Local Interest

Heritage in Greater Fishponds is over 1000 years.

Stoke Park Estate in Stapleton, Lockleaze and Stoke Gifford has an amazing and well connected history related to and connected with royalty since the Norman Conquest. It’s largely unknown what was here before 1066. One man in particular has dedicated his life to the estate and this is Lockleaze resident Steve England who is also Chair of the Stoke Park Estate Action Group, a Horticulturalist, Historian and Woodman. You can visit Steve’s fossil display from the Frome Valley at Glenside Hospital Museum as well. 300m year old fossils.
To read the English Heritage page for Stoke Park Estate visit: list.english-heritage.org.uk and to join Steve England on Facebook visit: facebook.com/groups/stokeparkestate

Greater Fishponds has a history which dates back over 2000 years and we can still see at least 800 years of this vast history today. Fishponds as it was in Gloucestershire was a land of Kings and to this day Gloucestershire remains a royal domain. fishponds.org.uk

Dedicating this page to Mr John Bartlett and Mr John Penny for a remarkable and dedicated journey for us all to learn via their website: fishponds.org.uk and other books & films. Their knowledge, experience and understanding of our wider community would take months to record!
John Bartlett holds the Pride of Place award for Local History below… Greater Fishponds took first prize for Bristol.

There are museums throughout Bristol but to find the larger museums you will need to go to Central Bristol. Bristol Council lists them all here.. bristol.gov.uk/museums visit the new M Shed museum! In Fishponds visit Glenside Hospital Museum glensidemuseum.org.uk

Bristol Council website for museums www.bristol.gov.uk/museums >> See our new MShed mshed.org

Glenside Hospital Museum glensidemuseum.org.ukbased right here in the very heart of Greater Fishponds, Bristol.

For an interactive education & experience in to Bristol’s history & heritage, visit Bristol’s new website in the city Archeology website section: maps.bristol.gov.uk/knowyourplace and visit bristol.gov.uk/archaeology

Explore our hisitory along the Bristol and Bath Railway Path bristolbathrailwaypath.org.uk/theoldrailway.shtml

Lodge Hill in Hillfields was home to the Lodge of King John and it was from this royal hill in the Kings Woodland that hunting parties looked across the forest which spread over an area of 18 square miles.
In 1189 Richard I (Lionheart) came to the throne but due of his lengthy absence on crusades his brother John effectively controlled the country. Prince John, married Hawisia, daughter and heiress of the Earl of Gloucester, and it was agreed in the marriage contract that he should inherit the estate on the Earl’s death. Thus when the Earl died, John duly became Lord of Bristol, and with Richard away crusading, Prince John ruled the country using Bristol Castle his headquarters. ref: http://brisray.com/bristol/bcastle2.htm later a new lodge was built on Lodge Hill sometime in the 12th Century while the estate remained popular with royalty and noble men and women for many centuries. Hillfields (as it is known today) was later given to the Duke of Beaufort for designing the Straits Parade in Fishponds, the Kings Forest after the royal party of King George got stuck in the mud here and as a gift for making the Straits Parade, the Duke of Beaufort was given the land on both sides. One side is still fairly preserved today in part as Oldbury Court Estate oldburycourtestate.co.uk after it had been sold as a wonderful estate a number of times through history and is now owned by Bristol City Council who bought it in the 1940’s and Hillfields Estate was bought from another Duke of Beaufort in the early 20th Century to become the first council estate in Bristol.. homes for heroes returning from WW1.

The picture below is not King John’s Hunting Lodge, it is Kingswood Castle, a mill which was nearby. King John’s Hunting Lodge was based opposite Lodge Hill Open Space alongside Cossham Hospital and commanded great views across Kingswood Forest. It’s foundations are in two people’s gardens.

Kingswood Castle is shown in the picture here close to the site of King John’s Hunting Lodge, we are hoping to have a picture of the lodge one day.  Kingswood Castle another article here as well Kingswood Castle was a windmill near Soundwell Road

Historic Stapleton in Fishponds

Stapleton is a beautiful and historic area of Fishponds, Bristol and it is here in the ward of Eastville, Greater Fishponds that every tourist coming to our wonderful city should see. Not only does this area connect with the Frome Valley, Snuff Mills and Eastville Park, but it has homes which were built over 500 years ago and the most famous of these is Wickham Court where Oliver Cromwell held a council of war meeting with General Fairfax before the attack on Bristol Castle in September 1645.

