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

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BIAS Noticeboard

News Index

coronavirus 2020

March 17: Due to coronavirus we have decided to postpone all the meetings and walks until the end of September 2020 - including the AGM. People have been urged to avoid "non-essential" contact. Over 70s for 12 weeks. We may be forced to postpone these sort of events regardless, if instructed by central government. In the meantime we can review the situation- in light of restrictions.
9 July: The Keynsham British Legion is now open but with conditions. Events now updated

Western Harbour/ Cumberland Basin

I know a lot of you may be affected or be interested in this scheme. The Mayor is wanting to get rid of the Plimsoll bridge- major route along the A4 to the south west so he can build a housing estate of 2000 dwellings and 500 student dwellings on the location. There is finally a consultation 19 August to 15 September but it only seems to be very local! Feedback website: Drop in sessions (not presentations) You may also be interested that the next round of Bristol Local plan (which refers to this transport scheme) will be available for consultation on November

Journals on-line

Journals 1-10 were put on-line several years ago. We have now digitised Journals 11-31 and put them on line too. Journals will be added when 20 years old. Journal index

Ashton Court Miniature Railway

Ashton Court Miniature Railway
The background is that Bristol Society of Model and Experimental Engineers operates a miniature railway in Ashton Court Estate, Bristol. This includes a railway with three gauges: 3 1/2 and 5 inch on a raised track and 7 1/4 inch and 5 inch at ground level. Both circuits are about a third of a mile in length. There is also a grass tracked traction engine circuit laid out inside the raised railway track. This is best suited to the larger scale engines. The site is provided by the Bristol City Council, the infrastructure, track, rolling stock and locomotives by the Society.

The BIAS connection is that the model railways workshops were officially named to commemorate the late Geoff Sheppard who was both BIAS chairman and BSMEEs President in his time.

There is a very real possibility that the railway will cease to operate following the end of the 2018 season. Bristol City Council are proposing not to renew their lease on the site as they intend to use the land for alternative activities.

Bristol SMEE is a volunteer run, charity based, organisation that has built and operated this railway over the last 45 years. Over this time, it has given countless hours of enjoyment to the wider community in and around the city of Bristol.

If this happens the consequences will be:-

A popular family attraction which has been based at Ashton Court for nearly half a century is at risk of closing down - after the council considered not renewing their lease.

The Ashton Court Miniature Railway has operated on the same site - near the golf course - since 1972. The railway is run by the Bristol Society of Model & Experimental Engineers (BSMEE) and is very popular with both families and railway enthusiasts.

Chairman Norman Rogers said he fears the miniature railway could be priced out of Ashton Court Estate. We have a lease with Bristol City Council for the land and it expires towards the end of the this year, he said.

It is not yet clear what other plans the council might have for the site, should Ashton Court Miniature Railway fail to renew its lease.

A Bristol City Council spokesperson confirmed they were looking at new income generating opportunities at Ashton Court because the miniature railway generates very little money. We are looking for new income generating opportunities at Ashton Court, and the miniature railway site is one of the sites being considered, the spokesperson explained.

What the council do not seem to get is Lady Symth gave that estate to the people of Bristol for all to enjoy. It was not given for the council to make money.

Please sign the Engineers petition to save Ashton Court Railway!
We would dearly love to get 3500 signatures by 30th of August so that we can submit the petition to Bristol City Council and trigger a debate at the Full Council meeting on 11th September, so please sign now and SHARE this post to help us reach more people! And if you have not contacted your local councillor yet, nS Great Britain (their classic book "IA of the Bristol Region" published 1969 says it is still in the Falklands) nearly went to San Francisco.

They helped form public opinion. Sir Neil then staged a 5 year meteoric career and helped save the bridge at Ironbridge from collapse (he was their first director from 1971), director at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich from 1983. From 1986 to 2000 he was the director of the Science Museum, London. From 1989-95, and 1999-2000 he was an English Heritage commissioner. He was pro-provost and chairman of council of the Royal College of Art from 2007 until 2015. In 2000, he took over as chairman of English Heritage, a post he held to 2007. In 2016, he was appointed a Trustee of the National Heritage Memorial Fund/Heritage Lottery fund.

Sir Neil then gave a talk about reminscences and nostalgia. He was delighted to be at Green Park station which was so nearly demolished. BIAS has been present at, and influential in key events round the Bristol region. BIAS is still here, thriving, true to the cause for what it was set up for. People are often the same people doing different jobs and have also helped internationally. Bath is an International Heritage centre. Engineering in the area is world class- note the number of Stothert and Pitt cranes still operating round the world. The Kennett and Avon Trust saw volunters digging the canal out for fun and get the aquaduct preserved.

Bristol is still the least planned city- who else would build a dual carriageway through Queens Square and want to fill in the docks? Beamish was born in 1970.

In 1968 everyone started to collect stuff and look at scrap stuff and try to save it. 1964 saw the centenary of the Clifton suspension bridge, Bush House was one of the first conversions of an industrial building in 1975 (now Arnolfini) surrounded by profoundly bad buildings. Regarding the future, he suggested that BIAS could put plaques up to famous industrialists, and we still needed a home for the 1861 horizontal winding engine (the oldest) from Old Mills Colliery still sitting in L-shed. We need a visionary strategy and HLF is working on a strategic 5 year plan due to the diminution of local authority funding. Industrial Heritage is on the agenda. Volunteers are more stable than councils. We look forward to seeing Sir Neil's talk in this years journal.

