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St Mary's Organ Fund

Letters to the Editor

Dream Trip to Disney World

St Mary's News

The Church Fire

Centenary Fun at Shirehampton Library

Shirehampton Library celebrated its centenary on Friday 4th March with a special day of events for its readers. A ceremony was held in the library at 10.30, when one of the library's oldest readers cut a specially-made cake and served slices to some of its newest borrowers.

Mrs Gladys Dando cutting the celebration cake, assisted by Eileen Lloyd, Library Supervisor
(photo: Eric Verey)

The celebration cake

There were balloons outside the gates and a festive air inside. Former staff from over the years were among the guests, and Shirehampton Library users past and present also joined in the fun with free refreshments that were served all day until 4.00pm. It was a very happy occasion with the chance to catch up with old friends and colleagues.

Some of the guests at the centenary

In the afternoon I had the pleasure of leading a Year 7 class from nearby St Bernard's School in a recreation of storytime from 100 years ago. Many of the children turned up wearing cloth caps and shawls, to keep in the spirit of things.

The session started with a discussion about books one hundred years ago, and what books they thought would still be around in another one hundred years - there are no prizes for guessing that Roald Dahl, J K Rowling and Jacqueline Wilson were at the top of the list. The afternoon ended with a reading of Beatrix Potter's 'The Tailor of Gloucester'.

The current staff of the library have been working for over a year gathering historical information and photographs, which are now on display. It is amazing to see the difference between the bright and cheerful library of today and compare it to the very dreary library it was a century ago.

There are also some wonderful pictures from local children showing their vision of a library for the future. The staff of Shirehampton library have worked extremely hard to make the centenary a memorable event and they have succeeded.

Not only will there be memories for those who attended, but there are also records which will be available in the local history section in the future. I would just like to say a big Thank You to them all, from all their guests and customers. Good Luck for the next one hundred years.

Margaret Pemberton Neighbourhood Librarian, Henleaze

Centenary Celebration at the Library on 4th March 2005

Eileen, Marilyn and Lynn would like to say 'thank you' to all who helped to make our Centenary Celebrations such a success. We were touched by all the kind messages and support given by readers and representatives of local groups.

A very special 'thank you' must go to the 'Shire' committee, without whose generous donation there would have been no cake, coffee or balloons etc. During the afternoon of the Centenary, Year 3 from St Bernard's School came across for a story-time. Margaret Pemberton, once our Neighbourhood Librarian, gave background information on libraries and authors of the period when the Library first opened.

We were delighted when many of the children arrived wearing caps, scarves and shawls, in keeping with the era. Margaret read 'The Tailor of Gloucester' to the 20+ very well behaved children. They were each given a bag with a badge, pencil, bookmark and, of course, a piece of Centenary cake.

Background Information

The library was opened on Monday 6th March 1905 by Alderman Walls, Head of Bristol Libraries, and was built at a cost of 800 with money donated by Andrew Carnegie. The adult and children's lending library were then situated upstairs, with the downstairs used as a Newspaper Reading Room - the papers were fixed to stands with brass strips to stop them being stolen!

Later the adult library moved downstairs, and in more recent times the children's library joined it when a purpose-built extension was opened in 1996. In 2003 the library received a distinguished visitor when HRH Prince Edward called in whilst visiting Shirehampton's Public Hall. His signature in the library's original 1905 visitors book will be on display during the centenary celebrations.

Andrew Cox Neighbourhood Librarian, Westbury

Volunteer Required

A volunteer is needed to deliver Shire Newspapers in Springfield Avenue (from Burnham Road to Portbury Grove), Grainger Court and Oaktree Court. If you can help with any of these please telephone Pauline on 982 6935. Thank you. In the meantime copies will be available from the Library.

Memory Service

Following the success of the service last year, St Andrew's Church at Avonmouth will be holding another 'Memory Service' at 3.00pm on Sunday 17th April. We hope to welcome those who have been bereaved, both recently and in the past, when we can together give thanks for the lives of those who have influenced our lives.

Everyone will be welcome and if you need further information please ring 982 4638. Bob Chubb

Record Still Stands

The Guiness Book of Records recently confirmed in March that the "BLOW OUT" record of 529 saxophonists playing together on May 21st, 2004 at the opening night of the Bath Festival of Music, is still the world record. A short video has been made of the performance and is now available.

We thought this might be of interest to those who took part and who live in the 'Shire' area.

New books at Shirehampton Library


Forbes, Colin No Mercy
Kernick, Simon The Business of Dying
O'Brian, Patrick The Final Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey


Cole, Martini The Graft
Donnelly, Jennifer The Tea Rose
Patterson, James Sam's Letters to Jennifer
Pearse, Lesley Till We Meat Again
Sharpe, Tom Wilt is Nowhere
Trollope, Joanna Marrying the Mistress

St Mary's Organ Fund

Fund raising for cleaning and restoration of the organ at our parish church is proceeding steadily. With the proceeds from concerts by the Maesteg Male voice choir, the Jessie May Trust, the Shirehampton area choir and the Bristol Gilbert and Sullivan Society, together with a gift day dedicated to this cause and other donations the amount raised is in the region of 15,000.

