Clifton and Hotwells
Improvement Society (CHIS)

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CHIS Newsletter


Our newsletter for members comes out quarterly and contains the chairman's report, topics of current interest, historical articles and planning report. It is accompanied by photographs.


The second year of "Green Squares and Secret Gardens", despite cool weather, was another success, with more venues (some of them last minute enthusiasts) to be visited and a widely-based attendance by appreciative visitors. The GSSG committee (RoseMary Musgrave, Liz Golding, Adrienne Mason and Jenny Sparkes) are keen to involve more sites next year. We are immensely grateful to them.

Our interesting carved bench at the children's playground below the Observatory will be officially dedicated in the Autumn. It is already proving to be both useful and handsome.

Another recent improvement of a green space may be seen at Clifton Cathedral: at the corner of Worcester Road and Clifton Park is a beautifully replanted garden, at its centre a finely carved slate - Lest We Forget.

We now regularly replace Summer Talks with country visits. Buscot Park, near Faringdon, has a handsome National Trust house and a dazzling array of gardens in especially good order. Preceded by a guided tour of the refurbished splendour of St John's, Cirencester. This was a much appreciated day out.

So too was the private visit to High Glanau in Monmouthshire. An indication of the quality of the wonderfully restored Henry Avray Tipping garden and house is that Prince Charles had toured them a few days previously. (Interestingly he recently visited St John's Cirencgster too .. after CHIS!). Another garden, Wyndcliffe Court, is a different Tipping design and now displays a number of inventive sculptures, which gave an added interest to us.

Respectively RoseMary Musgrave and Linda Edwards ensured perfect arrangements in imperfect weather.

On September 22nd we resume with a topic close to home: Robert Southey, a poet as famous in the Romantic period as Coleridge and Wordsworth but now "Bristol's Neglected Son", the title of the lecture to be given by Stuart Andrews. Adistinguished historian, he will be familiar to many members as a former Headmaster of Clifton College.

On October 20th the AGM will be the time for members to how CHIS has fared over the year and hear a talk on ?????

May was sunny for the dedication, before a sizeable gathering at Buckingham Vale, of the plaque to Dorothy Brown. Her old friend Mrs Alcock, in unveiling the plaque spoke movingly of Dorothy's unequalled contribution to conservation in Bristol and beyond, too often in barbarous times. She was not alone in the tributes. Dorothy's family crowned the occasion with delicious refreshments.

A great engineer, Charles Richardson, of the Severn Tunnel and other works, is unjustly neglected, as we heard at a CHIS talk. The plaque at 10 Berkeley Square (a Bristol University property) will in part remedy that situation and is adjacent to our plaque which commemorated Thomas Guppy, another notable Bristol engineer.

See later pages for a record of the Award for Excellence to the Life Sciences Building and Gardens of the University of Bristol.

Alas, there is an aspect of Town and Gown life which is less agreeable, with reference to Bristol and the University of West of England. CHIS had been approached by Richmond Area Residents Association to join with them and Oakfield Road Association to express the concerns of local residents with regard to the ever-increasing number of students living in the area. The document that had been prepared was well researched and detailed.

It was agreed at the July committee meeting that CHIS would be associated with the broad principles concerning HMOs (Houses of Multiple Occupancy) and new residential buildings.

The problems are not confined to Bristol. Over ten years ago a cross-party group of MPs from a number of cities like Manchester, Nottingham and Leeds would meet to share concerns and seek remedies. We doubt whether it still exists. A practical idea made at a meeting in Clifton at that time was that every HMO must display on a plaque the address and contact number of the owner in case of trouble.

The raised pavements at more bus stops on routes 8 and 9 are most welcome, as will be the promised electronic indicators, the seat near the busy bus stop by the WH Smith site on Clifton Down Road has been enclosed behind the new wooden fencing. We hope that the Rotary Club, who presented the seat, will arrange for it to be put back nearby.

The Residents Parking Scheme now covers all of BS8 as does the 20 m.p.h. limit on residential roads. Outside my flat the warning sign to slow down has given up the ghost, exhausted by the need to flash at motorists who speed merrily along.

All motorists will surely be relieved to know that a petrol station is to be incorporated in the new Asda store at the top of Blackboy Hill.

The libraries at Clifton and Redland have been saved after much protest from CHIS and many others, although the opening hours will be but four per day.

The above-mentioned WH Smith site is a continuing eyesore, with seemingly little prospect of a new construction in keeping with this crucial area. We will do our best.

We welcome action by Bristol City Council regarding PVC window replacements in our conservation area. Pressure from our Planning Group has resulted in the Council's requiring the owners of one property to replace the offending material acceptably.

New Website
Over the last twenty years our website has developed in roughly three stages. After lengthy reflection a sub-committee has settled on an up to date model. Christopher Jefferies convened many searching meetings, enabling the professional designer, Laurence Penney, patiently to incorporate necessary information in a streamlined, easily navigable website.

The current one, widely frequented over the years, is to be the Archive Site website. This will allow anyone to look at what CHIS has done over the past twenty years in the interest of the area. It is an interesting record of the varied concerns that have arisen during this time, a sociological record of an inner city suburb.

The thoroughness and skill of the team - Christopher Jefferies, Richard Bland, Linda Edwards, RoseMary Musgrave, Laurence Penney and Maggie Shapland (whose energetic running of the former website is greatly appreciated by members) - have been of inestimable value. We owe them great thanks.

