Bristol Industrial
Archaeological Society (BIAS)
BIAS@50 - 1967-2017 - Celebrating half a century of research

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News of Members

Joan Day died 29 April 2019 aged 91

Joan Day
Joan when she received a blue glass weight from BIAS in 2008
Joan Day
Joan with Julia Elton at a Newcomen conference in 2015
Joan was another founder member of BIAS. She and her husband Roy (who died a few years back) also edited the Journal, and Joan also organised the events for some years as well as running evening classes at the University of Bristol about Industrial history.

She had been in a nursing home for a number of months and her condition had been slowly deteriorating. She did however recently celebrate her 91st Birthday.

The funeral will be at Haycombe Cemetery. A time of 1pm on Tuesday the 28th May has been provisionally booked for the funeral.

The work she carried out to save and conserve Saltford Brass Mill and establish the Saltford Brass Mill Project is particularly important.

But her wider contribution to Industrial Archaeology must be remembered.

Joan and Roy Day attended the first series of lectures on industrial archaeology given in 1964 by Angus Buchanan and Neil Cossons (until recently the chair of English Heritage) and organized by the Extra-Mural Department of Bristol University, becoming enthusiastic supporters. The purpose of the course was to encourage students to make their own inquiries into the history of local industries. This encouraged Joan to find elderly residents who remembered their work at the Keynsham and Saltford brass mills. She has lived in Keynsham for many years. She then scoured records offices and reference libraries and tried to discover something about the techniques of brass. She was a housewife with no technical training. Research on the development of the industry took her all over England and even Europe. They then took over the course in 1970.

In 1967 they joined the local clamour for a society, Roy becoming the first Treasurer of the BIAS (Bristol Industrial Archaeological Society), Joan appeared on the Committee for 1971 - 72 as "Extra-Mural Programme Organiser", Secretary 1973-74 and Chairman 1975-76. She has been on the Editorial Executive between 1972 to the present date. Roy was very much involved in producing the early Journals, being responsible for the layout, which basically remains the same today, but which was then at the forefront of current trends in graphics, as were his quite distinctive cover designs.

Joan wrote three articles between 1968 (the first BIAS journal) and 1976 on The Albert Mill, Keynsham, Survey; The Language of Bristol Brass; The Old Brass Mills, Saltford.

Roy also contributed five articles to the Journal between 1979 and 1995, covering subjects such as Wiltshire iron, early ferro-concrete in Bristol, lettering styles on street signs and the coming and going of early picture palaces.

Joan also wrote two books- the definitive book "Bristol Brass: The History of the Industry" in 1973 and "A Guide to the Industrial Heritage of Avon" This is a gazetteer of industrial sites written in the late 1980's. She has also contributed articles on the brass mills to various journals.

From the 1980s, Joan and Roy were involved in the campaign to prevent the 'development' of the structure of Saltford Brass Mill, later joining the group working to conserve the building and open it to the public. She is still very much involved with the Mill.

She organised the Lifelong Learning Industrial Archaeological courses for 38 years with the help of Roy who unfortunately died in 2004. The courses consisting of six lectures, run every Autumn and Spring and arranged in collaboration with BIAS. They include many different topics of industrial activity in Bristol and its surrounding areas conveyed by experts in those fields.

She has also ran series of lectures at Saltford, for the Public Programmes Office, the last one being entitled "More Wealth from the Ground". I first started going to her lectures in 2002, and have been down a stone mine, heard about mill restoration, clock restoration, beer and cider manufacture, Bristol paddle steamers, ochre mines, roman roads, canals, mining, eel trapping, the Brabazon, Brunel's Paddington, Concorde, millstones, tar distillation, balloon history and John Cowlin amongst other things. I even met my husband Mike Taylor there!

Maggie Shapland

Owen Ward died 16 April 2019

Owen Ward
Owen Ward died at the weekend, in hospital of pneumonia.

You will all be aware of Owen's contribution to BIAS both on the committee and in the society over many years. He was a founder member and was a prolific writer for the Journal, writing 17 articles mostly about mills. He was on the editorial board for the Journal and traditionally proof-read it. In fact Owen had actually checked the first six pages of the latest Journal and arranged for Stuart to complete it before he went into hospital!

There will be a private family funeral but Leila his wife is organising a public event to celebrate Owen's life with a buffet and so on for family and friends - by which she includes BIAS members who might like to come along. The event is at Odd Down Sports Ground Hall, Chelwood Drive, Odd Down, BATH BA2 2PR at 2.30 p.m. on Sunday May 12th 2019.

