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News Index

St Mary’s News

Year 4 Shire Report

Kings Weston Action Group

Air quality monitoring for Avonmouth

Letters to the Editor

'Shire' Community Grants

City and Port of Bristol Bowling Club

Doorstep sports

WWII Photo and an appeal for help

Improvements to Service 41 Bus Route will benefit local people and businesses

Botany in the SHIRE

Nature Notes

Shirehampton local history group

Arts and Crafts with Tracy Zehtabi

For Avonmouth Sea Cadets it is all change

S H I R E    @ShireNewspaper    #ShireNewspaper

Christmas might be a distant memory ...

Here are a few reminders of how Shirehampton folk celebrated in 2014

Grainger Players wearing their Christmas Jumpers during their Christmas Show Performance at the Public Hall 19th & 20th Dec.

Grainger players

Photo by Bob Pitchford

Santa at the Public Hall

Photo by Kathryn Courteney

The Gardening Club members enjoy a festive break during the making of Christmas decorations

Gardening club

Photo by Kathryn Courteney

St Mary’s News

Hi Folks! February arrives and with it brings the end of the Epiphany Season and we turn our thoughts towards the season of Lent. Sunday, 1st February, is Candlemas when we think about light! It is when it was said that the baby Jesus would become the light of the world. This will be the theme at our 10am Holy Communion Service. To conclude the day's activities there will be short service of Compline at 8pm. A short reflective service lasting approximately 25 minutes - please come - I can confidently predict you will find it very interesting!

This year Shrove Tuesday is on the 17th February, which falls during the School Half Term Holiday. From 10am until 12noon, in addition to our regular Tea and Coffee service, we will be holding once again our Pancake Party. Gill Sawyer and the Team will be cooking Pancakes for your delight - and very tasty they are too! During the morning we shall have Pancake Races in the Churchyard - these are for adults as well as children - so come and join in the fun. In the church itself there will be Quizzes and Competitions for you to partake in. See you there! You can't miss me - I shall be the person stood at the head of the Queue for the Pancakes!!!

The next day - is Ash Wednesday. On this day there will be a Holy Communion Service at 7pm which includes "ashing". This is the custom we observe by having the sign of the Cross marked in Ashes on our foreheads. After this service we will be having Supper. Please sign up on the list at the back of the Church if you will be coming. There will be no charge for the food, but donations of money will be accepted which will be given to Charity.

Wednesday, 25th February is the first of our weekly Lent Courses. These commence at 7.00 pm with Supper and finish somewhere around 9.00 pm. The theme this year is "The Way" - which is based on the Film of the same name. It is the story of 4 Pilgrims walking the El Camino de Santiago, Spain. I am told it is a wonderful film and definitely not to be missed. Sign up on the list if you are coming in order to assist with catering arrangements. Again there will be no charge, but a retiring collection will be taken and given to a charity. The Lent Course will continue on the following Wednesdays - 4th, 11th, 18th and 25th of March.

Special thanks to the Co-op for allowing us to sell the preserves remaining from our Festive Food Fayre one Saturday and especially to Chris Gilbert for kindly arranging this for us. I leave you this month with the following thought - How do we make Holy Water? Answer - We boil the Hell out of it!

'Bye for now! C.M.E.

Year 4 Shire Report

With a New Year comes new challenges and Year 4 are meeting them head on with their usual enthusiasm. This term the children will be studying chocolate where they will research the geography, the history and the science behind such an important product. This will conclude with a visit to a chocolate factory. Also this term the children will be learning about E-safety and will start computer coding which will be an exciting new venture for the school. Lastly, the children have started to rehearse for the year 3/4 production of 'Matilda'. This will be a slight departure from previous productions with a new set of challenges which we know the children will rise to and produce another successful performance.

Kings Weston Action Group

Working Party Projects for 2015

WE toured the park early in the New Year to come up with priorities for our working parties and we've got some interesting challenges in mind.

The steps will keep us busy for the first part of the year, but before Spring gets under way we hope to start thinning out the saplings and undergrowth along the north side of the South Walk leading towards the Echo from the Circle. This will complement the clearance we began last year at the head of the new avenue and open up new panoramas towards the house.