May I take this opportunity to thank all these organisations and anyone else who has kindly donated. The total amount required for work to proceed is 25,000. The organ is deteriorating noticeably and ideally we would like the restoration to begin before the end of this year.

With the number of weddings and funerals at St Mary's increasing over the last few years, the organ is a big asset to the church and it is important that we keep it in a playable condition. There are other concerts planned, the next one being on the 18th June 2005 when the Bristol Brass consort will be entertaining us.

Tickets for this will be on sale in the next few months. However, the church would be glad to receive any donations, large or small, towards this cause. If you feel you would like to make a donation please address it to the Secretary at St Mary's Church, High Street, Shirehampton, Bristol BS11 0DE.

Tim Forder Organist and Director of Music St Mary's Church

Grace's 90th Birthday Celebration

Grace Solway celebrated her 90th Birthday with a party at Shirehampton Cricket Club on Saturday 8th January, which was enjoyed by everyone. Grace would like to thank everyone who attended and thank them for all the lovely presents.

M. Solway

Acknowledgement Gordon Richard Furber 23.8.1935-26.1.2005

I would like to express my sincere thanks to friends and neighbours for all their cards, letters and support on the sad loss of my dear husband Gordon.

I would also like to thank all of you who attended Gordon's funeral at St Mary's Church, Shirehampton, and to the Rev Canon Christine Froude for the lovely service. Gordon was a very special person who will be sadly missed by myself, and all his family and friends.

Pam Furber (Thank you for your donation to 'Shire' funds - Ed)

Australian Connections

I have recently heard from Brendan Martin who lives in Melbourne, Australia, who will be visiting Somerset with his family in May of this year. He is anxious to contact any living relatives who may still be in the Shirehampton area.

He is interested in the following families who were born or living in Shirehampton in the middle eighteen hundreds: Filer, Edwards and Gilbert. The 1881 Census also had the Osman family living at 9 Pembroke Road and the Gingell family living in Benacre (sic).

If anyone can help in this search would they get in touch with me via the library or contact Mr Martin direct by his email at He is waiting in anticipation!

John Andrews

The Grainger Players present an Old Tyme Music Hall

We spent yet another very enjoyable evening on 19th February at the Old Tyme Music Hall produced by Liz Hurd and Monica Doul. Held at the Public Hall, the evening was full of fun, colour and joyous laughter.

The Grainger Players continue to give excellent performances of which Shirley James would be proud. After Shirley passed away, we thought that maybe there wouldn't be any more performances, but thanks to Liz, Mon and all the Players, the Grainger Players continue to entertain.

We hope the community will continue to support them. Our thanks go to every one of the Players and all those who work in the background, assistants, lighting, raffles, costumes etc, etc. And thank you to all who so generously donated to the Bristol Branch of the Multiple Sclerosis Society at the retiring collection - the amount raised was 102.50.

2005 is the 50th Anniversary of the Bristol Branch and we are trying to raise 50,000 to help sufferers with mobility items, respite care, home adaptations and for research into the cause and eventual cure of this debilitating illness. The Branch has an Information Centre at the General Hospital, open on Mondays 11am-3pm.

You are welcome to call in for a chat and a coffee, select from the range of MS literature, find out where to get help, appointments taken for 1 to 1 meetings. New Freephone Helpline 0800 085 6233. Thank you Grainger Players and people of the community for continuing to support MS.

Yours sincerely Barrie & Marina Griffiths MSS Bristol

Letters to the Editor

Parking on the Pavement

Dear Shire

Am I alone in wondering why more and more cars are parking on our pavements when it's completely unnecessary? Parking on the pavement causes an obstruction to pedestrians, especially the elderly, disabled or parents pushing children in buggies.

On one occasion I have even seen a mother (pushing her child in a pram) forced out into the road to get around a car parked on the pavement! Pavements are simply not constructed to support the weight of cars (let alone vans and lorries) and driving up over the kerb damages the pavement.

This damage then has to be repaired by the local council. Who has to pay for these repairs? You the council tax payer of course! A small number of streets are so narrow that pavement parking may, unfortunately, be unavoidable but, in the majority of cases, there is just no good reason for doing so.

The majority of us park our cars at the edge of the road, so why should we have to pay for the selfishness of the few? Take note next time you're out and about and see how common this is becoming. I think that the police now need to take a tougher line on this problem (but wouldn't it be better if people could simply stop parking on the pavement and let the police get on with tackling more serious crime?).

Yours faithfully Patrick Orum

Road accident Victims

Dear Sir,

I wonder how many readers feel as I do regarding the increasing number of memorials for road accident victims. It seems wherever I go, ie Henbury (2), the ring-road, Downend (2) and various other locations around Bristol that these tacky shrines are increasing.

The one we have in Shirehampton is on the hill near the War Memorial and consists of a grubby t-shirt and various bits of ribbon, etc, and is a real tacky eye-sore. I appreciate that as with most deaths, there are grieving relatives, but do they  have to impose their bad taste on the rest of us, and isn't it time that the Council removed what is basically litter?