Please judge for yourselves by going to:

The Newsletter, itself re-designed a few years ago, continues as before and will be sent to CHIS members. Only the Chairman's Report will be put on the website. Brian Worthington


Cries of amazement issued from annual visitors of mine upon seeing no cars parked outside my home and the gutters cleared of rubbish. The CV parking zone had been put in place. Across Pembroke Road the scene was as ever, offering a striking Before and After contrast, though soon the restrictions will apply in Clifton East.

It will be interesting to hear opinions in Clifton Village in six months' time when a review is on the cards. Meanwhile the 30 minutes free allowance in the Village itself seems to be a helpful compromise for concerned traders. "'Where have all the cars gone?" is a frequent question. "On the Downs for a start" is a reply.

The same visitors reacted differently at the sight and effect of never-remedied nuisances: Alma Vale Road, despite promised attention from the Bristol City Council refuse department, is a continuing disgrace, in great part one example of the effects of studentification. In Alma Road the overhanging trees and bushes are another never-controlled blight; they are a danger to pedestrians. Neglectful owners are not warned by Bristol City Council as was once the norm. Perhaps members will complain to the authorities when affected by this nuisance.

One aspect of Bristol's history which seems astonishingly to have faded from everyone's memory is The White City, about which Clive Burlton gave an enthusiastic and revealing talk in the Apostle Room - in effect two topics for the price of one as it detailed the Exhibition, which was set up in Lower Ashton early in 1914. (Alas, no-one in the audience was surprised to hear that neither wealthy benefactors nor the Bristol City Council of the time would contribute a penny to an inventive and popular scheme) so it was short-lived and unfortunate in that August 4t" marked the start of the Great War. Adapted as a recruiting centre and barracks (an imitation Bristol Castle became the officers' mess!), the constructions gradually disappeared yet some survived long enough to be places of refuge after the blitz. Those who missed the lecture may be interested in the book Bristol's Lost City by Clive Burlton. Bristol Books. ISBN 978-1-909446-052.

We heard a different aspect of Bristol's recent past in the crisp lecture on Three Bristol Scientists by Tim Akrill, a CHIS member and former Head of Science at Clifton College. The three brilliant scientists were Paul Dirac, Sir Neville Mott and Sir Peter Higgs and lived in Clifton, Redland or Cotham almost contemporaneously and their major achievements were described to an audience that included members of the family of Cecil Powell, the Nobel Laureate to whom we dedicated a plaque at what is now the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Happily the scheme to provide a much-needed space for reception and practice there is well underway.

The lecture on April 28th by Professor Mark Horton was devoted to Francis Greenway, architect of the Assembly Rooms (now Clifton Club) and - after transportation for fraud - the father of Australian architecture, chiefly in Sydney. The governor of New South Wales was Lachlan MacQuarie who, with his wife, had a leading role in social, economic and architectural development of the colony and appointed Greenway as the first government architect.

CHIS Award for Excellence
The first recipient of our newly created plaque, acknowledging especially good design and for restoration, is Clifton College Preparatory School. The Chairman of the College Council, Richard Morgan, the architect Mark Webber of Nichols, Brown, Webber and the Headmaster, John Milne, spoke and the dedication ceremony at 1, The Avenue of their pride in receiving the accolade. A tour of the two day-houses showed that the interior deserved as much praise as the popular exterior. We have one or two further candidates for the award in mind. Dorothy Brown, that tireless worker to preserve Bristol and Clifton's special qualities is to be commemorated by a CHIS plaque at 6 Buckingham Vale on Saturday 9th May at 11.00 a.m. On the Downs by Sion Lane, Richard Bland organized the planting by Bristol City Council of our red maple on a chill February morning. Nearby and later came the alarm about the steeple of Christchurch being damaged by high winds and the necessary road closure. The tallest crane anybody had ever seen enabled experts to renew loosened mortar and the road to be re-opened. On Christchurch Green itself Olwen Laszlo and I have undertaken to ask the Downs Committee to repaint the wornaway NO CYCLING notices on a number of paths so that cyclists may not claim not to know of these reasonable safeguards for pedestrian safety. A proposed pedestrian stone bridge to span Bridge Valley Road from the Sea Walls side to near the Promenade is the subject of mixed feelings by the CHIS Planning Group and great reservations by the Conservation Advisory Panel. Planning challenges continue. The WH Smith site in Clifton Village is still of great concern because of the mass and bland anonymity of the projected building on so significant a spot. The scheme for a number of high-rise flats for students below the Sainsbury's site at the end of Alma Vale Road is objectionable to CHIS, the Clifton Down Association and many other concerned groups. Libraries We welcome the pause for a year's reflection on the Mayor's plan to close Clifton and Redland Libraries. Towards the end of last year I had put directly to the Mayor, at an open meeting with him and the Chairman of the Arts Council, how important the public libraries are and that the Arts Council should view support for the art of reading via libraries as one of its aims. Please see the CHIS statement below.

Finally, two notable workers for our local interests are to be publically congratulated. Barbara (now Baroness) Janke, former leader of Bristol City Council and long-serving Councillor for Clifton, is to devote her energies entirely to the House of Lords. We have written to thank her for her support and to wish her well in her new sphere. RoseMary Musgrave, former Chairman and current Secretary and Newsletter editor of CHIS as well as a Publicity Group organizer, has been an irreplaceable member our committee for forty years and more. We were delighted to express, on behalf of the membership, how much we all owe to her unfailing good humour, tact and imaginative work, by holding a commemorative lunch at the Clifton Club last month. Its fine weather now, we hope a forecast of similar conditions for RoseMary's second Green Squares and Secret Gardens weekend in June.

