FROM THE CHAIRMAN
The wintry scene on the cover of the last Newsletter makes for a startling contrast with the hay-coloured expanses of the recent torrid months.
We were lucky to hold our 50th Anniversary Party for members at the finely restored Observatory at a time when the open-air top reception area gave grand all-round views and the wind blew away the humidity which became so prevalent afterwards.
Thanks to the immense generosity of Ian Johnson, the owner and careful restorer of that long-neglected building, and the hard work in catering by Linda Edwards, RoseMary Musgrave and Jenny Sparkes, the Golden Anniversary of CHIS was celebrated in style by a full house of guests.
An earlier, smaller reception for founding members, former Chairmen and significant supporters had taken place at Clifton Club, itself four times our age this very year. In an elegant speech Francis Greenacre, once Chairman himself, paid tribute to our achievements.
Instead of adding an appendix to our “Forty Years of CHIS” booklet, RoseMary Musgrave produced a four-page A4 outline of a number of the Society’s achievements over the half century. As may be seen when you read it later in this Newsletter, the range and variety of CHIS’s work prompts the question: “What on earth would Clifton and Hotwells have been reduced to without all that effort?”.
It is nearly forty years since our Treasurer, Roger Snary, took on the task which he has carried out the greatest dedication, precision and geniality. His retirement will be announced at the AGM on October 23rd. A due appreciation of his tireless service will follow.
Spring and Summer highlights were two visits: to Hereford Cathedral, Hellens Court and Much Marcle church and to the “hidden Westbury-on-Trym”, a two-hour illustrated talk and guided tour of the medieval and 18th century village, led by Michael Butterfield. More venerable than Bristol (a church having been built in the 10th century) its historic and attractive features are all too easily missed as we zip past on Falcondale Road.
The weather blessed the fifth Green Squares and Secret Gardens weekend and helped bring a record number of visitors from Bristol and beyond. RoseMary Musgrave’s five years of organizing this event, remarkable for the quality, number and variety of gardens in Clifton, Cliftonwood and Hotwells, have ensured that she is able to hand over with confidence to others and from now on serenely attend as a visitor.
The final talk at the Apostle Room this season was Tim Davidson’s Life of Lorenzo da Ponte. Known as the clever librettist for many of Mozart’s great opera, he lived an extraordinary life, from childhood to a great age, as entrepreneur, mountebank, and casanova in Europe and North America. This account, plus excerpts from the operas, gave great entertainment and enlightenment.
In the meantime CHIS’s workaday tasks continue. Planning and other details may be read on later pages. The MAJOR matter of the fight for a distinguished and appropriate building on the former W.H.Smith site on Clifton Down Road remains our 50th Anniversary objective. The miserable argument that anything is better than the current slum site must be overcome. It is a crucial position among scores of protected buildings, which deserve a worthy neighbour.
An increasingly city-wide threat is the too often dire impact of HMOs – Houses in Multiple Occupation – not always but often for students. We are relieved to have been of help in stopping such schemes in Alexandra and St. Paul’s Roads. Outside our domain but of relevance in this matter it is good to know that the 18th century BRI building in Marlborough Street will not be allowed to be pulled down for student accommodation.
We commend the efforts of Oakfield Road Association (ORA) to get the fountains in front of the Victoria Rooms playing again. ORA is investigating ownership of the fountains and whether Bristol University would be prepared to undertake the maintenance even if, as would appear to be the case, Bristol City Council actually owns them.
Plaques, Information Boards and signage.
The joint CHIS and Clifton Club Plaque to commemorate the founding of the Club at the present Clifton Library 200 years ago will be put in place as soon as the final heritage permissions are given. This will probably happen before the next Newsletter but the time and date of the unveiling ceremony will be on the CHIS website and the noticeboard outside the Library.
We are working on three other projects on our 50th Year.
Information Boards in St Andrew’s Churchyard at the Strangers’ Burial Ground and the Portway opposite the Colonnade.
Signage in a Conservation Area is important and we keep an eagle eye to ensure that commercial boards conform in quality and size and that vulgar fairground banners are removed, be they on academic or ecclesiastical buildings, and without planning permission.
It is good to co-operate with businesses as well as residents in the Village via discussions with Clifton BID, in this case to advise on the best places for signs to help visitors find the Village and Suspension Bridge, whether as they arrive on foot or off the No. 8 bus. They are surprisingly necessary.
Please take note of our future events, which are on the enclosed card.