Bristol Industrial
Archaeological Society (BIAS)

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BIAS Requests for help

This facility is for members only- but anyone can reply!

Widely varying List of requests:

Historic Harbour Cranes

Posted on 04/11/2015 by IHBC NewsBlog

The European E-Faith group (The European Federation of Associations of Industrial and Technical Heritage ) which studies industrial heritage throughout the EU is seeking assistance to document the harbour cranes which exist throughout the member states of the Council of Europe, via a new website ‘’

E-Faith writes: The E-FAITH steering group on historic cranes is now building a web-database on historic harbour cranes in Europe. This database will include general information and documentation about cranes, and – most important – a list of cranes used at maritime as well as inland harbours, and on canals and river banks.

Information on the Cranes steering group
May we ask you to send us photos and details on cranes that you know existing in one of the member states of the Council of Europe (larger than the EU). Guidelines and a questionnaire which you can use can be downloaded from

Don’t hesitate to send us some photographs and information about the location of the cranes – even submissions that aren’t complete have their value, as they will put them on the agenda.

Medway Queen needs you!

October 2015: Trustees and volunteers needed
Progress has been made by our limited number of volunteers on the main steering linkage. We have also had some success combatting leaks on the promenade deck although the winter weather will prevent further progress and a temporary solution may be needed. A huge amount of effort has been put into drafting a restoration plan for the future. The society’s Heritage Lottery Fund Transition Grant includes that preparation for the next stage of the restoration and for recruiting additional trustees to strengthen the board.

The top priority is to find trustees with fundraising and financial management expertise, but we also need trustees and other volunteers with experience of Event Management, PR & Advertising and Education & Community Outreach. We have had some success but we are behind schedule with this aspect of the project.

If you are interested and have the skills we are looking for please contact John Kempton (Vice Chairman) Email: or phone the office on 01634 575717.

Come and see us. The Visitor Centre will be open on Saturdays until December 19th. The ship will then be closed to visitors for a few weeks, re-opening on Saturday February 20th for the 2016 season. You will also find us at various events and exhibitions in the South in the coming months and at Brighton Model World in February and the London Festival of Model Railways (Alexandra Palace) in March next year. A few soldiers are still shivering on “the beach” in the aft saloon – it will be cold there at this time of year – so if you haven’t sponsored one yet go on line now and rescue some.
Richard Halton

Editor’s notes: Contact for this item: Richard Halton
More information
The New Medway Steam Packet Co. Ltd.
UK registered charity; 296236.

Restoring the Heritage of the Lower Severn Vale Levels

Volunteer Non-Invasive Archaeological Surveyors

We are looking for people to help us do archaeological surveys of The Toot, a scheduled ancient monument in Oldbury on Severn. We’ll be doing both topographical surveys (mapping features on the surface of the ground) and geophysical surveys (mapping features under the surface). Full free training is provided! The training weekends will be November 14/15 and 28/29. For more information on the role, please visit our website
Interested? For a chat and an application please email or call us on 01454 863043.
Please note: Deadline for applications is 5:00 pm on 19 Oct 2015. Places are limited. After the 19th we’ll contact all applicants to arrange a meeting in person or phone (your preference) to go over the project, give you more information on what it will be like volunteering with A Forgotten Landscape, and answer any question you have. Coming soon:

Somme centenary July 1st 2016

Sept 2015: A Twitter campaign is being planned to take place for two weeks coinciding with the battle of the Somme centenary July 1st 2016. The idea is to ask each museum/heritage group to research their local WW1 stories and ‘invent’ a character, which will reflect some of the ‘real’ stories, but be fictitious. Something similar was done for the centenary of the Titanic sinking. No knowledge of how "twitter" works is needed for this. The characters will be, in some ways connected to make up a rolling story that will be tweeted by people who are in the same positions today. For example if the character is a WW1 nurse then a person who is a nurse today will do that character’s tweets and add their real time experiences. There are specific roles and areas to cover proposed for each group and there will be further planning meetings. It was noted that we hear a great deal about the western Front but little about the Middle East campaign. It was also noted that the Hill and Flux family story was of a large family of 11, all with varied roles during WW1 including one who was lost in what is now Iraq. Also The Empire Foods Loans Box covers world trade and the importance of the Navy and the Knitting Socks for Servicemen Workshop covers minesweepers. Somme battle is one of the three main events of WW1. It was thought that this twitter campaign would need to be well marketed. For further details contact Cherry at or Jane at

A Forgotten Landscape

July 2015: I’m writing to introduce a project your members might be interested in. My name is Katie Scaife and I’m the full-time project officer for A Forgotten Landscape, an HLF-funded Landscape Partnership project running in the Lower Severn Vale Levels until the end of 2018. We’ll be running nearly 60 projects that local communities and individuals can get involved in, exploring, conserving, restoring, and celebrating what’s special about our project area. I’ve attached a map of our project area and our leaflet. We will be running a wide range of natural and cultural heritage projects. All projects come with any necessary training and are absolutely free.