Photo by Bob Pitchford

Another of the paths radiating out from the Circle will be our next focus when we neaten up the avenue leading into Penpole Wood towards the Cricket ground. Ash saplings and some laurel growth are beginning to compete with the established lime trees and our intention is to prevent the problem getting out of control. This will only take us one working party, as will another plan to improve visibility between the main path through Penpole Wood and the Scouts Chapel. The chapel, a tight formation of lime trees on an Eighteenth Century viewing mound, is presently invisible from the path and we hope that clearance work will create a new gateway to it, and the lower parts of the woodland.

The area below the ancient avenue, where there was once meadow will be our planned target in the Summer. There are a lot of saplings here that threaten to turn the meadow into scrub land and we hope that in clearing this area a new strategy to improve the biodiversity of the whole of the northern slopes below the house can be developed with Bristol City Council.

October will see out third annual bulb planting event and there is certainly no shortage of open space around the Echo now that we've completed clearance of laurels in that area in December. Further laurel clearance is planned to round-off 2015 and continue the opening up the woodland under storey in Echo Wood to allow more native species to thrive.

Whilst we hope to run these projects consecutively there may be other priorities that come up during the year that mean we have to change plan and we will keep you abreast of where we are meeting in advance of the working party dates. If we need to alter any dates we will let you know in good time, but we really hope that you, or perhaps someone you know who might be interested, can join us to make a real impact in restoration and conservation efforts in 2015 - Bristol's Green Capital Year.

If you have any ideas, or suggestions for working party activities please let us know. We are always keen to look for new projects and we'd happily consider adding to this year's programme if people have projects in mind that we could tackle.

The continuing programme for 2015 Working Party events for your diary is as follows:

  • Sat FEB 14th;
  • Sat MARCH 14th;
  • Sat APRIL 18th;
  • Sat MAY 16th;
  • Sat JUNE 13th;
  • Sat JULY 18th;
  • Sat AUGUST 15th;
  • Sat SEPT 12th;
  • Sat OCT 17th;
  • Sat DEC 12th

Kingsweston Cafe Now Open

We are delighted to announce that the Cafe is now open at Kings Weston House. Overlooking beautiful views and surrounded by grounds enjoyed by many for walks. The cafe used to be the entrance to the house for the gentry after hunting and we have tongue in cheek called it the "Hunting Vaults".

Kings Weston cafe

Photo by Bob Pitchford

After a refurbishment of the café, we are pleased to be doing great breakfasts from 9am every day and wonderful lunches from 12. (Closing in the winter hours at 4:30pm)

Over the past 2 years the house has been renovated and restored room by room. Arriving soon is the Bistro which will also be a part of the vaulted rooms below the house. Here we will be serving up modern cuisine, offering an alternative to the recently opened sister venue at the Lamplighters pub in Shirehampton.

Bring a copy of this article for a free cookie with every coffee purchased (offer only available Monday to Friday)

Air quality monitoring for Avonmouth

Avonmouth will get permanent air quality monitoring after a campaign by MP, councillors and residents which convinced Mayor George Ferguson that the measures are vital.

This follows a campaign by Bristol North West MP Charlotte Leslie, local Councillors and residents to secure air quality monitoring following a series of problems, including severe dust clouds, which have raised concerns over public health. Late last year, Ms Leslie and campaigners were furious after earlier assurances from Public Health England that monitors would be in place 'for at least a year' appeared to be reversed. She was also angry that the city council monitor did not have a trigger which caused an alert if air quality dropped below a certain level.

Now, following the campaign, Conservative councillors have persuaded Mayor George Ferguson to fund permanent monitoring 'for the foreseeable future' - possibly for at least 25 years. Ms Leslie said: "The residents have suffered so much with dust, flies and other health hazards and I am delighted that there will now, finally, be the permanent monitoring they so badly need. For a long time now they have, rightly, been angry at the situation and there have been real fears for health. I am glad Mayor Ferguson has listened to Councillors Wayne Harvey and Matt Melias. Hopefully this is the beginning of a brighter - and dust free - future for Avonmouth."