Claverton Pumping Station


26 Feb 2017: Claverton Pumping Station will reopen to the public in May 2017. This follows a four year restoration. During that time a lot of work has taken place including becoming fully integrated with the Canal and River Trust through their adoption scheme. British Waterways then its successor CRT have always retained ownership of the Pumping Station. I thank them for their support and financing all of our restoration works.

The water wheel has been completely overhauled with new timbers. These consist of the starts or arm which hold the boards to the wheel (288 of these) Float boards that carry the water on the wheel and seal boards that keep the water in the wheel while it turns.

We also fitted a full set of wooden gear teeth to the large pit wheel that is directly driven by the water wheel. These consist of 408 blocks of Iroko (an African hardwood). The team prepared jigs for production of these on a band saw then fitted them in pairs by hand to create 204 teeth. Then each tooth had to have the correct profile cut taking care to obtain the correct pitch between each tooth. Here a machine table was set up in front of the wheel and a special cutter run across each tooth using an adapted circular saw (see picture).

Before running the wheel again the alignment was checked revealing that one large bearing was sinking. Upon investigation we found that it was supported on a piece of timber which had rotted away. It was probably a piece of Elm installed during construction in 1813. I thought we knew most things about Claverton but this had eluded us until then. The timber was replaced with steel packers.

The rest of the building has been white washed inside from top to bottom quite a task on the ground floor due to the height and getting around the machinery.

We are looking forward to welcoming visitors to Claverton again in 2017 and beyond.

The works took longer than expected but Peter was always confident that it would reopen. The delay was caused in some part by lack of funding in the beginning. The canal and River trust have been great since they took the place back under their wing. Web site
u tube of the first start up on 5/11/16

Public running date for 2017 are: 27th May; 24th June; 29th July; 26th August; 29th September; Peter Dunn Group Volunteer leader, Claverton Pumping Station, 07719911421

Alf Perry

Brunel Swivel Bridge
Alf died peacefully on Wednesday evening, 2nd November 2016 after a cardiac arrest on Friday. He did not regain consciousness and suffered no distress. The family were all with him.

Alf left an enormous legacy of achievements in the historic harbour and wider afield. However he had not finished this work; and with his usual farsighted vision, he was still working towards improving and enhancing harbour facilities.

He was involved with the restoration of the Brunel Swivel Bridge (known as BOB, Brunel's other bridge), which lies disused under the Plimsoll Bridge. It has proved a difficult project, and a major scheme failed about 8 years ago. So a small group of us has been working to develop a new project, and Alf has been a key player in this.

Alf was a valued member of our Technical Team from an early stage in the project, providing encouragement from his vast knowledge and experience. He provided useful technical information about the historic hardware surviving in the City Docks, and about other bridges in the UK and abroad. Geoff Wallis describes Alf as 'a thoroughly reliable structural engineer of vast experience, particularly in relation to bridges of all types. He made quick and wise decisions if he had sufficient information, and if not he would ask the right questions, judging the validity of answers carefully. He was a gentleman at all times, and had a great sense of humour.'

However it was his experience of recent regeneration and conservation projects that was also invaluable to us. He was a true expert, and shared his wisdom and expertise with modesty and a light touch.

Alf gave valuable advice on how to develop a scheme that would be attractive to the Heritage Lottery Fund, and helped fill in the necessary forms. He and I had just finalised an initial application form to the Heritage Lottery Fund, and when I got their positive response last week, my first thought was to phone Alf to tell him.

He brought valuable experience of fund-raising and provided the names of useful contacts in many local organizations. He was a skilled 'politician' and was using his experience and networks to engage representatives of the city council in the bridge project. We will feel his absence terribly.

Michael Bussell wrote "I'd known him for quite a while, firstly when we both worked at Ove Arup & Partners, and later after he had set up his own consultancy. We shared a practical interest in 19th century engineering: we were in the Arup team that bid for (and did some) work on the SS Great Britain and its dock a while back, while more recently I was a sounding board for his thoughts on the scheme to repair / restore the splendid Victoria Bridge in Bath, and the Bristol Underfall Yard development plan. He also served of course as a Trustee of the Clifton Suspension Bridge - the third trustee I have known, after my Bristol Civil Engineering 'pedagogues' Professor Pugsley and Stuart Cullimore. And I believe he was involved with the Swivel Bridge.

"I heard the news via Arups. I shall miss his creative thinking and our lively discussions.

He was not a member of BIAS, but he contributed much to the understanding and conservation of engineering landmarks in the Bristol region.

Claverton pumping Station Water Wheel and Pumps

On Saturday the 5th November 2016, after 4 years of hard work, the Claverton pumping Station Water Wheel and Pumps were operated for the first time since the restoration was completed.

To watch the start-up please view this link

The following week, after a full inspection of the machinery, a second and full speed run was undertaken. We ran for 4 hours and as before the operation was very smooth.

Over the last four years much work has been undertaken, including the complete replacement of all the water wheel timbers, production of and replacement of the pit wheel wooden gear teeth, re- leveling and alignment of the water wheel and crank shafts, repairs to the curved sluice and many more smaller tasks.

A full redecoration of all the rooms is now well under way.

The team all need to be thanked for their splendid efforts to achieve this very good result.

In 2017 the Claverton pumping Station will reopen to the public on the last Saturday of each month from May through to September. The water wheel and pumps will be running on those open days.