(Name and address given but withheld)

Swimming Baths

Dear Editor

Please find below a letter which I have sent to 3 councillors, on 18th February. So far I have had one reply. Does anyone else feel as I do. "May I, as a constituent, bring to your attention something which I had many others are concerned about.

Proposed Closure of Shirehampton Swimming Baths These baths provide a service for all local schools, also people from Shirehampton, Sea Mills, Lawrence Weston and Avonmouth. We are well aware that these baths need money spending on them, but why closure?

The Government and doctors advise us all to take more exercise. We have not all got motor cars, so to travel to Henbury each time you want a swim is not really on. Will schools have to pay for transport to take their pupils for swimming lessons? If the baths do close and the land is sold, what then?

Could we not have a smaller baths and gym? as I also hear that Robin Cousins Sports Centre may also close. I would appreciate a reply to these questions."

Yours Mrs H. V. Thorne

Shire Entertainment

Dear Editor

You might like to record in 'Shire' the death of my brother Ronald Parsons, in Australia, following a short illness. Ron may well be remembered by some of the 'older folk' in Shirehampton. He emigrated 'Down Under' in 1959 and settled in an area about 80 miles outside Melbourne.

Our parents and grandparents, before them, were licencees of The Lifeboat in the High Street which was also hosted for a few years by cousin Trevor. Ron leaves a wife, Pat, and three sons. John Parsons The Editor, Shire Newspaper Reference the letter from 'Charlie' Whitehead about the Sea Mills Tea Dance.

It was very informative, but possibly a little misleading. We owe Charlie a big debt of gratitude for his efforts over a long time, arranging, managing and acting as MC. He has expressed a desire to relinquish these responsibilities and as a majority of our members don't want to close down, a small Committee has been formed to continue running the, at present, monthly dance at the Sea Mills Methodist Church Hall until it is closed in preparation for alterations at an unknown future date. Therefore the dances will continue until that time.

In the meanwhile we are urgently searching for a replacement venue which means that we have no intention of finishing, if at all possible. Admittedly  numbers have dropped off recently, but this may be as a result of rumours of closure circulating for a year or more.

The format of Ballroom, Old Time, Line Dance and Latin dances will be continued to live music with the tea and biscuits and the occasional 'American Tea' to liven things up. The annual seaside coach trip will be continued if possible. We have a keen and enthusiastic band of helpers who will give everyone a warm welcome.

The next dance will be on March 17th and April for 2 hours starting at 2.30pm costing 2.00 including tea and biscuits.

Yours truly Dave Tudor, Honorary Treasurer The Grainger Players

Dream Trip to Disney World

Yes, we did it! With support from the Miles Arms, the Severnside Social Club, shops and businesses in Shirehampton and Avonmouth, and other organisations outside this area, over a period of 12 months we managed to raise the funds to take 9 year-old Matthew Brett and his sister Jemma on the trip of a lifetime to meet Mickey Mouse and lots of his friends in Orlando.

Matthew suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a severe muscle-wasting disease which impairs mobility and shortens life. Not only did we explore Walt Disney World and meet Mickey, Minnie and friends for breakfast; our trip took us to Universal Studios where we learnt about creating a cartoon character; to Boggy Creek, for a ride on an airboat through the Floridian Everglades, where eagles nest and 'gators bask; to the Arabian Nights show which includes a magnificent black stallion and to Kennedy Space Centre where we touched a bit of moon rock.

The fund-raisers went too (at their own expense, of course) and we all had a great time, but now that we are back, the work continues. We're still raising money; at the moment we don't have a specific target in mind for Matthew, though we know there will be things that he will need in the future as his disease progresses.

Maybe we'll decide on another special event so that his short life will be as full as possible. Race Against Time In the meantime, what we'd really like for Matthew is a cure, or at least a viable treatment. That is why we are supporting PPUK's 'Race Against Time' campaign.

We had fantastic success last year in being allocated 1.6 million pounds for research into Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, and the money is being used well. Scientists at institutions such as Imperial College are so close to being able to set up clinical trials for the treatments they have developed, but in order to do so they need a further 5 million.

It seems a lot of money (it is a lot of money) but it is 0.001% of annual tax receipts. We are asking Parliament to consider allocating some of those tax receipts to help us; at the same time we are trying to raise some of the money ourselves! It would take a lot of GarryB's discos to raise 5 million pounds, we know that, but people all over the country whose lives are affected by this terrible disease are working together to beat the race against time.

If you'd like to know more, please visit and

Harris-Randall - 5th April 1975

Congratulations to Steve and Janet Harris (nee Randall) who will be celebrating their Pearl Wedding Anniversary on April 5th Married at St Mary's, Shirehampton, Saturday 5th April 1975

With love from James, Anthony, May and Laura xxxx (Thank you for the donation to 'Shire' funds - Ed)

St Mary's Shirehampton.

Saturday 9th-Sunday 10th April - Parish Weekend at Abbey House, Glastonbury - led by Rev Malcolm Herbert - a time of reflection, fun and fellowship - cost 50

Saturday 23rd April - St George's Supper 7.30pm-10pm. Tickets 6, bring your own drink. Food, entertainment and fun. Wear or bring something connected with England - prize for the most original idea!