Robin Stiles 29 Jul 1939 - 23 Mar 2018

Robin Stiles
Sad news that Robin passed peacefully away on 23rd March.

Robin was one of the founder members and wrote many articles for the BIAS journal (some of which can be seen on the BIAS website). For a short time he was the editor.

Robin was a chartered surveyor for the waterways with a passion for Industrial Archaeology, History and his family heritage. His proudest achievement was saving Lock Cottage on the canal at Oxenhall which was scheduled for demolition. He excavated the lock and restored the house and both are now preserved for the public historical interest.

Anyone who knew him is welcome to join us at a memorial service to celebrate his life.
3:00 pm, Wednesday 18th April 2018
Canford Crematorium,
Canford Lane,
Bristol, BS9 3PQ

Following the service the reception will be at St Monica’s Trust, Cote Lane, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol.

Roger Davis

Roger Davis
Roger steering the Pyronaut
Roger Davis
Roger at M Shed
24 November 2017: Roger Davis died peacefully at home last Friday after battling skin cancer for the best part of three years. He was a long standing member of BIAS and did stints as committee member and secretary. Many members have fond memories of him. The funeral will be on Monday 11 December at St Nicholas church, Nore Road, Portishead at 11.00 am.


21 March 2017: Maggie Shapland was awarded the Lord Mayors Medal for services to the community

Gill Sheppard

2 January 2017: Sad news. Gill, our previous membership secretary, passed peacefully away this morning at the Nursing home where she has been for the last couple of years. Apparently she was well until Christmas but has been slowly fading since then. The family will let me know about funeral arrangements and they are thinking about a Memorial tree in Dyrham Park or Kissing gate on Kelston Hill, which she could see from her Staple Hill home and where she wants her ashes scattered. Bob Walker told her son that Dyrham do allow the planting of memorial trees within the Park with details in a memorial Book and The Cotswold Wardens will be happy to dedicate a kissing gate to her memory. A sad loss for all of us. Regards John Walker

The plans for her funeral, as she passed away down in Somerset will be in Yeovil, which will be on Friday 20th January at the Yeovil crematorium, it would be lovely if you could make it down, but we realise traveling will be awkward for some. Please let Graeme know if you can make it.

Map of Yeovil
Funeral details
In accordance with mums wishes we are asking that flowers are not provided, but instead donations made to Parkinsons UK

The concept of the memorial kissing gate, has really taken off among the family so we would very much like to explore that further if we can, apparently she had expressed a wish to have her ashes scattered on Kelston Hill, so we are hoping to tie the two things together, the Dryham Park memorial remains a good alternative.

gill sheppard
Gill at Siston
gill sheppard
Gill going down at ladder at Brandy Bottom
gill sheppard
Gill at Oldwood Pit, Geoff is also in the picture to the right

Patrick Hassell 1946-2016

1 June 2016: It is with great sadness that we heard that BIAS member Patrick Hassell died suddenly on 13 May. There will be a service to celebrate his life at the Memorial Woodlands at Alveston on June 17th 11am for 11:30.

Patrick had helped to build the Concorde and in retirement was a tireless member of the Rolls Royce Trust as well as being involved in the Bristol Aero Collection Trust. He was very knowledgeable Bristol aviation historian

Patrick Hassell

Bristol Model Engineering Workshop - Geoff Sheppard Memorial

Geoff’s (our previous chairman who sadly died in 2013) other great passion The Bristol Society of Model and Experimental Engineers (BSMEE) up at Ashton Court, have a new engineering facility and have asked the family if they can name it as the Geoff Sheppard Memorial Workshop. A wonderful thought and one of course we agreed to instantly.

geoff plaque
The plaque was unveiled on Sunday 19th June 2016.

Will Harris

19 July 2015: Will Harris passed away peacefully after a short illness on July 19th, 2015, aged 74, at Gloucester Royal Hospital. A Cremation for close Family only was held on July 28th, 2015. The Family thanks all their Friends for their kind comments and good wishes, and they thank the Hospital Staff for their excellent care. We remember a kind husband, a dedicated father and a doting grandfather who had wide ranging interests from gardening to industrial archaeology. Donations in lieu of flowers to the RNLI.
A celebration of his life will be held in due course. Details will be given on this website.

Will was a founder member of BIAS and well known to all. He was our programme organiser from early days of BIAS. He was also associated with AIBT, SGMRG and took us on many walks around the area.

will harris will harris
Mike Bone: BIAS members and associates will have been saddened at the passing of one of our longest-standing members and officers after a short illness on 19 July, last. We received this news just before our last bulletin was about to go to press and, unfortunately, were only able to include a brief announcement at the time.

