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Battery Point Lighthouse, Portishead

Battery Point Lighthouse was built in 1931 by Chance Brothers of Smethwick on a rocky promontory on the north west edge of Portishead.  The deep water channel known as King Road passes very close to the coast at this point.  The lighthouse, which is also known as Portishead Point Lighthouse, is nine metres tall and consists of a black metal pyramid on a square concrete base.  The lighthouse is maintained by Bristol Port Company.  In 1999 they announced that they wanted to demolish the lighthouse and replace it with a modern navigational aid.  After a campaign by local residents, they agreed to build a replica of the original lighthouse.

close up Battery Point Lighthouse
Battery Point Lighthouse close up
Lighthouse Battery Point
Battery Point Lighthouse
Lighthouse Battery Point
A container ship passing Battery Point

A two tonne bronze fog signal bell was installed at Battery Point Lighthouse in 1939.  It was removed c1998.  It was found in a warehouse owned by Bristol Port Company in Avonmouth in 2010.  After a campaign by local residents, it was acquired by Portishead Town Council in 2012.  It was restored and re-sited on Wyndham Way in 2013.

Wyndham Way Battery Point Bell
Battery Point Bell on Wyndham Way

There is a Merchant Navy Memorial close to Battery Point Lighthouse with a brass plaque attached to it.  The words on the plaque are as follows: “This stone is situated here at Battery Point, the closest place on the coast of the United Kingdom which large ships pass.  It is dedicated to seafarers of the West Country who, since the Middle Ages, on voyages of discovery and in times of peace and war, have passed this point, some never to return. “Oh hear us when we cry to thee, for those in peril on the sea.”  Erected by the Merchant Navy Association North Somerset Branch, 2005”.

Battery Point Merchant Navy Memorial
Merchant Navy Memorial at Battery Point

Sealed Knot re-enactment of The Siege of Bristol

To mark the 375th anniversary of the Siege of Bristol, the Sealed Knot are re-enacting the event at Ashton Court Showground over the end of May Bank Holiday Weekend.  Why not bring a Picnic, interact with members on the Living History Camp and then settle down to watch an spectacular and explosive display of Cannon, Musket, Pike and Cavalry as the Sealed Knot re-enacts the Siege on the Battlefield.

Free event, but you are advised that there is no specific event car parking.  More details of the event timetable are on the Sealed Knot website.

Nailsea Glassworks

John Robert Lucas was born in 1754. After his father Robert Lucas died in 1774, he took over his beer and cider works in Bristol and his shares in a glass making business in Limekiln Lane, Bristol.  In 1781 John Robert married Anna Adams and they had a son and two daughters.   In 1787 he leased a glassworks at Stanton Wick.

John Robert Lucas established a glass works at Nailsea in 1788.  He chose Nailsea as the site for his new glassworks because of the abundance of coal produced by the mines around the town and local supplies of sand and limestone.  He may also have been influenced by plans for the Grand Western Canal, which would have linked the English and Bristol Channels with a branch to Nailsea.  However only the section from Tiverton to Taunton was ever built.  

Lucas’s company was called Nailsea Crown Glass and Glass Bottle Manufacturers.  Initially one cone shaped kiln and a furnace were built at NailseaA second glass furnace was built there in 1790.  In 1793 John Robert Lucas went into partnership with William Chance, Edward Homer and William Coathupe.  In 1788 William Chance had married John Robert’s sister Sarah and Edward Homer had married John Robert’s sister Mary.

In addition to window glass and bottles, the Nailsea Glassworks also produced domestic ware and novelty items such as flasks, rolling pins, pipes, jugs and walking sticks, which were sometimes decorated with flecks, loops or bands of white or coloured enamel.  Most of these items were produced by workers at the end of their shifts using leftover pieces of glass.

In 1811 William and Sarah Chance’s son, Robert Lucas Chance, took over the management of the Nailsea works and married his cousin Louisa, the daughter of Mary and Edward Homer.  In 1812 he persuaded John Hartley, the leading crown glass expert in the country, to come and work at Nailsea.

The partnership of Lucas, Chance, Homer and Coathupe lasted until 1821 when William Chance sold all of his shares and Edward Homer sold part of his to William Coathupe.  Edward Homer’s son James Edward Homer was taken into the partnership at this time and the company traded as Lucas, Coathupe and Homer

John Robert Lucas died in 1828 and was buried at Backwell. Most of his estate passed to his grandsons John Rodbard Bean and Henry Lucas Bean.

The New House Cone was built at Nailsea c1828.  Experienced sheet glass blowers were recruited from France and Belgium from the 1830s, due a shortage of skilled British glass blowers. By 1835 Nailsea was the fourth largest glassworks in Britain.  Bottle making ceased at Nailsea in the 1830s in favour of plate, crown and sheet window glass.

