CHIS Newsletter, September 2013

Letter from the Chairman

At the moment we have a good deal to do with children’s interests, one way or another. We are negotiating to sponsor a specially designed seat from which parents may watch over their offspring at the playground below the Observatory when redevelopment is complete.

The handsome former St. John’s Primary School Building at the top of Blackboy Hill has long been empty and forlorn but is soon to be adapted as houses and apartments, which we will look out for.

Less happily, is a proposal to turn the bottom two floors of the Central Library into a Primary School (letters by Dorothy Brown and Simon Cook included). More information.

In Bristol’s Best 100 Buildings Michael Jenner (one of the founders of CHIS incidentally) describes the high, unique quality of Charles Holden’s 1906 building, both intrinsically and for its brilliant relationship with the adjacent former Abbey gateway. The suggested development would be of a particularly disgraceful kind and a mockery of Bristol’s pretensions as a grand city.

The Downs On ITV West News Richard Bland and others spoke succinctly about the damage caused to the vulnerable and special landscape if the Zoo succeeds yet again in applying to use one section as a car park for 60 days per year. Alternatives, such as Park and Ride and the new Hollywood site were pointed out. It is not always remembered that the parking zones at the front of the Zoo are Downs land.

Erosion of a different sort is all too visible in the tracks carved out by joggers. Interestingly, the Downs authorities feel that it would be reasonable to charge Personal Trainers for commercial use of the area.

The proposed realignment of roads and parking places by the Suspension Bridge will not result in the loss of Downs land.

News of the intended sale of the Observatory Building is of major interest, with many implications, as anyone who has followed the recent history of the construction will realise. We should all be vigilant.

Although undertaken before the recent tropical heat set in, our two recent visits have been a joy. The John Boyd Textiles Horsehair Factory in Castle Cary is a unique survivor. Its workings and products were fascinating to observe in a pleasant guided tour, followed by lunch and then a wander round the artfully designed Kilver Court Garden in Shepton Mallet. Later, a more select number of us was given an informative tour of the Royal Fort Gardens - setting history and gardens.

The Laskett Gardens visit on 3rd September is proving to be very popular and should be a delight.

Sharon Baker’s Clifton Village 2013 - Urban Community RHS Britain in Bloom is a wide-ranging display of community work in Clifton, with informative text and photographs. Wish the booklet success in the judging by the RHS Urban Community Competition assessors.

Our sponsored traffic island plants (by the Victoria Rooms) are bedding in, whatever the weather. So too the overhanging bushes and trees which festoon so many pavements dangerously; if only the City Council would act, given such thoughtlessness by property owners (many of whom are absentee owners).

Another shockingly neglected matter is BLOCKED DRAINS. Interestingly a May Gurney officer who had inspected all the drains preparatory to the extensive Water Mains Works says that in our area there are numerous cases of uncleared drains.

The reconstruction of Mortimer House goes on apace, as does the new Environmental Sciences Building on St. Michael’s Hill. Generally the amount of scaffolding seems to belie the idea of Austerity Britain! However in the Avon Gorge, one construction, in the garden of one of the houses in Prince’s Buildings is the subject of major concern to CHIS and neighbours.

I hope all our members who live in the area received a copy of the new local magazine — Clifton Matters. It covered several interesting topics and a two-page spread about CHIS. The editor had contacted me to ask for this because he saw the work we do in, and for, the locality as a very important part of why Bristol 8 is such an attractive place to live in and to visit.

We look forward to two events:

On September 24th Professor Ronald Hutton will give his rescheduled lecture on Fairies, in which he provides a virtuoso account of the changing concepts of the supernatural beings in history and literature. Don’t miss it!

The same request goes for the Annual General Meeting on 22th October.

Brian Worthington