STOP PRESS On 1st May we learned that Bristol City Council had rejected the current plan for the WH Smith site on design reasons. Therefore another plan will have to be submitted.

The Committee of CHIS shares the alarm felt by many members and residents at the suggested closure of Clifton and Redland Libraries. We are relieved to hear of the year's postponement for reflection. Reported doubts about the methodology employed in the recent survey of usage and.therefore about its conclusions will, we hope, be addressed. Imaginative, inventive and positive ideas are to be expected from the Mayor and his cabinet.

Brian Worthington


We replaced the January talk with what turned out to be an exceptionally bright idea. RoseMary Musgrave realised that previous attempts to provide a pre Christmas Lunch had not worked and that it would be better to offer a Winter Lunch in the dog-days of January. The result was a triumph. Tickets sold out within days and a forlorn waiting list ensued for the bargain of the town - a superb three-course meal cooked by Linda Edwards, Olwen Laszlo, Jenny Sparkes and RoseMary Musgrave. Add to the menu two demanding local quizzes, one of tantalizing photographs taken by Will Musgrave (also our bartender) and the result is five-star.

The warmth of the Apostle Room was reproduced in early February by our hosts at 11 Percival Road, where they generously laid on a reception for the dedication of the plaque to Dr William Burch. The unveiling itself of course took place in the cold weather yet metaphorical warmth in the many tributes and recollections (see later in the Newsletter).

For details of our NEW PLAQUE, to recognize buildings of interests not people, see later in these pages.

Still in celebratory mode, we are delighted to congratulate Committee Member Richard Bland on his Bristol Green Volunteer Award, an especially deserved appreciation of all he has done in Bristol - and beyond - for ornithology and the natural world in general.

The final talk of 2014, Lessons from the Wild by Jeff Wilson, drew a large audience. Failure of the technical aids turned out to be a benefit since the listeners enjoyed the address even more. The speaker said "It is the first time for me that the equipment hasn't worked but somehow it felt easier to talk without it. I do apologise, though". Far from needing to do that, Jeff beguiled us as an instructive raconteur and penguin mime-artist. Should you want to see some of his film clips go to

During the December - January saturnalia we felt that May Gurney's handling of the complicated dates and demands deserved congratulation, though some residents made life difficult by covering pavements with sizeable Christmas trees for days. Alas the slum-city aspect of Alma Vale Road bins prevails, whatever the season.

By the time of the next Newsletter most of us will have seen the Residents' Parking arrangements in place. Whatever the arguments in principle, it is not diplomatic for Bristol City Council to ignore the requirements in a conservation area that lines should be primrose not yellow and be narrow. In the Village broad and brash lines glare out and bus stops look almost floodlit. Astonishingly, in that not notable conservation area, the Horsefair, may be found narrow primrose lines!

On the site suggested ten years ago by CHIS, has opened the Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre; handsome and informative, it is appropriate at the 150th Anniversary of Brunei's Bridge. We were glad to attend the splendid Fireworks Display and the lively ceremonies on the Bridge the following day.

Preceding that remarkable structure by nearly 3,000 years, the nearby Iron Age Fort at Clifton Camp is undergoing its fifth and final year of clearance of scrub, a significant improvement in our being able to see its structure and marvel at the effort to make it. How it will be maintained however, is not known. CHIS has paid for the planting of a replacement tree on Sion Hill. In Victoria Square much of the undergrowth is being removed and new trees planted. Paths in the Mall Gardens have been re-laid and bushes and trees pruned.

CHIS has sent a letter to English Heritage in enthusiastic support of the bid by Clifton Hill House for funding of their ingenious and fully researched plan to restore its impressive garden (which contains two towers that are almost certainly the oldest undeveloped structures in Clifton). The garden would be more open to the public; many of us were stimulated by touring it at the Green Squares and Secret Gardens weekend last year - a delight which is to be repeated and extended this summer.

Two churches, one very active religiously, the other musically, are to be given much desired developments. Christ Church has produced a greatly improved project to refurbish the undercroft for its many community uses. Plans for the church itself are still in some respects worries some: a proposed interior pod or,gallery, and a new disabled access at the West Front and the possible removal of the original ironwork lamp there. A special glory of this building is that it rises from the grass mound, a semi-rural impression and a continuation of the Green opposite. It must not be spoilt.

At St George's great care has been employed to produce a solution to the urgent need for extra facilities - box office, dressing and rehearsal rooms, reception rooms etc. The plan to create a modern, glazed annexe on the Park Street side of the Georgian building is welcome. It should be as confidently displayed (not grassed over) as, for example the successful additions to Dulwich Gallery in London and the Holbourne Museum in Bath.

It is good to see the progress of the long-planned link between the two villas of the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. However, Clifton Down Road (ex W.H.Smith) still looks worse than forlorn now that the popular ice rink is no more and the demolition is a quarter complete. On a site so hidden away as to be scarcely noticeable, the former St Mary's Hospital awaits development, on which we have been regularly consulted. The future is at present unclear.