In 1835 a partnership called Lucas, Coathupes, Homer and Cliffe was formed to run the business. In 1844 the company became Coathupes & Co with Charles and Oliver Coathupe, John and Henry Bean and James Edward Homer as shareholders. In the 1840s a new cone known as the Lilly or Lily Cone was built.

In 1848 Charles Coathupe retired and Oliver Coathupe became manager at the Nailsea works.  Over the next 25 years there were various changes in the partnership and shareholdings.  In 1861 the Nailsea works were closed for a while and the following year they were leased to Samuel Bowen, a glass merchant from West Bromwich, and John Powis of London.  They traded as Nailsea Glass Company and made patented ventilating glass, cut glass and coloured glass for stained glass windows.  Samuel Bowen became bankrupt in 1869 and he and Powis surrendered their lease.  In 1870 the Nailsea works were sold to Chance Bros of Smethwick, together with a coal mine on the same site.

Glass production ceased at Nailsea in 1873, due to competition from cheap Belgian imports and the decline in production from the Nailsea Coalfield, and the works were closed in 1874.  The New House Cone was demolished in 1905.  Some of the rubble from it was supposedly used to build the extension to the runway at Filton in the late 1940s.

Extensive archaeological excavations began on the glassworks site in 1983 and continued for several years.  In 2002 a supermarket was built on part of the site.  The only surviving building is the one which housed the French kilns, and gas-fired furnaces.  This was later converted into the Royal Oak Garage.

A collection of Nailsea Glass items can be seen at the National Trust’s Clevedon Court.  However much of what is today described as Nailsea Glass was not made at Nailsea but was made in the same style elsewhere in England e.g. Stourbridge.

High St, Nailsea, Glassblower Sculpture
The Glassblower Sculpture, High St, Nailsea

 

 

This was sculpted by Vanessa Marston and unveiled in 2008

Nailsea Glassworks Cauldron
Glassworks Cauldron, High St, Nailsea

This would have been filled with cold water into which surplus molten glass would have been ladled.  Once the glass had cooled and solidified it was broken up and used to speed up the melt of the next batch of sand, limestone and soda.

Nailsea Former Glassworks Building
Former Glassworks Building, later the Royal Oak Garage, High St, Nailsea
Nailsea Glassworks
Drawing showing the layout of Nailsea Glassworks c1873
Tile 1 Nailsea Glassworks
Nailsea Glassworks Tile 1
tile 2 Nailsea Glassworks
Nailsea Glassworks tile 2

 

 

Two glazed ceramic tile panels illustrating the glassworks and its various manufacturing processes. The panels were designed and produced by Ned Heywood of the Workshop Gallery in Chepstow.  They incorporate fragments of glass excavated from the site.  They are on display on the outside wall of Tesco’s Supermarket.

Success for the Crumbs City Trail app for Weston

An app, which has been launched to help Weston residents and visitors find historic landmarks in and around the seaside town, has exceeded targets and is the second most downloaded walk, and more popular than the Buckingham Palace trail.

The Crumbs City Trail mobile app, which has been launched under the Heritage Action Zone, takes the user on a walking route scattered with clues and trivia questions all based around the history of Weston.  

Cara MacMahon, Heritage Action Zone Officer, said: “We are delighted with the positive response from local residents and visitors. Weston is a treasure trove of hidden historic gems and we welcome anything that highlights the beautiful architecture we have here.

The ‘Great Weston’ Trail is on The Crumbs City Trails App. To find out more about Crumbs City Trails go to http://www.crumbscitytrails.com/

Crumbs City Trails app is a free download. You will be asked to register and sign in to download the app.  Available from Apple store and Google Play.

Norman Font, St Augustine’s Church, Locking

The highly decorated rectangular carved stone font in St Augustine’s Church at Locking probably dates from the 12th century.  At each corner there is a human figure with both arms outstretched to meet the hands of the figures on the adjacent corners. The figures are alternately male and female.  Three of the four sides are also highly decorated with intertwined Celtic serpent designs.  The fourth side is plainer with two bands of chevrons, probably because in its original location this side faced a wall.

The font originally stood on one central pillar.  Four corner pillars were added in the 19th century for extra support.  The head-dresses of the four figures were cut off in the 19th century when the rim of the font was reduced in height to make it level.

St Augustine’s Church was probably founded by the monks of Woodspring Priory in the 13th century.  The oldest part of the present church is the tower, which dates from 1380, but this may have been built on the site of an earlier church.

