CHIS Newsletter Winter 2023-2024

Chairman’s Report.

Remembrance Sunday. Twenty eight years ago the Remembrance Service was re-established in the grounds of St Andrews Church by the late John Knott. He himself cleared the ground and cleaned the Memorials stonework, in part to pay tribute to the firefighters who confronted the blaze which destroyed the fire-bombed Clifton Parish Church. This year, in view of events and controversies both local and national, CHIS felt it to be important to mark the day. Year upon year attendance had grown, including scouts, guides, school- children and residents. CHIS has always laid a wreath during the ceremony. Despite news of the cancellation, caused by sodden ground and insurance cost increases, five committee members attended for a brief service and wreath-laying and were pleased to greet the brother of John Knott (Geoff) and his wife. They had lived in Hotwells before the Cumberland Basin construction and came to place their own tribute, not knowing about the cancellation. A photograph of Peter Stanley laying the CHIS wreath is to be found in this Newsletter. We hope that the full 2024 service will be resumed.

Annual General Meeting. A goodly attendance, attracted by the scheduled Talk, heard a brief highlight of the year’s activities by the Chairman and a positive summary by the Treasurer of healthy finances and increased membership. Elected to the Committee for three years were: Stephen Bullimore, Vivienne François and Brian Worthington.

Talks. Our first Talk had been given by Professor Ronald Hutton, attracting the usual enthusiastic audience, keen to hear about “Vampires” and not disappointed. After the AGM business Sheila Hannon entertained us by outlining the special achievements of Sarah Guppy (our plaque to her is on her former house in Richmond Hill). Being the first female engineer in the country and a friend of Brunel, she was effective in many social areas, perhaps not as a Vampire but something of a Virago. The final Talk of 2023 was given by Professor Michael Benton of Bristol University. He entertained and enlightened a large number of members with an ingenious blend of palaeontology and architectural history in a witty guided tour of buildings in Clifton. Many of us have since been looking with new alertness at the many kinds of stone in previously glanced at buildings. It is likely that we will commission a second CHIS Walking Tour App, which concentrates on the stonework. Please note the date of the first Talk of 2024 on Tuesday 16th January is “SS Great Britain – from launch to relaunch” by John Caskie.

Carbuncles. For Sale signs on the boarding surrounds of the old WHS/Clifton on Ice site aroused interest. We are pleased by support for the long-standing CHIS plan for a socially attractive lay-out and for the possible development of 40% of the site for such use. Negotiations continue with current owners, THAT Group; we trust they will not be scuppered.

Zoo sites. Not everyone will remember that what is known as the North Car Park is in fact part of the Downs and ancient Common Land, with grass and trees until the early 1990s. The Zoo then without a planning application used part of the ground for parking, later extending it with Council’s consent.

Leaves. The early onset of strong winds caused a heavy leaf drop, the price of living in a tree-blessed area. Drains were blocked as usual and two serious floods resulted – at the corner of Alma Road and Whiteladies and the corner of Pembroke Road with Richmond Park Road. The latter is a long-standing problem with deep water. It needs serious attention.

Plaques. Agatha Christie’s marriage took place in Emmanuel Church,

Guthrie Road over 100 years ago. Although the main body of the church was converted into flats in the 70’s, the tower was preserved, probably, at the suggestion of local architects. On March 2nd at 11.00 am a CHIS green plaque will be dedicated by the Lord Lieutenant and locally educated crime novelist Tom Sullivan. In the meantime, a Happy New Year to all,

Brian Worthington, December 2023