I hope you are aware of our project. During the development phase I know that Miriam Woolnough (now project manager) attempted to talk to all relevant parties in the area. Now we have the funding to actually deliver our project, turning ideas into reality.

Katie will come along to a BIAS meeting on 25 Feb 2016 to let us know what is planned, and take advice on good ways forward.

For more information on our project in the meantime please see

Know Your Place West of England website

June 2015: It has now been officially confirmed that Heritage Lottery Funding has been granted to South Glos to extend the Know Your Place website created by Bristol City Council. South Glos are leading a partnership of local authorities and voluntary organisations in the West of England area. Two permanent staff have been appointed for the implementation.

The digitised maps need to be prepared before they can be added to Know Your Place, in a process of image 'cropping' and 'georeferencing', so they line up with other historic maps and can be stitched together to cover a region. The team have been exploring the best way to work with volunteers to achieve this and Anne will begin recruiting and training volunteer groups soon. Any groups or individuals who would like to be involved in volunteering for the project, please contact at Environment & Community Services, South Gloucestershire Council Tel: 01454 865785.

This on-line resource will be very useful to our research as it will provide us with easy access to some old maps. In return, through the community layer, we will be able to contribute pictures and text to make our heritage more widely known, which is one of the objectives of our group. The project page on the South Gloucestershire website can be found at Facebook page Know Your Place - West of England and Twitter account @KYPWestEngland chart progress of the project.

Andrew Crosse of Fyne Court

12 July 2015: Help required about Andrew Crosse (17 June 1784 – 6 July 1855) who was a British amateur scientist who was born and died at Fyne Court, Broomfield, Somerset!

I visited the Museum of Electricity in Redland this morning and met Peter Lamb and Chris Buck who suggested contacting BIAS. I'm a professional theatre producer developing a performance around Mary Shelley for the 200th anniversary of the creation of FRANKENSTEIN (2016) and the publication of the novel (1818). It will focus on Mary Shelley and her influences and circle, rather than on the novel. Mary may have attended lectures by Andrew Crosse of Fyne Court and I wondered if there was anybody in Bristol with a particular knowledge of, or interest in, this.

I work in ususual spaces and created the theatres at the Hen & Chicken (1989) and Tobacco Factory (1998). In January I produced WALKING THE CHAINS at The Passenger Shed for the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Clifton Suspension Bridge. It got terrific reviews including Lyn Gardner in The Guardian:

My show AN AUDIENCE WITH SARAH GUPPY celebrated Bristol's forgotten female engineer with performances in unusual-but-appropriate spaces (SSGB; Arnos Manor Hotel - her home when it was Arnos Court). I'm currently revising it in the light of new research with a view to reviving it next year.

So Mary Shelley and electricity in unusual spaces falls well within our remit in the light of previous work. If any of your members have particular knowledge of Fyne Court and/or Andrew Crosse it would be very helpful indeed.

I've added you and other BIAS contacts to our mailing list so you'll get information about future work.

Best wishes, Sheila Hannon, Creative Producer,

Projects at Underfall Yard - include volunteer opportunities

My name is Sarah, I am the new Community Learning and Volunteering at Underfall Yard, which is at the heart of Bristol's historic dockside. For over 200 years it was the operations centre of the docks, housing the docks sluices, hydraulic lock systems and pump house and complex of buildings and workshops. We are embarking on a major 3 year project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and other partners, which will: RESTORE buildings, CREATE a dedicated visitor centre and ENGAGE our community through education activities and projects. During this exciting time, we will be seeking volunteers for a whole range of activities, including tour guiding, interpretation, hydraulic machinery demonstration, marketing, research, oral history interviewers and education.

We are currently embarking on two linked projects: Research and Oral History. We want to ensure that the rich history of our wonderful site is captured and shared as widely as possible and we’re seeking people who are enthusiastic about Bristol, history, engineering, maritime industries etc. who can offer us some of their time to research the Yard and/or interview people about their memories. In return we promise to value their contributions and time; provide interesting opportunities and training; pay for travel expenses; and welcome you into the Underfall Family! I’ve attached details of the opportunities and we’re also holding a drop-in session for those who may be interested in volunteering on Wednesday 1 April, 10am-12pm.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Sarah Murray Community Learning and Volunteering (CLV) Officer Underfall Yard Trust 07742879658 0117 929 3250

Rownham Lead mine

I am wondering if you know anything about a lead mine which I've read was where Wellington Cottage was built on the Avon's Rownham bank roughly opposite the locks. Also about a (related?) lead factory roughly opposite the Hotwell House.