Font 2 St Augustine's Church
Font showing chevrons and serpents
St Augustine's Church
Intertwined serpents on the font
font 1, St Augustine's Church
Serpents and human figures
Locking St Augustine's
St Augustine’s Church Locking

Historic England request

Historic England is asking the public to share their knowledge of England’s secret, unknown and forgotten memorials.  They want photographs and information about lesser-known memorials, and those that are well-loved by small groups or communities but unknown nationally.  It is also looking for rituals and activities attached to memorials.  The  stories and pictures contributed by the public will be recorded to form part of an exhibition in the autumn.  The best examples of community memorials may be listed.

If you know of any forgotten memorials in North Somerset, head to Historic England’s website and share your pictures! https://historicengland.org.uk/whats-new/news/hunt-for-unknown-forgotten-memorials 

Don’t forget to put any photos on Know Your Place too!

Frederic Weatherly – Songwriter

Frederick Edward Weatherly, songwriter and barrister, was born at 7 Wood Hill (now 63 Woodhill Road) in Portishead on 4th October 1848.  He was educated at Hereford Cathedral School and Oxford University.  After graduating he remained at Oxford and worked as a teacher.  In December 1872 he married Anna Maria Hardwick in Worle and they had a son and two daughters.  They later separated and he lived with Maude Francfort for many years. 

At some point in his adult life Frederick dropped the k from the end of his name and became Frederic.  In 1887 he left teaching to qualify as a barrister in London. In 1893 he joined the western circuit and moved to Clifton, Bristol.  In 1900 he moved to Bath where he continued to work as a barrister. Frederic’s wife Anna died in 1920.  Maude Francfort died in 1923 and later the same year Frederic married a widow, Mrs Miriam Bryan.  He died in Bathwick on 7th September 1929 after a short illness and was buried at Bathwick Cemetery.

Frederic Weatherly published his first song lyrics, poems, two novels, many children’s books, and librettos for cantatas and oratorios while he was living in Oxford.  He went on to write the words to many of the most popular songs in the English-speaking world in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  His songs were performed by the leading singers of the time.  He also translated several Italian and French operas into English.

Frederic Weatherly claimed to have published more than 1,500 songs in total. Dozens of them were extremely popular in his lifetime, and several of them, including Nancy Lee (1876), The Holy City (1892), Danny Boy (1912) set to the tune of ‘Londonderry Air’, and Roses of Picardy (1916) remained popular after his death.

Portishead, 63 Woodhill Road
63 Woodhill Road, Portishead
Plaque, 63 Woodhill Road
Commemorative plaque on the front of 63 Woodhill Road, Portishead
Portishead, Weatherly Drive
Weatherly Drive, Portishead

FREE Know Your Place Training workshops

Adding contributions to the Community Layer

North Somerset is part of “Know Your Place”, an online mapping and local history project. This is a free digital mapping project which allows users to explore the heritage of their local area through old maps, archive images and linked information. From the coastal communities of Portishead, Clevedon and Weston, further inland to Blagdon and Leigh Woods, you can now discover how North Somerset has been transformed over time. 

You can access the map here: http://maps.bristol.gov.uk/kyp/?edition=nsom

Know Your Place logo
Know Your Place project logo

Visitors will be able to upload and share their own information about the area to help build a rich and diverse community map and discover how North Somerset has transformed over time. In order to help those who wish to add such information, North Somerset Council will be running FREE training workshops around the district in March and May 2018. The workshops in May will tie in with Local and Community History Month.

The aim of Local and Community History Month is to increase awareness of local history, promote history in general to the local community and encourage all members of the community to participate.

The workshops will be taking place as follows:

Wednesday 14th March – Clevedon Library – 10.30am to 12pm

Wednesday 16th May – Yatton Library – 10.30am to 12pm

Wednesday 16th May – Long Ashton Library – 1.30pm to 3pm

Tuesday 22nd May – Pill Library – 10.30am to 12pm

Wednesday 23rd May – Portishead Library – 1.30pm to 3pm

In order to guarantee a place on the free training workshop, you will need to book onto the relevant session via Eventbrite. Please search for ‘Adding contributions to the Community Layer’ in the events in your local area.

If you would like any more information, please email DM.Archaeology@n-somerset.gov.uk

 

Langford History Group events coming up

 

The Langford History Group have some new events coming up this season.  
  • Thu, Mar 8th: Domesday Book and the locality
  • Thu, Apr 12th: Commercial Archaeology Uncovered
  • Thu, May 10th: Gardens of the Wills Houses
  • Thu, Jun 14th: Wrington Walk

Membership of the Group is £10 annually, and allows free access to all the meetings and access to the records. Visitors are more than welcome to individual meetings for a nominal fee of £2 to cover speakers’ costs.   See the Langford History Group website for more details.