12 Nov 2020
My goal is walk down every public road within a mile of me; sometimes it's not easy to tell what's public. I've passed the turning for Cornwallis Grove a thousand times, but never had a reason to venture down it, and although the street signs at the end seem to be council-deployed and I didn't spot any "private" signs, it's a gated road and definitely feels private.
Gathering all the white middle-class privilege I could muster, I wandered down and was rewarded with the sight of a Victorian pump, a statue of Jesus, and from the end of the road, a view of a private garden that once belonged to a private girls' school.
The Cornwallis House history page says:
In the early 20th century the house, together with Grove House, became a Catholic school, St Joseph’s High School for Girls. The Congregation of La Retraite took over the school in 1924, with the nuns living in Grove House while the schoolrooms were in Cornwallis House. The headmistress was Mother St Paul de la Croix (Sister Paula Yerby). By the 1970s La Retraite High School had around 700 pupils.
It closed in 1982 and the building was bought by Pearce Homes Ltd (now part of Crest Nicholson) who developed it into 21 flats. Grove House next door was bought by the Bristol Cancer Help Centre, and was later converted into flats in 2007.
A formidably beardy cricketer of yore, widely considered one of the greatest players in history.
06 Jan 2021
The International Grotto Directory website says:
Prince’s Lane might have been one of the original ancient tracks from Hotwells to Clifton, in the Avon Gorge. The site later formed part of Rownham Woods which comprised some thirteen acres. By the end of the 18th century and the early 19th century, the Society of Merchant Venturers granted to Samuel Powell a building lease, for The Colonnade (1786), St. Vincent’s Parade (1790), Prince’s Buildings (1796), and Rock House. Rock House is generally considered to be the oldest surviving building associated with the Hotwell (see Chapter 20). John Power conveyed part of the woods to William Watts for the construction of Windsor Terrace (1790-1808).
The above development of the Avon Gorge cleared Rownham Woods, and created a triangle of land on the north side of the gorge, that became enclosed as a result, by Mansion Houses, whose garden walls all entered on to Prince’s Lane. The Lane started at the bottom of the gorge, at the base rock of Windsor Terrace, and came out half way up Sion Hill. It is clearly shown as a public footpath, dotted with trees, in Ashmead’s map of 1828. Some of the gardens were quite steep in parts and therefore, had to be terraced, because of the gradient of the gorge.
I've passed Prince's Lane literally thousands of times in my life, every time I've walked past the Avon Gorge Hotel, which itself started (in 1898) as the Grand Clifton Spa and Hydropathic Institution and pumped water up from the Hot Well for its hydropathic treatments. I've never actually ventured down it until today, or at least nothing like as far down it as I did this afternoon—I may have poked my head around the back of the hotel to see the original pump rooms at some point in the past.
This was a great wander, though it does very much feel like a private road, and frankly I may have been pushing my luck a bit by winding my way between the astoundingly big back gardens of the houses of some presumably very wealthy Cliftonites, but I felt vaguely justified in exploring the history of one of the oldest footpaths in my part of Bristol...
01 Feb 2021
I just wanted to get some exercise, really, so I set out to knock off the lower bit of Jacobs Wells Road that I'd not managed to walk up yet. I set the new signboard that the community association had had erected as my destination, after reading about it on their blog.
As it turned out, I couldn't even read it, as the building that houses the actual Jacob's Well had water flooding out onto the pavement. I wonder if it was actual Jacob's Well water? Have the soles of my walking shoes been mystically blessed now?
You can't see much of the flood in the photos I snapped, but I did shoot a little video, too. Ed on Twitter said:
I spoke to the seller at the time with a view to buying it - I mentioned an old friend who grew up nearby remembers it flooding regularly. He swore blind my friend was wrong.
I went to get my first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine today. Handily, the vaccination centre was Clifton College Prep School in Northcote road, next to Bristol Zoo, a road that's just within my 1-mile range that I hadn't visited before.
I parked up near Ladies Mile and tried to find a few of the tracks marked on the map I'm using, but couldn't see most of them. Whether that's just because they've disappeared over time, or with the recent lack of use or waterlogging from the 24 hours of rain we just had, I'm not sure. It was a pretty fruitless search, anyway.
The vaccine shot was virtually the same setup as when I got my winter flu jab back in November, except for the venue. I snapped a couple of pictures of the school while I was there, but I was in and out in five minutes, and you probably don't want to linger around a vaccination centre, I suppose.
Instead I wandered around the compact block of the Zoo, now sadly scheduled for closure. By coincidence I finished E H Young's Chatterton Square this morning: set in Clifton (fictionalised as "Upper Radstowe") near the Zoo, the occasional roars of the lions that can be heard by the residents of the square (Canynge Square in real life) form part of the background of the novel. The book's set in 1938 (though written and published post-war, in 1947). It seems a shame that the incongruous sounds of the jungle will no longer be heard from 2022. All I heard today were some exotic birds and, I think, some monkeys.
I was told not to drive for fifteen minutes following the jab, so I wandered out of my area up to the top of Upper Belgrave Road to check out an interesting factoid I'd read while looking into the history of the reservoir at Oakfield Road, that the site of 46 Upper Belgrave Road was a bungalow, shorter than the adjacent houses, and owned by Bristol Water, kept specifically low so that the pump man at Oakfield Road could see the standpipe for the Downs Reservoir (presumably by or on the water tower on the Downs) and turn the pump off when it started overflowing. Sadly I couldn't confirm it. There is one particularly low house on that stretch, but it's number 44, and though small, it's two-storey, not a bungalow, so nothing really seems to quite fit in with the tale.
I'm writing this about nine hours after getting the jab, by the way, and haven't noticed any ill effects at all. My arm's not even sore, as it usually would be after the normal flu jab. In twelve weeks I should get an appointment to get the second dose.