Will's interest in industrial archaeology began as a student and he was one of the first to join the Bristol Industrial Archaeological Society when it was formed in 1967. In the spare time afforded by his profession as a social worker, Will was active on BIAS Committee during most years between 1971 and 2015, serving as Programme/Excursions Officer, a member of the editorial team, Secretary and as Vice- Chair.

When AIBT was created in 1980 by some BIAS members and their supporters to better tackle conservation projects, Will became its first chair, a position that he held until recently. In the years up to 1988 the trust worked closely with Avon County Council and the Manpower Services Commission on various schemes involving the long-term unemployed. On the demise of the MSC scheme, Will led its transition to a self-supporting building preservation trust and oversaw our work on the Somersetshire Coal Canal and its Midford Aqueduct, Saltford Brass Mill, Ram Hill Colliery, the Avon & Gloucestershire Railway (aka the Dramway) and Nailsea Glassworks, in addition to current projects at Brandy Bottom Colliery in South Gloucestershire and the Brunel Swivel Bridge in Bristol. He was also keen to get involved at a practical level and was active at Brandy Bottom until shortly before he died.

BIAS members who knew Will probably remember him most vividly for the walks and visits that he organised and led, three of which come immediately to mind. During an evening walk around the centre of Radstock to view its colliery landscapes, he briefly left us to speak to a local property owner but in doing so managed to agree the restoration of a mine powder house which was duly completed later by AIBT with the assistance of B&NES council.

Trips were always thorough and often tested our eyesight as darkness fell - I particularly remember such a voyage into the night as we walked the last part of the Avon Ring Road just before it opened to get an excellent sight of the Dramway and its conservation. Sunday visits often concluded before dark but were equally comprehensive and exhausting - many of us were duly exercised and informed during a day-long exploration of Stroud and its surrounding canals that particularly comes to mind when thinking about Will.

He will be remembered with great respect for his contributions to BIAS and AIBT and to IA in the Avon area. As a person, he was a gentle and courteous man and his friendship and enthusiasm will be greatly missed by those who knew him. Our sympathies are with his wife Lynne and his family.

John Harmer

8 April 2015: I have been asked to contact anyone who knew my dad to let you know that he sadly passed away yesterday, after a short illness.

I know that BIAS meant a lot to him and that he would have made friends within the organisation. I would be grateful if you could pass on the sad news.

Ken Andrews

ken andrews

For anyone who knew Ken Andrews, the sad news (from Valerie Andrews) that Ken died last Thursday at Southmead Hospital. He had been ill for some time and had retired from BIAS Committee during last year on account of his declining health.

Mike Bone

Trevor Wicketts

Trevor Wickets Trevor Wickets Trevor Wickets
We are sorry to announce the death of Trevor Wicketts on 1st Feb 2014. He was not in pain and died peacefully. He and Paddy were often to be seen on our walks.

Geoff Sheppard (1936-2013)

27 March 2013: It is with great sadness that I have to give you the news that Geoff Sheppard, our Vice Chairman died in the evening. Geoff had been taken ill about three days ago with a suspected heart attack. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him and our deepest condolences go out to Gill our membership secretary, and their children.

Honours List

16 June 2012: Maggie Shapland was awarded the British Empire Medal in the birthday honours list today for services to conservation and to heritage in Clifton

Richard Humphries death

Richard died on Tuesday 20th March 2012. He was a colliery manager of North Wales. He gave a talk about his job a few years ago He was very good at sketching in charcoal and drew several pictures related to mining which were hanging in the art place that used to be Typhoo Tea in Spike Island. The funeral was on Friday 30th 1.30 at Canford Crematorium.

Chris Hayhurst death

Chris died at the end of March 2012. He thought he had recovered and participated in the Redcliffe Caves trip and visit to the Medway Queen recently.

Bob Martin

It is with sadness we announce that Bob has passed away. Cremated at Westerleigh Crematorium 12 noon on 28 October 2011.
Bob Martin
Geoff sharing a joke with Bob at Rangeworthy
Bob Martin
Bob going out with style!

