Posts Tagged ‘Bristol’

21st May

May 21, 2016

A personal item here. It was 50 years ago today that I had my first date with the lady who is now my wife. For a few months my future mother in law helped us celebrate by putting an appropriate number of candles on a bun for us to share. If we still did that we’d need 600 candles now and the bun would have to be one heck of a size.

So how has the day been marked in the past. The honest answer is barely ever. We were both workers and so the day was like any other. But back in 2002 the working day for me involved being at Bristol zoo so here are a few zoo photos from May 21st 2002.


A giant sized bug – I think it is quite pretty.


We all love meerkats


A swimming penguin.

A sea lion.image008

Well I had a nice day, clearly. I wonder what my wife did on that day.

Bristol poster

February 18, 2016

The old railway advert posters always made places look attractive. After all, the function of the poster was to encourage people to travel (by train, of course) to the location portrayed. Whether it was a rural area, seaside or bustling major city, they were shown in the most favourable way. But when it came to the city of Bristol that was no problem for there are so many fantastic scenes there.

This is the poster reproduced for February on one of my calendars.


Here we have a harbour scene with some kind of small cargo ship and what looks to be a little tug. The spire of St Mary Redcliffe stands sentinel over the scene.

This poster was by Wootton and was used by British Railways to promote travel to Bristol between 1948 and 1965

Grandfather’s cousin

December 10, 2015

Meet the relative

I rather expect to know of my cousins, albeit in some cases I don’t actually know them all that well. But I wonder if my wife’s grandfather, Howard, even knew of his cousin, William James Paul.

William was born in Bristol in about 1883. His father, Charley Paul was a carpenter which had been what the Paul’s did. And they seemed to operate in Bristol and Gloucestershire. Howard’s parents had started their married life in Bristol but they moved down to Redruth in Cornwall before the birth of Howard.

But to return to William James. He didn’t follow his father into carpentry as far as we know, although our evidence is limited. In 1891 he was a scholar and in 1901 he worked at the aerated water factory in Bristol.

For some reason his 1911 census is only available in index form and no job is given, but he was married by then and he and his wife, Ada, would seem to have two children. The couple had married in 1907.

Our understanding is that in 1914 the family moved to Wales. They lived at Ammanford in Carmarthenshire.

Many years ago a direct descendant of William sent me a photo of the family and here it is.


From left to right we have Nellie Paul, William James Paul, Ada Paul (nee Balls), Frederick and seated Stanley.

Nellie, Frederick and Stanley are the children of William and Ada.

With thanks to Tony who supplied photo and information.


Great Grandad’s birth

August 2, 2015

1857 does sound a long time ago. It was the year one of our great grandfathers was born on the 24th October of that year. This birth certificate was actually issued in 1912. We do not know why a birth certificate was required then.

Great Grandad's birth certificate. Click this picture for an enlarged and readable version

Great Grandad’s birth certificate. Click this picture for an enlarged and readable version

The great thing about a birth certificate is the information given surrounding the new arrival. We get the names of the parents – William Paul and Mary Ann, formerly Miss Beard as well as that of the new-born – Walter Henry Paul. We get the location of 13 Sargent Street in Bedminster on the Somerset side of Bristol. We haven’t visited this place, but this end of terrace house is 13 Sargent Street on street view. It possibly was not the end of terrace once.

Great Grandad's birth place

Great Grandad’s birth place

We can see that William, a great great grandfather was a carpenter and joiner of journeyman status. That meant he was qualified and had served an apprenticeship but had not, at that time, trained an apprentice himself.

Unfortunately we have been unable to trace much of the Beard ancestors. We think Mary Ann’s father was Thomas who married a Sarah Reed, but that is as far as we go.

Of course, both William and Mary were born before the registration of births, marriages and deaths commenced in 1837 but we know from censuses that William was born in Cirencester and Mary in Bristol.

For unknown reasons Walter’s parents left Bristol before 1881 and went to live in Clacton in Essex. At about the same time Walter and his young wife left Bristol and went to Redruth in Cornwall. Were they trying to get some miles between them? They certainly succeeded.

It is fun trying to fathom out why things happened in those long ago years. But answers can never be definite. One of Walter’s sons left Redruth and went to live in Inverness. Family legend had it that there had been a rift but we discovered that the wife of Percy, up in Inverness had actually come from North East Scotland. So maybe they just went home for her.

Duke of Gloucester

April 30, 2015

THE Duke of Gloucester is a cousin to Queen Elizabeth II, but I’m afraid I have no connection with him and know very little about him. This post is about a steam locomotive named after him and seems to be known without a ‘the’ in front of Duke of Gloucester. The Duke was the last ever express passenger steam loco built for British Railways. It was turned out of the works at Crewe in 1954 and was not particularly successful. The Duke was the only loco built to that particular design and was withdrawn from active service after only eight years. Bits of the Duke were removed for display in the Science Museum. The bulk of the engine languished in Dai Woodham’s scrapyard until 1974. In getting the engine back into running order, faults in original manufacture were found. These were rectified and other improvements made. The restored loco was transformed, in terms of performance, from its earlier days. It has proved a competent and popular loco on special trains. We saw it in 2006 when some close relatives were hauled by the loco to Bristol. image002Here she (locos are always she, even if named after a Duke) is rounding the curve into Temple Meads, the main station in the West Country city. image004 The Duke made for a handsome sight on arrival. image006 Drawn up in the station. The Duke could take a breather. It was the end of November and well into darkness when The Duke paused at Trowbridge on the return trip. There looks to be steam to spare. image008 That was a special day and starred a special engine.