Old cricket and football photos

We have received two photographs belonging to Mrs Vera Verey, both of which feature her brother Hugh Hillman. The Portway School cricket team photo was taken pre-war in approximately 1935/6, and reminds us that Portway School had a good sporting reputation long before Sports Academies were thought of.

Portway Boys' Cricket Team 1935/6 Standing L to R: Den Greening, Len Chalker, Wally Dann, ?... ?..., Hugh Hillman, ? ... ?... and ? ... ? .... Middle Row L to R: Dennis Yorke, Eddie Beattie, ? ..., Harold Bubb, Roy Bentley, John Vittle, ? .... Front Row: ? ... ? ...

The University Settlement football team photo was taken in the early war years, approximately 1940, and many of these boys were soon to be called up for military service. We have several names missing from the cricket team, but only the name of the manager/trainer of the football team eludes us - no doubt some of our readers will be able fill in the blanks!

University Settlement Football Team approx 1940 Back row L to R: ? ... : ..., Len Balsom, Jack Hennesy, Colin White, Richard Dunn, Len Pepworth, Eddie Beattie, Freddie Morgan. Front row L to R: Ben Tuttiett, Ivor Giltrow, Ted Wheeler, Bob Tuttiett, Hugh Hillman

News from Shirehampton Primary School

Pupils from Shirehampton Primary School are working hard to become 'reading millionaires' as part of the Bristol 'Read A Million Words' project launched in September.

The goal is for every child to read a million words in a year and we are delighted that Katie from Year 6 is the first of our pupils to reach this target. Katie loves to read and this project has been fantastically successful in motivating her and other pupils in the school to engage in more reading every day.

We are really looking forward to seeing who will be next to achieve this exciting goal! Shirehampton Primary School had lots of fun on Thursday 3rd March by dressing up as book characters to celebrate 'World Book Day'. Both children and staff made a great effort with their costumes and six lucky children in the school won prizes for the 'best dressed'.

The main aim of the day is to encourage all children to explore the enjoyment of books and reading by providing them with the opportunity to have a book of their own. Every child in the school received a 1 book token, which can be used towards the purchase of a book of their choice.

St Mary's News

Hi Folks! April is here at last and it always seems that colour has come back into the world after the grey dismal days of Winter. Once more we start to see the leaves appearing on the trees and Spring is with us again. There was a good response to the Womens world Day of Prayer with approximately 80 persons present.

After the service those present were able to enjoy a chat together over a cup of tea and a cake before picking the 'kids' up from school. On Saturday 12th march at 3.00pm in between our Spring Sale and the evening Fashion Show, there was a rather special wedding at St Mary's.

We are delighted to offer our warmest congratulations to Jack Cooke and Grace Keirle who had decided to 'tie the knot'. Jack throughout most of his life was a member of St Andrew's Church Choir and latterly the Shirehampton Area Choir until failing health prevented him from continuing.

Grace has been his faithful companion for many years and could usually be seen around the Village shopping with Jack and always has a friendly smile. She didn't really have much choice with Jack's dry sense of humour as when they were together and you met them in the street he would say, 'I don't believe you've met my mother have you?'

Dear Grace would take his comments with 'grace' and smile sweetly! Congratulations to you both! Our Gilbert and Sullivan Concert raised almost 1000 towards the Organ Fund and was a wonderful evenings' entertainment. The G & S singers sang pieces from The Sorcerer, Iolanthe and The Pirates of Penzance.

It is to be hoped they will make a return visit sometime in the future. On Mothering Sunday it is estimated that approximately 140 people were present at the 10am Holy Communion Service. 80 posies of flowers were distributed after the Service at the West end of the church by the Sunday School Children.

On the subject of numbers, it is interesting to note that when Canon Christine arrived at St Mary's the average Sunday attendance at our morning service was just 41, whereas the average now is 114. I must say here that her untiring work and care for her 'flock' is instrumental in producing this increase in numbers.

On a recent Thursday morning there were 29 people crammed into the Memorial and Lady Chapels for our mid-week Holy Communion Service! We all love her dearly and she clearly deserves the 100% support given to her by the Parochial Church Council! As you will have seen in the March edition of 'Shire' there are plans to replace the existing Health Centre building in Pembroke Road.

In connection with these plans St Mary's PCC has signed an Option Agreement with the NSH for the sale of the Church Centre building and its adjoining land. This was essential if the new Primary Health Care Trust Building was to proceed as in o way would there be sufficient room without it.

It is to be hoped when the new building is complete it will be of benefit not only to the people who live in Shirehampton but to those who live in Lawrence Weston, Sea Mills, Avonmouth and Henbury as well! On the 10th April Tim Forder, our Organist and Choir Master and Director of Music for the Shirehampton Area Choir will be 50 years young!

We give him our heartiest congratulations and I am glad to report that he is in much better condition than our Organ and doesn't require an overhaul yet! Congratulations are also due to his parents whom I am given to understand will at around the same time be celebrating their Diamond Wedding Anniversary.

