Letter from the Chairman
Our 2015 calendar of events has been, to say the least, extensive in the report at the AGM I named it The Year of the Plaques, with five dedicated customarily to individuals and two for buildings, as the new CHIS Award for Excellence. Katherine Croft has been assiduous in organizing the occasions and owners of the adorned properties have offered generous receptions.
Add eight talks and two visits, arranged efficiently as ever by RoseMary Musgrave and Linda Edwards, and a brand new website, masterminded by Christopher Jefferies and Laurence Penney, and members will see why I stressed the invaluable activity of the Committee. Their dedication and imagination received appreciation at the AGM and other events.
Spice was added to the meat of our annual business when Alistair Park gave an intriguing description of his work on the intricately designed bench at the Observatory Playground; his ideas and skills were amiably demonstrated. The letter from the Lord Mayor thanking CHIS for funding the work is printed on another page. Her quick response to our request for action to counter the muddy morass around the bench (a result of its popularity!) is gratifying: protective material is to be laid. So fine and numerous are the carvings on the bench that Richard Bland has kindly produced a list of them, printed elsewhere in this Newsletter.
We were grateful to Professor Chris Stephens for providing a display of materials relating to William Pennington, Master of Ceremonies at the Hotwells Spa dedicatee of our plaque at 12 Dowry Square.
In Robert Southey: Bristol’s Neglected Son Stuart Andrews showed with slides and research the eminence which had made Southey respected nationally, not only as one of the Lake Poets but also as a historian and Poet Laureate – a series of revelations to the considerable audience for the lecture.
Did you know this about the Downs completed the year’s Talks programme. Various aspects of the area and its maintenance were enthusiastically described by four speakers: Richard Ennion (Senior Tree Officer for Bristol City Council), Mandy Leivers (Avon Gorge and Downs Bio-diversity Education Officer), Robin Haward (Membership Secretary of Friends of the Downs and Avon Gorge (FODAG) and Richard Bland on the ‘Ghost Roads of the Downs’. Richard’s work for many environmental groups enabled him to organize the evening so fruitfully.
Members’ general memories of the Downs had to be confined to a fascinating recollection by Geoffrey Robinson of its military use from 1942 to 1947 delivered appropriately on the day of the 75th Anniversary of the Blitz on Bristol. It is printed elsewhere in the Newsletter. We hope to have a further event at which more members may offer their experiences and memories.
A different annual ceremony is the switching on of the Christmas tree lights in the Mall Gardens, to which the Secretary and Chairman were invited by BID (Business Improvement District). Later they and the Deputy Chairman met Carrie Pooler (from BID) to explore ways of co-operation for improvements in Clifton Village.
Earlier, at the other end of BS8, we were invited to the celebration of the new studios and entrance at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. We had long been involved in the plans and were glad to have offered helpful advice to Paul Rummer, the Director. His talk to CHIS a few years ago will be recalled by many members.
Other Meetings of Interest
Miscellaneous (Good and Bad)
Shoppers leaving the Sainsbury’s Shopping Centre via Alma Road must be spritely to avoid being soaked as cars are driven over an unrepaired drain and to escape slithering on autumn leaves.
The 1917 Soldiers’ ‘convalescent’ shelter, owned by Bristol City Council, at the top of Blackboy Hill has been English Heritage Listed. The Downs Committee is being asked to enable investigation of restoration prospects.
We wish everyone a Happy New Year; ours begins with the Winter Lunch on Saturday January 9th. Last year’s was a delicious, sociable bargain.