Mike Taylor: there was supposed to be some very early(roman) lead workings on the downs not sure where. It quite possible that an exploratory work may have happened as you may be aware on ashton hill there are extensive iron ore mines, so whether what you suggest is connected to these? there is also a record of iron mines under the Royal York Crescent in the 1840's. Where did you find the reference as it sounds interesting. Mike

See flag on aerial photo and my comment (bdj77) at:

In see "John Latimer in his 'Annals of Bristol in the Eighteenth Century' (1893) says that ...In June, 1756, John Pitman and Son, "proprietors of the Bristol (new erected) Lead Smelting Works," announced that they had begun operations, and solicited support. Their factory was situated on the Somerset side of the Avon, near to the Hot Well, and the clouds of poisonous smoke issuing from the furnaces proved highly offensive to fashionable visitors. The nuisance was long submitted to in silence, but in 1761 a complaint was raised in the Gentleman's Magazine by Dr. D. W. Linden, a metropolitan physician, who followed his patients to Clifton every summer (and who is scurrilously caricatured by Smollett in "Humphrey Clinker"). Dr. Linden asserted that the Well was "not only the second medicinal spring in Britain, but in all Europe," and expressed astonishment that the "necessary improvements to the place should have been so much neglected." As no further reference to the subject has been found, the works were probably discontinued."

I have an old sketch of the ruins of a lead works across the Avon from Hotwell House which could have been Pitman's. Also, a number of old Bristol School and other paintings etc show large buildings on that bank. If you come across anything which might add to the little I have, please let me know.

Cattybrook Brick Company

Jan 2015: I believe this year to be the 150th Anniversary of the Cattybrook Brick company being formed. I am looking for any information on the works, literature, photos or video footage of Cattybrook or Shortwood.

Can you help, or put me in touch with anyone who may be able to?

Kind regards,

Mia Heyward, Ibstock Brick Ltd, Cattybrook. Tel: 01454 456823 email:

Somerset windmills

I would be most grateful if you were able to advise me as to how best to follow up on the work of BIAS member Martin Watts on Somerset windmills (volume 6 1973).

stembridge mill
Stembridge Mill, High Ham before restoration
I am currently working on an AHRC-funded project on energy and landscape in Somerset. Much of my work relates to twentieth-century energy development including, of course, nuclear development at Hinkley, alongside recent wind and solar energy initiatives. I am particularly interested in people's responses to energy infrastructure in the landscape, and how this may and may not have changed over time. I'm also anxious to place the twentieth-century developments within the context of earlier energy production in the region. With regard to wind energy, Martin Watts' BIAS articles and publication (Somerset Windmills, BIAS/Agraphicus: 1975) are proving invaluable. I am very much hoping that either you, or perhaps someone else within the BIAS, may be in a position to provide me with more information on him and his work.

Although I am affiliated with the University of East Anglia, my project has University of Bristol connections; I also live in Bristol and, of course, am currently spending much of my time researching in the Somerset area. I would be very grateful if you could pass on this email address to anyone you think may be able to be of assistance in this regard - perhaps there are other BIAS members interested in windmills? If anyone would find either speaking over the phone or in person more convenient than emailing, I would be equally pleased to either call or arrange a meeting.

Many thanks in advance.
Kind regards Yours sincerely Jill Payne

Dr Jill Payne Researcher,
Senior Research Associate School of History University of East Anglia Norwich NR4 7TJ


24 October 2014: SIAS is currently dealing with a major planning application for Tail Mill, once an important sailcloth factory in South Somerset. Should the application be approved there won't be a place for the hydraulic accumulator in the redeveloped site. I have attached an extract from the EH report which puts the accumulator into context.

tail mill

SIAS would like to find it a good home - we think that these machines are now rare in a factory setting. Contact

Later use of the site: Following the decline of the traditional sailcloth industry in the early 20th century, the site was acquired in c1938 by its present occupiers, Merriott Mouldings Ltd., for use as a plastic moulding factory1. This report necessarily concentrates on the use of the site for textiles, when most of the extant buildings were built, and its later use has not been researched.