In recent months we have been very fortunate to have 4 Chasubles given to St Mary's, which the Priest wears during the service of Holy Communion. This is a cape type robe which is worn over the white alb. There is a white one suitable for Easter and Christmas, a purple one for Advent and Lent, a red one for Pentecost (Whitsuntide) and another white one with waves and a net which is used during Trinity.

These all match the new Altar frontals, Book Marks and Pulpit Falls. At 7.30pm on Saturday 23rd April we are holding a St George's Day Supper in the Church Centre. Tickets are 6 and please come dressed up in something representing England. If you have a Welsh accent you will not be excluded!

Please get your tickets early so as not to be disappointed - it's sure to be a great Fun Evening if past events are anything to go by. A 'Sawyer' Supper is not to be missed! Now for some advance information about an event in June - yes June, that warm month at the beginning of Summer.

On Saturday 19th June the Bristol Brass Consort, which is an Ensemble rather than a big Brass Band - is to give an evening Concert of Brass Band Music. Put this date in your diary if this is your type of music and watch this space in the future for details. Finally, I have to tell you that we are looking into the possibility of an extra Service.

This would be an informal type of worship suitable for young families. There will be questionnaires at the west end of the church for you to take away and also the opportunity to include some of your own ideas. Please take the time to look at all possibilities as I am sure Canon Christine will view your suggestions with great interest.

Well, that's it for this month - time to think about sorting out your gardens ready for our Open Gardens Days in the Summer!

Bye for now! C.M.E.

The Rededication of St Mary's Church, Shirehampton

A Thanksgiving Service for the 75th Anniversary of the Rebuilding of the Church Sunday 16th January 2005 It was a well attended congregation in the newly restored Church with the beautiful stained glass East Window above the altar and the great Chancel ceiling of dark blue with gold stars.

The choir stalls flanked on either side by flags of local organisations. The walls painted a light cream colour in the chancel and nave. For the congregation a fine new floor and pews. In the front of which sat the Lord Lieutenant of Bristol, Mr J Tidmarsh and the Lord Mayor Simon Cook and Mayoress Mrs Barbara Cook.

Also the local Member of Parliament Mr D Naysmith and local councillor Ms Pat Roberts. In the choir stall the Baptist Minister. With the doors locked and the congregation seated the south door was opened to the Bishop of Bristol, the Right Reverend Mike Hill after he had knocked three times as was the old custom.

There followed a procession led by the choir, the churchwardens Mrs G Sawyer and Mr D Ford, the Bishop, Reverend Canon Froude, and reverends Dr Schuman and T Hearn. The opening hymn with Tim Forder at the newly restored organ aided by the choir and large Congregation sang 'Christ is made the sure foundation Christ the head and corner-stone ...'

The Bishop said 'We are gathered here today on the 75th anniversary of its rebuilding to re-dedicate this renewed building of St Mary's to God in order that it may continue to be a vital centre of Christian worship and mission here in Shirehampton.' The Churchwardens then said 'Bishop, we ask you to accept this church, the work of our hands, which we now offer to God, that it may be used in his service among the people of this parish.

The Canon Christine said, 'Bishop, on behalf of the people of this parish I ask you to re-dedicate this building to the glory of God.' To which he replied, 'Peace be to this house, from God, our heavenly Father, Peace be to this house, form his Son, who is our peace. Peace be to this house, from the Holy Spirit who is our counsel and guide.'

There followed the Confession, the singing of the Gloria and Readings from the Bible 1 Chronicles 29: 10-18 and John 3:5-17 read by the Churchwardens. After a sermon by the Bishop The Creed was said followed by Prayers of Intercession. Then came the Act of Rededication at which the Bishop said 'Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have met today as the family of God to re-dedicate this building for the worship of Almighty God, for the gathering of his people and for the strengthening of his kingdom in this parish.'

Prayers were said at the organ, the pulpit, the font and the Lord Table. Then the hymn 'All my hope on God is founded.' Followed by the Peace when all standing greeted each other. Then the Lord's Prayer, Breaking of the Bread and the Giving of Communion. The thanksgiving service ended with the Bishop giving the Blessing.

The Church Fire

In the early hours of Sunday, January 15th 1928 the old village church caught fire. When the church was locked at 9 o'clock by the caretaker on the Saturday evening all appeared to be in order. At about midnight Constable Sparks on his rounds tried the door and seeing nothing amiss passed on up through the village.

Shortly afterwards a passing motorist saw flames coming out of the west end of the roof and hurried on to Avonmouth to alert the fire station there. almost at the same time as the constable had reached the top of Park Hill and looking back saw flames against the night sky. He ran back to the Police Station to ring the City Fire Brigade.

Meanwhile Mr W Pretty at the Kingsweston Estate office saw the flames and he tried to ring the fire station but could not get through. The Reverend Dixon, vicar of the parish who had been out for the evening passed the church between 1 and 2.

As he was preparing for bed he was summoned to the door by the ringing of the bell and almost at the same time the telephone with the news of the fire. Getting ready to hasten to the church he looked out of the bedroom window and saw the church burning.

