CHIS Newsletter, April 2014

Letter from the Chairman

Our move to the Apostle Room of Clifton Cathedral for Talks is proving to be a success, with ease of parking, a flexible area and the ability to provide coffee and wine. The one hiccough has been eased and the central heating now functions well, making its presence felt by periodically moving into loud overdrive. Grand as are the Georgian splendours of Clifton Hill House, the new venue seems to appeal to members, especially as it allows a more sociable start to the evening.

That was shown at The History of the Victoria Cross and Harold Ackroyd, VC, given by Christopher Ackroyd to a responsive audience. The very different subject, All you wanted to know about Planning and didn’t dare ask enabled Martin Goodall to range from the complex development of national planning policies to the details of special areas such as ours.

The CHIS year had kicked off with an indoors visit, an instructive and entertaining tour of the BBC in Whiteladies Road; included were a group rehearsal of an “Archers” script and a presentation of the weather forecast by members, intrepidly tackled.

Please come to the talk on 29th April on The Life and Work of Charleston Robinson given by Trevor Thomson and be prompt to book for the Visits to Beckford Silk Workshop on the morning of 20th May followed in the afternoon by a visit to Batsford Arboretum. In June the will be a day visiting some hidden gems in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Suspension Bridge Road Improvements etc.:

  • We are happy with those proposed changes for the benefit of pedestrians (raised road crossings and resurfaced footpaths not to forget the return to traditional-style lamps).

  • However, there are concerns about plans to close Observatory Road except for cycles and buses, with consequent traffic flows on other roads. Please see my letter to Councillor Barbara Janke and her reply at the end of this piece.

Now that the quagmires have all but disappeared, work below the Observatory on the new children’s playground and its handsome wooden furniture has begun. CHIS has a particular interest: we are paying for a most stylish seat for the ease of those watching over the children.

Still in the general area of the Bridge, our suggestion that Bristol should mark the exceptional achievements of the Bristolian, Lieutenant-General Sir Fabian Ware, has received support from Councillors Charles Lucas and Claire Hiscott. Ideally there will be a statue. Suggestions as to where to place it are most welcome.

On the other side of BS8 there are two projects of interest to us all.

The Whiteladies Cinema, so long closed and much missed, is the subject of two proposals. The first is to create 3 varying-sized screening sections in the auditorium; it is a commercial scheme, financed to an extent by the development of six flats. The second is a charitable project, to restore almost completely the Art Deco auditorium, foyer and ballroom, with a smaller room for flexible use as a community centre, something Clifton has long needed. Both developers have given public presentations.

A planning application for the first scheme has been lodged; the second one is in the pipeline. CHIS is of course one among many groups which are anxious for the building to be restored and the very special cinema reinstated.

Such plans have long been considered at the Conservation Advisory Panel (for the whole of Bristol). These architects and representatives of amenity and specialist societies make recommendations to the City Council. Forthcoming expenditure savings mean that the current system will have to be altered, perhaps to a diminished level, which is most disturbing. We shall keep members informed. Bristol University

The imposing Earth Sciences Building on St Michael’s Hill is near completion and welcome work on creating a new garden at the Royal Fort is underway. At the junction of Woodland Road and University Road is the Fry Building complex, to be developed as the Department of Mathematics, when the current department moves out. CHIS and other societies were consulted on the planned blend of the old and the new and were pleased with the result as well as welcoming the creation of an extended garden and tree-lined entrance, angled from north to south.

Closer to home is the plan to construct a considerable number of student flats in Alma Vale Road on the currently unused car park at the foot of the back steps to Clifton Down Shopping Centre. We are at the moment involved in discussions with the developers and are always aware of that significant neologism, Studentification, and its impact.

A cloud no bigger than a man’s hand is causing unease: the extent to which the Down’s Rangers service will be affected by expenditure cuts. Again we shall keep members informed.

Cliftonwood and Hotwells are celebrated in style as volumes 3 and 4 of Explore Bristol by CHIS stalwarts Julia Killingback and Mike Pascoe. Those who appreciated the range of architecture, history, social life and quirky information in the guided walks around Georgian and Victorian Clifton will not be surprised to find fascinating details in the new volumes and a stirring sense of the special qualities of the two areas.

If the weather is kind the guides are a delight; if not, they provide a lively armchair tour, Virtual Reality perhaps?

Brian Worthington