Picture of Wickham Court in Stapleton where Oliver Cromwell met with General Fairfax in 1645


Baron Botetourt through the ages.. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baron_Botetourt and our very own who lived in the Greater Fishponds area of Stapleton en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norborne_Berkeley,_4th_Baron_Botetourt

Norborne Berkeley, baron de Botetourt (1717–1770)

Glenside Hospital has a long history and everything is explained fully in the Glenside Hospital Museum, here are details about the museum via their website: glensidemuseum.org.uk and for information about Stoke Park, visit these pages:
sbarch.org.uk/History_SG_V3.40/Stoke_Park/Stoke_Park_History_1.shtml and explore other links about Stoke Park and the wider area.. this is all provided thanks to the hard work of people at Southern Brooks Archaeology sbarch.org.uk

Fishponds Local History Society

Mr John Bartlett and Mr John Penny, both of Fishponds, along with other enthusiasts started The Fishponds Local History Society more than 33 years ago (Ref. June 2012) and they have worked very hard over the years to discover everything that they can about the Greater Fishponds Area and they help Bristol in general; undertaking large Archaeology projects along the way, and they have shared their discoveries for us all to enjoy, especially in the Snuff Mills area where restoration projects and more are on show in the restored Mill area.

More about Mr Bartlett and his team and their discoveries can be found on their dedicated website and you can purchase books and DVD’s of their work as well: fishponds.org.uk. To see Mr Bartlett at work and to buy the Fishponds DVD, please click here or for John’s book about Fishponds use this link in the Amazon website and you can buy the same DVD here as well: amazon.co.uk/Fishponds-Images-England-John-Bartlett&amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddvd&field-keywords=fishponds

If you like to learn more about the Fishponds Local History Society then please visit the Fishponds Village Hall where people can join the group which meets here monthly.
Village Hall, Beechwood Road, Fishponds, Bristol, BS16 3TR. Tel. 0117 9650203 for details of the society.

Discover Frenchay Village thanks to the Frenchay Museum frenchay.org/museum.html

What came before Beacon Tower in Fishponds at the base of Lodge Causeway Bridge?
By Tom Andrews, local

resident.  ref: flickr.com/photos/25155582@N07/4479531421/in/set-72157629508116073

Fishponds Bristol Opposite what would become Lodge House, 1934
Many residents of Fishponds Bristol often wonder what was in place of Lodge House and Beacon Tower before it was built in 1968.
Well here we are..this lovely picture was taken in 1934 outside 623 Fishponds Road which at the time was a fishmongers owned by my Grandfather Jim Andrews.
There sitting on the horse is my dad, also Jim Andrews, aged 3 years old.
By all accounts my grandfather (or granfer as he was affectionately known by his many many grandchildren) could not afford a nosebag for the horse, so ate from a old hessian sack, probably a old cockle sack as grandad was always boiling cockles for selling in the shop.
The two stone built cottages on the opposite side of the road were owned by the Cordy family (right hand cottage) and the Derby family (left hand cottage). Mrs Derby was my mothers grandmother, by all accounts the Derby family were infamous in Fishponds for perhaps all the wrong reasons.
To the left hand side you can make out other cottages, there were more to the right as well, where Lodge house is now.
Also on the opposite side of the road were a few bus stops (there is still one there now).
Granfer sold 623 Fishponds Road during the second world war to Fred Hill (kept in the family by Son Ken Hill and grandson Danny Hill) who had a fruit and veg shop here until late 1997, its now a Kebab shop.
Granfer moved his fish shop during the war to 540 Fishponds road, on the corner of Star Lane until retiring in the early 1970`s, he sadly passed away in January 1975. 540 has changed hands many many times over the years , its now occupied by a company called Kustom Floors.
My dad says (and who can argue, he is 79 this year) this was the golden age of Fishponds, up until the late 1960`s when the railway and pottery went and sadly these lovely old cottages were demolished and forgotten (almost) for ever for Lodge house and Beacon tower.
For all those who wished to see Fishponds before Lodge/Beacon….Enjoy:-)

Thank you Tom.

Factory and Local Authority Housing in the estate section of Hillfields, Fishponds from 1919.

