CHIS Newsletter December 2022

From the Chairman.

We have received compliments on the new typeface and layout of the September Newsletter: congratulations to RoseMary Musgrave and Laurence Penney, an expert in typography. The last twenty years have seen three design changes, from the time when photographs replaced the charming and evocative line-drawings made by local schools, (pupils and teachers) as well as members of the Society to the new format. However, the contents over fifty-five years present many never-changing topics like planning, waste collection, traffic and overhanging tree growth as well as reports of CHIS initiatives such as the following. The Lookout on Sion Hill. In 1992 on the initiative of individual members we sponsored the now indispensable paving and plaque across from the Suspension Bridge. Walking by a few weeks ago, I realised how weather-affected the construction has become. As a result the Committee agreed to commission its refurbishment. The expense is significant as is the response from members, including some contributors to the original cost. We would be pleased if they and corporate institutions who helped fund the Lookout felt able to contribute to the restoration cost. CHIS has been congratulated by the Lord Mayor on taking this action.

The next Newsletter will contain a section on the establishment of this invaluable asset, and describe ways in which individuals and organizations may contribute. Remembrance Sunday. In lovely weather the Royal British Legion commemoration took place by the Lime Walk at St Andrew’s churchyard. The CHIS wreath was presented by Peter Stanley next to those from the local Rangers, Scouts, Guides, Cubs, Brownies and Rainbows, who had paraded from Pavey House and behaved impeccably during the service. Each year sees an increase in the number attending. That is all the more gratifying since the service ceased to be held for some years in the late 1970s/early 1980s but was started up again at the request and with the help of John Knott, who liaised with the legion and Richard Bland (ex-Royal Navy). John was Hotwells born and bred; his wife ran the little grocery shop which was opposite the Avon Gorge Hotel on the southern corner of Princess Victoria Street and Sion Hill. Perhaps that explains why I received an unhappy enquiry as to why the event had not taken place at 11.00 and why we had not put up notices about it. As it is we are not in charge and depend on the Local Royal British Legion for notice of the precise timing since they are in charge. It has always been between 1.00 and 2.00 p.m. Post Script. On Tuesday afternoon Peter Stanley went to secure the wreaths after a very stormy night, only to discover a large cedar branch had fallen, on a spot where a number of residents and dignitaries had been standing. He informed the Tree dept of the City Council, who will take action as a result.

Annual General Meeting, 18th October. A goodly number of members assembled, perhaps lured by the chance to hear Sally Bateman’s enthusiastically presented talk on ‘The Real Jane Austen (Not a Subdued Parsonage Daughter)’. Before that we heard a lucid presentation of the annual accounts from James Simmonds, kindly standing in for his incoming successor. Re-elected to the Committee for three years were Linda Edwards, Paul Main and Peter Stanley. Newly elected was Laurence Penney. In accordance with the constitution, at the November Committee Meeting the Chairman, Deputy Chairman, and Secretary were re-elected, for one year and the Treasurer, Dilip Patel, elected for one year.

Events. The guided tour of Bristol Synagogue in Park Row, the second in ten years, drew a large attendance, to be informed and entertained in a masterly presentation by Tony Gordon, which concluded with a tour of the building and its treasures. Later we were again privileged to hear Professor Ronald Hutton lecture on ‘The Historical King Arthur’, presented with his characteristic clarity, erudition, and with a range of reference. The New Speaker System. In order to make up for the dubious acoustics of the Apostle Room, Christopher Jefferies and a most helpful member Keith Rodgerson, a professional sound engineer, have worked intensively to produce a system, which was put into practice at the above talk and proved most effective. That will surely be welcomed by members when they come to the 2023 talks. Ed Drewitt, delivered a memorable lecture on peregrines a few years ago. He will recount ‘Stories while Watching Wildlife’, on 17th January. Sheila Hannon will tell all about the amazing Sarah Guppy on 21st February.

