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

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News of Members

Maggie and spanner  Maggie and the bridge  Railway and LanchesterMaggie Lampost and Home  At the Wedding    The Award of the Lord Mayors Medal 2017

Margaret J Taylor née Shapland BEM, BSc, born 1947 died 1st October 2020

Heritage Champion for Bristol

Maggie Shapland was to use that well used phrase a ‘force of nature’,   who even in the last few days of her life and despite being very ill,  was able to express trenchant views on the future development of the Bristol Industrial Archaeological Society’s  website of which she was the author and developer. She was among other things, a campaigner, conservationist, author, editor, industrial archaeologist, restorer of vintage cars, database expert and webmaster.  Her death this month was a great loss to the cause of conservation in Bristol and its heritage and history.  

Her award of the British Empire Medal in 2013 recognised Maggie’s tireless work over many years to preserve the history and heritage of Clifton with the Clifton and Hotwells Improvement Society and her key role in the conservation and refurbishment of the site of the Clifton Rocks Railway that began in 2005. She subsequently went on to write and publish in 2017, the seminal history of the railway and the associated Spa and the site’s  later use as a BBC wartime transmitting station and air raid shelter.  Her work was further recognised in that year when she was awarded the Bristol Lord Mayor’s Medal.

Born in Derby, Maggie’s secondary education was at Queen Anne Grammar School, York and she later studied Maths & Computing at the University of Bath. In 1972, she joined the University of Bristol, retiring in 2013 after a 40-year career as a database consultant and developer at the Bristol Computer Centre.

Maggie had boundless energy and enthusiasm for ensuring the best features of Clifton and the wider area were conserved and restored and for local amenities to be improved. Even her home at The Rocks Garage in Princess Victoria Street, a perfectly restored 1920s style mews garage not only looked the part but also contained within it, a collection of (mostly) operational vintage cars. These included her beloved 1924 Lanchester 20 hp limousine and a 1925 Talbot 10/23. Remarkably Maggie also restored a 1929 Peugeot 5CV which involved making a new ash frame and fabric body. Another focus of her great enthusiasms and campaigns was the conservation of Bristol’s collection of cast iron Victorian and Edwardian lamp posts, one of which was outside her own front door.

She was a long time active member of the Bristol Industrial Archaeological Society and the editor of its Bulletin, as well as participating in the Brunel Swivel Bridge Group and the Cumberland Basin Stakeholder Group. In 2012,  Bristol's Forgotten Coalfield Bedminster’ was published written by Maggie and her partner and later husband,  Mike Taylor. They had met in 2000, at a Lifelong Learning Industrial Archaeological course run by one of the doyens of industrial archaeology, the late Joan Day and in Mike’s words “never looked back”  BIAS and the Clifton Rocks Railway were shared passions.

Ostensibly fit and healthy, in 2016 Maggie was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and shortly after she and her partner of 14 years, Mike Taylor married in “a joyous, if unconventional event.”

Despite her illness Maggie continued to organise successful open days for the Clifton Rocks Railway, worked on the Brunel swivel bridge and was researching and writing a new book on the Nailsea coalfields. She  maintained her passion for vintage cars and continued to give talks on her projects until very recently.

Maggie is survived by her husband, Mike Taylor, her two sons, Andrew and Michael, from an earlier marriage, and her two grandchildren.

Professor Angus Buchanan died 17 June 2020

buchanan glass weight angus and brenda

BIAS Titan

BIAS members and all those with an active interest in Industrial Archaeology (IA) wherever it is pursued will be saddened to learn of the passing of Professor R. Angus Buchanan OBE at the Royal United Hospital in Bath on 17 June, last. He died peacefully following a fall at his home shortly after his 90 th birthday and some two months after the death his wife Brenda.

Angus was a much-respected scholar in the fields of the history of technology and IA and played an important part in the formation of our society and in promoting research into the industrial past of the area around Bristol and Bath. At the time of writing it is understood that obituaries are being prepared for national publication that will no doubt deal with his contribution to these disciplines in the UK and internationally. The following notes and reflections aim to focus mainly upon his role in BIAS and the local area.