Behind 64-66 Oakfield Road is another site hidden from view. CHIS and other groups are most disturbed by an application to build flats (probably for student use) in an inappropriate space. So too, on a very large scale, are many of us opposed to the plan for a student block behind Clifton Down Shopping Centre and Alma Road.

To end on a quaint note. At the top of Blackboy Hill are the Victorian iron work urinals and cab stand. The former have been listed (though we wish that Sir James Dyson might be commissioned to design a period basin and hand-dryer). The latter needs to be preserved and listed as well and we are pushing for that.

FROM THE CHAIRMAN: November 2014

The superb Summer has extended remarkably into late Autumn and proved ideal for August's Green Squares and Secret Gardens, that triumph of organization, imagination, co-operation and enjoyment. Many visitors from Bristol and farther afield enjoyed the two-day event and tickets were all sold as people flocked to the promised delights of Clifton's fascinating gardens. RoseMary Musgrave masterminded this success. We are indebted to her indefatigable enthusiasm and knowledge; the whisper is that a repeat, with possibly even more gardens, may be on the cards next year.

Clifton and Hotwells owe a great deal to Barbara Janke, as our long-standing Councillor and Leader of Bristol City Council. The Committee has sent congratulations on her elevation to the House of Lords, where she intends to work hard on behalf of our area and the whole of Bristol.

Our last two talks were both concerned with the River Avon, from different aspects. Helen Jeffery, the Community Learning and Volunteer Officer at the Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre, gave a vivacious, illustrated account of the great numbers of the activities for the opening of the Centre and for lively involvement with schools and many public bodies to stimulate interest and awareness. On December 8th a ceremonial, civic dedication is planned and a Grand Formal Opening in the Spring.

Gordon Young's film, The Avon Gorge: Bristol's Spectacular Route to the Sea, ensured a good attendance at the Annual General Meeting and resulted in great appreciation of the film's information and pictorial features. The speaker happily answered questions and members as happily bought the DVD. The formal, necessary business had preceded the film. Roger Snary presented the accounts, with sincere thanks to our most obliging Reviewer (aka auditor). Four committee members were elected for a further three years: Katherine Cross, RoseMary Musgrave, Roger Snary and Brian Worthington, and the Chairman reviewed the Good, the Bad and some Ugly aspects of 2014.

The culminating talk is on 18th November at the Apostle Room of the Catholic Cathedral. Jeff Wilson has spent his working life making wildlife films for the BBC and others and working in 38 countries to produce distinguished and spectacular flora and fauna films. His talk is on Lessons from the Wild - What can the Natural World teach us? and should not be missed!

It is a while since we installed a green plaque so it is good to be able to say that we will do so soon, commemorating Dr Cecil Burch, FRS, engineer and prolific inventor, with over 100 patents to his name.

English Heritage has caught up with CHIS in putting up a blue plaque in London to Sir Fabian Ware, creator of the Imperial War Graves Commission, only eight years after our green plaque was installed at his birthplace opposite Christchurch. We would very much like Bristol City Council to take the lead by commissioning a statue of that remarkable man, especially at this period of 19141918 commemorations nationwide.

We have created a new plaque - a Merit Award - to acknowledge buildings and restoration works of distinction. The first recipients will be named soon.

Continuing development concerns include the following: The Clifton Down (W.H. Smith) site. The developer and architect have taken some note of our disappointment with the change of design. Demolition is taking place, with permission for a temporary ice rink. We are trying to ensure that the licence for the sale of alcohol will state restricted hours, for the benefit of residents. The Victorian lamp posts are to be restored and duly reinstated. The mature birch trees will alas have to be replaced on completion of the project instead of being kept where they are.

Mortimer House next door is almost completely refurbished. Someone may then tell English Heritage, since according to the Bristol Post the edifice is still on the At Risk Register!

Traffic. Residents are anxious about the positioning of notices about the coming Parking Scheme in Clifton and Clifton East. We sympathise and have urged the City Council to observe the sensitive nature of this Conservation Area when they comply with their legal obligations. '

We also share the considerable alarm over the installation and use of shared pedestrian and cycle pathways, notably at Rownham Mead in Hotwells, where the likelihood of a race track for irresponsible cyclists is feared. The NO CYCLING notices on Christchurch Green and Clifton Down are in urgent need of re-painting.

Slum City. Alma Vale Road's residents and traders decorate their street with hanging baskets or Christmas trees and lights when appropriate. Disgracefully their efforts are mocked by Council and University officials' refusal to enforce the removal of black bins left out on pavements permanently.

The further end of the road is threatened by a plan to build student flats on the parking space which has been gated off for many years instead of giving desperately needed parking provision. Grossly over-massed, the proposed construction will require the destruction of two exceptionally fine flowering cherries and a walnut tree - a species not commonly found in this area. We will support the Clifton Down Residents Association in opposing a developer who displays not a sign of compromise or understanding.

To end on a happy horticultural note: it is a pleasure to welcome Bristol University's extension to the Royal Fort Gardens, the excellence of which is described later in this edition.

Let us hope 2015 brings more joys than sorrows to our area.
Brian Worthington


If you have the good fortune to live in as attractive an area as ours and take visitors for a walk it is often a welcome jolt when they express their admiration and even envy of what we might take for granted. This year's surge of greenery at a near-tropical pace in the not infrequent sunny spells has increased the attractiveness. However, in some streets the resultant impending shrubs and trees show that nothing is perfect, especially property owners, who don't trim hedges.