Cllr Matt Melias said: "The residents of Avonmouth live in a highly industrialised area. They need to be sure that the air that they breathe isn't harming them. I am delighted that the Mayor has now listened to these concerns and has agreed to our proposals of permanent funding for air quality monitoring to this too often ignored part of the City."

Last month Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss told Avonmouth residents that the nuisance they were suffering from industrial sites is "unacceptable" and said she agreed that there should be quicker and tougher enforcement in the event of future problems. Ms Truss joined Bristol North West MP Charlotte Leslie to meet residents and hear their concerns over wood and magnetic particles coming from businesses operating out of the Bristol Port.

The Environment Secretary said: "Nuisance from industrial and waste sites is unacceptable. We are working with the Environment Agency and other bodies to tackle this issue wherever it occurs and provide quicker and tougher enforcement through our Waste Crime Action Plan."

Letters to the Editor

Plastic milk bottle tops

There are various organisations that collect the plastic milk bottle tops as a fund raising exercise. Does anyone have contact details of someone collecting them? For some time Gill Sawyer has been allowing people to leave their collections at St Mary's for the Westerleigh Church organ restoration fund, but this may come to an end in March. If charities can use them it is a shame to throw them away so if you can help, please contact us with details.

Found book token

Mrs Doreen Spencer found a card in Shirehampton and inside was a book voucher addressed to Alan from Mum and Dad, but no address. She would like to return this to the rightful owner so if Alan or his parents read this please can they contact Shire and we will pass your contact details on the Mrs Spencer.

Courses for 2015

Details available from Suzanne Gaffney,Learning Communities Development Worker Tel: 0117 9030072 Email:

  • Computers for Work/Volunteering at The Rock, Lawrence Weston; 11th Feb., 9.30-2.30pm; 2 sessions.
  • Food Hygiene at Wescott Grove Community Rooms, Lawrence Weston; on Tuesdays 3rd and 10th February, 9.30-2.30pm.

'Shire' Community Grants

A reminder that there are still a few days left to apply for a grant as per the article in the January edition. The deadline is 10th February and a decision will be made in early March.

City and Port of Bristol Bowling Club

The out-of-season series of social events continued on Sunday 4th January with a very good and challenging quiz set by Phil Cormack.

The event was well attended and concluded with a game of skittles. The next event is on Sunday 15th February at the City and Port of Bristol Club commencing at 7.30pm. This will be an evening of indoor putting, skittles and Irish Bingo.

PBA Bowlers

Photo by Bob Pitchford

The bowlers enjoying a 'Raving Looney Party' during an annual outing (photo by Bob Pitchford)

Before that, more than thirty bowlers will be heading for the Carlton Hotel in Torquay to bowl indoors from February 1st to 6th. Bowling is for two hours each day so there will be ample opportunity to enjoy Torquay, the surrounding area and all that the hotel has to offer.

The new outdoor season starts in April and anyone interested in finding out more about the club or bowling can contact David Hinksman on 01179082713. If you have not bowled before but would like to try, there will be a try-bowling day in the first part of the season and Tuesday evenings are set aside for new bowlers to come along and have a roll up, with the support of experienced bowlers and all necessary equipment.

Multi-sports Camp

The St Bede's Community Sports team will be running a week of multi-sports camps during the February half-term from Monday 16th- Friday 20th from 9am-3pm each day. The camps are for boys and girls aged 7-14 and the focus is on having fun and trying some new sports and games whilst also taking part in some more familiar and mainstream sports.

The camps cost £10 per day or £45 for the full week. Full details and a booking form can be obtained from Rob Allan, c/o St Bede's Catholic College, contact numbers 0117 3533364 or 07825 767582

Doorstep sports

THE Doorstep Sport Club Project helps community sports clubs to create a varied and vibrant offer for young people from disadvantaged areas, this includes supporting their development through training, qualifications and courses.

Sessions cater for young people of all ability and experience levels. In our area the following clubs are available - all held at St Bedes Catholic College, Long Cross, Lawrence Weston.