Private visits can also be arranged for groups of up to forty people. Should anyone wish to arrange a private group visit please contact Pete Dunn on 07719911421 or

We could expand our running and open to the public days but need more volunteers to help us. In particular we need people who like talking to our visitors and able and willing to act as tour guides. We also welcome anyone who would want to be trained to operate the machinery or who like gardening or painting/decorating as those tasks are always ongoing.

The current team of volunteers will pass on their knowledge of the history of the site and machinery and will mentor/assist any new volunteers.

Claverton pumping Station is situated in an area of outstanding beauty and is a lovely place to spend time and working in.

Peter Dunn Group Volunteer Leader Claverton Pumping Station Canal & River Trust

Announcing the launch of Touring Digital Exhibition to help you Know Your Place

10 November 2016: Have you ever wondered what makes a place the way it is now? Or wished you could travel back in time and discover how an area has changed?

KYPexplore is a cutting-edge digital exhibition which will tour across the West of England giving an insight into the history of the places where we live, work and visit every day.

For the first time in one place, the stories of the people who lived and worked in the varied landscapes of the West of England will be told together – from Miners in Radstock to Peat-cutters in the Somerset levels, Moonrakers of Devizes to Foresters in the Forest of Dean.

Historic and modern photos of familiar landscapes will show how places have transformed over time and where they have changed little.

The exhibition innovatively combines graphic panels, touchscreens and an online WebApp to feature extraordinary digital material from archives, museums and heritage collections across the West of England. The exhibition has been curated in collaboration with 24 different organisations to select and display digital images, audio and film on a unique online platform.

The exhibition consists of four identical displays touring simultaneously across the region, allowing it to visit 12 venues across six counties during the six months between November 2016 and April 2017. The exhibition will visit a range of museums, libraries and community spaces across the West of England, including: Bradley Stoke Library in South Gloucestershire, Salisbury Cathedral in Wiltshire, Dean Heritage Centre in Gloucestershire, Radstock Museum in Bath & NE Somerset, Weston Town Hall in North Somerset and The Bishops Palace in Somerset. The full list of venues can be found on the project website: .

The exhibition opens this week at its first four venues: The Glass Box at Taunton Library, Taunton; Bath Central Library, Bath; STEAM Museum, Swindon; and Clifton Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre, Bristol; and will be accompanied by a programme of public events to be announced shortly.

The exhibition is available online and can be viewed from any smartphone or connected device, making it accessible to those who cannot visit it in person, and available for audiences to revisit again and again at a time that suits them. Visit the exhibition online at: .

This exhibition is part of Know Your Place – West of England, the digital mapping project to share your neighbourhood’s heritage online through old maps, historic images and heritage data. The Know Your Place platform recently extended to map Wiltshire, Bath & NE Somerset and Gloucestershire, and work is underway to map North Somerset and Somerset in spring 2017. The project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). To start exploring Know Your Place, visit the project’s website: .

Felicia Davies, Project Officer, Know Your Place - West of England, said: “This exhibition is unique in its ambition, geographical spread, use of digital technology and fantastic partnership with many museums, libraries and archives across the area. We hope the rich and varied stories in the exhibition will help visitors make the connection with their own local heritage and inspire them to explore this further on the Know Your Place digital mapping resource.”

Nerys Watts, Head of HLF South West, said: “From ensuring information held in centuries-old maps is saved for future generations, to making the changing face of our region accessible at the click of a button, Know Your Place is a fantastic partnership of organisations, communities and volunteers. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players we’re delighted to support this project which is quite literally putting the West of England’s heritage on the map.”

The Know Your Place West of England project was awarded £379,800 by HLF, with generous match-funding and in-kind support from local authorities and heritage groups within the region, including £5,000 match-funding from lead partner South Gloucestershire Council.

Coop Community Fund

21 Sept 2016: The Brunel Swivel Bridge has been selected to receive funding from the Co-op Local Community Fund. It means that we will get a contribution towards restoring the bridge. But we need your help. The more support we get, the more funding we could receive. So if you're a Co-op Member log in to your Co-op Membership account and choose us. If you're not a member, please join and support us! for more details
Every time members choose Co-op branded products and services and use their Co-op Membership card (subject to Membership Terms and conditions) 1% of what they spend will go to their chosen cause. You can now see the cause profile on the Coop membership website.

Bristol and Region Archaeological Services (BaRAS)

May 2016: Bristol and Region Archaeological Services (BaRAS) is a trading unit of Bristol Museum, part of the City Council. I regret I must advise you that following a review, including the status of BaRAS as a non-core function, BCC have decided that they do not wish to continue the activities they carry out. They are no longer accepting new work, and the operation will be wound down over the coming months, finally ceasing to trade in mid-July. They are now in the process of contacting clients and others to advise them. for more information about BaRAS and its projects; this will remain available for the time being, although some details relating to commercial services have been removed. If you have any queries between now and July please do not hesitate to contact them. Arrangements for enquiries after that date will be provided in due course.

Bristol Model Engineering Workshop - Geoff Sheppard Memorial

Geoffs (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.

The plaque is going to be unveiled on Sunday 19th June 2016 at 14:00, the BSMEE have generously suggested that other clubs and societies that Geoff was involved in are welcome to attend, could I ask you to pass this news around the club with an open invite for the unveiling.

Brick Disposal

1 April 2016: I have been contacted by a friend who has been asked to dispose of a small collection of west country bricks and he wondered whether I knew of anybody local who might be interested. Do you have any brick collectors in BIAS who might welcome any of these? Many thanks. Regards. Martin Green Chairman, Warwickshire Industrial Archaeology Society


There is a wealth of evidence that heritage is of key importance to visitors, businesses and residents right across the country. Bristol has a tremendous built heritage with over one third of the City covered by Conservation Areas, with more than 4,000 Listed Buildings, and with many historic parks and gardens. Yet there is ongoing pressure on this heritage from development and transport projects at a time when expert conservation resources are diminishing.

