Since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic we have been publishing regular articles. We would welcome any contributions of articles, memories, photos or suggestions.
8 Jan 2022 The New Women of My Family – Becky Gawler
For this month’s article Becky Gawler has provided a fascinating glimpse of the women of her family. She shares her research with us and shows how her female ancestors not only endured the heavy workload and strains of bringing up families but at the same time also worked hard to contribute to the family finances.
9 Dec 2021 New Women
For centuries women were expected to look after the home, family and often work on the land. but the new Industrial Age offered opportunities, although still few, for female workers.
9 Nov 2021 Six Sacked Hatters
Six hatters from Oldland Common knew that if they voted in defiance of their employer, they faced dismissal and potential destitution. Between the six of them they had thirty-three children to feed.
9 Oct 2021 Mary Isabella Straton
Mary Isabella Straton, born in Willsbridge, attempted to climb the Matterhorn and successfully climbed Mont Blanc four times, She is the subject of this month’s article, from Julie Johns.
11 Sept 2021 History Quiz at St Mary’s Fete Bitton Fete 2021 Answers
The winner of the quiz at the History Group stall today at St Mary’s Fete, Bitton: Mr Piers Roberts
The Answer sheet is linked above. Many thanks to everyone who took part, but a huge thanks to Jon Heyes who devised such an intriguing quiz and for providing fascinating artefacts.
8 Sept 2021 James-Angell Head of St Anne’s C.E. School, 1957-1984
At the age of four Sarah Angell settled in Oldland Common with her family. They left behind all family and friends, had no car or phone and moved into a tightly knit community. In this week’s article Sarah describes the isolation of moving, but how her father triumphed for 28 years as Head of St Anne’s school, turning it around from a school threatened with closure to one which, by the time of his retirement, had grown rapidly and earned a fine reputation. a retired army officer.
9 Aug 2021 The Grange
The fascinating story of the Grange is not only a history of the building but just as much of its occupants. From the 12th century clergy, a family closely connected to royalty, an architect of renown, a papermill owner and major employer, a retired bank manager, a schoolmaster, to a retired army officer.
9 July 2021 Oldland-Flower-Show
The ‘Oldland Flower Show’ was founded in1921. This Annual event, which was held in the Village Hall located in West Street, Oldland Common, attracted many villagers and visitors for many years up until almost the Second World War. In some years the show attracted over eight thousand people and was an absolutely overwhelming success for many years up till the early 2000s.
8 June 2021 Ellacombe Chimes Events2
A worldwide celebration centered on Bitton happens on 26th June. Bells will ring throughout the world, played at noon local time in each location to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Ellacombe Chimes invented at St Mary’s in Bitton. The Celebration will cross four continents and eleven time zones, starting in New Zealand and finishing in Vancouver, Canada, 17 hours after they first started. At present, at least 120 churches and towers will be taking part. Locally, this will include Bath Abbey, St Johns, Keynsham, St Joh’s Catholic church, Bath, and The Holy Nativity Church, Knowle, as well as St Mary’s, Bitton. The article shows some of the events that are planned.
2 June 2021 Local Industries
David Noble looks back on what the Industry scene was like, particularly between the years 1940’s to the 1970’s. In previous articles he covered the importance of the Dramway and of the Farming/Market Garden Industry, but this article features mainly on all the other major and important Industries within our area.
18 May 2021 The Good Seed
Growing up near a farm was a privileged freedom that many will never forget – the smells, the sounds of the farm animals and birds were so different from the traffic noise we hear now. David Noble brings of all of that back to us with an article on the farms and market gardens of Oldland Common, North Common and Bitton.
11 May 2021 Swineford Picnic Site
Meredic Hallett and Clem Bush describe what is now the Swineford Picnic site and once the Brecknell Dolman and Roger’s foundry and workshops.These had been built upon and over the old ochre mill on the edge of Swineford, just above the farm and across the Pipley Brook.
20 Apr 2021 Coneyore
Penny Deverill tells us how there had been a row of derelict cottages, near School Road, which she used to explore. It was the remains of a once thriving close knit community of hatters.
13 Apr 2021 William Pratten
The Death of William Pratten – Annette Rothwell researches an intriguing murder which attracted much attention in Bitton in the 19th century. The accused being an aged man and the victim a young man who, it is said, threw a bucket of water over him.
6 Apr 2021 Canon Ellacombe
Bitton is fortunate in having had two celebrated Ellacombes at St Mary’s. Canon Henry Nicholson Ellacombe was an authority on trees and plants of all kinds. He was very different in character from his father Rev Henry Thomas Ellacombe, from whom he took over as vicar in 1850. Canon Ellacombe shared his father’s devotion for gardening and continued the development of the vicarage garden which became widely admired and even supplied plants for Kew Gardens.
23 Mar 2021 Ellacombe Chimes
The Ellacombe Chimes were invented 200 years ago in Bitton by H.T. Ellacombe as an alternative to having to use local bell ringers so that he did not have to tolerate their wayward behaviour. On 26th June a celebration will be held to mark their invention. Already more than 50 churches and towers worldwide have agreed to participate. The bells will start in Timaru in New Zealand at 12 noon and travel through nine time zones ending in Vancouver, Canada.
16 Mar 2021 Charabanc
A charabanc or “char-à-banc” was a type of horse-drawn vehicle or early motor coach, usually open-topped, during the early part of the 20th century. Many families and local companies used them for group outings, often to the sea-side.