The CHIS-sponsored traffic island below the Victoria Rooms has at last flowered noticeably; the Easter Garden at Quarry Steps is abundant; the new garden and old sweet chestnut at the Chesterfield are flourishing as are the Downs, goats and all. A tree fell down near the new children's playground below the Observatory. No-one was hurt nor damage done to the newly-installed equipment, which is mercifully free of the all too frequent crude colours and coarse materials that do no service to children's aesthetic awareness. The promised CHIS seat should be inspirational in design.

Still on green thoughts, intense efforts and research by residents and our Planning Group, together with developing consultations with Clifton College Council have produced a happy compromise in the dispute over the re-positioning of the recently installed cricket nets on the Close by Pembroke Vale. Residents have been reassured too about the College's intention to establish at Nos. 4 & 5 Worcester Road two suites of greatly needed classrooms.

The Nuffield Group promised a publically sited statue when applying to rebuild the Chesterfield Hospital and various places have been considered, including Victoria Square. At a recent public meeting that was opposed by residents. An historic and aesthetic ideal would be on the bastion at Goldney House: the statue is to involve Alexander Selkirk, origin of Robinson Crusoe, who was rescued by one of Thomas Goldney's vessels. It would, however, be essential for Bristol University to enable greater public access for the spot than now. Negotiations continue.

We are disturbed to receive confirmation of rumours that the "WHS site" on Clifton Down Road has been sold on. Having spent many an hour in pre-application discussions to agree on the imaginative plans which Bristol City Council approved, we fervently hope our voice will be heard when we meet the new developers to discuss their 'modest changes to the previous consented scheme'.

We expect to be consulted about the plans for Beacon House (formerly Habitat), which has been bought by Bristol University, and about the site at the end of Alma Vale Road near the back of Sainsbury's complex. We support the Clifton Down Residents Association in their concern about such a considerable students' residence (70 plus places have been suggested) especially bearing in mind the number of students resident in the area already and the development of student flats on Whiteladies Road.


Alma Vale Road is cherished by traders and locals, with elegant Christmas trees and lighting and street fairs, but their efforts are degraded by the squalor of student waste bins left out permanently at either end of the road. We thought that that plague had departed but the corner of Hanbury Road and Pembroke Road recently looked like a mini-Naples. Good news there, however: an application to convert a good portion of the garden of the Channings Hotel to a car park has been rejected.

PARKING the very word is like a bell to toll alarm. It took two years for CHIS not long ago to help traders and visitors persuade the authorities to extend daytime parking from 1 to 2 hours. Recently a tank on the lawn by the Bridge has been used to publicize the need to extend parking time in the new Scheme from 1 to 2 or more hours! There's irony also in the fact that the rapidly developing Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre (no easier title has been suggested) is on a site that CHIS suggested nearly ten years ago, having to resort to the extreme of action in the High Court to help stop the outrageous alternative proposed on the Clifton side!

The plan by Medinbrand to develop the long-neglected Whiteladies Cinema by constructing six flats that would help finance a two-screen cinema has been approved by Bristol City Council Planning Committee. As may be seen in our April Newsletter, CHIS supported the scheme, faute de mieux, but later asked the Planning Committee to give serious consideration to the alternative plan by the Whiteladies Picture House Group, supported by English Heritage, to restore the whole building as a single full auditorium,, plus the ballroom, foyer and a small lecture room/screening room available for community use. There the matter stands.

I began with the delights of BS8. They don't, however, make us parochial, so our two trips out of Bristol have been greatly enjoyed. At Beckford Silk Workshop, the last in the Kingdom, we saw the complicated processes at work and the exquisite, fashionably appreciated results, we lunched at a packed Moreton-in-Marsh and took the air at Batsford Arboretum with its great range of species.

Comparably enjoyable were some hidden gems of the Vale of Glamorgan: Ewenny Pottery, in its eighth generation of potters, the nearby Norman Priory with a learned lecture by Dr Eirof Evans and coffee with Welsh cakes and Bara Brith from his wife, lunch at the charming town of Cowbridge and a spirited guided tour of Fonmon Castle. The organizers, RoseMary Musgrave and Linda Edwards, were sincerely congratulated on the imaginativeness and efficiency of their arrangements.

Back at the ranch, or more accurately the Apostle Room, we had greatly enjoyed the exhaustive and enthusiastic Trevor Thomson in his advocacy of the achievements of the neglected engineer Charles Robinson, of the Severn Tunnel and much else in the early Nineteenth Century.


Our move to the Apostle Room of Clifton Cathedral for Talks is proving to be a success, with ease of parking, a flexible area and the ability to provide coffee and wine. The one hiccough has been eased and the central heating now functions well, making its presence felt by periodically moving into loud overdrive. Grand as are the Georgian splendours of Clifton Hill House, the new venue seems to appeal to members, especially as it allows a more sociable start to the evening.

That was shown at The History of the Victoria Cross and Harold Ackroyd, VC, given by Christopher Ackroyd to a responsive audience. The very different subject, All you wanted to know about Planning and didn't dare ask enabled Martin Goodall to range from the complex development of national planning policies to the details of special areas such as ours.

The CHIS year had kicked off with an indoors visit, an instructive and entertaining tour of the BBC in Whiteladies Road; included were a group rehearsal of an "Archers" script and a presentation of the weather forecast by members, intrepidly tackled.