  • Football - Friday 6-7pm for Boys 14-25 - contact Rob Allan on 07825767582
  • Basketball - Tuesday 7-9pm for Boys 14-25 - contact Danny James on 07913326190
  • Women's Basketball - Wedneday 5.55 - 16.55 pm for Girls 14-25 - contact Danny James as above.

For more information on projects in other areas of Bristol please contact or call 07737662771.

WWII Photo and an appeal for help

A family ask for any information on a precious photo.

KWAG was contacted recently By Tony and Doreen Thornhill who came to us with a family photo with some interest to Kings Weston.

WWII Soldiers

They have kindly given us a copy of the photo to share and would like to know if anyone has any further information about it. The photo dates from the Second World War and is a group portrait of some of the men of the Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps, later the Royal Pioneer Corps. The men are posed outside Penpole Lodge with the gates into Penpole Wood behind them. Also of interest in the photo is the pair of carved oval plaques on the gates identifying the woods beyond as part of the Bristol District Scout camp.

Tony's father, Sargent Thornhill is the figure on the back row, third from the right and they are interested to know more about what the Corps were doing at Kings Weston and what part they played during the War. One of the activities they were involved in was the Avonmouth Smoke Screen. This was the ambitious plan to hide the strategically important docks from enemy bombing by obscuring it behind a carpet of thick smoke using a series of smoke generators fuelled by pool diesel oil. A Smoke Company was formed from troops of the Pioneer Corps and began work at Avonmouth in June 1941. The Avonmouth Smoke Screen was first used early on the morning in July 5th.

With large barracks scattered around the park it is possible that the huts closest to the house, and separated from Shirehampton East and West Camps by Shirehampton Road and Penpole Lane might have been the home of the Pioneers. Before now someone recalled that vehicle repairs were carried out in in the area close to the Circle, which might not be unrelated to the activities of the Corps, but does anyone have any more information?

Tony and Doreen would be really interested to know if anyone has any reminiscences about the Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps, remembers Sergent Thornhill, or has any more information about the connection with Kings Weston. If you could get in touch with KWAG we will gladly pass on anything you might know.

Bristol FME United Support Group

IF you suffer from Fibromyalgia and/or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) you can feel isolated and misunderstood.

These chronic conditions present a variety of symptons which interrupt or even make impossible, what would be considered 'normal' levels of activity. 'Yuppie Flu' and 'All in your head' are common reactions to these conditions which cause sufferers to feel even more isolated and unable to discuss how they feel. If this sounds familiar and you want to meet up with people who understand totally how you feel the support group is there for you.

For more information contact or Shass on 0844 8872475 or 0796 3937383.

Improvements to Service 41 Bus Route will benefit local people and businesses

A new and improved bus service is set to benefit businesses and residents in Avonmouth and Lawrence Weston following successful partnership work between Bristol City Council and bus operator First.

The Service 41 route from Broadmead is being extended beyond its current terminus in Avonmouth Village to provide a new link to and from Henbury or Cribbs Causeway from 2nd November. This will create new links between Avonmouth and the city centre, Clifton, Sea Mills, Shirehampton, Lawrence Weston and Henbury.

For residents it will mean up to three additional buses an hour between Henbury and Lawrence Weston, along with a timetable designed to suit common shift patterns. Notably, buses in both directions will arrive in Avonmouth before 6am, running until after 10pm in the evening.

The changes have been particularly welcomed by local residents and members of the Avonmouth jobs club, who recognise that the additional links will open up employment opportunities for local people.

From 2nd November, the existing service route of Service 41 will be extended beyond Avonmouth Village. From the current terminus on McLaren Road, buses will continue onwards using St Andrew's Road and Kings Weston Lane travelling as far as Long Cross. From there they will follow the route of Service 40 buses. Bus users should note that buses travelling towards Henbury or Cribbs Causeway will not serve the current stop on McLaren Road. The Council is seeking to provide a new stop on St Andrew's Road in Avonmouth Village as an alternative.