Angus moved to Bristol in 1960 to take up a teaching job at what was soon to become one of the new Colleges of Advanced Technology and, in 1966, the new Bath University of Technology where he remained in post until retirement in 1995. After this, he continued to convene meetings of the Centre for the History of Technology (latterly re-named the History of Technology Research Unit) at the university until shortly before his death. He had set up the centre whilst working in Bristol where he also organised extra-mural courses at the Bristol Folk house and took part in residential conferences that were to prepare the way for the rapid growth of interest and activity in IA in the late 1960s and the early years of the next decade. The papers delivered at a course held in 1965, subsequently edited by Kenneth Hudson, have been published as The Industrial Past and Industrial Present (Bath University Press, 1967) and provide an interesting insight into the challenges to be faced at the time.

It was from the Folk House courses that Angus and Neil Cossons, then Curator of Technology at Bristol Museum, joined with other participants to form BIAS in 1967. Recollections of these early days are recorded in BIAS Journal 49, published in our 50 th anniversary year, and in the transcript of an interview with William Hanna in Bath History XIII (2013). Angus became the first BIAS chair and Neil its secretary. He also edited the journal which first appeared in 1968. The term of office for the chair was limited to two years at the time but Angus was to continue as editor until 1978 when his editorial 'Ten Years of BIAS' celebrated achievements and identified matters that 'still required our attention'. These early journals are now available to all on the BIAS website and his words provide an interesting commentary on the progress of the society and the discipline. In the early 1970s Angus had already taken on responsibilities at national and international levels which included the presidency of the Association for Industrial Archaeology (AIA) and representation on committees of the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (RCHME), the National Trust and the International Committee for the History of Technology (ICOTHTEC).

He did not, however, neglect his local area and was a founder-member of the History of Bath Research Group (HBRG) and a trustee of the Bath Archaeological Trust (BAT). He remained as a member of BIAS Committee for a number of years and became our first president in 1991. As such he chaired the BIAS AGM, was a member of the judging panel for the BIAS Brunel Prize and hosted the regional conferences when organised by BIAS. He kept in touch with society business in his later years, took a keen interest in the committee minutes and was always on hand to give an opinion and offer advice when asked.

I did not get to meet Angus until I moved permanently to the area in 1984 but profited greatly during my early days in IA from reading his books and editorials - I made a habit of purchasing early journals at the museum on Queens Road whenever I visited Bristol. Of particular influence was his ''Industrial History of the Bristol Region (with Neil Cossons, 1969) and his Pelican Industrial Archaeology in Britain that was first published in 1972 when I was preparing my first modest offering on Barnstaple's IA. Together with Arthur Raistrick's Industrial Archaeology: An Historical Survey, also published in that year, the two books provided contrasting approaches to the development of the study since the appearance of Kenneth Hudson's pioneering Industrial Archaeology in1963. I was later to discover and learn much from his briefer surveys of IA in Bristol (1967) and Bath (1969) and his definitive biography Brunel (2002).

Having worked with Angus as BIAS President during my second stint as its chair, it was a pleasing surprise to renew this relationship at national level when AIA decided to appoint an executive chair to manage the organisation in tandem with a distinguished President to act in a 'ceremonial' role. Such divisions of responsibility sometimes prove difficult but Angus, down-to- earth Yorkshireman that he was, made it clear from the outset that I was to 'do the work' - so I gave him the AIA's medal of office that had survived this reorganisation and we got on with our respective jobs with never a cross word.

I have particularly fond memories of his company and conversation on such occasions as the presentation of AIA's annual conference awards that usually took place in deep mid-winter after the autumn event. This involved long journeys on the motorways in difficult conditions and, on one occasion, of a flying visit to the Isle of Man when the island's frequent fog almost disrupted a tight schedule of presentations and media interviews. His reminiscences of past events and opinions of some of his colleagues in IA during these excursions were quite revealing - but not to be repeated here!

Angus will be greatly missed. He played a significant part in changing the way we see and respond to the industrial past of our area and the wider world. In doing so he always demanded high standards of others but was quick to encourage the efforts of those who lacked his intellect and experience of the academic world. At the BIAS AGM in 2015, Angus Buchanan stepped down as president having been a founding member in 1968. We presented him with a blue glass paperweight to commemorate this momentous occasion and thanked him for all his hard work (see the front page of the bulletin). BIAS was formed in 1967.

