FROM THE CHAIRMAN.
The Zoo’s Western Car Park Development Plan or How to
continue to turn “the handsomest suburb in Europe“ into
The Most Nondescript.
As is too often the case, the Zoo’s much publicised consultation
process has produced no significant change to a scheme that would
be as unworthy of its surroundings as will be the imminent block on
Clifton Down Road, once the site of W. H. Smith and Clifton on Ice.
We are relieved to be in agreement with the Bristol Conservation
Advisory Panel and with two groups of concerned residents,
especially since the Society which claims to uphold standards for
Bristol as a whole has for a second time put the interest of a
developer above those who value heritage and architectural
distinction. Of course the Zoo authorities wish to make as much
money as possible for the move out of Bristol but what should be
borne in mind is that you can know the price of something but not
therefore its value. Better raise the needed funds via appealing to
benefactors than bequeathing to Clifton another dim legacy.
Please read the Planning Report by Linda Edwards later in the
Newsletter to see the CHIS case and what action members can
take. A number of the on-line messages of support on the Bristol
City Council Planning Website look to be lodged by those who have
an undeclared connection with the Zoo and none with Clifton.
Of even greater impact is the future of the Zoo Gardens.
Christopher Jefferies is working for an outcome by which CHIS is
heading an initiative to establish the site as an Asset of Community
Asset Value. That would help to advance a major project of major
ecological and environmental importance, with backing from many
influential supporters from Bristol and beyond.
Whatever happens, we look forward to the return of the North Car
Park on Clifton Down Road to the grassed and shrubs-strong Downs
land which it was not too long ago. Not all members may have read
about the legal procedures led by Friends of the Downs concerning
the method by which the Downs Committee gave permission for an
extension of the overflow Zoo visitors parking rights in the summer
on a section of the Downs. Along with other local groups we made a
contribution to the legal costs in order to support the principle of
Freedom of Information, so we welcome the legal settlement.
However, the total legal costs of a prolonged dispute are high and
will most likely be paid from Council funds.
The Secretary hoped to include a calendar of three Talks, from
September to November, in this Newsletter but bookings of the
Apostle Room will not be received until June 21st at the earliest.
Once details are are settled we will inform members - to include
what arrangement has been made for parking now that bollards
have been installed at the Clifton Cathedral car park.
A novel Talk is in the process of completion, having been stalled for
over a year. It is the CHIS Walking Tour app, which has been
composed by our Treasurer, James Simmonds.
Again, more information is to come.
Bristol is second only to the capital in the riches of fine lamp posts
and it is heartening when members contact us with concerns about
their fate, most recently the grand example at the corner of West
Mall and The Mall. One member was reassured by the BCC
workman that the post is being refurbished after some damage
from a vehicle and will soon be returned. A sharp lookout needs to
be kept on the corners of Kings Road and Boyce’s Avenue, where
the developers have promised proper reinstallation.
That neatly brings to mind the request by RoseMary Musgrave last
March for memories of the houses and occupants of the Clifton
Down Road site before the 1960s development. There have been
some interesting gleanings, in part prompted by Peter Stanley’s
photographs of the now-viewable Kings Road matching buildings.
There is to be a welcome return of Green Squares and Secret
Gardens, but for one day rather than a weekend. CHIS handed over
responsibility two years but gives support to the new organisers.
I must sing the all-too common song about overhanging hedges,
which the rains of May have stimulated tropically. It is not only
absentee landlords who ignore their public and neighbourly
More cheerfully, I personally am delighted to see decorative railings
being replaced after the nationwide destruction of them in the
Second World War. A propaganda move to make people feel they
could help the war effort by donating the metal for the construction
of planes, it was no more true than the claim that eating carrots
improved your eyesight (a way of getting people to eat one of the
few vegetables in abundance) and the railings were thrown away.
Queen Mary, dwelling at Badminton, was assiduous in enforcing the
cause, in Bristol and beyond: hence the current scene.
So, it was cheering to see the latest improvement, in All Saints
Road, where a stylish arrangement has just been finished.
If you take a deep breath and venture into town, there are two
attractive gardens to be savoured.
One is a group of wild flower segments outside Bristol Cathedral, in
finely modulated colours.
The other is in Castle Park on the terrace above the river. The set
of garden beds glows with a staggering number of plants, many of
them aromatic, and cleverly arranged with tall purple flag Irises,
Delphiniums, foxgloves et al. All may be relished from one of the
seats backing onto the ruined church.
They are a credit to the Parks and Gardens Department.
To close on a note that looks very fashionable in 2021 though
written in 1877:
Nothing is so beautiful as Spring-
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
The glossy pear tree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.
Gerard Manley Hopkins.
Who knows? We may yet see sheep back in the Downs as rewilding