A bus in Brittany

June 9, 2014

In 2002 we holidayed in Brittany – a delightful area of France which is different from much of the country, not least in having an ancient language which lives on in many place names. It is akin to Cornwall in many ways.

At Plougrescant we came across a very English item – a double decker bus.


This looks to me (and I don’t claim to be an expert) like a Bristol Lodekka, probably with a body by Eastern Coach Works. And as another aside, I recall seeing chassis being driven from Bristol to Lowestoft with drivers, wrapped up against the cold, sitting out in the open. It seemed a strange business to me to drive them 250 miles for the body to be fitted, but that was now it was.

This bus was run by Crosville from new in 1954 until 1971. From there she went to Europe and had several different owners. We saw her during her time with Publibus. And what a fine sight she was, albeit a tad incongruous on the narrow Brittany roads.

The Clifton Suspension Bridge

May 11, 2013

Hands up all those who think that the Clifton Suspension Bridge was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Hands up or not, you could claim to be right. The bridge is undoubtedly based on designs by good old IKB, but circumstances forced changes to be made to his designs, after he had died. What we see is not what Isambard originally envisaged.

But it is still magnificent.


This wonderful structure owes its origins to a competition to build a bridge across the river Avon, linking Bristol with Somerset.

After various retrials, the competition was won by young Brunel, aged 24. Work began in 1831 but Brunel never saw it completed. He died in 1859, aged 53 and others completed it, after some redesign, as a monument to Isambard. What we see was completed in 1864 and it still serves well today, with some 12000 vehicles passing over the bridge each day.

What the photo above doesn’t show is the depth of the Avon Gorge here.


This rather hazy photo of half a bridge gives an idea of just how high up, above the River Avon, the bridge is.

By the way – it looks as though nasty little creatures have got into some of my old colour slides. My advice is to digitise your slides as soon as possible. My pictures date from 1972.

At the M Shed

April 14, 2013

The M Shed seems to be the rather unlikely name of a museum at Bristol.

The other day I was lucky enough to be able to look at items the museum has in store.


This area certainly had enough wheels to keep me happy even if I’m not sure what it is all about.

There was a sign I loved.


The experts will know where this was once sited. For me it just conjures up images of cars following a slow bicycle whilst faster two wheelers can pedal hard and get past. And don’t bother to try overtaking if you happen to ride a tricycle.

Signs of all sorts tell a story. These all come from one photo I took in that store.


The Devonian looks like a carriage board from a named train. The train ran from Bradford in Yorkshire to Paignton in Devon.


There always seemed to be characters in comics called Bill Stickers who spent their life panicking about being prosecuted!


Railway signs! The top three date from British Railways days. The bottom two probably were made for the GWR – Great Western Railway.

The Yatton station sign is what collectors call a totem sign, I think. The station still exists and has a good service with trains to Bristol, Cardiff, Weston Super Mare and Taunton.

It’s a good museum – well worth a visit if you can.

The S S Great Britain – Then and Now

March 14, 2013


Yes, this is a ship – a ship in very poor condition but then it was some 130 years old and had spent some of those years sunk. She had been used as a warehouse in the Falkland Islands and was scuttled in 1937.

In 1970 she was brought back to her building place in Bristol. I visited in about 1974 and took the photo.

Now it just happens that I took a very similar view in 2007. By then I had forgotten my old colour slide and that re-emerged in a bit of slide copying this year (2013). Thirty three years have gone by between the two photos. It is, I suppose, quite a long time, but by heck there have been changes.


This is the deck of the SS Great Britain, Brunel’s iron hulled, screw driven ship of 1843. In 1974 she was a rusted hulk not long back from her watery ‘grave’ in the Falkland Islands. In 2007 she’s restored and resplendent. Not only is the top deck perfect, all of the under decks are ‘done’ as well. On the day we were there we couldn’t visit the dining room because a sumptuous wedding feast was in preparation. But all of the cabins and berths are done up and look much as they would have done back in Brunel’s day. SS Great Britain is a wonderful living museum and well worth a visit

And then note the houses on the hill beyond. Well what a difference some paint makes. In 1974 they looked tawdry and run down. The same buildings now (or in 2007) look vibrant and cared for. I guess it’s a bit of simple city transformation.

The then and now aspect of these pictures really is pure chance. The 1974 image was taken on my old Canon Demi using Agfachrome film. The 2007 picture was taken with a 6mpixel Olympus digital camera.