Alistair McLeay explains the tour
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Lansdown Walk - 19th July 2010
As part of our summer programme about 15 people turned up to take a walk around the 1643 Civil War Battlefield of Lansdown so on a beautiful morning we set off from the Avon Fire and Rescue HQ near the Grenvile Monument heading for Hanging Hill. It was an ideal day as we could see for miles and Dr. Wroughton was able to point out the positions of the two opposing armies, their earthworks and explain their strategies. Pointing out Tog Hill and Freezing Hill. Next we skirted Beech Wood, crossed the busy road to look at Sir Bevil Grenvile's monument, continuing our walk around the field edge to view the battle from a different angle again Dr. Wroughton explained the positions of the two sides and also the names of the two opponents. William Waller and Ralph Hopkins had been close friends before the war and finding themselves at war against each other led William Waller to write a to rather poignant letter to Ralph Hopkins which Dr. Wroughton read to us. The route is marked throughout by orange banners and a number of interpretation panels, so it possible to do the walk on ones own, but to have it explained by an expert made the whole event much clearer.
The Society’s exhibition ‘Remembering Somerdale’ took place at the Fear Hall, Keynsham on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st March. It traced the history of chocolate making in Keynsham since the 1920’s and was a great success, with almost 400 visitors coming; many expressing their appreciation of the range of photographs, written records and artefacts on show.
A great deal of material from the Society’s own archives was on display and there was a large selection of photographs, advertisements and packaging samples from the Cadbury archive, put on show by Hugh Evans from the Somerdale factory.
Eric Miles, author of ‘Somerdale Story 1921 to 2009’ brought along copies of his book and also displayed archive material from his own collection.
The Society’s own display boards put together for the exhibition will be preserved for possible use at a similar future event. More information is available from Dennis Hill.
Peter Roberts, on behalf of Keynsham Heritage Trust, showed a series of DVDs, based on old cine films, featuring aspects of work at the Somerdale factory from the 1930’s through to the 1970’s.
Society members Barbara Lowe and Margaret Whitehead take a well-earned rest
Dennis Hill discussing details with Eric and Eileen Miles.
Hugh Evans with his display
Pictures taken by Donald Ogg at the exhibition
‘The Somerdale Story’ Exhibition at the Fry’s Club 26 -30 January 2011
Once again, and sadly for the last time, Keynsham & Saltford Local History Society was able to participate in the exhibition staged at the Fry Club, recording the history of the Somerdale chocolate factory from its founding in the early 1920’s through to its final closure in January 2011.
The previous exhibition, held over three days in August 2010, attracted well over 2,000 visitors and was voted a great success. The Cadbury management therefore asked the exhibition organisers if they would be able to put the exhibition on again, for what would be the last time in view of the imminent closure of the factory.
The society’s display boards in the centre of the hall at the Fry’s Club
This time the opening hours were extended over five days from 26th to 30th January and, it being school term time, the opportunity was given to groups of children from local schools in Keynsham and Saltford to attend. Altogether 5,450 people visited the exhibition.
Above - Eric Miles, Jonathon Gibbons and Dennis Hill.
Below - Brian Vowles and Sue Trude
Prominently displayed in the centre of the exhibition area were thirty of the Society’s display boards featuring various aspects of the Somerdale factory’s history, as well as chapters from the early history of the J S Fry company when it was based in the Union Street area of Bristol prior to the move to Keynsham?
The narrative and some of the photographs from the display boards, that were originally created for the Society’s own exhibition ‘Remembering Somerdale’ held in March 2010, have been published in the 2010 edition of the Society’s journal ‘Around Keynsham & Saltford Past and Present’. Copies are available for £2.50 plus £1 p&p from Dennis Hill, 31 Walden Road, Keynsham BS31 1QW.
Photos by Donald Ogg
Frenchay Visit - 16th May 2011
The meeting started outside the Parish Church, which is situated one side of a very extensive area of common land.
The walk ended with a look at Frenchay Museum contained in one of the lodge gate cottages at the entrance to Frenchay Hospital. It was full of pictures and artifacts relating to the area and reminded us of the lack of a similar museum in Keynsham. In spite of the cold windy and at times showery conditions it was a very interesting evening ably led by our host, Carol Thorne, from the Frenchay Village Museum.
Our guide from the Frenchay Museum, Carol Thorne, explains a point on a cool windy evening
Firstly, we looked at the old school and then descended into the valley to follow the course of the River Frome. We looked at the site of one of the many mills and the interesting construction of the houses built into the hillside. Having climbed out of the valley we arrived back at the common land by the church.
Castle Combe Visit - 20th June
We met outside the museum and our first impression was how such a tiny building could possibly be a museum, but once inside the amount of information was incredible. Maps, photographs, display cases full of artifacts, leaflets about its history and the latest addition to this amazing place was the use of modern technology which had a touch screen facility for all the places of historic interest in the village.