The survival of a smallscale pre-war plastics factory is of some historic interest, however, and may be unusual in a rural area. The firm originated in London and by the 1930s was producing aviation parts for the War Department. It was relocated to Somerset in the late 1930s as part of the dispersal of manufacturing away from London8. Of particular interest is the continuing use of a hydraulic mains system, which may date from the 1930s, to power the various presses which remain in use at the site. Hydraulic power is provided by an intact and functioning accumulator alongside the south end of the weaving shed. The weight bin and ram are open to the elements, pressure in the system being topped up by electric pumps located in the basement of the textile mill. The establishment of the business at Tail Mill coincides with an important phase in the expansion of the plastics industry which was linked to improvements to hydraulic machinery9. NOTES

  1. VCH Somerset, 1978, Vol 4, 24 - 25.
  2. Survey of Samuel Donne, 1770, p40. Index of the Map or Plan of Crewkern in four parts or quarters.
  3. Map of the Parish of Crewkerne, c 1819; Map of the First Quarter of the Manor of Crewkerne 1835.
  4. Crewkerne Tithe Map, 1844; Ordnance Survey 1:2,500, Surveyed 1886.
  5. Hayward, 1936, 96-97.
  6. The Tail Mill file includes copies of all the information provided by SIAS.
  7. VCH Somerset, 1978, Vol 4, 25.
  8. Merriott Mouldings Limited - The Custodians of a Tradition, 1984 (company leaflet).
  9. McNeil, 1972, 163-4.
  10. Map of the First Quarter of the Manor of Crewkerne 1835.
  11. Merriott Mouldings Limited op cit.
  12. The maker's name and other details are cast into the base of the moulding.
  13. The joints are tabled and keyed with under-squinted abutments.

Volunteer information event Know Your Bristol On the Move

Saturday 1 March 2014 at 2pm Bristol Record Office, Create Centre, Smeaton Road

We're seeking volunteers for a major new project to add thousands of Bristol postcards to Know Your Place. Could you help to research photos or update the website? The Vaughan postcard collection

'Know Your Bristol on the Move' is looking for volunteers from across Bristol to research a collection of 9,000 old postcards from the city’s archives. Can you help us to find the stories behind the pictures? Could you help us to add the images to the Know Your Place website? We have opportunities available for volunteering from home or during drop-in sessions at Bristol Record Office. Come along to our volunteer information session to find out how you could take part in this exciting project. Tea, coffee and cake will be provided!

For more information, please contact the project’s Engagement Coordinator, Dr Nick Nourse ( Come to this special event to find out more.

Turntable at Avonmouth

Jan 31 2014: I am a volunteer on the GWSR, helping to rebuild Broadway station. We were recently contacted by the Bristol Port Company to look at an old turntable pit on their site at Avonmouth, with a view to recovering engineering bricks for re-use at Broadway. We made a site visit a couple of days ago, and I attach some pictures we took FYI. We think the turntable pit has been out of use for a very long time, probably since 1930. On the 1927 aerial photograph you can just make it out right of centre, by a (now demolished) shed. It is partially collapsed.

We are likely to accept the offer to recover the bricks, but we wondered if you knew about the old turntable, and whether you wanted to examine or photograph it. The area does not seem to contain any other railway artefacts. The only striking feature about the pit are three (possibly 6, the site is very overgrown) 5ft cast iron blocks marking the arrival and departure roads. These are marked ‘MR’ (Midland Railway). It would be nice to preserve these, but they are extremely heavy and access to the site is problematic as it is so overgrown. They each have 2 cut outs in the shape of a bullhead rail.

At the moment we do not have a date for the brick recovery. We are waiting for the BPC to clear the former siding site next to the pit, so that we can get a lorry in. This is expected to happen within the next month or two. If you are interested, we can give you the contact with the BPC for a visit. Note that the site is private.

If any of your members want to help us clear the pit and stack the 4-5000 blues we hope to recover to rebuild Broadway station, they are very welcome to join us. Best regards, Jo Roesen, Volunteer, GWSR, Broadway Area group Mob: 07794 906583

BIAS Gazeteer

We need help in collecting information for the BIAS survey of our industrial heritage. We want to know about every industrial site which has visible evidence of its past, within the old Avon county area.

Much effort has gone into the development of a database for holding this information and the for providing a method of submitting the information electronically by members. Once the database has been populated, then it is easy to extract the information from it for inclusion in a Gazetteer, and perhaps, later, adding the database on our web site so that it is available to a wider audience. Please collect information either about your own locality or share your knowledge about your special interest. By sharing this activity, it will become a reality. YOUR SOCETY NEEDS YOU.

Please contact Ken Kemp who is co-ordinating the gathering of information: by email on Ken or telephone on 0117 932 3512.

For those without access to computers, we still need your help in visiting sites and reporting on them.

Industrial Ruins in Hail's Wood

I have had an enquiry from Martin Bodman about some substantial remains at Hail's Wood (formerly Hill's Wood), south of Easton-in-Gordano. There is a bit of 'chatter' on the web plus the image below.

hails wood

The suggestion is that it may have been a snuff mill but it appears to me to be more likely to be connected to the quarrying industry with structures like bins for graded stone and a crusher plant. There is also a water feed shown on the OS sheets which may be significant. It appears to have been in operation into the 20th century and I suppose could have been commercially linked to a company such as United Stone Firms Ltd.

