CHIS Newsletter April 2023


​It is always a pleasure to open with good news.

The Lookout. ​Restoration of the lettering on the plaques and cleaning of the stonework after almost thirty years of weathering are underway, to be completed soon. However, alarm bells jangle when a concerned resident rang the police to say that those artifacts had been stolen! Happily, Councillor O’Rourke was able to reassure the constabulary of CHIS’s entirely legal and responsible work, which has been published in the last Newsletter.

Treasurer. ​Following on the Year of Three Prime Ministers is our Year of Three Treasurers. On the resignation of James Simmonds, we were lucky that Dilip Patel stepped into the breach only to find an unexpected increase in the demands of his private work. Fortune smiled on us again when Steve Bullimore renewed his offer to take on the position in early February. Thanks to support from his predecessors, all is in his secure hands. Steve had already earned his CHIS spurs by bringing about a frequent removal by Bristol City Council Waste Services of accumulating rubbish in the King’s Road area. Talks The season got off to a good start with ‘Stories of a Wild Life Photographer’. Ed Drewitt informed and entertained his audience in presenting a remarkable range of places and creatures, all with personal panache and enthusiasm. ​We anticipated another memorable address but on a very different topic, The Life and Work of Sarah Guppy’, the first woman to design a suspension bridge and an influential advisor to Brunel. Alas, the speaker, Sheila Hannon, fell ill with covid just before the due date, so a postponement was inevitable. No new date can be announced at the moment. ​However, we will be represented by Paul Main at a ceremony for the re-dedication of the recently restored memorial to Sarah Guppy in St Andrew’s Churchyard, to which CHIS has contributed generously. Everyone is welcome to attend at 11.00 a.m. on Saturday 25th March in the Lime Walk. ​Our plaque to Sarah Guppy may be seen in Richmond Hill, where she lived. Professor Ronald Hutton. ​We have heard that Bristol University is to pay special tribute to Professor Hutton on his 70th Birthday. It is a pleasure and privilege to record our appreciation of the many lectures he has delivered in our Talks Series. His immense knowledge, stiletto wit, range of reference in all relevant disciplines and elegant lecture-style have guaranteed large and appreciative attendances.

Street Lamp Posts. ​Never forget that Bristol is second only to London in the number of traditional, elegant lamp-posts. We fight hard to ensure that replacements or repairs are up to heritage requirements. Recently, alerted by a worried resident in Cliftonwood, where an inappropriate replacement was being installed, Nick Sargent alerted Councillor O’Rourke to that and other such cases. The outcome was happy: proper lamps were installed. Clifton Library CHIS Noticeboard. For many moons Linda Edwards and then Laurence Penney have worked with and on Bristol City Council to create a replacement noticeboard to be fixed outside the Library. Now, crowned by specially commissioned lettering, it is ready and waiting to be put in place. Once we have the date we will circulate it to members, probably for a dedicatory event.

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. Regardless of whether it is considered to be Good News or Bad News, the closure of Princess Victoria Street to motor traffic is established but thankfully the shades which spoilt that and other roads are gone. Even so, the quality of the paving and street furniture by no means enhance the nature of this conservation area. We are glad that residents are to be consulted about projected improvements. On behalf of CHIS, stylish suggestions will be submitted by Stephen Grey-Harris. Two Concerns in Hotwells. ​The closure of the path up from Hotwells Road to Cliftonwood Terrace has been closed for several years. This seems to be due to a dispute between the City Council and adjacent properties. CHIS is fully supportive of the need for this useful path and steps to be re-opened but is not sure what help/support can be given for this. ​The future of Jacobs Wells Baths. See article in this issue.

Observatory. ​The success of the refurbished building along with heavy footfall by visitors to the site is causing serious damage to the wooden supports at the edge of paths. Peter Stanley’s photographs and emails to the Council will, we hope, result in major attention to this problem. Mud and tramped greenery are rampant. The children’s Playground ​The site is in the course of being properly drained. When this is complete, we hope to see our especially carved sea back in place, restored to its former glory as was promised by the Downs Committee when we gave the seat.

Now for less good news. The W.H. Smith site. ​Renewed proposals for building on this currently squalid site have been submitted. None of the numerous amendments alter the argument that the concept is intrinsically deplorable for its design-clichés, excessive mass and obliteration of the recently revealed stylish terrace in King’s Road. IF ONLY a benefactor would respond to fervent pleas from many quarters for an acceptable building or better still an open space. Bristol Zoo Sites. The West Car Park. ​After much reflection and consultation, CHIS has embarked on the request for a second judicial review since the plan which was revised subsequent to our successful first judicial review presents no major modifications to the original atrocious scheme and poses a number of deficiencies in planning terms. The Zoo Gardens. ​It is a matter of enormous relief that city-wide opposition to the plans by the Trustees and Shareholders of Bristol Zoo to build the now closed Zoo Gardens is growing. Two public protests have been well-attended, a growing petition has been launched and a protest march undertaken. AT LAST news of these gruesome proposals is appearing in some national newspapers, in one case stimulated by Christopher Jefferies and a group of informed local ​ ​To end more happily, how fine is the slow emergence of early spring bulbs: snowdrops, crocuses galore and the first daffodils. ​ Members may recall that a considerable number have been planted or provided by their Society since its foundation. Brian Worthington