Beechen Drive in Fishponds has the 1st council homes in Bristol.

Building commenced on Hillfields Park Housing estate in 1919, and the estate was the first to be built under the National Housing Scheme in Bristol. Hillfields was further expanded in 1922 when the new Elisha Smith Robinson paper and printing company opened in Filwood Road, Fishponds, and the company arranged for houses to be built at Maple Avenue to accommodate the new workers.

Frenchay Village Museum covering events in Stapleton, Greater Fishponds as well. Books and brochures for sale in this beautiful section of Bristol. frenchaymuseumarchives.co.uk/NewMuseum.htm

Education and St Mathias

Wikipedia – wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Matthias,_Bristol

Today as part of the UWE uwe.ac.uk/aboutUWE/campus/st-matts-about.shtml

BBC History bbc.co.uk/history

A very interesting website explaining Greater Fishponds:
Fishponds bafhs.org.uk/parishes/fishponds/fishponds.htm
Stapleton: parishes/stapleton/stapleton.htm
Mangotsfield: bafhs.org.uk/parishes/mangotsfield/mangotsfield.htm

ParnAll in Fishponds, an amazing story… by Mr Patrick Hassell, Councillor for Hillfields

The history of ParnAll, is complex. They were originally shop fitters of repute, working out of Narrow Wine Street and got into aircraft work during the Great War, using a great many sites including The Coliseum roller skating rink next to the University (the facade is still there) and Mivart Street, but not of course Fishponds.

After the war George Parnall wanted to continue with aircraft but the rest of the family, and Avery (who had a controlling interest in the firm) didn’t, so George went on his own, first at the Coliseum before moving to Yate in 1924/5 and running Parnall Aircraft Ltd from there. He sold out to Nash (of Frazer-Nash) and Thompson in 1936 and died soon after but they kept the Parnall name going there too.

Meanwhile, the Avery Parnall business moved into the empty works at Lodge Causeway in 1923, carrying on with the shopfitting and scales and weighing machines. Of course come 1939 they moved back to war work, using their wood and metalworking skills to make components for a whole range of aircraft including wings for Tiger Moths and Airspeed Oxford Trainers and fins for Stirling bombers. They also made fuselages for Airspeed Horsa gliders, as used by the airborne forces on D-Day and at Arnhem. They may well have done other war work but I only know about the aeronautical bits. I’m sure John Penny and John Barrett would know more. (Patrick wrote to John Penny for us here and the response is amazing.. Patrick is kindly updating this for us when he has some spare time). Lot’s of planes were made here..

They continued to do odds and ends of aircraft work after the war, including (wooden) fuselages for DH Venom jet fighters and tailplanes for DH Herons as well as interior components for Britannias and even Concorde, skills that went into Diamonite who were very successful for a while doing interiors for executive jets, especially for Russian oligarchs.

Of course the Lodge Causeway works were built (about 1906) for Brazil Straker, motor engineers, and it was here that the Bristol aero-engine business began, under Roy Fedden. They started working on aero-engines in 1914, first re-building Curtiss OX-5s (we’ve got one at the Heritage Trust with a “Brazil Straker, Fishponds, Bristol” plate on it) and then building Hawk and Falcon engines (for the Bristol Fighters) under license from Rolls-Royce at Derby. In 1917 Fedden and Leonard Butler started designing their own engines and the Jupiter and Lucifer had run at Fishponds before Cosmos (as BS had become after takeover by the Cosmos conglomerate) went bust in 1919. But the engines were so promising that the Air Ministry persuaded the Bristol Aeroplane Co. to take on Fedden and 31 colleagues and set up a new BAC engine department at Patchway in 1920. And the rest is history……. 90 years on they are still making aero-engines there though the name over the door has been Rolls-Royce since 1968. Anyway, that’s why the Lodge Causeway works were empty in 1923 ready for Avery’s half of Parnall to move in.

So it is indeed a very historic site and I expect even more went on there – for example they made tens of thousands of shell cases there during the Great War – and probably much more than we (or I, anyway) know about.

Patrick Hassell (RIP)
ex Councillor for Hillfields, Greater Fishponds.

More information can be found on the Bristol Aero Collection website bristolaero.com


Did you know that Roy Fedden of Fishponds was asked to run the UK air fleet by Winston Churchill but turned him down… saying this wasn’t his area of expertise.