I'd be grateful if you could just identify just what went on there and point me in the direction of any literature or contacts should Martin wish to take this further.

Brian J. Murless (Somerset Industrial Archaeological Society)

Mike Taylor would also be interested to hear from you

Iron castings

Sept 2013: Can any one identify what this iron casting is? Pictures show both faces, I found several of them close together in a wooded gully off Ironmould Lane, Brislington, leading down to the river. The location is accessible only on foot so it is not likely to be the result of casual fly tipping. Suggestions to Ken Kemp
mould mould

Research Framework for the Archaeology of the Extractive Industries (Mining and Quarrying)

The work on a Research Framework for the Archaeology of the Extractive Industries (Mining and Quarrying) in England is now entering its second phase - the development of a Research Agenda. We are arranging seminars to present a summary of the findings from the Resource Assessment (phase one) and discuss the results. We want to hear your comments and we need to hear your opinions about the directions for future research.
The seminars are free to anyone wishing to attend and the dates are as follows:
Saturday 21st January 2012 at the National Coal Mining Museum, Caphouse Colliery, Wakefield, WF4 4RH. Starting at 1030 for 1100.
Saturday 11th February 2012 at Sidcot School, Winscombe, North Somerset, BS25 1PD. Starting at 1030 for 1100.
At each seminar, Jon Humble, Senior National Minerals Adviser and Inspector of Ancient Monuments at English Heritage will speak about the National context of the legacy of mineral extraction. We will also include presentations about some of the work on the Assessments. Following a buffet lunch, we will facilitate group discussions about the results of the assessments and the possible directions for future research.

We need you to read the assessments, which are being posted to the National Association of Mining History Organisations (NAMHO) web-site , comment on their content and express opinions in advance of seminars. Please send any comments to Phil Newman, the Project Officer. You can also send comments by post (address in signature below). We welcome any comments, criticism, corrections and additional information.
Project Director Peter Claughton
Project Officer Phil Newman
Copies of this notice can be downloaded as a PDF from the website where a full programme for each seminar will also be made available.

Public Weighbridges

I intended contacting BIAS earlier this week regarding a photograph on of a small building in Brunswick Square, Bristol which I thought might have been linked to a public weighbridge which I vaguely remembered as being located there. I have since spoken with two friends who confirmed that there was indeed a weighbridge in Brunswick Square. However, my curiosity has been roused and I wondered whether BIAS might have any information on this or other public weighbridges in Bristol. I would be most obliged if you could point me in a suitable direction to further my research.
Many thanks Steve Lewis (

Bristol Cattle/Horse Troughs

As part of a private, non-commercial project I'm attempting to locate all the remaining cattle/horse troughs that were originally erected by an organisation called the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association (MDFCTA). Although I started my search in London I have now extended it across the rest of the UK (and abroad).

According to my research 10 such MDFCTA troughs were erected in Bristol between 1883 and 1906, several in conjunction with the Bristol and Clifton Ladies SPCA (BSPCA). Although I have accurate dates, the original locations are mostly very imprecise.  

I have tracked down 4 extant troughs in Bristol:  

  I've also seen a photograph (from the 1950's ???) of a 9'6" trough outside the Stag and Hounds pub. This trough is no longer anywhere in that area.

 So, my question is, do you, or any of your members/colleagues know of any other extant granite cattle/horse troughs in Bristol, or the surrounding area?  Or, could you put me in touch with another organisation who might be able to help me. I would be very grateful for any information you can supply me with. Regards,   Alan Underwood (

Bristol Old Vic

Feb 09: I am a member of the design team for the refurbishment of the Bristol Old Vic and involved in the mechanical and electrical engineering design. There has been a lot of work done recently by specialists on the evolution of the theatre layout and history but little on the history of the heating, ventilation and lighting for the building.
I would like to make contact with members or others that may either known something about the history of the heating, ventilation and lighting for the building or known something about these subjects on early theatres. Please ask them to either email me on or contact me on 01454-889-142
Thanks for your help David Elliott . Associate, HOARE LEA

Leiston Steam Museum

I am the chairman of a smalll but nationally important steam museum at Leiston in Suffolk. Please see and .
Supported by HLF grant, our volunteer team has spent two years restoring an extraordinay hybrid steam engine, named Sirapite. The restored engine will be presented to the public for the first time at our forthcoming open day. 27th March (2010) - you would be a very welcome visitor on that occasion.. At present, we have about 30 yards of rail in the process of being laid down in the former works yard (which doubles up as our visitors' car park). I am thinking of publicising this as the shortest working rail line in Britain
However, out of the blue, we have suddenly been offered the opportunity to purchase the former route, on which Sirapite used to run, cutting behind the back gardens of the houses in two streets in Leiston, from the Museum site up to the old railway station map reference TM4462NW. We have been given first refusal until 31 st March.
We fear that if we do not buy the whole, the present owner will offer it piecemeal to the householders whose properties border the property. Any long-term opportunity to restore the track and run Sirapite on it will be lost forever. The asking price is £50 000. Needless to say, the Museum does not have available money of this sort and, if we are to meet the deadline, we have to raise funds (or promises) very rapidly. I hope that, as someone with a shared interest, you may be able to advise us on possible sources of funding that we might approach.
Any advice you can give will be greatly appreciated Gathome Cranbrook, (Chairman, The Long Shop Project Trust) Great Glemham House Saxmundham IP17 1LP +44 7775 755825