Historic England produces an annual state of the heritage report "Heritage Counts 2015" . This report provides an invaluable summary of the national and regional context.

In addition, Bristol City Council has recently produced "Our Inherited City - Bristol Heritage Framework 2015 - 2018" which proposes establishing a community based heritage forum in Bristol. This report can be found at (on Page 42 of this 76 page document the Swivel Bridge is featured as good showcase project of how a local group, Historic England and the Council have worked together)

Our Initial Proposals

A Heritage Forum is a relatively new idea, although other cities such as Leicester and Nottingham are moving in the same direction. In Bristol the Civic Society considers that a Heritage Forum would prove to be an invaluable addition to the existing structure and organisations involved in heritage activities. Ideally it would be an independent body but one which worked closely with both Historic England and the City Council.

Its objectives would be likely to include:

Why a Bristol Heritage Forum?

The purpose of the launch event is to gather support for the new Forum and to generate ideas for future activities, events and initiatives. The most likely work streams will include
  1. Helping to find sustainable future uses for Buildings At Risk and other historic buildings.
  2. Influencing developments and transport projects affecting historic buildings and places. This would include pre application and planning application stages.
  3. Ensuring Bristol's heritage is cared for in plans, policies and appraisals.
  4. Helping to deliver training, holding events, publicising heritage related best practice, possible heritage awards. Helping to create community capacity.

What will happen next?

Simon Birch Bristol Civic Society Alison Bromilow Neighbourhood Planning Network .

Industrial Archaeology at Risk

Please find copy of Shane Gould's Rolt Memorial Lecture on the BIAS website given at the AIA Conference last year. Shane is Historic England's senior industrial archaeology specialist and his paper provides an interesting overview of our sector of the 'preservation industry'.

Underfall Yard Visitor Centre

Friday 18 March at 10am
We are thrilled to announce the opening of the Visitor Centre in time for Easter. We look forward to welcoming you all to our hands-on learning experience for visitors of all ages. Not long now!

Avon Street gasworks

January 22, 2016: 200 year old stone marking Bristol's industrial history discovered By L_Churchill Bristol Post.
avon st gas works

A 200-year-old stone marking an important part of Bristol's industrial history has been discovered. Engineers from Wales & West Utilities were cleaning up an old gasholder at the former Avon Street gasworks when they found the stone. It marks the incorporation of the Bristol Gas Company on March 25, 1819 and has been buried in the gasholder tank for some 75 years.


5 October 2015 (report from the Bristol Post)

The iconic 'Cadbury's' sign has been removed from the former chocolate factory at Somerdale in Keynsham. Bystanders gathered with their cameras and iPads to record the moment workers used a blow torch to cut through the steel frame that attached the four tonne Cadbury's sign to the front of the 1930s famous factory.

The factory once employed 6,000 people in the town but Cadbury announced the closure of the Somerdale site in Keynsham in October 2007. A glimmer of hope was raised in 2010 when Kraft, who bought the company for £11.5 billion and said it would save the site. But shortly after seizing control Kraft announced the factory would in fact close with the loss of 400 jobs.

And in the sunshine yesterday morning the 22 by six metre sign was carefully removed from the building and one of the last landmark reminders of the company was no more. After the sign was dismantled the apostrophe - with the permission of Cadbury's - was presented to Hugh Evans who is the Fry's archivist. Mr Evans started working at the factory in 1975, and his career included roles as a microbiological technician, hygiene manager and quality, health and safety and environment manager. "Cadbury, or Fry's as it was originally, was a good company to work for," Mr Evans, whose favourite chocolate is Turkish Delight, said. "A lot of people of my generation did 35 to 40 years' service. It was a stunning setting to work in and we had lots of fun and lots of laughs."

The removal of the sign is the latest milestone in the transformation of the site, from former industrial use into a retirement community, by the charity the St Monica Trust. The £60 million scheme will create 151 assisted living apartments and a 90-bed care home when it opens in spring 2017, as part of the wider development by Taylor Wimpey. The St Monica Trust's Chief Executive David Williams watched the removal of the Cadbury's sign. Mr Williams said: "As the Cadbury's sign came down we felt that we were witnessing a moment in history, and we start work on transforming this landmark factory building. "This site has meant so much to generations of local people, including Hugh Evans. "We are delighted to be able to present the 'Fry's Archivist' with the apostrophe from the iconic Cadbury's sign. "All at St Monica Trust are looking forward to our role as custodian of this landmark building, and most importantly, to giving it a new life as a high-quality and welcoming retirement community."

Dyrham Park

9 May-20 December 2015 10-4 Rooftop walkway open at Dyrham Park. As part of their big conservation project to replace the leaking roof they are giving us the chance to go up on a fully accessible scaffold walkway and see the work first-hand.

The new rooftop walkway opens on Saturday 9 May and will be open daily until 20 December (subject to weather conditions). The solid walkway, which is 230 metres long, is all on one level and gives great views of the split level roof.