Please come to the talk on 29th April on The Life and Work of Charles Robinson given by Trevor Thomson and be prompt to book for the Visits to Beckford Silk Workshop on the morning of 20th May followed in the afternoon by a visit to Batsford Arboretum. In June the will be a day visiting some hidden gems in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Suspension Bridge Road Improvements etc
We are happy with those proposed changes for the benefit of pedestrians (raised road crossings and resurfaced footpaths not to forget the return to traditional-style lamps).
However, there are concerns about plans to close Observatory Road except for cycles and buses, with consequent traffic flows on other roads. Please see my letter to Councillor Barbara Janke and her reply at the end of this piece.

Now that the quagmires have all but disappeared, work below the Observatory on the new children's playground and its handsome wooden furniture has begun. CHIS has a particular interest: we are paying for a most stylish seat for the ease of those watching over the children.

Still in the general area of the Bridge, our suggestion that Bristol should mark the exceptional achievements of the Bristolian, Lieutenant-General Sir Fabian Ware, has received support from Councillors Charles Lucas and Claire Hiscott. Ideally there will be a statue. Suggestions as to where to place it are most welcome.

On the other side of BS8 there are two projects of interest to us all:

A cloud no bigger than a man's hand is causing unease: the extent to which the Down's Rangers service will be affected by expenditure cuts. Again we shall keep members informed.

Cliftonwood and Hotwells are celebrated in style as volumes 3 and 4 of Explore Bristol by CHIS stalwarts Julia Killingback and Mike Pascoe. Those who appreciated the range of architecture, history, social life and quirky information in the guided walks around Georgian and Victorian Clifton will not be surprised to find fascinating details in the new volumes and a stirring sense of the special qualities of the two areas. If the weather is kind the guides are a delight; if not, they provide a lively armchair tour, Virtual Reality perhaps? Brian Worthington

Dear Barbara
Observatory Road etc. traffic scheme
The CHIS committee discussed your report in 'Clifton News' and felt very concerned about the effects of funnelling traffic onto the miniroundabout as well as the danger to pedestrians crossing from Christchurch towards the bus stop.
We believe that a review of all the interlocking roads at this point is needed and hope that (as was the case of Whiteladies Road) officers will engage in full and early consultation with residents, amenity societies and general road-users before suggesting a new lay-out.

Dear Brian
Thank you so much for taking the trouble to write to me about the proposed closure of Observatory Road. I very much welcome your comments. Whilst the overall plans for Suspension Bridge Road are very welcome, I share many of your concerns about traffic in adjoining roads if Observatory Road were to be closed to traffic.


It would be unthinkable to write to members without recording the death of Dorothy Brown. She was one of the early CHIS members and the most persistent, informed, active and generous of fighters against the (alas not quite departed) philistinism that worked to destroy much of Bristol that had survived the Blitz. We pay a fuller tribute to her life and work later in the Newsletter. We normally instal a commemorative plaque some time after the person's lifetime but, so notable is Dorothy's legacy to Bristol and beyond that we are going ahead, the intended date being Spring, 2014.

In 2005 we dedicated a plaque, at Glendower House by Christchurch Green, to Sir Fabian Ware, Bristolian and creator of the Imperial War Graves Commission during the Great War. The excellent Empires of the Dead by David Crane records Ware's extraordinary achievement and is reviewed on later pages. English Heritage is catching up, with a blue plaque in London in 2014.

One of the distinguished architects of the grand funerary monuments on the Western Front is Charles Holden. We owe to him the Central Library, the 1910-12 Bristol Royal Infirmary and the 1919 Memorial Arch at Clifton College. The hospital was engulfed and spoilt in the 1970s extension and the Central Library is threatened by the crass plan of Bristol Cathedral School to turn two lower storeys into a Primary School. So far there is no threat to the Arch ....

How pleasant it is to congratulate an educational institution, in this case Bristol University, for its completion of the project to clean the frontage of the Wills Tower and adjacent buildings, along with the Millennium Garden. They look magnificent.

We visited the nearby Museum for a guided tour by the Director of The Roman Empire: Power and People exhibition. It remains open until the 12t" January and should not be missed for its clever presentation of objects intelligently described in astutely set and aesthetically fine sections. There are ingenious modern technical features to inform and entertain young and old. I completed an assessment form, complimenting the exhibitors, and was sad to be told that most visitors either give no response or mostly complain about occasional features.

That event and the Annual General Meeting as well as the St Andrew's Memorial Service on Remembrance Sunday, where Richard Bland laid our wreath, completed the year's events. The Publicity Group has put its mind to the 2014 programme, details of which are enclosed.

Sadly, we must soldier on without a long-standing and invaluable member of the Committee, Sharon Baker. She has been energetic, persuasive and inventive; in particular as regards Clifton and Bristol in Bloom, relations with the Village traders and tirelessly addressing Bristol City Council and May Gurney about the unending challenge of waste disposal and litter. Her work will be greatly missed but we hope for her to return once she has completed her academic work. She will be glad to see the Council's initiative in combating cigarette litter, having established the putting in place of cigarette binlets in Clifton Village.

All the more welcome, then, is the return to the Committee of Olwen Laszlo, who is already providing practical assistance in the Publicity Group's planning.