Aerofilms Collection of air photographs 1919-1953

This was acquired by English Heritage and the Royal Commissions on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales and Scotland in 2007. They are developing a funding bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund to make it available by conserving it, cataloguing it and putting the images online. They are hoping volunteers can help with the images. Ultimately they are hoping to make the Collection available online allowing people to share information and memories about places in the photos.
Some of the key things they are trying to find out is if people would be interested in volunteering for their project and if so, how they might like to do so. They also want to find out what might prevent people from getting involved. The information will be used to support and inform their funding bid to the HLF.
If you would you like to be kept up-to-date with this project, please send an e-mail to asking to join the mailing list who will occasionally send you news and information by e-mail. Your e-mail address given in this way won't be used for any other purpose.
If you have any questions or are interested in finding out more about the collection and plans for making it available, please do not hesitate to contact:
Claire Hughes, Aerofilms Collection Project Development Manager English Heritage, National Monuments Record Centre, Kemble Drive, Swindon SN2 2GZ Tel: 01793 414495

SS Great Britain coming home 40 years ago

The ss Great Britain Trust would like to hear from anyone who remembers the ss Great Britain coming home to Bristol in July 1970. We are working with Ashton Gate School and with Hotwells, Clifton and Cliftonwood Local History Society to record local peoples' memories.
If you can spare up to four hours, and are happy to be interviewed about your memories please contact us. You can call Kate Rambridge on 01 17 9260680 or send an e-mail to

Radford Brewery

Sep 09: Does anyone have any photographs, other pictorial evidence or info. about the Radford Brewery est. C.1790 at Radford on the Somerset Coal Canal by the Collins family. Contact Diana Lewis Tel. 01761 472371. email

Bristol Coalfield

Sept 09: SGMRG are planning to produce a series of books on the various areas of the Bristol Coalfield, first up are likely to be Bedminster area by Mike Taylor followed by Parkfield and Shortwood by Steve Grudgings, David Hardwick is well underway with Yate and points North. Could anyone who has or knows of any information relating to this topic please contact Mike Taylor ( All materials will be handled carefully, copyright respected and the provider credited
Steve Grudging would also like help on access to Matt Southways files or family (he had a daughter who Steve would love to contact. He has come across quite a lot in George Watkins files in the NMR but there must be loads more. /07768 381502

BAC 100. 2010: 100 years of Aviation on the West of England

The British and Colonial Aeroplane Company and the Bristol Aeroplane Company Ltd, were registered on the same day in 1910, but the business initially only traded under the first name. Its aircraft were universally known as ‘Bristols’ and the firm adopted the latter name in 1920, becoming just ‘the BAC’ for generations of local people. BAC spawned  Bristol Cars Ltd, Bristol Aero Engines Ltd, British Aircraft Corporation, British Aerospace (Filton), Bristol Engines Division of Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems and Airbus, among many other ventures.
This is just the beginning of planning the celebrations. The organisers would welcome your own ideas and proposals. These will then form the basis for funding applications and approaches for sponsorship. for more details

Clifton Rocks Railway

March 09: Maggie is always on the look out for information about Clifton Rocks Railway and is currently doing oral history of those with memories of sleeping or working in there, or even riding on the railway.
Please contact me if you can help. Maggie Shapland 97 Princess Victoria Street, Clifton, Bristol BS8 4DD.

Cast iron lamp posts

Jan 09: Maggie has just completed a survey of all the cast iron lamp posts in Bristol BS8 (a conservation area) and found that there are many different styles and local founders who made them. The survey will be in the next BIAS journal and makes an attempt to date them. Since 500 cast iron lamp posts are being moved around Bristol from non-conservation areas to conservation areas in the near future, it would be interesting to complete the survey for the rest of Bristol before their context is lost.
Please contact me if you would like to help. Maggie Shapland 97 Princess Victoria Street, Clifton, Bristol BS8 4DD. Members may also be interested in surveying their own area if they do not live in Bristol

Temple Meads Station

Feb 09: We have two people looking for information!