Mrs Joan Ellis and Mr. Roy Day

It is with sorrow that we record that the deaths have occurred in recent months of two members, Mrs Joan Ellis of Rangeworhy, wife of member Monty Ellis and Mr. Roy Day of Keynsham. It was only recently that Roy was elected, together with his wife Joan, as an Honorary Member of BIAS, in recognition of his contribution from the earliest days of the organisation. We extend our sympathies to relatives and friends. We have received the following appreciation:-
Roy Day 1923-2004 Roy attended the first series of lectures on industrial archaeology given in 1964 by Angus Buchanan and Neil Cossons and organized by the Extra-Mural Department of Bristol University, becoming an enthusiastic supporter. Three years later he joined the local clamour for a society, becoming the first Treasurer of BIAS, remaining a committee member when others took over, and later becoming Chairman. Making use of an art-biased education which turned to engineering with the coming of war, Roy was very much involved in producing the early Journals, being responsible for the layout, which basically remains the same today, but which was then at the forefront of current trends in graphics, as were his quite distinctive cover designs.
He contributed four articles to the Journal in the first twenty years or so, covering subjects such as Wiltshire iron, early ferro-concrete in Bristol, lettering styles on street signs and the coming and going of early picture palaces. Concurrently Roy was active in the international group which became the Historical Metallurgy Society, editing their new Newsletter from the 1970s to 1984 and designing their Journal, working in collaboration with the editor, Professor R. F. Tylecote, who became a great friend. He was also a very early supporter of the national Association for Industrial Archaeology, designing and producing their early newsletters.
From the 1980s, Roy supported his wife Joan in the campaign to prevent the 'development' of the structure of Saltford Brass Mill, later joining the group working to conserve the building and open it to the public. He attended work parties there regularly until taken to hospital three months before he died on 11th October 2004, five days short of his 81st. birthday.

Russell Frears 1931-2010

Russell Frears
Russell Frears (picture taken in 1977)
After a long illness Russell Frears, founder of the Museum of Bath at Work and Secretary of the Bath Industrial Heritage Trust has died. Russell Frears, who was born in Leicester and had trained as an industrial designer, had worked in the United States in the early 1960s for two well known design practices – Elliot Noyes and the Eames Office. Both Charles and Ray Eames, who worked closely with Herman Miller on the design and production of office and domestic furniture, became close friends with Russell and his wife Barbara and visited Bath after Russell returned to England in 1968. In 1969 Russell became involved in the saving of the Bowler family business in central Bath and with support from Neil Cossons, Keeper of Technology at Bristol City Museum at the time, the collection of machinery, tools, bottles and documents was moved from the original factory premises into store. The intention had always been to display the objects at some point but it was not until 1976 that a charitable trust was formed, with Kenneth Hudson and Dr Marianna Clark and negotiation began with Bath City Council over the use of the former Real Tennis Court in Morford Street, Bath. Finally in 1978, what was at that time, The Camden Works Museum was officially opened by the Duke of Gloucester and the interiors of the Bowler factory we displayed, lovingly recreating the ambience of the cluttered workshops of the original Corn Street Works. Other exhibitions followed, all designed and executed by Russell, often with the help of his wife. These included the Horstmann Gallery, in 1999 and the 2000 Years of Earning a Living Gallery, in 2003. Tragically, only shortly before his own death, Russell’s wife Barbara and one of their three daughters, Frances both died.

Medal for Past Chairman

Former BIAS Chairman, David K Brown, has been awarded the Anderson Medal by the Society for Nautical Research marking a long term contribution to maritime history. In particular, the award relates to a series of five books on the history of British warship design from 1800 to 1985. The last volume is Rebuilding the Royal Navy 1945-1985 (co-author George Moore) during which period warship design was centred in Bath.

Shiela Betterton

Long-standing member Shiela Betterton (1920 – 2008) of Combe Down died on Boxing Day. Together with her husband Ernest they were early joint members of BIAS and joined in many of the organised visits. For a time they were joint editors of the Bulletin. She had been a Mayor’s Guide and local magistrate and supporter of the Museum of Bath at Work. However, her particular love was the American Museum at Claverton Down where, initially as a Guide, she developed her interesting in quilting and became Curator of the museum’s quilt collection, writing a number of books on the subject during her time there. She will be sadly missed by all her family and friends, particularly those in BIAS. n.b. Shiela’s name has not been printed incorrectly. When her father registered her birth he did not know how to spell her name, so assumed it was spelt the same way as the town where she was born – North Shields! A unique name for a unique person.

Monty Ellis

9 Oct 08: It is with great regret that we announce the death of Monty Ellis at the age of 92, retired Telecoms Superintendent, Monty was a telegraph operator during the war. He was a long-time member of BIAS and wrote several articles about the early history of the telephone in our area in the BIAS Journal. He was a familiar sight at our meetings, making very astute comments. He died while writing a letter so a very peaceful way to go.
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