CHIS Newsletter, November 2014

Letter from the Chairman

The superb Summer has extended remarkably into late Autumn and proved ideal for August’s Green Squares and Secret Gardens, that triumph of organization, imagination, co-operation and enjoyment. Many visitors from Bristol and farther afield enjoyed the two-day event and tickets were all sold as people flocked to the promised delights of Clifton’s fascinating gardens. RoseMary Musgrave masterminded this success. We are indebted to her indefatigable enthusiasm and knowledge; the whisper is that a repeat, with possibly even more gardens, may be on the cards next year.

Clifton and Hotwells owe a great deal to Barbara Janke, as our long-standing Councillor and Leader of Bristol City Council. The Committee has sent congratulations on her elevation to the House of Lords, where she intends to work hard on behalf of our area and the whole of Bristol.

Our last two talks were both concerned with the River Avon, from different aspects. Helen Jeffery, the Community Learning and Volunteer Officer at the Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre, gave a vivacious, illustrated account of the great numbers of the activities for the opening of the Centre and for lively involvement with schools and many public bodies to stimulate interest and awareness. On December 8th a ceremonial, civic dedication is planned and a Grand Formal Opening in the Spring.

Gordon Young’s film, The Avon Gorge: Bristol’s Spectacular Route to the Sea, ensured a good attendance at the Annual General Meeting and resulted in great appreciation of the film’s information and pictorial features. The speaker happily answered questions and members as happily bought the DVD.

The formal, necessary business had preceded the film. Roger Snary presented the accounts, with sincere thanks to our most obliging Reviewer (aka auditor). Four committee members were elected for a further three years: Katherine Cross, RoseMary Musgrave, Roger Snary and Brian Worthington, and the Chairman reviewed the Good, the Bad and some Ugly aspects of 2014.

The culminating talk is on 18th November at the Apostle Room of the Catholic Cathedral. Jeff Wilson has spent his working life making wildlife films for the BBC and others and working in 38 countries to produce distinguished and spectacular flora and fauna films. His talk is on Lessons from the Wild – What can the Natural World teach us? and should not be missed!

It is a while since we installed a green plaque so it is good to be able to say that we will do so soon, commemorating Dr Cecil Burch, FRS, engineer and prolific inventor, with over 100 patents to his name.

English Heritage has caught up with CHIS in putting up a blue plaque in London to Sir Fabian Ware, creator of the Imperial War Graves Commission, only eight years after our green plaque was installed at his birthplace opposite Christchurch. We would very much like Bristol City Council to take the lead by commissioning a statue of that remarkable man, especially at this period of 1914-1918 commemorations nationwide.

We have created a new plaque – a Merit Award – to acknowledge buildings and restoration works of distinction. The first recipients will be named soon.

Continuing development concerns include the following:

The Clifton Down (W.H. Smith) site. The developer and architect have taken some note of our disappointment with the change of design. Demolition is taking place, with permission for a temporary ice rink. We are trying to ensure that the licence for the sale of alcohol will state restricted hours, for the benefit of residents. The Victorian lamp posts are to be restored and duly reinstated. The mature birch trees will alas have to be replaced on completion of the project instead of being kept where they are.

Mortimer House next door is almost completely refurbished. Someone may then tell English Heritage, since according to the Bristol Post the edifice is still on the At Risk Register!

Traffic. Residents are anxious about the positioning of notices about the coming Parking Scheme in Clifton and Clifton East. We sympathise and have urged the City Council to observe the sensitive nature of this Conservation Area when they comply with their legal obligations. We also share the considerable alarm over the installation and use of shared pedestrian and cycle pathways, notably at Rownham Mead in Hotwells, where the likelihood of a race track for irresponsible cyclists is feared. The NO CYCLING notices on Christchurch Green and Clifton Down are in urgent need of re-painting.

Slum City. Alma Vale Road’s residents and traders decorate their street with hanging baskets or Christmas trees and lights when appropriate. Disgracefully their efforts are mocked by Council and University officials’ refusal to enforce the removal of black bins left out on pavements permanently. The further end of the road is threatened by a plan to build student flats on the parking space which has been gated off for many years instead of giving desperately needed parking provision. Grossly over-massed, the proposed construction will require the destruction of two exceptionally fine flowering cherries and a walnut tree – a species not commonly found in this area. We will support the Clifton Down Residents Association in opposing a developer who displays not a sign of compromise or understanding.

To end on a happy horticultural note: it is a pleasure to welcome Bristol University’s extension to the Royal Fort Gardens, the excellence of which is described later in this edition.

Let us hope 2015 brings more joys than sorrows to our area.

Brian Worthington