Yate Railway Station

8 Jan 09: George Bell of Brimsham Green School, . Broad Lane, Yate, Bristol, BS37 7LB is doing a project with Yate Museum on Yate Railway Station, and the Bristol and Gloucestershire Railway. Can you please help him. His teacher is Mrs Hoyle who can be contacted on 01454 868888

Cast iron lamp posts

8 Jan 09: Maggie has just completed a survey of all the cast iron lamp posts in Bristol BS8 (a conservation area) and found that there are many different styles and local founders who made them. The survey will be in the next BIAS journal and makes an attempt to date them. Since 500 cast iron lamp posts are being moved around Bristol from non-conservation areas to conservation areas in the near future, it would be interesting to complete the survey for the rest of Bristol before their context is lost. Please contact me if you would like to help. Maggie Shapland 97 Princess Victoria Street, Clifton, Bristol BS8 4DD. Tel: 0117 9736653. Members may also be interested in surveying their own area if they do not live in Bristol

Fussell Mells Excavation

I am writing for information regarding the BIAS excavation carried out on the site of James Fussell’s ironworks at Wadbury near Mells in the 1970s. I am in the final stages of writing a book on the Fussell family for the Frome Society for Local Studies, and would like see the archive produced by the excavation. I am aware that the excavation was not written up, but assume that the photographs, drawings and notes produced at the time exist and can be viewed.

Needham of Stockport

In the course a guided walk around the Bath suburb and village of Combe Down recently, BIAS read the name of Needham cast into the base of a lamp standard. It is a beautifully ornate specimen, even if it is not very well painted. It no doubt dates from about 1900 at which time supplies of were reaching out from the Bath Gaslight and Coke Company’s works to villages around the city; the design of the post is also typical of the period. But it would seem that the firm of Needham of Stockport, although it must have supplied most of the country’s drain grids, unwritten. Does anyone out there know of any records of this foundry? Any guidance would be helpful.

Parnalls Exhibition 31st July - 13 September

Yate and District Heritage Centre is embarking on a Parnalls exhibition 31- July to 13th September. Do any BIAS members have any material or knowledge of Parnalls? Contact Davud Hardill, Community Heritage Officer, Yate Town Council Heritage Centre. Tel: 01454 862200, email:

Fulling Mills

Oct 07: From Trevor Dunkerley. an enquiry on his research into, and excavation of, a fulling mill. He wrote: I am currently directing an excavation and research on an early medieval fulling mill which, in the early 19th century, was converted in an attempt to pump water from the lead/silver mines at Combe Martin, North Devon.(The website can be found at at
In order to assist our research it would be helpful to know if BIAS had conducted any work, especially excavation, on fulling mills over the years, and if there arc papers within the BIAS Journals which you feel would be helpful to us. We have now calculated that the mill-pond contained some 70,000 gallons of water, and the replacement wheel of the very early 19th century was of iron construction, 20It in diameter and aft breast. We do not know if it was an overshot or undershot wheel. It would be useful to know the water flow requirement for a wheel of these dimensions, and its water capacity requirement over an eight hour working period. Unfortunately we have been unable to find any documented record of the existence of the fulling mill. However, the majority of the finds are early medieval, including church pavement tiles which. suggest the mill was originally part of a monastic (aran_e. Any assistance you could offer would be gratefully received.
Owen responds:- "I have replied simply saying that we have not had occasion to excavate a fulling mill, nor indeed a large pump: but that Gerallt Nash at St. Fagans would be a good man to ask about fulling mills, since the museum has one (not medieval. though) which is set to work when required." Trevor Dunkerely can be contacted on:; a copy to, if you know how to do this, would be respectfully acknowledged.

Millstone quarries

From John Pickin, who originally wrote to the Mills Research Group saying: "I have started recording the millstone quarry at Colvend, Kirkudbrightshire, southwest Scotland. The quarry worked a reef of lower carboniferous conglomerate which was only accessible at low tide. Do you know if there are any other British examples of intertidal millstone quarrying?"
Again, Owen was unable to help, saying "Not surprisingly, my answer was that I knew of no similar source of millstone anywhere at all. Does anyone else? You may reach him on; mention that it is a message for John Pickin, and a copy to hsxohw, as above would be lovely to have."


Aubrey Prutton, who arranged the two BIAS visits to Wells Cathedral in March 2006 wonders if anyone has photographs of the party when on the roof of the building. He can be contacted on 01749 677673. Incidentally, it was Aubrey who organised the supply of a copy of `Mendip from the Air', not Geoff Fitton as previously stated - Apologies.


Members of BIAS are keen to ensure that records and artefacts relating to local industry are preserved for posterity. We must ensure that material significant to the history of our own Society does not disappear from view. Do you have records, photographs or even memories which should be gathered and safeguarded? Most material can be copied readily these days. Modern storage methods allow records to be held in a safe and accessible form so that they can be made available to current and future generations of members. Please look into your personal archives and let any Committee member know if you have anything which you think may be relevant.