For more information about the changes to the bus services from 2nd November or to view the timetable for the new Service 41, go to New timetables complete with maps showing the route can be found under journey / planning /timetable booklets

Learn something new

Days for Adults - Spring 2015 at Lawrence Weston Community Farm , Saltmarsh Drive, Lawrence Weston BS11 0NJ - for further details contact 0117 9381128 or

Learning to Spin - Saturday 14th February 10.30am - 12.30pm

Spinning for beginners - learn the basics of turning raw wool into yarn using a drop spindle. We have hand shorn fleeces from our Jacobs sheep. Bags of wool will be available to buy at a very reasonable cost so that you can carry on spinning at home. £5

Wheel Spinning - Saturday 28th February 2pm - 4pm

Learn to use a spinning wheel. This will be a chance to spin in a group and try different techniques and fibres. Participants should either bring their own wheel or let us know and we can lend you one for the day. £5

Spoon Making - Saturday 21st March 10.30am - 4.30pm

Learn how to make a spoon with James. Starting with a log you will use traditional tools to; split, axe, shave, carve and whittle. This day (for adults only) is held outside in our Water Vole Woodland with a camp fire to sit around. £40

Keeping Sheep - Sat 28th March 10am - 3pm

This introductory day is suitable for anyone thinking about keeping sheep and those new to sheep keeping who want to be self sufficient in caring for their animals. With Juley, our Community Farmer £35 (£10 low/unwaged).

Chicken Keeping - Sat 11th April 10am - 3pm

Are you thinking of keeping chickens? This day will give you all you need to know to get started including: chicken history and different breeds, chicken anatomy and behaviour, day to day care, suitable housing and environment, diet, natural behavioural needs, how to do a health check on a chicken. With Juley, our Community Farmer £35 (£10 low/unwaged).

Botany in the SHIRE

The Wild Plants of the Shirehampton area

Botanical recording is traditionally rather a seasonal activity.

For the last few years, the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI, of which I happen to be the Company Secretary) has organised a New Year Plant Hunt for species in flower on or around the first of January. The record to date had been 64 plants found in flower during the allotted three hour spell. The weather being fair, on New Year's Day I therefore took an afternoon walk round Shirehampton with a botanical friend of my acquaintance. We went up the streets to the Post Office, down the High Street to the M5 exit, along the Portway, through the Lamplighters reserve, along the streets to the Powder House, then back to the Portway up to Horseshoe Bend, and back home. We managed 60 species in flower - although by then the instigator of the hunt had got 69 in Cardiff.

Rather to my surprise, there was very little in flower in the Lamplighters reserve or on the riverside ground disturbed by Wessex Water which had been so fertile for novelties in the last 15 months. Finds included plants which have 'jumped over the garden wall' such as Sweet Alison and Marigold; aliens like Hoary Mustard and the three similar looking Fleabanes; and several grasses, including the rapidly spreading alien 'Teddy-bear grass' by the Post Office and Upright Brome, which grows as a relict of limestone grassland on a roadside bank on the Lower High Street.

Richard Bland of the Bristol Naturalists' Society tells me that on his weekly hour-long walk on the edge of the Downs he is currently finding about 20 plants in flower which he reckons is close to average for this time of year. He finds few plants that flower throughout the winter - it is more that occasional plants 'hang on'. We botanists are looking forward to Spring.

Nature Notes

AT this time of year we are treated to the spectacle of the lovely lapwings executing amazing group aerial acrobatics above the river.

They swoop and soar at speed, with flashes of black, then white, moving in unison. Being waders, at low tide you can spot them on the mud banks, then you are able to admire how lovely they are, with their smart red legs, lovely plumage and that super crest on the head. They are known as the Peewit by some, due to their distinctive call.

Jeff almost bumped into a rarer visitor the other day when a squirrel scurried past him and hid in our garden, when he disturbed its foraging. On yet another dog walk, this morning I noticed that the herons are back in residence at Ham Green Woods, preparing for the breeding season. I saw about a dozen laying claim to their annual nest site.

Spring is not too far away and the bird song will soon fill the air. It will help to banish the winter "blues". Happy Nature- watching!