At a recent BIAS AGM, Stuart Burroughs paid tribute to the memory of Joan Day and Owen Ward, two other early members, by saying that we, as their successors, were 'standing on the shoulders of giants', a metaphor attributed to Sir Isaac Newton and subsequently engraved on the edge of our £2 coins. If founding and developing BIAS was, as Stuart observed, the work of giants then Angus was a veritable titan. It is now up to us to build upon his legacy.

Mike Bone (past chairman)

This is very sad news. I had known Angus from the very early days of the proposals to rescue the Great Britain (when we also formed the Brunel Society) although as I recall he did not take an active part in the preliminary meetings held at the Museum, these were organised by Neil Cossons, but Angus was always in the background providing encouragement. In later years I met Bob Martin and it was he who encouraged me to join BIAS which I did after I retired in 1994. I was very grateful to Angus for his wise and encouraging comments on the draft for my Great Eastern article for the BIAS journal in 2015.

Keith Hickman

Dr Brenda Buchanan died 14 April 2020 after a fall at home (1930-2020).

Brenda Buchanan
Angus and Brenda with Julia Elton at a BIAS trip to Clevedon Court
Angus on the left, and Brenda next to him. Julia on the right

Angus and Brenda were founder members of BIAS. Brenda's obituary will also be published in the bulletin.

This is an update giving Brenda’s (online!!) funeral service onto you.
Please forward it to anyone else who might want to “attend.”
Mary-Nell and I had fun recording a short video clip for the (online!!) funeral service for the service recalling Brenda’s irrepressible laughter and her constant desire to add one more place to visit to any day trip!
Strange times we live in.
Cheers, Andy (Buchanan)

Brenda Buchanan: a note by her friends April 2020 by Keith Falconer with Mike Bone and Neil Cossons.

Brenda passed suddenly away on Tuesday 14th April in her 90th year and some of her friends have put together this short note for the Bias website and forthcoming BIAS Bulletin. It is not intended to be a full Obituary but rather a personal celebration of the quiet impact and unobtrusive inspiration on our lives that the Angus and Brenda team -and it was always an equal team - made on lives. In March 2020 when the Covid-19 Shut Down was imposed Keith had a long telephone chat with Brenda and some of the early details in this note have been gleaned from that.

Brenda first met Angus on a High Storrs Grammar School Inter-Sixth Form hike to the moors above Sheffield. Brenda had only recently attended High Storrs as she lived the other side of Sheffield and her wartime memories of being separated for months from her parents, when the family home was blitzed, were still raw.

That immediate post-war period, with a social conscience that it generated, was witnessed locally by the creation in 1944 of the Sheffield Industrial Mission and the work of the Mission was to have a profound influence on the decisions made by both Brenda and Angus. It was to encourage their involvement with the Iona Community and in 1952 they visited the Youth Camp together. This joint interest in bridging the gap between the church and working people crucially influenced Angus to take up the post of Adult Education Officer with the Royal Foundation of St Katherine in Stepney in 1956.

By that time Brenda had gained a teaching qualification from Homerton and she had married Angus on the 10th August 1955. When they moved to London, Angus had completed his BA and PhD in trade union history at Cambridge (having first done 18 months National Service in the Far East). It was then that Angus first became involved in the Workers Educational Association (WEA) which was to be a significant feature of their next decade.

In 1960 Angus and Brenda left Stepney for Angus to take up the post of Assistant Lecturer in Social & Economic History at the Bristol College of Science & Technology which was being recognised as a CAT - a College of Advanced Technology. At the Bristol Folk House Angus resumed his WEA work and it was at that group that their association with Neil Cossons, the new Curator of Technology at Bristol Museum began and together, with like minded members of the group, they formed the Bristol Industrial Archaeology Society. Angus and Brenda also pursued their social work interests through The New Bristol Group set up by Tony Benn.

As Neil recalls " Within weeks of our coming to Bristol in 1964 Angus and I met and this quickly led to the launch of a series of industrial archaeology evening classes at the Folk House on Park Street. These ran for a number of years. Visiting Angus and Brenda in their Bristol home meant tripping over innumerable plastic aeroplane kits, but also the most hospitable of welcomes. It was Brenda and Angus that gave us some of their old furniture when we set up house in Portishead and we became close friends - and met Brenda on numerous BIAS visits."

