

Sir Robert Stephens

Dear Editor

I was interested to see the reference in last month's Shire to Sir Robert Stephens, the actor. It prompted me to find my copy of a full-page article which appeared in the Bristol Times earlier last year (May 25th). The writer (David Foot) wrote that Robert Stephens was a Shirehampton boy who lived in Priory Road.

Later in her life, his mother lived in Coombe Dingle. He went to Portway School, as I did where 'he went through the motions of a modest education'. 'He was a shy boy with a Bristol accent, but he revealed an unlikely talent for verse speaking and was sent off to the well-known local drama and voice coach Hedley Goodall for extra tuition'.

I read somewhere else that it was Mr Harvey, the drama teacher at Portway who first recognised Robert's talent. Mr Harvey was still there (under the headmastership of Mr Carlyle) when I went to Portway. He had a distinctive booming, dramatic(!) voice and a large nose.

Robert Stephens became a famous Shakespearean actor, noted for such roles as Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream in 1971. He also appeared in other stage performances and on television. The Times article pictures him with Susannah York (in The Photographer), as Oberon, and as Jack in Lizzie's Pictures (TV drama, 1987).

I remember seeing him in The Royal Hunt of the Sun (I think). Of course, there was no trace of his working-class Bristol accent - on the contrary, you would have thought he came from an upper-class background. His father, in fact, was a docker (although he later rose to the position of quantity surveyor).

His mother 'worked first in Fry's chocolate factory and as a cleaner and help'. Robert's recollections of childhood were not happy ones. He wrote 'I had a terrible childhood: no money, no love, no prospects'. He also stated that, as a child, 'he was excessively walloped by his mother, who once told him she had never wanted children anyway'.

David Foot finishes his article with 'The case I make is that he should be remembered much more than he is in his native city'. I wholeheartedly agree. At least there should be a plaque on the wall of the house in Priory Road, where he once lived.