On arrival at the church he found the fire brigade already there. They had received the message at 1.13. On arrival there, with a high wind, flames were sweeping from the west door to the chancel steps. His immediate concern was for the church treasures.

The vestry was still intact although the door was burning, but whilst firemen played hoses on the door and wall, he got back into the vestry and dragged out the safe, Communion plate, registers, robes and other treasures. In about half an hour after their arrival the fire brigade had the blaze under control.

Throughout the night there was concern for the steeple where the bell, weighing half a ton was hung but jets of water were played through the louvers to prevent it collapsing. Mr Daw the dentist who lived across the road was alerted. He ran over to the site to film the scene with his movie camera.

By morning all that remained was a gutted church, the floor of which was covered with charred remains of roof timbers, pulpit and lectern. The walls cracked and blackened, the glass in the windows melted. The tower still stood but was in danger of collapsing, the vestry was intact but for the charred door.

The news was soon out that the old church was gone. Many would be church-goers knew nothing of the night's disaster until they arrived at the scene. Throughout the day there were hundreds of visitors from near and far, among them the Bishop of Bristol, the Bishop of Malmesbury ad the Archdeacon.

With the Reverend Dixon it was decided that services should be held in the Old School in Station Road. What had caused the fire was nothing of a mystery although it was thought it started in the gallery at the west end. One opinion was that it may have been caused by the large heating stove which was at the west end of the north aisle from which the flue ran up through the roof, although the woodwork was not so badly damaged there.

There was more damage on the south side. Another theory was that rising damp in the walls had caused a short circuit of the electric wires in the gallery and had ignited the woodwork.

The New Church of St Mary's

The loss of the old church was particularly dear to many villagers and the following week a meeting was called at the Public Hall to discuss the situation which was well attended. The Bishop who chaired the meeting said the old church was insured for 10,000 but that with the high cost of building  a new church would cost a lot more, probably about 17,000. A Church Building Fund was set up. The Bishop offered 3,500 from the Diocesan Extension Fund providing parishioners could raise the other 3,500 which consisted of a pound for a pound.

The Vicar the Reverend C Dixon, his churchwardens and parochial church council had several meetings with the Bishop, Archdeacon and others. It was agreed that a much larger Church was needed as the district was now rapidly developing. Also that the new Church should be built on the site of the old one and that to keep some village character it should be built of stone, not brick.

A Church at Barrow Hill or West Town

In planning the new church there was the possibility of establishing another church. The previous year the Vicar met the Diocesan Church Extension Committee at which the Bishop of Malmesbury, the Archdeacon of Bristol were present.

They considered the possibility of another Church being erected on the site by Barrow Hill Road next to Mr George Collins' orchard near the lower High Street. It was thought this could serve the people who lived in the new houses in the lower village. As a result the City Housing and Town Planning Committee had reserved it as a possible site for a Church. Another plan was a site near West Town Lane on a site offered by Napier Miles.

These plans were abandoned in favour of St Mary's being built larger, probably because of the costs in building another church.

The Church Building Committee

In the ensuring months the Church Building Committee set up an appeal and collection cards were issued on which sums of upward of a penny were recorded with house to house collections. Concerts were held in the Public Hall to raise funds and despite the difficult time the response in general was good. By April 1928 the Ecclesiastical Insurance settled the claim, the Church Building Committee received just over 9,435,2s 6d, of which some money defrayed the cost of taking the old spire down.

In the July the architect appointed was Mr P Hartland Thomas who produced plans for the new church which were put before the Committee. Some members were disappointed the plan did not include a tower. It was the opinion of the Bishop that new churches being built with towers did not require financial assistance from the Church Extension Fund and as a sum of 3,500 had been promised, it was decided to build a church without one.

In place of a tower, a turret rising high above the roof where the chancel joined the nave to house 2 bells in archways either side of a louver, at the top a crucifix. This was to be a great feature of the building standing out against the sky. A faculty was granted with notices posted on the walls of the old Church and the temporary church at the Old School.

The contract was given to Messrs Cowlin and Sons Ltd, who would employ some local men, as it was a time of great unemployment. In the September work began. The contractor having agreed to pull down the ruins of the old church. Wooden hoardings were erected and during October ruins of the old church began to gradually disappear. December 1928 Grand Variety show at the Public Hall in aid of the Building Fund.

The Churchyard Graves

With the site cleared work started on building the new church which was to be much larger to accommodate 600 worshippers. In order to do this they had to build over graves and some people who had relatives buried in the church yard were naturally concerned about graves, particularly those near the old East Window.

The Vicar, churchwardens and members of the Parochial Council met people whose relations were buried there. One suggestion was that there should be memorial slabs bearing the names on the floor, but this was abandoned probably because of the number involved.

Instead the old head and flagstones were to be put up against the north side of the new Church. The stones surrounding the graves were to be used as curb stones boarding the new path. Some remains had to be exhumed to make way for the foundations, they were reburied in another place.

Care was taken to record the names of those who were now to lie under God's house. Miss Irene Base, an eminent calligrapher undertook the work. She had the great task of meeting people who had graves there and collecting details from the old memorial stones. There were 727 grave stones, some with no stones and for this she had to consult the burial book.