Our area cannot escape the national challenge to the nature of our high streets, for all the known reasons. We see it in the applications to convert shops into licensed restaurants - particularly in Queen's Road and parts of Clifton Village. The dilemma is this: if a trader cannot continue, is a derelict building preferable to another food outlet; if a road becomes full of such establishments, will a trader want to return? The minimum CHIS urges is restrictions on hours of selling alcohol.

There is continuing debate about the effects of the proposed residents' parking scheme (charges, hours, ticket machines etc.). We repeat our suggestion that a bus from the Park and Ride areas should take visitors directly to the Zoo and the Village. However, some people may not be keen on returning if, as is threatened, the public conveniences by the Suspension Bridge and on The Downs are closed.

Unsurprisingly Bristol has been judged the most congested city in mainland Britain. The Post's letters page is a battleground for competing accusations about cars, buses, motorcycles and cycles and our roads. Interestingly, another city with an elected. Mayor (in both case by the City Council) has initiated a nine-months trial of suspending bus lanes, to see if they cause more trouble than they are intended to save. Bristol should not follow Liverpool's example in one major respect. That former City of Culture has in the last decade demolished 36 listed buildings in the Duke Street Conservation Area and World Heritage Site against the advice of English Heritage. Our Civic Society has commended the Whiteladies Road traffic scheme with its Award, which may raise mixed responses from the public.

More rurally, we have been asked by Radio Bristol to comment on the suggested pedestrian bridge over Bridge Valley Road. Connecting two walking paths along the side of the Gorge, it should be aesthetically appropriate, whether traditional or contemporary in design and would offer an alternative crossing to the perilous one where five roads meet - if people would detour from The Promenade to use it.

Large-scale developments in BS8 which are complete or going strong are the Pro-Cathedral (student dwellings a la Ritz), the Nuffield Chesterfield Hospital and Mortimer House. Still planned or seeking permission are the W.H.Smith site on Clifton Down Road and St Mary's Hospital as-was on Brandon Hill. The future of the former Habitat store and the T.A. ground in Whiteladies Road remain undecided. What is promising is a scheme to restore the much-missed Whiteladies Cinema, which local amenity groups welcome wholeheartedly. Nick Shaw has been a prominent and valued beat constable in our area for many years, enforcing the law in a genial and firm way on drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. Local TV and papers have recorded his heroism in a fire at Wickwar as part of his greatly appreciated service. We shall miss him in his retirement and wish him the very best for2014 and beyond - as to all our members as well.

FROM THE CHAIRMAN: September 2013

At the moment we have a good deal to do with children's interests, one way or another. We are negotiating to sponsor a specially designed seat from which parents may watch over their offspring at the playground below the Observatory when redevelopment is complete.

The handsome former St. John's Primary School Building at the top of Blackboy Hill has long been empty and forlorn but is soon to be adapted as houses and apartments, which we will look out for.

Less happily, is a proposal to turn the bottom two floors of the Central Library into a Primary School (letters by Dorothy Brown and Simon Cook included). More information.

In Bristol's Best 100 Buildings Michael Jenner (one of the founders of CHIS incidentally) describes the high, unique quality of Charles Holden's 1906 building, both intrinsically and for its brilliant relationship with the adjacent former Abbey gateway. The suggested development would be of a particularly disgraceful kind and a mockery of Bristol's pretensions as a grand city.

The Downs
On ITV West News Richard Bland and others spoke succinctly about the damage caused to the vulnerable and special landscape if the Zoo succeeds yet again in applying to use one section as a car park for 60 days per year. Alternatives, such as Park and Ride and the new Hollywood site were pointed out. It is not always remembered that the parking zones at the front of the Zoo are Downs land.

Erosion of a different sort is all too visible in the tracks carved out by joggers. Interestingly, the Downs authorities feel that it would be reasonable to charge Personal Trainers for commercial use of the area.

The proposed realignment of roads and parking places by the Suspension Bridge will not result in the loss of Downs land.

News of the intended sale of the Observatory Building is of major interest, with many implications, as anyone who has followed the recent history of the construction will realise. We should all be vigilant.

Although undertaken before the recent tropical heat set in, our two recent visits have been a joy. The John Boyd Textiles Horsehair Factory in Castle Cary is a unique survivor. Its workings and products were fascinating to observe in a pleasant guided tour, followed by lunch and then a wander round the artfully designed Kilver Court Garden in Shepton Mallet. Later, a more select number of us was given an informative tour of the Royal Fort Gardens - setting history and gardens.

The Laskett Gardens visit on 3rd September is proving to be very popular and should be a delight.

Sharon Baker's Clifton Village 2013 - Urban Community RHS Britain in Bloom is a wide-ranging display of community work in Clifton, with informative text and photographs. Wish the booklet success in the judging by the RHS Urban Community Competition assessors.

Our sponsored traffic island plants (by the Victoria Rooms) are bedding in, whatever the weather. So too the overhanging bushes and trees which festoon so many pavements dangerously; if only the City Council would act, given such thoughtlessness by property owners (many of whom are absentee owners).

Another shockingly neglected matter is BLOCKED DRAINS. Interestingly a May Gurney officer who had inspected all the drains preparatory to the extensive Water Mains Works says that in our area there are numerous cases of uncleared drains.

The reconstruction of Mortimer House goes on apace, as does the new Environmental Sciences Building on St. Michael's Hill. Generally the amount of scaffolding seems to belie the idea of Austerity Britain! However in the Avon Gorge, one construction, in the garden of one of the houses in Prince's Buildings is the subject of major concern to CHIS and neighbours.