Traffic. For good or ill, the closure of one section of Princess Victoria Street is now permanent. We support a plan that is being looked into for the possible installation of a pelican crossing in place of the zebra crossing to Boyce’s Avenue. It is used so haphazardly as to cause endless traffic tailbacks and delays. There is now space for pedestrians to queue safely at the blocked entrance to Princess Victoria Street. Members may remember the extensive analysis in the September edition of the legal position regarding those shacks erected in The Mall and Princess Victoria Street. Mercifully all but two have been removed, the last to go by the end of the year. What is allowed will be solely furniture that must be removed at night, unless traders apply for full planning approval for outdoor structures to make sure they are in keeping with the character of the Village. Good news is that, in part by pressure by councillors and local groups including ourselves, the No. 8 and 505 bus routes have been retained. It is an enormous relief.

Planning. Details are given on later pages of the decisions made by Linda Edwards and planning group members: a persistent, perhaps Sisyphean task, steadily undertaken. Zoo Sites. The designs presented for the West Car Park Site are atrocious by any aesthetic standard and still more offensive for taking no notice of the objections presented by CHIS in obtaining a Judicial Review. Beyond astonishment therefore is our reaction to the elephantine grossness of plans for the Zoo Gardens Site. Those entrusted with responsibility for the Zoo and its reputation should hang their heads in shame. The gleam of comfort is the swelling awareness among residents (local and beyond), assisted by Christopher Jefferies for CHIS, of the desperate need to challenge these atrocities by all proper means. WE ARE ANXIOUS THAT THE DESTRUCTIVE VULGARITY AND GREED EMBODIED IN THESE PLANS IS BROUGHT TO NATIONAL ATTENTION. WE BEG ANY MEMBER WHO HAS CONTACTS WITH THE NATIONAL PRESS AND BROADCASTERS TO HELP US ACHIEVE THIS. How laughable these shocking buildings will make the historic assessment of Clifton as the handsomest suburb in Europe – and how disgraced will be the memory of the Zoo. Despite that, A Happy New Year to all members.

Brian Worthington

CHIS Newsletter September 2022

From the Chairman. What a contrast! As the heatwave reaches a second peak it is ironic to recall that on June 25th, at the delayed dedication of our Green Plaque to Beryl Corner at 1, Rodney Place, steady rain caused a move indoors for the customary talk and reception as quickly as possible. Linda Edwards, Deputy Chairman presided, the High Sheriff Alex Raikes having performed the dedication and Professor Bhupinder Sandhu paid tribute to the distinguished doctor’s pioneering career. Yet but two weeks later the sun shone gloriously on the dedication of our plaque to Beryl Cook at 1A Camp Road. The Lord Lieutenant Peaches Golding again did the honours before a speech by Peter Slade, formerly of the Alexander Gallery, one of the earliest promoters of the artist’s work. His witty recollections of her were reinforced by the chance presence of a member who had visited the first exhibition of Cook’s painting in Plymouth. This time we decamped, to escape the sun, for another excellent reception at the Avon Gorge Hotel, smartly arranged by Paul Main. Who knows what the weather will bring us on two forthcoming occasions! On August 23rd a guided tour of the Bristol Synagogue in Park Row: 6.00 pm. On Tuesday September 27th the dedication of our green plaque to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the Clifton Rugby Football Club at the King’s Arms, Blackboy Hill: 6.00pm. Fine though not extreme conditions helped the organizers of the Green Squares and Open Gardens scheme to achieve an attendance of over 1000 visitors from Bristol and beyond. It was a cheering bounce-back after the unavoidable restrictions of the last two years. The event was founded by CHIS but is now independent; it is the only such outside London. The CHIS Walking Tour App, created by our Treasurer James Simmonds, elicited a highly complimentary comment from two Los Angelinos, who no doubt felt relieved to enjoy the walk under familiar blue skies. Publicity. A handsome information board has been installed, after many years of negotiation, in the Lime Walk to illustrate the history of the St Andrew’s churches, once the parish church of Clifton. Not so far away as the crow flies is another board, giving details of The Strangers Burial Ground. However, locating the site is as they say a challenge. Paul Main is working to persuade Bristol City Council that a helpful sign or two in and around the Village will do the trick. Intensive work by RoseMary Musgrave, Paul Main and Linda Edwards lies behind these excellent boards. The last-named is on the verge of success with a different kind of board, the CHIS noticeboard at Clifton Library, preceded already by a replacement CHIS bench in the courtyard.