Laying the Foundation Stone

An anonymous gift of  1000 had been made so that the building could now be completed. It was a fine evening on Tuesday 11th June 1929 for laying of the foundation stone. The Bishop of Bristol, the Archdeadon, the Reverend Dixon and visiting clergy robed at the vicarage.

The choir assembled at the Old School from where they joined the clergy outside the Post Office on the corner of Pembroke and Priory Road. They then went in procession t the South door of the building and on down the nave of the half completed building where some people had been allowed on the roof of the north aisle reached by a ladder.

To witness the ceremony crowds lined the road outside with people at the windows of the old Manor House. For the occasion stretches of wooden hoardings on the High Street side had been removed. At the west porch a platform had been erected at the top of the buttress on the north west corner.

Here stood the Bishop, the Archdeadon, Reverend Dixon, Mrs Yda Richardson, the architect Mr Hartland Thomas, Miss R Clay and the builder Mr W Cowlin. The Bishop of Bristol gave a short address at which he said 'This building is a symbol of your belief.'

After the hymn 'All people that on earth do dwell' the builder Mr Cowlin presents Mrs Yda Richardson with a silver trowel and assisted by him and the architect she said 'I declare this stone well and truly laid.' The Bishop then gave an address on the work of rebuilding at which he said 'In the Faith of Jesus Christ, we place this Foundation Stone in the Name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost. Amen.'

The Great Carnival

As some 1,700 remained to be raised a meeting was chaired by Squire Miles, aided by the vicar and Mr G Collins. In July 1929 a great carnival was put on in aid of the St Mary's Church Building Fund held in the beautiful grounds of the Squire's house at Kingsweston.

Bishop Gifford opened the event which lasted for three days with roundabouts, chair planes, a scenic railway, a bazaar, coconut shies, exhibition of water colours and a dancing display. The amount raised for the Building Fund was 173 after expenses had been paid. Carnival details August 1929. Squire Miles made a personal gift of 100.

The Building Work

By the Autumn the Altar had been built at the top of four stone steps with riddle post at each corner surrounded by curtains at the back and side. Under the Alter were placed relics from the old church which were part of the old processional cross, the alter candlestick along with pieces of stained glass from the old East window and the War Memorial window.

Some two thirds of the way down the aisle of the nave five inscribed consecration crosses were put on a flat stone to indicate the site of where the altar stood in the Old Church. With the walls up and the great clerestory windows completed the new Church had to be furnished in readiness for services.

With the plaster dried out, Mr A Combs who employed a few local men, undertook the work of painting ceilings, windows and walls. The church was to be lit by electricity and central heating by a coke fire boiler.

The Gifts

The East Window 'Our Lord on the Cross of Sacrifice' in the lower five lights the War Memorial with the names of those who had died in the 1914-1918 war. This was given by Mrs Dixon. For the High Alter fair linen cloths given by Mrs Parsons and Mrs Falconar with Altar candlesticks by Reverend C Dixon. Altar Book from Senior Sunday School. Mats for the altar rails made by Senior Girls' Club. Gifts for hymn books given by Mr W Cox.

The choir stalls a gift from Mr H Rudman with coats of arms. In the Lady Chapel a small stained glass window given by Mrs H Dixon and the Vicar. Later a pulpit of oak given by Mrs Napier Miles in memory of her husband with coats of arms. Miss Rotha Clay loud speakers system in the nave.

At St Mary Redcliffe an organ recital the proceeds a gift to the Rebuilding Fund. Mrs Creber gave money for an electronic bell system operated from a keyboard on the organ. New Churchwarden's staves with crown and mitre at the top given by Church of England Mens' Society of the Shirehampton Branch.

The Consecration of the New Church

On the 15th January 1930 the second anniversary of the fire, the new bells rang for the occasion with some 800 people inside and 250 outside. In the presence of the vicar Reverend Dixon and churchwardens Mr J Rogers and Mr G Base the Bishop of Malmesbury and, as was customary, knocked and craved permission to enter. Present the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress and the Sheriff of Bristol.

The sermon preached by the Archdeadon, who sent out a call 'The Church is God's, it is yours. Come when the bell invites you; come when you are glad or sad. Don't criticise, but pray this gift of God must be used so that those who are outside may be won and drawn in.'

Mr L Wethey played the organ and Mr W Powell conducted the choir, the acoustics were said to be splendid. After careful research for the names of those whose graves were built over Miss Irene Base had inscribed four hundred and eleven names on vellum.

It was then surrounded by a large oak frame on the top of which 'Beneath This Church Lie Those Named Here and Others Whose Names Are Not Known. R.I.P.' This was placed on the south west wall of the nave. This painstaking work was just completed in time for the Service of Consecration.

This was her own gift to the Church. Mrs Napier Miles was later to make a gift of a crucifix which was placed over the top of the names. On the day many villagers would no doubt have been pleased to see the names of loved ones displayed. In later years of great interest to people researching family histories.

In the aisle there was one flat stone to the memory of the Pretty family, put there by Mr W Pretty, Steward of the Kingsweston estate. The following month came the dedication of the War Memorial window by the Archdeadon of Bristol. Some insurance money had been set aside to replace the one lost in the flames.