Ram Hill Colliery

The Friends of the Ram Hill Colliery need the help of local community as this important historical site is in need of further support.
The Ram Hill Colliery site is a fine example of early nineteenth century coal mining. Dating to around 1830 the site is located at the heart of the North Bristol Coal Field and holds the standing remains of the Steam Engine House, the Horse Gin, the Mine Shaft, the Dramway Terminus and, in all probability, the Water Reservoir and Boiler House. All of which can tangibly explain how coal was mined during the Industrial Revolution of Britain and for many local people it forms a link to their family history. English Heritage recognition and scheduling of the site In 2006 the Ram Hill Colliery site was given Ancient Monument Scheduling Status by English Heritage. This recognises the national importance of the site and protects the site for the future.
For more information on The Friends of Ram Hill Colliery contact: David Evans by e-mail or telephone 01454 863649

Slag Construction Blocks in Gloucestershire

April 2007: Tim Denning ( making an image bank of slag blocks
The 2003 Journal of the Gloucestershire Society for Industrial Archaeology contains a paper by Nigel Spry entitled 'Eighteenth Century Slag Construction Blocks in Gloucestershire - A Survey'. This details the results of fieldwork by members of GSIA, the Gloucester and district Archaeological Research Group, the Forest of Dean Local History Society and the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society and others, of the locations and use of 18th. century slag blocks in the present county of Gloucestershire. It had originally been intended to record the location of such blocks in all pre-1974' Gloucestershire parishes beside the Severn and Wyc and in hinterland parishes one or two beyond the riverside ones, depending on the topography. Unfortunately it was not possible to find people willing to join in carrying out the survey in South Gloucestershire, so only the present-day county was investigated. This lack of interest was surprising, considering that many of these blocks originated from within South Gloucestershire, beside the river Avon. There is much evidence of use of slag blocks within South Gloucestershire and Will Harris of BIAS suggests that there is still scope for information to be added to the GSIA survey. This presents an ideal opportunity for BIAS members to carry out interesting field work in our immediate area, so if any members are interested, would they please contact Will Harris who will be pleased to supply them with copies of Nigel Spry's paper. This contains details of the format in which the Gloucestershire data were recorded and much useful information for anyone interested in the subject.

Steam Roller Drivers in Bristol

Mr. Martin Ubank of 93 Elm Close, Little Stoke, Bristol B534 6RJ has sent us the following:-
I am looking for any records that relate to steam rollers in Bristol around 1900. In particular, I an given to understand that a John William PIPER was one of the first (or even the first) steam roller drivers in the area. He moved to the St George area in about 1898 and made his home in Salisbury Avenue, near St Michael the Archangel's church in Two Mile Hill. In 1901 his occupation was indeed given as Steam Roller Driver.
If you can provide any information, or you can point me in the direction of records that might help. I would be very grateful.

Bristol Corn Merchants

As part of on-going research into the history of the warehouses at Gloucester Docks, Hugh Conway-Jones is looking for information about Bristol corn importers who also had links with Gloucester. Several firms operated in both ports, and Hugh is trying to establish more about the nature of the businesses and the people involved. The firms include Adams, Hosegoods, Spillers and Bakers, Turner Nott and Co, Vining, Wait and James and Weston. He has extracted information from the trade directories, and he would now like to hear from anyone who might be able to fill in additional details. He can be contacted on 01452 619679 or

The Bristol Fireclay Company

Working on a monograph on the building stones of Norfolk including brick and terracotta, one of the problems my investigation has encountered concerns an Edwardian Chapel of Ease in the parish of Stow Bardolph in west Noffolk. The chapel is not mentioned in N. Pevsner and B. Wilson, The Buildings of England. Norfolk 2: North-west and South Norfolk, London: Penguin Books, 1999.
The chapel has an external fabric that is wholly of terracota blocks. Those for the quoins and window and door dressings were specially produced. I have so far been able to establish that the blocks were supplied using the railway system by the Bristol Fireclay Company.
The Bristol Fireclay Company had its head office at 6 and 7 Castle Street, Bristol, in the centre of the city, and a works, exploiting Coal Measures shales, in Crews Hole Road, in the St George's district of east Bristol. The company went into liquidation in 1910 or 1911, a few years after the building of the chapel at Stow Badoiph.
My query is whether anyone knows anything about this company and its products. Sources in Bristol have not so far been very helpful in answering these questions. Any information members can offer would be most gratefully received and acknowledged.
Emeritus Prof JOHN ALLEN, School of Humaan and Environmental Sciences, The University of Reading, P.O. Box 227 Whiteknights, READING RG6 6AB
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