There are two large 7.5 metre viewing platforms looking out over the ancient deer park and the formal West garden with its picturesque ponds and Perry pear orchard. On a clear day, you can see across to Bristol and beyond. More details

Dyrham Park Dyrham Park
Dyrham Park Dyrham Park

Charles Richardson Plaque

8 August: Clifton and Hotwells Improvement Society put up a plaque to Charles Richardson, the eminent engineer of Severn tunnel fame, who was born just over 200 years ago and who lived in 10 Berkeley Square. It was his place of residence from 1860 until his death on the 18th February 1896.
Charles Richardson
Trevor Thompson (historian and Richardson researcher), David Greenfield (Panel for Historic Engineering Works)
and Brian
Charles Richardson
Nice to see two celebrated engineers lived at the same house
Press Release by Trevor Thompson
Dedication speech by Trevor Thompson

Underfall Yard

Happy Birthday! Sunday 5 July 2015 celebrated two major milestones. The Underfall Yard Trust turned 21 and the Patent Slip turned 125.


9 July 2015: The Royal Western Hotel is said to be coming on the market next year. IKB, never one to miss an opportunity, had it built by Richard Shackleton Pope as a stopover departure lounge for passengers for the Atlantic voyage. When the hotel closed in 1855, Bristol having missed the boat, the building was used as a Turkish bath. Its dignified Greek revival façade was handsomely restored (replicated?) by Alec French in 1984. It now houses the planning department. When they move out after completion of the makeover of what ditto was called the Council House, the city council intends to flog it off. property/09072015154700-former-hotel-built-by-brunel-on-sale-for--6-million-as-bristol-city- council-plans-to-move-out/ Price £6 million, it says, so social housing, premises for social enterprises, or cheap space for community groups all seem unlikely. Proximity to Bristol University suggests more student flats, but not if government policies on student support, immigration and the EU reduce the number of students, or at any rate those who can afford to pay rents. Reversion to original use as hotel?

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.

If you think your members might like to know more, I’d be happy to come along to a meeting, let you know what is planned, and take advice on good ways forward. I’d also be pleased if you could put me in touch with other groups you think might be interested.

For more information on our project in the meantime please see

Know Your Place 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 applied on behalf of the old Avon councils and others, to cover the whole West of England Region. SGMRG contributed to the Pilot part of the project last year and assisted with the bid process.

Two permanent staff have been appointed for the implementation. Various historic maps are being scanned and digitised to be added to the web site.

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 local heritage more widely known, which is one of the objectives of our group.

Angus Buchanan retires

April 2015: At the AGM in April, Angus Buchanan stepped down as president having been a founding member. We presented him with a blue glass paperweight to commemorate this momentous occasion and thank him for all his hard work. Welcome Geoff Wallis!
buchanan glass weight angus and brenda


March 2015: Gasferry Road/Gasworks Lane just off Anchor Road. Reported in Bristol Evening Post 3 April. This story also hit the national newspapers. Work still carried on though.

cobbles gas ferry road
October 2014
cobbles gas ferry road
March 2015
12,000 setts have been lifted. They are being cut in half and relaid so that there is a flat surface. They have not applied for listed building consent, so there has been no consultation. It has apparently been requested by the cyclists. Part of the Harbourside walk and not a designated cyclist route. This is a massive job, must have cost a fortune since the cobbles are hard to cut and will totally change the appearance of the area. Flag stones and iron kerbs still there.

This is a grade II listed area: ST5772 GASFERRY ROAD, Canon's Marsh 901-1/41/500 (West side) 05/11/85 Gateway and boundary wall to east and west sides of road (Formerly Listed as: GASFERRY ROAD (NORTH) Gateway and boundary wall fronting west side of Gasferry Road) (Formerly Listed as: GASFERRY ROAD (SOUTH) Boundary wall fronting east side of Gasferry Road)
Gateway and boundary wall. c1840. For Bristol and Clifton Oil Gas Company. Squared coursed Pennant wall and rock-faced jambs. Gate piers with gableted caps, and curved boundary wall with brick coping extends approx 100m to W side, and 150m to E side as far as the former Gas Company offices (qv). Street with granite setts, iron kerbs and flagged footways. Part of the extension to the Bristol and Clifton Oil Gas Company's site, and a most evocative survival of industrial Victorian urban fabric.
Listing NGR: ST5795072512

Clifton Suspension Bridge tower restoration

14 and 15 March 2015: Scaffolding starts being erected.


suspension bridge

The two majestic towers which support the Clifton Suspension Bridge are set to undergo important restoration works. The masonry will be cleaned and repointed, and repairs carried out to the roof structure, the drainage and the access ladders. Clifton side to be completed by October, Leigh Woods side by 2016.

Blackboy Hill urinal

18 December 2014:
A rare Victorian public urinal has been listed by English Heritage for its "special historical interest". The Grade II public convenience, at the top of Whiteladies Road, in Clifton, is still in use and was built by Glasgow-based W.MacFarlane in the 1880s. The same company who made the drinking fountain by the Suspension Bridge.
English Heritage said these "often humble structures" were "important to the streetscene of our cities". Bristol City Council, which owns the cast-iron urinal, said it "remained very well used and appreciated".
An English Heritage spokesman said: "Historic elements of the public realm, including street furniture and public facilities, are particularly vulnerable to damage, alteration and removal and where they survive well, they will in some cases be given serious consideration for designation."
The nearest other one is in the SS Great Britain dockyard. Two other similar structures were listed in Bristol in 1977 on Horfield Common and Mina Road Park.