As Mike notes, "Brenda has provided an informative and evocative account of the early days of BIAS in her contribution to the 50th anniversary issue of BIAS Journal that was published in 2017. These were heady days when there was much to be discovered and enjoyed on site visits by our founding members -or 'Founding Families' - as Brenda reminded us in her article as many children were also present. Brenda always found time to support Angus during his years as the first BIAS President and to encourage and support members in their research. It is fitting that two of her earlier articles were published as

The Avon Navigation in 2011, the first in an attractive series of BIAS Histories. Brenda's contribution to our society will always be remembered by current members and she will be sadly missed.

In 1966 the Bristol CAT became the University of Bath and the history of engineering element moved to temporary premises in Bath and eventually up to Claverton Down where Angus with his 'research assistant' George Watkins (of steam engine fame) had a room in the Library. Angus then ran a series of Bath Conferences on Industrial Archaeology which soon had an international following and he and Brenda were to forge friendships around the world. He also created a Centre for the Study of the History of Technology to attract post-graduate work on the subject and Brenda became a visiting Research fellow in 1987. This was the pre-cursor of the History of Technology Research Unit (HOTRU) which continues to this day.

It was in 1971 that Angus and Brenda were to greatly influence my own family life. In May that year I was offered the post of CBA Survey Officer for Industrial Monuments having been interviewed by the CBA Research Committee on which Angus served. The post was originally to be based in London but Angus offered to host it at the University of Bath and my wife and I travelled down from Hull to view the site and discuss facilities with Angus. We had a meal with Brenda that evening and immediately formed a friendship that was to last nearly 50 years and was responsible for my families sojourn in Frome for all that time.

It was also in that year that Angus and Brenda were involved in the first British Industrial Archaeology Conference which was held in Bradford and with a second such conference held in Strathclyde led to the formation of the Association for Industrial Archaeology at a third conference held on the Isle of Man. Brenda and Angus, with Neil and myself, were founder members of the AIA and Angus was to succeed Tom Rolt as President of the AIA the following year.

Angus and Brenda, with Neil as the main player, were involved in the early years of the formation of the international organisation that is now TICCIH (The International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage). In 1973 we all attended the First International Congress of the Conservation of Industrial Monuments - the pre-cursor of TICCIH. Three year later I remember with some nostalgia travelling with them by rail (the long journey fortified by Brenda's fruit cake) to Bochum as part of a 'klein gruppe' to SICCIM the second of such congresses - my fare was half price!

It was at this time that Brenda began her research into Turnpike trusts and their capital formation which led to her PhD from the LSE in 1992. Having become a leading authority on the Bath Turnpike Trusts followed by a detailed study on the shareholders behind the construction of the Avon Navigation she then turned her attention to the manufacture of gunpowder and its ramifications. This work, originally locally focussed, with articles such as those on the Wooley Powder Works in IA Review 1981 and on the Bristol region in the Transactions of the Newcomen Society in 1985/6 was to become, via the International Committee for the History of Technology (ICOHTEC), the subject for which she became internationally known. It was Brenda's interest in gunpowder that led Neil - as the then Director of the Science Museum in London - to propose her as a trustee of the Waltham Abbey gunpowder mills project in which she became very active, especially in ensuring that proper conservation standards were maintained. Brenda edited and contributed to several of the seminal volumes on gunpowder which were to show that this source of energy was to change the world. Having provided a note on the lack of appreciation of the international significance of gunpowder in BIAS Vol 19 1986 she returned to a local gunpowder works in Bath History X 2005.

Brenda was a great support to Angus in the later years of HOTRU, she contributed a chapter on Warfare and Society to the book The Engineering Revolution: How the Modern World was Changed by Technology which was edited by Angus and produced to mark the 50th anniversary of the Unit. She continued to be a HOTRU Visiting Research Fellow to the end.

Angus and Brenda On the occasion of their Diamond Wedding 10th August 2015

Neil: "Veronica and I are deeply saddened to hear of Brenda's death and our heart goes out to Angus and to the family at their loss." Mike: "Our thoughts are with Angus and his family at this difficult time." Keith: "Eileen and I would very much wish to echo these sentiments."

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. Born 1930

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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