This was well attended by relatives of the fallen and members of the British Legion.

A Great Achievement

The building of the new St Mary's was a great achievement considering the times. Across the country there was great unemployment called the slump or the Great Depression because of poor trade. Some three million were unemployed. A familiar scene at the local level was a long line of men outside the Labour Exchange at Avonmouth in the hope of finding work. It was said some had no regular employment for several years. The pastoral work of the church continued with the regular services for spiritual guidance with people summoned by the Old Church bell during the two years of the building.

There were the marriage, christening and burial services. The Vicar, Reverend C Dixon and other church members, particularly Miss R Clay, did good work holding sales in the large Vicarage garden and the Public Hall to provide food parcels. There was no Welfare State caring for the sick and elderly.

For the winter there was the Blanket Lending Society, blankets for six pence each could be had on loan. Jumble sales were often held in the Old School, where the poor could buy second hand clothing. In other parts of the country hunger marches to petition the government. In spite of the problems the church debt was paid off by 1935.

In July 1935 the Reverend Plowright was appointed as curate, who was to make a considerable contribution to the work of the church and the St Mary's Scout Troop.

Ralph Hack


One of the leading charities operating within Southmead Hospital, providing services for patients, staff and visitors from their retail shops and trolley, are looking for Volunteers to join their happy team.

Can you spare 4 hours per week? Please telephone 0117 950 5050 extension 3675 and ask for Derek or Jacky.

Acknowledgement Gordon Richard Furber 23.8.1935 - 26.1.2005

I would like to express my sincere thanks to friends and neighbours for all their cards, letters and support on the sad loss of my dear husband Gordon.

I would also like to thank all of you who attended Gordon's funeral at St Mary's Church, Shirehampton and to the Revd Canon Christine Froude for the lovely service. Gordon was a very special person who will be sadly missed by myself and all his family and friends.

Pam Furber (Thank you for your donation to 'Shire' funds - Ed)

Acknowledgement Roger Frank Joseph Teague

I would like to thank all my family and friends for their cards of sympathy, and a special 'thank you' to the nurses and those who gave me great support in the loss of my dad.

Thank you to you all. Barbie Rutte

From Pat Roberts - Labour City Councillor, Avonmouth Ward

I would like to place on record my admiration and respect for the Shirehampton residents who were determined not to let the matter of the Kebab Shop on the Parade operating without a planning consent continue, and have succeeded in having the shop closed down.

Planning Consent was refused by the City Council on 26th October because there had been numerous objections to it, including from the police, on the grounds of noise, possible anti social behaviour and the change to the atmosphere of this old style shopping area.

Despite the refusal, the Kebab shop opened and started trading, relying on the fact it had appealed against the refusal, and was in a year long waiting list to have the appeal heard. The Council served an enforcement notice, also appealed, to be heard with the original appeal.

All that could stop the shop trading was a 'Stop' notice, used very rarely, because of a slight risk of penalties. The Local Authority were reluctant to pursue this avenue. However, the people of Shirehampton were quite determined that the existing situation was not going to continue, not the least because some of their first fears of noise, anti social behaviour, late night opening, were being realised.

They got together and went and addressed the relevant Scrutiny Commission and were supported by all the councillors on that Commission. The matter was referred to the Bristol North Development Control Committee for a decision. About 8 residents, supported by the Police, attended the Committee, on 23rd February.

All spoke to the committee, and convinced the Members of the Justice of their cause, and the 'Stop' notice was unanimously agreed by the Committee. The 'Stop' notice was duly served on 8th March, and the shop has ceased trading. I am proud to have been associated with this action and delighted at the outcome.

To me, as an elected representative, this is a marvellous example of peaceful democracy in action.

Well done all of you.

Shirehampton Public Hall 1904-2004

If you have any association with the Hall or user groups, past or present, then you will find something of interest in this book. Available at 8 per copy from Shirehampton Post Office, The Card Corner, Teresa Momber's in Pembroke Road, St Mary's Church, Jeanette Cossey at the Hall, and the Library.

Take a walk down 'Memory Lane', re-live the War-time and Bernwell dances, Twyford House productions, and much much more. Pore over the photos and see who you can recognise. Enjoy this snapshot of one hundred years of Shirehampton's social history.

Pianist Required

It was most unfortunate that our pianist, Richard Yorke, collapsed on the bus stop and ended up in hospital, having suffered a stroke. Two very kind-hearted people from Shirehampton, Mrs Kate Robson and Mr Gil Osman came to our aid at very short notice and helped us on show nights, which meant we were still able to offer the public very enjoyable evenings.

Thank you once again. We are now asking for your help. We urgently need a pianist if you are going to continue with the forthcoming show in November. If you think you can help us please contact Liz or Monica on 938 1332 or call into Liz's Florist, 27a High Street, Shirehampton. If anyone would like to join us on a Thursday evening, 7.30-9.30pm at the Public Hall, Station Road, Shirehampton, you would be most welcome.

Thank you, as always, for your continued support. The Grainger Players