How Bristol’s Aero-engine business began in Lodge Causeway… by Patrick Hassell

Today, the Rolls-Royce works at Patchway is famous for building the most advanced engines for fighter jets and helicopters and for having developed Concorde’s Olympus and the unique Pegasus engine for the Harrier “jump jet”.  But few people realise that this business began here in Fishponds over 100 years ago on the Lodge Causeway site now occupied by ALD Automotive.

Of course it wasn’t started by Rolls-Royce.  In 1906 that firm had just been set up in Derby and begun production of its 40/50 car – the ‘Silver Ghost’ – soon to be known as “the best car in the world”.  In that same year the Bristol firm of Brazil Straker also opened a big new factory to build vehicles. It was on Lodge Causeway and its products were much less exclusive: – London buses.  They had gained a big order for a bus based on a German design and by 1909 they had delivered over 1000 of them. They had also branched out into building small motor cars.

These new cars were designed by a young Bristolian called Roy Fedden who had only just graduated from the Merchant Venturer’s  College.  They were sold under the name Straker Squire (Squire was the partner who ran the London sales side,  just like Charles Rolls, who sold the cars which Henry Royce designed ).  Sporting versions were developed which Fedden drove to success at the Brooklands track. Over the next few years the cars, and Fedden, won a great reputation for good engineering.

When war broke out in 1914 most firms went over to production for the military.  Brazil Straker were no exception. (Incidentally, Peter Brazil pronounced his name to rhyme with ‘dazzle’, not ‘Brasil’ like the country.) They built 4-ton lorries and staff cars for the Army and part of the machine shop was adapted to turn out thousands and thousands of shell cases. The Fishponds workforce grew to over 2,000, with women joining the shop floor for the first time. One new job of particular interest to Fedden was a request from the Admiralty to overhaul and, if possible, improve the Curtiss OX-5 engines which they had bought from America for their training aircraft. These often ran for only five hours before failing.

Fedden and his Chief Designer, Leonard ‘Bunny’ Butler, pored over the stripped engines and came up with many modifications. Their rebuilt engines ran better and were much more reliable. Encouraged by this, the Admiralty asked if Fedden might build the new Rolls-Royce engines they needed urgently for their airships. These single-engined SS-class “blimps” went on long patrols out over the sea searching for enemy U-boats, so reliability was vital. Sir Roy Fedden was knighted in 1942.

Rolls-Royce had previously refused to allow their engines to be built by anyone else, fearing that other firms’ lower standards would produce poor quality products and damage Rolls’ reputation for excellence. But they found that Fedden was just as obsessed with high quality workmanship as they were and eventually agreed that Brazil Straker could build R-R designs at Fishponds, the only firm so approved.  Almost all the six-cylinder R-R Hawk engines for the Navy’s airships were built here and the firm went on to build the majority of the R-R Falcon V-12 engines for the Bristol Fighters built up at Filton. These were the most successful two-seaters of the war and were badly needed; there was pressure to maximise production but quality was not sacrificed.

With the Rolls engines in full production Fedden and Butler embarked on engines of their own, but of quite different design. The license agreement with Rolls-Royce included a clause forbidding Fedden from making his own water-cooled, in-line aero-engines to compete with the R-R designs of that type.  So his new engines were air-cooled and had their cylinders in a ring pointing out from the centre like rays from a star (we know them as ‘radial’ engines but the French call them ‘étoile’ – a star.)

Their first engine had 14 cylinders in two rows.  It ran “like a sewing machine” but they soon realised that aircraft designers were now looking for even more than the 320 horsepower it produced.  So they started again with nine larger cylinders in a single row, aiming for 450 horsepower.  They called this the Jupiter. The Air Board ordered prototypes in July 1918 and Fedden had the first one running by the autumn, just two weeks before the Great War finally came to its sudden end on the 11th  of November. This led to the cancellation of almost all military contracts but the Ministry of Munitions told Fedden his new engine was “of very great importance to the nation” and that he should “press on in all haste to perfect the ‘Jupiter’”

Around this time the Brazil Straker factory was bought up by a big conglomerate called Cosmos whose main interests were in coal mining and shipping. Its directors took little interest in the Fishponds works and just told Fedden to carry on.  As well as designing a new car he created a low-power engine for training aircraft by using just three Jupiter cylinders on a new crankcase. This was the Lucifer and it ran alongside the Jupiter on test stands down by the railway line – now the cycle path alongside Morrison’s car park. The roar from their open exhausts must have deafened passengers waiting at Fishponds station.

