CHIS Newsletter Spring 2024

Chairman’s Report.

Talks. There could have been no more encouraging start to the year’s Talks than “SS Great Britain, from Launch to Relaunch”, delivered by Ian Caskie, a leading volunteer for the SS Great Britain Trust. His knowledge, audibility, tone, enthusiasm and historical range of reference made for an exemplary address to an absorbed audience. We much enjoyed the second Talk, given by the tried and trusted Gordon Young. “Posthumous Praise” described the back-stories of some of the forty or so of Bristol Civic Society’s Blue Plaques, complementary in our area with the CHIS Green Plaques. There is at least one joint plaque, regarding the Hotwell, situated on the Portway near the Rocks Railway disused entrance. It was a delightful surprise to have, in fact, two topics, when the speaker discussed his collection of early printed materials and medieval documents, with a number of specimens for us to view. We commemorated the marriage of Agatha Christie at Emmanuel Church in 1914 by dedicating a plaque there on March 2nd at 11.00 a.m. Full details in the next Newsletter. We are delighted to congratulate one of our most valued speakers, Professor Ronald Hutton, on being made a CBE in the New Year Honours List. His talk on Vampires is vivid in our memory. Developments. The Committee have agreed a gi of £250 towards the refurbishment of Jacobs Wells Baths as the imaginative and promising Trinity Community Centre. Better news of the Suspension Bridge barriers is that the vehicle registration system has markedly improved. Also, a forthcoming new lighting scheme for the Bridge is most welcome and imaginative. Not so, alas, is the congestion caused by the closure of part of Princess Victoria Street to motor vehicles; the plan for the intended lay-out and resurfacing may be seen on the CHIS noticeboard outside the Clion Library. It is more than regrettable to learn that Bristol City Council rejected a plea from some of our councillors to exclude cycle-riding in the PEDESTRIANIZED road. Even more objectionable is allowing electric bikes and scooters to be ridden there. Surely they are a motorized vehicle and a menace to walkers of all ages. Boyce’s Avenue is comparably blighted. Important questions about the plan remain: access by emergency and delivery vehicles among others. Carbuncles. WHS/Clifton on Ice site. Despite great efforts by Cllr O’Rourke, the plan for a number of benefactors to fund the purchase of 40% of the site for a public space has failed. The proposal was enthusiastically endorsed by numerous residents and CHIS. Now THAT Group are advertizing for sale the thoroughly objectionable building which was given planning permission in the face of over 400 objections and active opposition from CHIS for years. Zoo Sites.

  1. Further gloomy news in that at the former West Car Park at the top of College Road builders have started work on a great number of flats and houses, again gross in mass, design and extent, vigorously opposed by CHIS and supporters.
  2. The future of the main Zoo site is uncertain still, while alternatives to that even more grotesque development plan are being explored. Enforcement. At least the above developers followed legal procedures and protocols by applying for Planning Permission. An ever-growing blight, which in some cases amounts to scam by the unscrupulous, is this: A developer brings in builders to make internal and external alterations “improvements”, get the work done, and applies for retrospective Planning Permission, which all too oen is granted. If only Bristol City Council would emulate the procedure by which, for example, Sir Tom Charity was forced to demolish the unauthorized swimming pool built by his house. The Mound. Promises, promises: there have been countless announced dates for the removal of this ugly waste heap not far from the children’s playground below the Observatory. It is all the more a blight since the most welcome resurfacing of the paths, to make flood-free treads, has been completed. Floods. Unfortunately there are many cases of flooding that have not been attended to. On busy corners floods up to six inches in depth are now a regular result of the frequent downpours because leaves pile up and gutters are blocked and even hidden by the resulting gunge. It is oen necessary for pedestrians to walk in the road. The neglect in road and pavement clearance is inexcusable and dangerous.

Better News. Rubbish collection has been maintained satisfactorily over the Christmas period but the refusal of some residents, most notably some tenants of DIGS, to remove waste boxes from buildings in College Road, is unacceptable and the management company should bear responsibility. Lastly, Stephen Grey-Harris had been a member of the CHIS Committee in the Society’s early days. When he offered a few years ago to renew his advice and service we were delighted. However, he has regretfully found that other demands on his time are too great and so has resigned. We are sorry to lose his experience and the hospitality offered by Barbara and him.

Brian Worthington, February 2024