The Roman Bath Tunnel Walk - 18th July 2011
Next, we had a conducted walk around the village ending with a delicious cream tea in one of the cottages. Very enjoyable.
Helen Harman explains the history of the discovery of the baths
We assembled at the entrance to the museum and were divided in to two groups with guides Susan Fox and Helen Harman leading the way. Passing through the baths area and tentatively picking our way over the unevenly worn stones, we were introduced to the complex of hidden alleys that lead off from the different baths. This maze of tunnels that lie beneath the streets of Bath are not normally open to the public.
Mainly used today as storage areas for the huge amounts of carved masonry unearthed in the city, even today some of the tunnels remain not fully excavated. Others connect indirectly to buildings outside the Baths complex (at one point only a door separated us from the ladies toilets in B.H.S.!) Where the roof dipped low, we had to don on hard hats to protect our heads, not only from the stonework, but also from the drips that were beginning to form mini stalactites from the ceiling. We finally emerged to join the stream of tourists from many lands who were exploring the site, satisfied with another very interesting visit.
Some hard hats fit better than others!
Arnos Vale Cemetery Visit - 15th August 2011
This walk was well attended by society members who were taken around by an enthusiastic university student. During the tour, she pointed out the non-conformist Chapel in the Ionic style and the Anglican Chapel, the grandest building of all, in the Corinthian style. Among the graves, we looked at were those of important people who provided much needed employment in the 19th Century such as W.D. & H.O. Wills and E.S. &A Robinson. In addition, social reformers can be found here: - George Muller, Mary Carpenter and Raja Rammohun Roy whose large tomb is not far from the main entrance. We visited corners of the cemetery away from the usual paths and so enjoyed an interesting visit despite the rain coinciding with the start of our tour. It is a place that one can, with an information sheet, wander at will on one’s own.
The Tomb of
Raja Rammohun Roy
FROME WALK - Monday 21st May 2012
We met our guide Alister McLeay in the car park by the Round Tower and made our way to the 16th. Century bridge over the River Frome. From the bridge we looked back to the Frome Museum housed in an unusually narrow building at the junction of two roads. The town was mentioned in the Domes Day Book.  King William owned the manor and it was the largest and wealthiest Hundred in Somerset. The wool trade flourished here in the 15th.Century but as else where began to decline in the 17th./18th.Century its place being taken by other industries. Frome has 500 listed buildings so a number have been saved and converted to other uses such as the Blue House near the town bridge. It was formerly the Bluecoat School and an Almshouse but now provides one bedroom flats for seventeen elderly people.
A very instructive and extremely interesting morning around a part of Bristol most of us would never have known about without Bob's tour.
Walk Around the Temple Area of Bristol - Monday June 25th 2012
On Monday June 25th a group of members were taken on a guided tour by Bob Porton. We began at Temple Mead Old Station where I K Brunel's work can still be viewed. From there we made our way to the river where a ferry service takes one from Temple Meads towards the centre. This area has had a complete make-over and there are numerous new buildings some luckily retaining interesting original facades from former businesses.
Rook Lane Chapel a 17th. Century non-conformist chapel is now part owned by a firm of architects while the ground floor is a community hall and an arts centre. The information centre is housed in a circular wool dye house. To visit all these sites we had to negotiate the rather steep narrow streets of which there are quite a few in the town .One such street is Cheap Street with a number of 16th./17th. Century buildings and a stream running down the middle. The walk was an eye opener to many of us whom I am sure will make another visit to take in even more of its history. A very good guide book can be obtained from the information centre either by post or calling at the centre itself.
There are also pleasant seating areas alongside the river where you can either have a coffee etc. or just enjoy a quiet sit away from the busy roads and view artwork and statues close by - one of course depicting I.K.Brunel. We visited the ruins of Temple church from which the area derived its name, (The Knights Templar being the order of knights founded in 1119 to protect pilgrims journeying to the Holy Land during the Crusades). Next we visited a church dedicated to St. Thomas then a nearby pub, the Seven Stars. It was in the Seven Stars that the anti-slavery campaigner, Reverend Thomas Clarkson came in 1787 and began to put together evidence later supplied to his friend William Wilberforce and used to support the Act for the Abolition of Slavery. On the wall is a plaque commemorating the work of Clarkson.
Bob Porton indicates the site of the ancient Portwall
Alistair McLeay explains the tour
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On Wednesday 11th. July a group of members visited Oakham Treasures near Portbury -a fascinating collection of just about everything from Victorian times onwards. So overheard conversations were:- "Oh, I remember that" or "my mother/grandmother had one of those" and when you came to sweets and medicines people were remarking on the remembered tastes ,enjoyable or otherwise. So it was a step back in time full of memories.
Visit to Oakham Treasures & Clevedon 11th July 2012
From there we travelled to Clevedon Court where we were given an introductory talk about the Elton family who still own the property then we were free to wander around on our own. Each room had a guide on duty who could give more detailed information about each place also an interesting collection of Nailsea glass. All this on a day full of sunshine, an added bonus.