Oldland Common/North Common
- Roman Times
- The Middle Ages
- Industrial Revolution
- Sir Bernard Lovell
- Oldland Halt
- Memories of Pat Short (nee Taylor) 1934 to 1947
- An Auld Man’s Memries by John R T Hopes
- Oldland Common 1940-1960: War its Aftermath by Jose Lewis (nee Clothier)
- Other Photos
There is evidence from survey work and aerial photographs of a Roman road that ran through Oldland Common from Bristol to Berkeley in Gloucestershire.
The everyday lives of colliers, pin makers and hat makers was not controlled in the same way as the feudal system of lords and land-ownership that existed in much of England. The independence of these workers became more pronounced in the 18th century. They were described as being unruly, uncivilised and ungovernable. However there was a sea change in the early nineteenth century, attributed primarily to the spread of evangelism. There was a very strong non-conformist tradition in the area, which included the Society of Friends (Quakers), Baptists, Unitarians, Moravians, Methodists and Congregationalists.
By the early nineteenth century hat making was by far the largest employment in Oldland Common, employing approximately half the workforce listed in the 1841 census.
The enclosure of Oldland Common in 1821 would have seen an emigration of young people to work in the new factories of Bristol such as tobacco processing and to be servants for the middle class of Bath and Bristol.
The last remaining area of the land that was the Common was built on for the sports annexe of Sir Bernard Lovell School and is remembered in an elegy by Cllr Veronica-Mae Soar in 2009
They dug the ground today…
The last few blades of grass vanishing
beneath a towering web of girders
No-one was there to mourn the passing
of this vestige of land,
The final remnant of what once was ours.
Where cattle roamed,
And wood was gathered to feed the hearths.
Where they danced each May Day,
Decked with hedgerow flowers
They had their rights then, the Commoners.
No-one was there to mourn
Public demand saw the opening a station at Oldland Common in 1935 however the train the train stopped here before the station was built. Although mentioned in various publications that “this was the only station on the line to have electric lighting”, the explanation was that there was no gas main in North Street at the time. The passenger service closed in 1966 with the Beeching cuts.
Memories of Pat Short (nee Taylor) 1934 to 1947
Please click on the link -> Oldland1934-47Short
The Domesday Book calls the village ‘Auldland’ and says it was held by Earl Alwin, who was also lord of the manor of Optune or Upton. The area was part of the Royal Forest of Kingswood which was governed by forest law. It did not belong to a county or diocese and acknowledged only sovereign power, being reserved for royal hunting and administered by special officials. Although there were large wooded areas, the ‘forest’ would have also included large open glades with no trees, areas of scrubland, wasteland, and downland. In 1228 Kingswood Forest became Kingswood Chase, owned by the king and used as private hunting grounds. By at least 1600 Kingswood Chase had also come under increasing pressure for common use – landowners fought over the right to exploit woodland, stone and more particularly coal reserves.
By 1691 one of the lords of the manor, Sir John Newton (of Barrs Court), was granting leases to miners to work the coal. The first coal workings were made into exposed edges or outcrops of coal seams. Then came the ‘bell-pits’, which were sunk into shallow seams and worked by a miner who descended into the pit by ladder. Documentary evidence in 1667 points to large numbers of cottagers settling in the area ‘without any form of permission in a piece-meal and unplanned settlement pattern.
Sir Bernard Lovell
Alfred Charles Bernard Lovell was born on August 31 1913 at Oldland Common, Gloucestershire, into a family whose life revolved around the church and the cricket pitch. He was born and brought up in a cottage on the corner of West Street and Court Road, Oldland Common, where his father Gilbert was in business with a brother as hairdresser/barber and cycle repair shop. His childhood hobbies and interests included cricket and music – mainly the piano.His mother was one of the first women cricketers and, in his village team, the young Bernard played in a side composed mostly of relatives. Cricket remained an abiding passion — at university he played for three sides at once — but he remained true to his upbringing and never played or watched the game on the Sabbath.
Lovell was educated at Kingswood Grammar School, Bristol, and studied Physics at the University of Bristol under Arthur Mannering Tyndall. After graduation, he stayed on to take a doctorate; then, in 1936, he moved to Manchester, where he took a one-year appointment as assistant lecturer in Physics.
Sir Bernard established the Jodrell Bank Observatory, near Goostrey in Cheshire. It was an outpost of ManchesterUniversity’s botany department. In the course of his experiments, he was able to show that radar echoes could be obtained from daytime meteor showers as they entered the Earth’s atmosphere and ionised the surrounding air.With University funding, he constructed the then-largest steerable radio telescope in the world, which now bears his name – the Lovell Telescope. Over 50 years later, it remains a productive radio telescope, now operated mostly as part of the MERLIN and European VLBI Network interferometric arrays of radio telescopes.