Highlander Gym 2015

After moving to NSC Boxing, Barracks Lane 4 yrs ago, the club has won more kickboxing titles than any other club in Bristol. The club just keeps winning titles from our five world champions to area champs. People come from as far as Weston and Kingswood to train with us even though there are clubs in their own area . The only adult champion from Shirehampton at moment is Aaron Collect who is Celtic kickboxing and area boxing champion .So we are looking for locals to join our team. Tuesday and Thursday kids 5-14 at 6pm to 7pm then 14yrs to 65yr 7pm to 8.30pm.

For more details ring Mike on 07578860360

Shirehampton local history group

This small informal group meets in Shirehampton Library on the 3rd Monday of the month from 2.30pm except when going on outings. Below is our programme for the year if anyone would like to join us.

  • Monday 16th February - subject to be arranged (Library)
  • Monday 16th March - David Hack talking about the Hacks of Shirehampton (Library)
  • Monday 20th April - a visit to Greenbank Cemetery
  • Monday 18th May - a visit to Henbury Church
  • Monday 15th June - a walk around Avonmouth and church
  • Monday 20th July - subject to be arranged (Library)
  • August - no meeting
  • Monday 21st Sept - visit to St Mary Redcliffe church and Chatterton's House
  • Monday 19th Oct - Ken Edwards (Library)
  • Monday 16th Nov - subject to be arranged (Library)
  • December - Christmas meal

Contact for further details.

Arts and Crafts with Tracy Zehtabi

Tracy Zehtabi has been doing various arts and crafts for many years but it wasn't until she faced a really stressful time in her life that this activity proved to be beneficial to her and later inspired her to set up her own business. This year she was offered the opportunity to work with LinkAge and take over the running of the art and craft class because the previous teacher had left.

Arts and crafts

Photo by Kathryn Courtney

I asked Tracy how much she was enjoying her work? "I absolutely love it! My students shock me some weeks, most of them are over 55 years although we do have some slightly younger people, but LinkAge does promote intergenerational work. Sometimes they are really chatty and noisy and other weeks they are so quiet, concentrated and artistic that they blow me away with the standard of work they produce."

Is it because they like a particular activity they are doing or not? "Yes. If they are doing silk painting it's blissfully quiet because they absolutely love it but every once in a while they may get a bit stroppy because I've brought something along that really presses their buttons. For example tissue paper and PVA glue is not popular with some members".

So do your gracefully mature students have a say in what they can do with regard to arts and crafts? "Oh yes! At the beginning of 'each term' we go round the room and ask what things people would like to have a go at and the list has varied so far from marzipan fruits, dolly peg angels, mosaics, celebration cards, Easter Bonnets, flowers, vases to silk painting. So they all get a say"

And what do you think the students get from these classes? "They get to explore their creativity, make beautiful things, practical things that they can take home, give as gifts, can share with their family, but there is a huge social element to the group as well. You will see in all of the photos on my web page that there is an endless supply of refreshments, chatter and laughter.

However there are times where one of the group, myself included may be feeling a bit stressed or low about something and they will sit and chat around the table whilst working away and help each other come through whatever life throws at us really."

So what's the latest project the Art and Craft class are now producing? "We are currently doing an intergenerational project called the 'Summer Of Age' which is running throughout Bristol with LinkAge and Youth Bristol. We are doing a collage of silk paintings and fabric paintings produced by young and old featuring there own interpretation of Shirehampton. Their work will be presented at the end of August and will be hung in the Penpole Community Room where we hold the class so the students can get to see their work week in and week out."