Trees and Hedges. Tropical temperatures promote tropical growth but not enough responsible treatment of the ensuing overhang on the part of house owners. A range from nuisance to danger abounds in many roads. BCC promises action on any specific report but one of the few successes is at the Bristol University R.C. Chaplaincy at the junction of Queen’s Road and Richmond Hill, where pedestrians had been forced to walk in the road by untrimmed branches. Even worse examples may be found for example, Pembroke Road: at one point it is impossible to see, much less read, the bus-stop signs! Peter Stanley maintains a vigilant watch even so. The Bristol Trees and Streets Presentation at City Hall was attended by Laurence Penney, its purpose being to encourage tree-planting in the city. CHIS has not unreasonably said that it has planted trees a-plenty ever since its foundation in 1968, across BS8 and a few years ago on a part of the Downs (officially in BS6!). We will keep doing so and be particularly keen on replacing trees that are dying and have to be removed. A practical point made to enthusiasts is this: it is good to have plenty of trees but less so if authorities and residents fail to deal with the consequences, such as blocked drains and floods afer the Autumn leaf fall. Arlington Garden is exemplary in this respect. Restored from rough wilderness by hard and imaginative labour on the part of residents led by our committee member Nick Sargent (and Caroline Dix) it is now graced by a new fine teak bench (see article on later page).

Bristol Zoo Sites. CHIS undertook, in partnership with a group of concerned residents, to seek a Judicial Review of the approval by the Development Committee of Bristol City Council of the plan for the West Car Park. We previously cited the fact that the Planning Officer had not properly conveyed to councillors the serious concerns submitted by Historic England. To embark on such a review is a grave matter, not being easy to bring to success and not free of expense. Therefore it is good to record that we did succeed in having the planning permission quashed and receiving substantial contribution to legal costs. Judge then our astonishment to find that an almost identical plan has been submitted, for a decision by the same committee under the same chairmanship, with the same Planning Officer. Initially dated for September 22nd the hearing has been moved to, without due notice, August 24th. We are all too familiar with the method by which hearings are held in holiday periods, summer and New Year, when objectors may well not be able to attend. The design and that for the Zoo Site are a disgrace to the promises made by the Zoo authorities of due recognition of this unique neighbourhood’s environment. In no respect will they enhance its character. Nor should serious notice be taken of the Zoo’s accusation that CHIS’s action constitutes a hostile action to Bristol’s housing need and the Zoo’s noble intention that way. Details of CHIS’s objections to both applications can been read in the letters from Christopher Jefferies under Planning in this newsletter. Thanks to his incessant action the fight is by no means finished.

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. The “Welcome to Shanty Town” notice which appeared at one end of the closed Princess Victoria Street is not permanent. The proliferation of shacks, of varying design quality, in and around The Mall has prompted many calls and emails from members to CHIS – none anything but appalled by their arrival. The legal position, nationally and locally, is laid out by an article on a later page. Meantime we have been in regular discussion with our Councillors on the outlook. So too regarding the continuing part-closure of part of Princess Victoria Street. Committee member Stephen Grey-Harris has presented a reasoned objection to the scheme with regard to its impact on the traders and he is engaged on organizing them into a representative group. Many members will wish him luck. Treasurer Wanted Urgently! After four years our most efficient treasurer, James Simmonds is unfortunately retiring. We urgently need someone to replace him. This is an opportunity to become involved not only with our finances but, more generally, with the interesting and varied work we do.

Brian Worthington