I hope all our members who live in the area received a copy of the new local magazine - Clifton Matters. It covered several interesting topics and a two-page spread about CHIS. The editor had contacted me to ask for this because he saw the work we do in, and for, the locality as a very important part of why Bristol 8 is such an attractive place to live in and to visit.

We look forward to two events:


Major changes in the paired photographs in Will Musgrave's Clifton Through Time that strike me are the absence of road signs and cars but the presence of railings. Probably most members today would welcome fewer of the former and more of the latter; it's always cheery to see where railings have been restored after Queen Mary's well-intentioned purge. Vyvyan Terrace gardens are an example to everyone. Not so good is the replacement of hedges with fences, at best plain and usually ugly, as may be seen in College Road.

As an aside, one statement in Clifton Through Time has fluttered some dovecotes: Jeffrey Archer was not a pupil at Clifton College but of Wellington School (where by chance he was in the same Sixth Form set as David Suchet and Keith Floyd). The interesting exhibition on Bristol writing in the Central Library includes Archer but puzzlingly omits the eminently successful Henry Newbolt, who was a pupil at Clifton College.

The topic of the hour is Traffic and Parking, especially after Mayor Ferguson's announcement of 18 proposed parking zones to cover most of the city, 4 in our patch. Asked to comment by Radio Bristol and ITV West, I recalled that: ten years ago residents of Clifton split 50/50 on the principle of RPZ; the knock-on effect of zones in Kingsdown and Cotham had changed some peoples' attitudes; in Clifton Village a major consideration was the interests of Residents, Traders, Visitors and Tourists; and some people feared having to pay yet find parking as difficult as now.

The commuters who park from 7.00 a.m. onwards before walking, cycling or bussing into town need an alternative: better bus and train services. The Downs must be protected from all-day parking and Zoo visitors. Surely the Park & Ride Bus could stop at the Zoo and Christchurch Green? CHIS has already met the Village BID Manager to consider traders' interests, reassured by the Mayor's promise to bear in mind the particular conditions of each zone.

As long ago as 1994 we helped to commission the far-sighted Clifton Traffic and Parking Survey and in 1998 asked the architect George Ferguson to produce a feasibility study for the south side of Merchant's Road (then Hartwell's Garage). It showed that 200-250 cars could be accommodated in a three-storey car park behind single aspect apartments. Despite local support, the scheme failed. Prophets are rarely heard in their own land.

Cycling is of course a much encouraged element in the debate about traffic. When the Mayor discussed road schemes with Ken Livingstone, I wonder whether one of Livingstone's ideas was mentioned: that cycles should have clear number plates and the owners be insured, as are motorists. Last month an elderly lady walking through St Andrew's Churchyard was struck from behind by a cyclist, suffering 3 broken ribs and a fractured pelvis. "No Cycling" signs have been suggested but on The Promenade, Christchurch Green and Victoria Square they are honoured more in the breach than the observance as momentary myopia seems to strike many cyclists.

Our talks programme was resumed after the apparent end of wintery weather, with Leonardo the Anatomist by Dr Jonathan Musgrave and The Silent Engineer - the Story of Thomas Guppy by Gordon Shaw. Audiences were impressed by the detailed presentation and enthusiasm of the speakers. We look forward to the wide-ranging talk on The Avon Gorge by Dan Evans on St George's Day and subsequent visits during the summer.

Plans for creating the long-promised Cumberland Piazza are attractive as are those for the permanent Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre (given a grant from the Lottery Fund). It is to be on one of the sites suggested by CHIS six years ago as an alternative to demolishing the public lavatories on the Clifton side. So much litigation and bitterness might have been avoided!

The sensitive opening up of the Iron Age Fort site, preserving the foundations, has quieted many fears. The Downs generally look as though they've had a haircut from a top-class barber: volunteers have helped to free the hawthorns from ivy and scrub. Controversial plans to re-design the children's playground below the Observatory are to be re-thought in view of general disapproval. There was little controversy at a meeting about establishing a playground in Victoria Square; the residents were unanimously opposed.

The first of the two trees funded by CHIS has been planted on Christchurch Green just beyond the zebra crossing. The Easter Garden near Quarry Steps is under partial threat by a developer; we support the residents' determination to preserve that charming public place. We welcome the outcome of the Planning Inspectorate appeal by which the Whiteladies Cinema may be retained in any development.

The Union Building extension is complete, with its elegant lines. However, a number of people lament the dull slate-coloured slabs of brickwork. Replacement saplings have been planted. I wonder whether the University would win brownie points by planting some in Buckingham Place opposite: there are gaps. The University's re-ordering of the gardens by the new Life Sciences building as a continuation of the invaluable Royal Fort Gardens is under way.

Still on a sweet note, it was generous of the Rotary Club to invite me and the Chairman of the Redland and Cotham Amenity Society to lunch at Redland Lawn Tennis Club in order to see whether the societies might work with them. Ideas from our members would be most welcome.

There is, I'm afraid, always a sour savour. We are fighting: a rash of banners, of all sizes, materials and vulgarity, the lurid BT broadband illegally stuck on their already obtrusive green boxes, and the stickers on BT telephone boxes and of course slumland, bins and boxes left out permanently.

I am sure members wish us luck. Brian Worthington

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