Since setting up a search for Hotwells on eBay I've mostly managed to restrain myself from buying much (or in one case, was outbid, luckily for my finances.) However, I couldn't resist a 1902 flyer for a singalong at the Terrett Memorial Hall, which would have stood five minutes' walk from my flat, overlooking Howard's Lock.
I've found out a fair bit about this non-denominational seaman's mission, including tracking down both a Loxton drawing and an aerial photo of it. The main thing that's eluded me, ironically enough, is finding out who Terrett was, so as a Memorial Hall it didn't do a very good job 😀.
EDIT: Ah! Did a little more digging and found that the Bristol Archives has a Bristol Dock Company document on file called "William Terrett, Esq.; corresp. etc. re proposed erection of a Mission Hall at Cumberland Basin, 1892", so that might be worth a look once the Archives are properly open again. Given that:
Sarah Terrett died suddenly on 25 November 1889, aged 53, after speaking at a meeting of the White Ribbon Army, the temperance organization she had founded in 1878. Following her death many people sent letters of sympathy to her bereaved husband, William. One of these, from the Rev. W. F. James, a minister of the Bible Christians, makes for especially interesting reading. The Bible Christian denomination, to which Sarah and William belonged, was one of the smaller Methodist connexions, and had its heartland in rural Devon, the area where she had grown up. James recalled the hospitality he enjoyed when visiting the Terretts’ home, Church House, in Bedminster, south Bristol...
...I wonder if William Terrett built the hall in memory of his late wife. They were clearly just the kind of temperance movement people who would've founded a seaman's mission to get people together to have a nice non-alcoholic singsong rather than a night out on the tiles.
Anyway. This walk to grab a coffee from Hopper Coffee in Greville Smyth Park was mostly an excuse to post the leaflet, a few other things I found related to it, and some pictures of how the site looks now. I would suggest that the present day is not an improvement.
I find the adverts fascinating. My first optician in Bristol was Dunscombe's on St Augustine's Parade, so they were there a long time. They've closed now (or at least moved) but were still there as recently as 2008, I think. Interesting to see gas lighting systems being advertised, too!
14 Mar 2021
An enormous walk today, or at least it felt enormous. My feet are sore, anyway. I started off recreating a couple of local historical photos in Hotwells, but then headed for my traditional walk along the towpath in the Avon Gorge to the far extreme of Leigh Woods, up and through the woods to the height of the Suspension Bridge, finally crossing into Clifton Village for a well-deserved vanilla latte.
I say "traditional" because this used to be a very regular route for me, first walking, years and years ago, and later jogging—this route combined with a circuit of the Downs on the other side used to be my way of making sure I was fit to do a half-marathon (I did six of them in total, between 2010 and 2014).
I miss the routine of this walk, even though it's a long way and it used to pretty much wipe me out when I did it—I'd come back home and collapse and do very little for the rest of the day. But perhaps that's what Sundays are for, and I should try to remember that.
Doing this walk regularly was quite a meditative experience. Not so much of that today, but once I got to the further extreme of the towpath, where the roar of the Portway traffic on the other side of the river dwindles and I turned into Leigh Woods to climb ever closer to birdsong and further from rushing cars, I did seem to recapture a little of the feeling of previous walks. (I would say my mind cleared, but I was mentally singing along to Life Without Buildings' The Leanover for most of the wander. There are worse songs to have stuck in one's head, though; it's a great track...)
Anyway. Apparently the walk made me more likely to ramble in words, too. I'll stop now :)
More details here
Ash dieback is caused by a fungus that originated in Asia. It doesn’t affect ash trees native to the region, but has had a devastating effect on European ash, which is found in the UK.
The fungus produces small fruiting bodies between July and October. The spores can blow many miles away, which is what makes it so difficult to control. Once it’s landed, the fungus grows inside the tree and blocks its water systems, causing the tree to die.
I got interested in Bristol's medieval water supplies after poking around near Jacobs Wells Road and Brandon Hill. It was during that research I found out about a pipe that's still there today, and, as far as I know, still actually functioning, that was originally commissioned by Carmelite monks in the 13th century. They wanted a supply of spring water from Brandon Hill to their priory on the site of what's now the Bristol Beacon—Colston Hall, as-was. It was created around 1267, and later, in 1376, extended generously with an extra "feather" pipe to St John's On The Wall, giving the pipework its modern name of "St John's Conduit".
St John's on the Wall is still there, guarding the remaining city gate at the end of Broad Street, and the outlet tap area was recently refurbished. It doesn't run continuously now, like it did when I first moved to Bristol and worked at the end of Broad Street, in the Everard Building, but I believe the pipe still functions. One day I'd like to see that tap running...
There are a few links on the web about the pipe, but by far the best thing to do is to watch this short and fascinating 1970s TV documentary called The Hidden Source, which has some footage of the actual pipe and also lots of fantastic general footage of Bristol in the seventies.
On my walk today I was actually just going to the building society in town, but I decided to trace some of the route of the Carmelite pipe, including visiting streets it runs under, like Park Street, Christmas Street, and, of course, Pipe Lane. I also went a bit out of my way to check out St James' Priory, the oldest building in Bristol, seeing as it was just around the corner from the building society.
There are far too many pictures from this walk, and my feet are now quite sore, because it was a long one. But I enjoyed it.
Well, technically, Bristol was a spa town...
22 May 2021
I didn't even think I'd manage to get out today, such was the weather forecast. As it turned out, it's been quite a nice day, and I managed to nip up to Clifton Village to pop to the Post Office. As with my last outing, I decided after snapping one shop-front on Regent Street that I might as well snap the whole row, and muse on a few of them, the only service I really offer over and above Google Street View for a lot of my pictures 😀