Clifton Suspension Bridge anniversary

150 years ago on May 7 1864, the suspension chains were completed, joining the two sides of the Avon Gorge permanently for the first time.
Wednesday 2 July 1864, the last of the cross girders was fixed in the centre of the bridge, and a small party was allowed to pass over on planks placed accross the girders.
December 8, 2014 will mark the 150th anniversary of the opening
Sunday 7th at 7pm will see a spectacular display of fireworks. Monday 8th at 3pm will see a procession of dignatories walk across the bridge to the new Visitor Centre.

Clifton Suspension Bridge photos

Swivel Bridge exhibition

5 January to 15 February 2015

There will be an exhibition about the Swivel Bridge in the foyer of the Central Library, College Green with photos through the ages, drawings, work progress, and giving an opportunity for fund raising for our next stage

Tuesday 28th October 2014Evening talk to learn about the Brunel Swivel Bridge, held in conjunction with the Institute of Structural, Mechanical and Civil Engineers Pugsley Lecture Theatre | Queens Building | University of Bristol 1800 for 1830 - Refreshments and food provided

swivel bridge

National Archives

October 2014: The National Archives recently launched an innovative upgraded version of Discovery, their catalogue, which now enables archive users to search, browse and tag 32 million record descriptions for thousands of collections across the UK. This replaces the beta service that has been in development over the last year.

As well as the millions of records held by The National Archives, Discovery searches over 10 million additional records held by more than 2,500 archives across the country, making it a unique archival resource for researchers around the world. The value to researchers of combining catalogue and organisational data from across the UK archives sector in one place is enormous, and highlights their commitment to their role as sector lead.

Discovery now incorporates data from:

Doors Open Day

Saturday 13 September 10-4: Bristol Doors Open Day a once-a-year chance to look behind closed doors and discover the city’s hidden treasures. You can explore fascinating buildings, join guided tours and enjoy a range of events and activities – all free for the day. With over 60 venues taking part this year – the event’s 21st birthday – many joined us for a fantastic celebration of Bristol’s history, architecture and culture.
Several venues in BS8 including the Brunel Swivel Bridge and Clifton Rocks Railway

Contact 45 joined a Guided walk at 14:00 from SS Great Britain to the Swivel Bridge with Mr Brunel

Cardiff Coal Exchange

21 Feb 2014: The Coal Exchange is grade 2* listed, and one of the finest buildings in Wales. Cardiff is on the brink of losing this significant piece of its architectural and industrial heritage because of a blantant disregard for its value by Cardiff Council. The building is deemed unsafe and about to collapse....but there is little evidence of this. The building can be saved from demolition with your support.

See also and attachments for details. We could be losing one of Wales's most iconic buildings (that unfortunately is one of the least known) to the wrecking ball, in a matter of weeks. It is so iconic, because its original function is at the heart of what made modern Wales, so any help will be hugely appreciated.

cardiff coal exchange

Sign this petition to be delivered to John Griffiths AM - Minister for Culture and Sport.

Brunel's Other Bridge website (new website created 26 Jan 2014)

Michael Portillo in Great British Railway Journeys

Watch until 7th Feb 2014: Michael Portillo continues his journey from Southampton to Wolverhampton beginning today in Chippenham, where at Lacock Abbey he discovers how the world's first photographic negative was made and learns how to make a print. He travels on to Bristol to visit the Victorian Clifton Zoo, where he finds tigers and polar bears before him also arrived by train, Clifton and Clifton Rocks Railway.

Medway Queen Progress

BIAS Photos since 2009
Update15 Nov 2014: The paddle steamer left Avonmouth port at 14:30. Expected time of arrival Gillingham 18th Nov 1pm weather conditions remaining good. The Pilot boarded about 1400 hrs

Update1 Nov: Still holed up at Avonmouth
Update31 Oct: The tow started before 2 and left the Basin lock at 3pm

She then holed up at Avonmouth as she did not pass Battery Point
Update 29 Oct: I have been informed that the tow is planned to start on Thursday 31st October at 1400 hrs. They can not leave the Cumberland Basin lock before 3:15. This will depend on the weather conditions and is subject to change. The tow will head for Falmouth first before ending in the Medway.

Update24 Oct: The boat crossed the dock about 9am 24 Oct. The next stage will be next week sometime as massive storm expected Sunday.
Update21 Oct: The boat is ready to leave the dock. Access to the gang plank has already been removed. Depending on the weather, the Medway Queen will be towed back as soon as there is a two day window to get to Newlyn the first safe point.
There must be less than a force 5 wind (19 knots) down the Severn estuary to set off, so she may not set off until next week.

11 October 2013 The tug "Christine", operated by A. J. and A. Pratt of Rainham, has been contracted to tow "Medway Queen" back to Gillingham and is now on her way to Bristol. When she arrives and all necessary surveys are complete and certificates issued Medway Queen will be towed out of the dry dock, manoeuvred through the locks and onto the river Avon. This and subsequent phases of the operation will be entirely dependent on both weather and tides. These factors are beyond anyone's control although the tides at least are predictable. You can follow the Christine's progress back to Gillingham on They are expected to take an inshore route along the South Coast and for those who don't already know, search for the "Christine" (UK registered tug), not for "Medway Queen". also shows Christine if marinetraffic does not!

The date and time of arrival in Gillingham are dependent on operational requirements and will only be predictable by following the tug's progress; it is expected to take an inshore route along the South Coast. Our estimate is around 5 days after leaving Bristol given good weather. Medway Queen's arrival at Gillingham Pier will be a major event for the area and we are planning this in three stages:

  1. Arrival on the Medway in charge of the tug "Christine" and mooring up in the river to await a suitable tide.
  2. Berthing at Gillingham Pier and, finally,
  3. A celebration event for members and guests shortly after "Medway Queen" has been settled into her home.