The Art and Craft Class takes place every Friday from 10:30am to 1:00pm at the Penpole Community Room, Oaktree Court, The Ridge, Shirehampton. Cost is £3.00. Check out to see what the class get up to or you can call Ricky Bush at LinkAge for more information on: 07807706310

A little piece of our heritage in Hampshire

There are things in local history that no-one would want to remember with pleasure. One of ours is the mustard gas factory set up at Avonmouth in 1917, even though its successor was to develop into one of our biggest employers, the smelting plant (under various commercial names). Mustard gas was designed to poison anyone who breathed it in. It was used by the Germans on the Western Front in 1917, and the munitions minister Winston Churchill ordered it to be produced in Britain for use in retaliation, even though it was internationally banned. Avonmouth was the site chosen for the factory, partly for the availability of cheap farmland, partly because of the convenience of the docks for import of materials and despatch, partly because of the Army's existing shell-filling factory at Chittening which was adapted to use mustard gas instead of picric acid, and partly perhaps because the Army was already over much of the area with its Remount Depot. The plant only produced gas for a few months in the second half of 1918, and thankfully was decommissioned at the end of the war. The eventually massive smelting plant which replaced it in St Andrew's Road has itself disappeared completely, to be replaced in part by the recycling centre run by SITA UK in Merebank Road - work on which was held up for four months in 2012 because of the discovery of what was thought to be a left-over gas shell making workers on the site ill.

So why bring all this up now? The Gas Girls, the heroic women who filled shells with the filthy stuff at the Chittening factory in 1918, have all gone; they suffered from the gas more than the Germans ever did. The plant has gone (apart from a couple of rails embedded in the tarmac of the far end of Kingsweston Lane, which helped connect the plant's internal railway to the main system). National Filling Factory no. 23 at Chittening has gone (apart from the Brandon Lifting Hire building at 7 Worthy Road, a dispatch shed, and a short stretch of railway track), now replaced with all sorts of harmless businesses in the restyled Chittening Trading Estate. The centenary of the war is being done to death in the media. Can't we skate over this dark and vanished episode?

Well, it hasn't all gone for ever. Things needed ferrying around the plant in 1917-18, and this job was done by at least three tiny four-wheel battery-driven locomotives built for the Ministry of Munitions by the Brush Electrical Engineering Co. of Loughborough. For transport geeks: their maker's numbers were 16302, 16304 and 16307. Amazingly, two of these three engines still exist and are in everyday use. At the end of the war three were acquired by the General Estates Company Ltd as surplus to wartime requirements and then sold in 1921 to the Hythe Pier Company's railway, where they were converted from battery-driven operation to a third-rail electric system like that of the London to Brighton line, though operating at only 250 volts DC compared with Brighton's 750. One engine (16304) was immediately cannibalized for spare parts, but the surviving two still take passengers from the shore of Southampton Water at Hythe along the pier to the ferry which operates from there into central Southampton. And here is what they look like. They are minute: 8ft 4in long, 6ft 9in high and 3ft 9in wide, and they operate on 2ft gauge track. The first picture was taken at an unknown date, but a long time ago. The second is a modern view, showing the modified profile they now sport.

Hythe thenHythe now

There's your local history, almost 100 years old - it awaits you when you next visit Hampshire.

The first image was downloaded from

The second is attributed to (c) Ian Boyle, 2004,

For Avonmouth Sea Cadets it is all change

Avonmout Sea Cadets

The last parade night of December saw the change of command between Lieutenant (SCC) Victoria Sidwell RNR and Petty Officer (SCC) Stephanie Morris. PO Morris will be in command in a caretaker role until a permanent replacement is appointed.

At the ceremony Lieutenant Sidwell, who has commanded TS Enterprise since 2011, formally relinquished command to PO Morris in front of the cadets, staff, cadets' parents and former cadets. Presiding over the evening's ceremony was Unit President, Sue Passmore Commander RNR and Unit Chairman, Captain Douglas Lindsay MN.

A change of command is a military tradition that represents a formal transfer of authority and responsibility for a unit from one commanding (a ship) or flag officer (a fleet) to another. The passing of colours or ensigns from an outgoing commander to an incoming one ensures that the ship and its crew is never without official leadership, a continuation of trust and signifies an allegiance of the crew to their ship's commander.