9 Mar 2022 Tramway -> Dramway-Feb-2021
David Noble takes us on a tour of the local section of the Dramway that carried coal from the Coalpit Heath collieries near Yate, and also Shortwood, down to the barges at Londonderry Wharf on the River Avon at Keynsham. Its journey passed through North Common, Oldland Common and Willsbridge. It was a horse-drawn railway and got its name from the ‘drams’ or carts that carried coal. Much of the route of the Dramway can be walked today on the clearly signed posted footpaths, ‘The Dramway Footpath’.
2 Mar 2022 Upton School -> Upton School Meredic Hallett
Meredic Hallett tells us how he ran off on his first day of school. He has somehow managed to capture all those feelings of early school years as well as the antics that tried the patience of the Head, Mrs Joyce Cooper.
23 Feb 2021 Bitton Bath House -> Bitton Bath House
Kay Ross shares her report on Bitton Bath House a Victorian bath house near Fieldgrove House. She tells us about the building and speculates on its use.
16 Feb 2021 My Memories and the Pit Head -> My Memories Pit Head
Clive Willmott goes down memory lane. He was born and bred at the top end of Oldland, close to the Pit head engine shed that is still in existence.
5 Jan 2021 The Lons – George Lancelot Wood -> George Lancelot Wood
The life of George Lancelot Wood has been research by Annette Rothwell. He was a successful businessman who moved to The Lons in 1831.
31 Dec 2020 New Year’s Eve 1938 -> New Years Eve 1938 – Keep Them Clear
Jim Allen was a bell ringer at St Mary’s who tells how he rang the bells on New Year’s Day 1939. The bells were to remain silent until they were allowed to be rung again to celebrate the victory at El Alamein during World War II.
8 Dec 2020 The Lons – The Nicholetts -> The Nicholetts
The Nicholetts bought into the stylish lifestyle of The Lons in 1909. He was banker and his son an Air Marshall was knighted. Article researched by Annette Rothwell.
1 Dec 2020 The Lons – Uriah Alsop -> Alsop
Uriah Alsop was an innovative entrepreneur who called himself a steam cabinet maker. Mike Rothwell shares his research on Alsop and his successful furniture business.
27 Oct 2020 Bitton MIll Intier -> Intier-Products
An introduction to the automotive parts manufactured in what was Bitton Mill. Tony Wilmott spent his working life running the various factories manufacturing the automative parts and shares his detailed knowledge and insights to the varied products manufactured.
31 August 2020 Bone Mill -> Bone Mill
Angie Sawyers tells us about the History and renovation of their house ‘St Annes Lodge’.. It is a Grade II listed building built in the late 18th century and has changed hands many times.
The house used to be a Bone Mill which was ‘The Old Chemical Works’.
4 Aug 2020 Prouse-Douglas Wedding -> Prouse-Douglas-Wedding
The marriage between Edith Prouse and James Douglas was a grand affair with motorbikes lined up in front of St Mary’s Church in Church Road, Bitton. James was the grandson of the founder of Douglas Ltd.
21 July 2020 Nanny Worlock -> Nanny Worlock
Nanny Worlock was well known in Oldland Common for helping to bring hundreds of babies into the world. She not only assisted the child-birth but sometimes stayed as long as a fortnight to help the mother with the washing and meals. She did not ask for any kind of payment. She was sometimes given presents, but always a huge amount of gratitude.
7 July 2020 Mill Rank Bitton -> Mill Rank Bitton
The site of the housing development Bitton Mill was in former times a paper mill and included a rank of houses. Reg Pullin tells us about his relatives who lived there and describes the houses and where they were located.
23 June 2020 Hat Making and the Slave Trade -> Hat Making and the Slave Trade
Hat making was the largest employment in Oldland Common at the end of the C18 and in early C19. Following the toppling of the Colston statue in Bristol, Mike Gates explores how much was known by the hat makers about the large market for slave hats and whether the hat makers wittingly participated in the slave trade.
19 May 2020 Poorhouse and Lock-Up ->Poorhouse and Lockup
In Bitton High Street the cottage still exists that was originally a constable lock-up. A few doors further down was the village poor house. Marlene Gallop gives us a touring tells us of the history of both buildings.
28 April 2020 Stocks and Pillory ->Stocks
We know there were stocks and a pillory in Bitton (near Kings Square) from an early illustration. It is likely that there were stocks in the mid fourteenth century. An act of Parliament, The Statute of Labourers, 1351, called for stocks to be made in every town and village for “unruly artisans”. This Act was passed by Parliament under King Edward III as a means to restrain wage rises following the labour shortage caused by the Black Death.
Hannah Brewer, was the Postwoman for Bitton. She retired at
the age of 72 in 1899, after having walked a quarter of millioan miles, bringing local news as well as the post to all the outlying farms and cottages around
7 April 2020 The Memories of Pat Short ->Oldland Memories of Pat Short
Pat Short was brought up at The Halt, Oldland Common. In the early thirties her parents, Fred and Lilian Taylor, bought three acres of land near the railway line in North Street, Oldland Common and there they built a house, which they named The Halt. Pat recalls village life at that time.
24 March 2020 Britain’s first flushing toilet -> Harington Toilet
Kelston resident Sir John Harington was the inventor of Britain’s first flushing toilet in 1596. Harington, (after which Harrington Close is named) called it an Ajax (‘jakes’ was an old slang term for toilet).