30 September 2013: Though the docks are full of water, she is not ready to go. They have inclined the ship and need to produce stability info before MCA will issue a loadline exemption.


27 July 12-5pm: To mark the end of this phase of the project a re-dedication ceremony will be held at the dockyard on Saturday 27th July. This represents an eagerly awaited milestone in the restoration and it is also a significant event for engineering in the UK.

The Albion Dockyard (Hanover Place, Bristol BS1 6UT) is not far from the SS Great Britain, and will be open to the public from 12 noon on Saturday 27th July until approximately 5pm, admission free. A short re-dedication ceremony will be performed at approximately 2pm. After the usual speeches Evelyn, Emelia, and Elizabeth, daughters of Andrew Summerell (MD Albion Dockyard Ltd.), will re-dedicate the ship. The sluices will then be opened and flooding up of the dock will commence. This is a lengthy process and it is unlikely that the dock will be completely filled in the course of the afternoon. After the dedication it is hoped that members of the Medway Queen Preservation Society will be able to tour those parts of the ship that are safely accessible. All of these arrangements are subject to operational conditions at the yard remaining favourable of course. The weekend of the 27/28th July is also the Bristol Harbour Festival weekend, with a huge variety of interest and entertainment just a few minutes walk from the dockyard. Even more reason for coming to Bristol and wishing Medway Queen well.

The ship will not be leaving the dry dock immediately. There is more work to be done in preparation for the tow and then the tug has to be available and the weather outlook acceptable. When these conditions are all met the ship will be moved without further ceremony. Predicting exactly when this will happen is not possible but the MQPS website ( has a page dedicated to the "tow home" and details will be posted there as they become clear.

21 March 2013: We made our third visit to the Medway to inspect progress since she is due to leave the Albion dock at the end of April.

Aug 2012: Psychologically, the installation of the engine in August was probably the most significant event.

Bristol Harbour Railway Sept 2013 Visitors

Judy (1937) and Alfred (1953), two Bagnall engines who came to Bristol for a week on the way home to Bodmin and will run on Doors Open Day. These very low shunting engines inspired Rev W Auwdry when writing Thomas the Tank.

Doors Open Day 14th and 15th September 2013

Underfall Yard- we are making a weekend of it! 10am - 4:30pm
More details of Heritage Fund Project

Clifton Rocks Railway- we too are making a weekend of it! 10am - 4pm

Brunel Swivel Bridge work party

Brunel Swivel Bridge, 1876 replica in foreground
Brunel Swivel Bridge
Brunel Swivel Bridge
Brunel Swivel Bridge
Brunel Swivel Bridge
Brunel Swivel Bridge
Brunel Swivel Bridge
Brunel Swivel Bridge
The Swivel Bridge Group in coordination with the Bristol Industrial Archaeological Society and the Avon Industrial Buildings Trust and CHIS (who have been involved in the campaign for many years) are organising a working party to slow the deterioration of the Bridge, improve its neglected appearance and raise its profile (see below).

Next working party in August. (Photos so far


Draft Schedule of WorkIt is estimated this will take a work-party of six volunteers 5-6 days to complete. Contact Maggie Shapland ( if you wish to help.

New Chairman

14 March 2013: Mike Bone is now our new chairman. Stuart Burroughs will stay on the committee.

Happy birthday Clifton Rocks Railway

On March 11 it was 120 years since the railway opened
Clifton Rocks Railway

Cast iron lamp posts

March 2013:cast iron lamposts being installed on the suspension bridge
lamp posts bristol foundry lamp post gurnsey lamp post jones lamp post

Virtually all Bristol cast lamp posts have Bristol manufacturers plates on which is great because they can then be dated. Since these posts have been restored their plates are very clear. You will see that there are five posts by the Bristol Foundry Company who made the biggest variety of lamp posts from 1881 to 1958, one by CE Gurney (1870-1886) who started off as a tin plate worker and ironmonger and progressed to a fern case and lamp manufacturer, one by Jones (1874-90) who was an iron founder, and one indeterminate one that is very likely to be Edward Crawford (1881 to 1912)

August 2012: planning application 12/03632/F | To install 6 no. supplementary footpath lamp standards to the Clifton approach of the Clifton Suspension Bridge. | Suspension Bridge Suspension Bridge Road Bristol

Council of Europe: Industrial Heritage Year 2015

In a resolution adopted 8th of March 2013, by the Standing Committee meeting in Paris, the Assembly of the Council of Europe has made a series of practical recommendations to member States with a view to preserving Europe’s industrial heritage. To ensure that such protection is effective, the PACE has proposed that a European label for industrial heritage be developed. According to the conclusions of the rapporteur on this issue, Ismeta Dervoz (Bosnia and Herzegovina, EPP/CD), the Assembly has also invited the EU and UNESCO to consider the possibility of launching, together with the Council of Europe, a European Industrial Heritage Year in 2015, as proposed by E-FAITH (European Federation of Associations of Industrial and Technical Heritage).

Excerpt from the report:
Europe is justly proud of its industrial heritage, not least because it is a heritage which is universally recognised as being of profound international significance in the development of global industrialisation, but equally important, it is also locally the main provider of sense of identity of many territories. It is a heritage with which we can still identify, preserve its buildings and archival and photographic sources, and share its memories. It is also a common European heritage, with the transfer of technology and processes scarcely recognising national boundaries.