Lt Sidwell sadly had to stand down due to the pressures of her new role as an occupational therapy nurse. Lt Sidwell first entered the Corps in 1985 as a Girls' Nautical Training Corps (GNTC) cadet. On turning 18 she became what we would now call an Acting Petty Officer rising to Chief Petty Officer. 2001 saw Vicky leave the Corps to spend 4 years in the Merchant Navy as a nursing and senior nursing officer with P&O Princess Cruises. She re-joined the Corps with promotion to acting Sub-Lieutenant when she first joined us at Bristol Avonmouth unit before transferring to our sister unit in Torfaen, South Wales. She was again promoted to Lieutenant and became the 1st Lieutenant (second in command) at Torfaen before transferring back to TS Enterprise as commanding officer in 2011.

Under her command the unit achieved a pennant for excellence as well as taking part in a wide range of activities afloat and ashore. She was proud to lead the parade through the village that celebrated the unit's 70 birthday in 2011.

Petty Officer (SCC) Christopher Batt, who is the Officer in Charge of the Junior Division said "The cadets' tribute in the form of a song based on the recent chart hit 'All about the bass' was heartfelt and moving. Now that she has swallowed the anchor we wish her all the best and since Lt Sidwell will remain an SCC instructor hope that she will not be a stranger. We all look forward to seeing her at district and area events as I am sure she will not be letting her years of experience go to waste".

Steph brings a wealth of experience and skills as she is an instructor in a number of disciplines from her time in the Sea Cadets and her previous time with the Air Training Corps. In civilian life Steph works with children with special educational needs in North Somerset. "Many people will have seen our cadets at the Veterans' Day commemorations in Lawrence Weston and Kingswood, Remembrance Parades in Shirehampton, Patchway and Canford Cemetery and as a regular fixture at the Festival of Remembrance at the Colston Hall. I know that Steph intends to continue the excellent and valued work that the cadets do for the Bristol seafaring and veterans community." said unit chairman, Capt. Lindsay.

"We are always interested to hear from former cadets or anyone who would like to join us as an adult volunteer or cadet. For more details call in to see us any Monday or Thursday evening by the river Avon in Station Road. 2016 sees our 75th birthday as Avonmouth unit and we will be planning a number of celebratory events." concluded Petty Officer (SCC) Christopher Batt.

Probate - DIY difficulties

A Jack

I recently gave a talk to a local organisation concerning planning for later life. Amongst the many questions raised during the event was one I am frequently asked. A widow whose husband had died over 20 years ago queried whether on her death her family would still be able to claim his "nil rate band"

The "nil rate band" is the amount that an individual is entitled to leave "tax free" of inheritance tax. We each have our own "nil rate band" allowance but in October 2007 the government introduced the "transferable" nil rate band". This is available on the death of the survivor of a married couple and, for example means that if the first spouse to die left their entire estate to their spouse then on the death of the second spouse the equivalent of two full nil rate bands can be claimed

The questioner was concerned that it would be difficult for her executors to claim the nil rate band transferable allowance. I assured her that it is in fact relatively straightforward. It will however be very helpful to have to hand a copy of the Will and grant of probate and the estate accounts, of the first spouse to die.

These questions prompted me to think about issues in general surrounding a grant of probate. Most people are completely unaware that the executors under a Will are personally liable when it comes to dealing the administration of an estate. This personal liability can extend to having to assume liability for debts of the deceased if they have not been fully identified and dealt with prior to paying out the estate. This can include all taxes due or benefits which were liable for repayment.

Dealing with the affairs of the deceased can take a long time. It is not unusual for it to take up to a year, perhaps longer if things are not straight forward to tie up all the loose ends.

There is a potential trap for the executor who rushes. Because Individuals have six months from the date of probate to make claims against an estate, an executor who distributes the estate before the time limits for all potential claims has passed may find that he has rendered himself personally liable to claims not only by authorities and creditors but also from disgruntled beneficiaries. (Copyright AMD Solicitors)

Free Advice Service at Avonmouth

Sadly we at St Andrew's Church, Avonmouth had to suspend our free advice service a few months ago because we were unable to find a replacement advisor, however the good news is that we can now resume our sessions every Monday 10.00 - 12noon, which runs in tandem with the Foodbank. We would encourage anyone requiring help on a range of issues including housing, debt, welfare benefits or fuel poverty to come along. There is no appointment system, just drop in and enjoy a cuppa while you wait!