However, at the end of 1919 the Cosmos parent company went bust, apparently as a result of a huge order for the White Russians which was captured by the Red Army and so was never paid for.  The Fishponds works was handed over to the firm’s Receivers and the future looked bleak. The Ministry feared that it might mean the end of the promising Jupiter which had been successfully flight tested at Filton in a Bristol Badger and powered  the Sopwith Schneider racing seaplane which achieved a remarkable 165 mph. So the Ministry approached the Board of the Bristol Aeroplane Company ( as British & Colonial had now become ) and asked if they would they would consider taking on Fedden and his Jupiter and set up a new engine department to build them.

Despite the Board’s doubts they did not want to offend the Ministry which was almost their only customer. So they paid the Receiver £15,000 for all the parts, tools, drawings and rights to the Cosmos engines. It proved a good investment. Fedden, Butler, and thirty colleagues moved from Fishponds into the empty hangars at the Patchway corner of  Filton’s grass aerodrome. The Cosmos Jupiter became the Bristol Jupiter and by the end of the 1920s it had become the most successful aero-engine in the world.  Fedden and the Bristol Aeroplane Company would go on to produce many more engines made famous around the world and, with mergers, the business would change names again. Its roots here in Fishponds are often forgotten so hopefully this little article is a reminder of a bit of local history we can be proud of.*

The connection between aviation and the Lodge Causeway factory would be revived in the Second World War by its new occupants, Parnalls, who moved their shop fitting and weighing machine business into the empty Brazil Straker works in 1923.  But that is another story.

Cllr Patrick Hassell has a passion for aircraft manufacturing and he has shared a remarkable journey with us covering events which led to Rolls Royce in Bristol which all started right here in Hillfields at the site of ParnAll and ALD Automative. This story played an important part in winning this award.
Sir Roy Fedden was knighted in 1942 sometime after when this picture was taken.

How the ALD Automotive site looked before the Great War at Brazil Straker works in Lodge Causeway, probably photographed just before the Great War when they were building the Straker Squire cars, and the lorries and buses too.  Joseph Brazil was in charge with young Roy Fedden as his Chief Engineer.

Patrick is now working to name any future developments in this area including houses and streets after the hero’s who worked here so that their memories are never forgotten.

Bristol Aeroplane Company later moved to Filton where it remained and following mergers is now called BAE Systems and they built their luxury cars called Bristol where these are still made today in Filton.


*( If you want to read the whole story of the Bristol piston engines from the  Fishponds days to the ultimate Hercules and Centaurus engines then the book “Fedden” is available from the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust at £15 for non-members or £10 to members, post free. Order from 01332 249437 or e-mail heritage.trust@rolls-royce.com

Info webpage: rolls-royce.com/about/who_are/heritage_trust.jsp

Patrick Hassell
Councillor for Hillfields, Greater Fishponds.

Other information can be found on the Aviation Archive website aviationarchive.org.uk

Are you on facebook? If so, see some of these great photo’s kindly supplied by Steve Currie, by joining his group. Use the two links below for Fishponds and Kingswood.
These images supplied by Steve show the Railway Path in Fishponds and the Cross Hands Hotel.

Fishponds as it was: facebook.com/group.php?v=photos&gid=7600588922

Kingswood as it was: facebook.com/group.php?v=photos&gid=19039050703
Thanks very much Steve.

Below is an outing to Cheddar Gorge by Croft End Church, based near Whitehall area.

Croft End Church’s instruments used by the local Home Guard band during the war.

1000’s of old Bristol photographs on Flickr by Brizzle Born and Bred: flickr.com/photos/brizzlebornandbred 
Thanks Brizzle

If you would like to find out more about Bristol’s history and possibly go along to some lectures then here are a few more websites that may interest you:


Bristol Council – history sites bristol.gov.uk/ccm/content/Leisure-Culture/Libraries/useful-websites—local-history.en

Old photos of Bristol and Gloucestershire: from
Old UK photos >> oldukphotos.com/gloucestershire_bristol.htm

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