Across Europe, there are innumerable examples of such transfers of expertise, engineers and indeed of migration of labour. Thus lacemaking in Calais may reflect its English roots, car manufacture in London its Parisian influences, a textile mill in Schio its Belgian model while a colliery in Serbia has an Austrian steam engine and the gasworks in Athens were built by French engineers. The migration of labour is not a modern phenomenon – Huguenots from France established the English silk industry three centuries ago while British iron workers skilled the early 19th century iron industries in France and Belgium and British “navvies” constructed several of the early railways in Europe. More recently, Polish, Italian and Turkish immigrants worked the coal mines in Nord Pas-de-Calais and Limburg, all bringing distinctive cultures to their new workplaces.

The information on the E-FAITH campaign is on:
If your association hasn't yet endorsed the memorandum, please do it now as soon as possible and send it back to secretariat @  p/a Vredelaan 72 B-8500 Kortrijk. Please ask other associations to endorse the memorandum too.

Saltford Brass Mill

Jan 2013: Closed by BANES Council because of concerns about electrical safety, so not open for visits (or for project work) until further notice.

Bristols Rapid Transit System BRT

Sept 2011:As a member of the committee of the Bristol Industrial Archaeological Society, I wish to protest against the effect that this scheme would have on the heritage railway. M Shed has just been opened, the railway is part of the heritage experience for tourists. Has no one ever watched the visitors enjoying the experience of the Portbury. How can one incorporate the rapid transit scheme with the heritage railway- the route is not wide enough? One runs on rails, the other on rubber wheels. To not allow cars over Princes bridge is ridiculous. How are drivers meant to get to the centre if they are driving in from Cumberland Road? How will car drivers get from the centre to M Shed? It will place even more pressure on the other roads. This incredibly expensive scheme will wreck the tourist experience, and make it harder for tourists to get to the centre of Bristol and M shed.

The final bid will be submitted on September 9, 2011 by the council and our neighbouring authorities in the West of England Partnership. Greater Bristol will be competing with areas from across the country and is seeking £114 million to create Bristol’s Bus Rapid Transit Network.

Make a comment, ask questions on the ASK Bristol on transport site

Response from Tim Kent: On the days when the railway is operating, bus services will use Cumberland Road. The alignment is wide enough to accommodate both modes.
Parking at M Shed is very limited so the impact of the Prince Street Bridge proposals will be limited.
Prohibition of general traffic from Prince Street Bridge is very necessary to maintain reliability of rapid transit services. if you can say you come from outside Bristol and your affiliation and why you are signing (eg save harbourside heritage) it will help.

See below for the comments made by BIAS at the public inquiry.

From around the Region- News from our Area Representatives

Conservation in Bristol

Mike Bone
BIAS continues to keep a watching brief on developments in the city. Plans for major schemes at Wapping Wharf and the Bristol Brewery site have still to be deposited with Bristol City Council but we will continue to monitor progress. The development process now frequently involves a series of 'stakeholder' meetings prior to submission of plans. The latest of industrial interest has involved Huller House' and the 'Cheese' warehouse near Redcliffe Bridge and the WCA building. These are, I believe, the last of the old waterside warehouses to be converted. The developer is Angel Property, a firm with an excellent track record of adaptive re-use (jam factory in East London and the Dartmouth Pottery [ex brewery but originally a papermill] in Devon). The plans look good with much original fabric kept (Huller) and the 'Hennibique' pre-cast concrete frame (Cheese warehouse) kept but with new cladding. BIAS Journal 13 (1980) has an article 'Feno-Concrete' on this system by the late Roy Day. In addition to former 'industrial' sites, much is happening in Bristol and other 'stakeholder' events have featured in the redevelopment of the former Bristol and West tower (on the Centre) and access from here to the refurbished Queen Square, i.e. the area of the roundabout currently used for buses to turn. We can also expect some interesting reports from archaeological work on 'developing' sites at Canons Marsh (gasworks) and Avon Street (glassworks).

Serge Manufactory

Stuart Burroughs
A rare painting of the first 'serge manufactory' established on the site of Twerton Upper Mill has been donated to the Museum of Bath at Work. Presented by Mrs Armstrong, whose family took over the running of the mill in the 1930s, the painting dates from 1780.

SS Great Britain Museum

In BIAS Journal No.36, member Keith Hickman related the tale of the upper section of the No.1 funnel from the P and SS Great Eastern which had been serving as a kind of giant strainer at the Sutton Poyntz Pumping Station in Dorset. One of is illustrations shows the funnel section being removed from the spring head where it had rested for more than a century. Keith tells us that this historic artefact has been moved to the SS Great Britain Museum, now located in the Maritime Heritage Centre building on Wapping Wharf. Keith was present in the welcoming party when the funnel was delivered.

Ochre Mines and Works at Wick - An Update

Mike Breakspear
In 1998 the article entitled 'The Ochre Mines and Works at Wick, South Gloucestershire' by Ron Smith and myself was published in BIAS Journal No 31. Recently, through the internet, I.was put in touch with Mike Beavis whose father Mr C.M. Beavis was Mark- Director of Golden Valley Colours and he has added to my knowledge of the Company and its management. This is printed in Bulletin 114 as an addendum to the original article.

At the present time the site is being developed as a nature reserve and fences have been erected to keep the public away from 'dangerous' areas. These include the reservoir above the dam though apparently further work is to be carried out to make this area safe. The only structure remaining is the winding house at the top of the incline. It urgently needs some restoration work if only to the roof. The remains of a truck which was half buried next to the winding house has been moved to a safer place.

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