CHIS Newsletter April 2019



​At the corner of Oakfield Road and Whiteladies Road is an almost completed new building on a long-standing empty site. ​ ​PLEASE LOOK AT IT, for its quiet, graceful reconciliation of the traditional and new architectural style. It reproduces the elegant balconies of South Parade (Oakfield Road) before presenting stylish contemporary flats above a shop in Whiteladies Road. The corner junction of the two styles is delicately managed as can be seen in the photograph opposite. ​ ​THEN look at the plans for the renewed scheme offered by THAT Group in Clifton Down Road on the site of the former W.H. Smith and Clifton on Ice. Essentially little different from the earlier plans; it pays no heed to its setting or the notion of a street. Its design and materials are those used in standard commercial blocks – this is an area of exceptional richness in listed buildings and adjacent to one of the finest (now refurbished) mansions in Clifton: Mortimer House (c.1770): Grade II* listed. ​It obliterates the stepped public spaces in front of the previous building, with a mass and height that will make canyons of nearby roads.

​As a BUILDING ON THIS SITE IT HAS NO MERIT, being (as English Heritage charitably puts it) suitable in style for the Temple area of Bristol. One CHIS member has called “up-market German Democratic Republic”.

​CHIS views this application as a return to the dire 60s and 70s that architecturally blighted countless cities, including our own. It would degrade the area for generations. Members who saw the film by Gordon Young (of the Civic Society) on the horror to be inflicted by the Inner Relief Road will take the point.

​A team led by Linda Edwards in association with John Janke of the Mall Gardens Residents Association is looking tirelessly, at local and national level, to create awareness of this threat at the very heart of Clifton Village by those who have no sense of the heavy responsibility they undertook, aesthetically and socially in building in such an exceptional place. BATH, EDINBURGH, CHELTENHAM, LEAMINGTON, LIVERPOOL and DUBLIN celebrate the 18th and 19th century buildings for which they are attractive at home and abroad. BRISTOL is their peer but will not be so if it allows its jewels to be tanished, particularly in the heart of Betjeman’s “finest suburb in Europe”.


https// regulations/ look-at-and-track-planning-applications.

Search for the planning number 19/00682/F.

Click onto ‘make a comment’. OR Write to: Dept. M, City Hall, P.O. Box 3176, Bristol BS3 9FS. OR E-mail:

Always include the application number [19/00682/F] and your name and address.


CHEERY NEWS. ​The restored and refurbished Observatory is attracting great numbers of people to the site – as the worn-away grass shows. An aerial photograph of the last flight of Concorde above the Suspension Bridge shows the then roofless building. It reminds us how great is the rescue by Ian Johnson. CHIS TALKS have been very well attended, even (our members are no snowflakes) when the audience was warned to come warmly clothed, since the central heating system in the Apostle Room was out of order. Professor Ronald Hutton’s masterly lecture on ‘The Traditional Festivals of Britain’ justified the listeners’ faith and hardiness. ​Later and warmer, we were addressed by Dr Andrew Flack, of Bristol University, in a lively survey of zoos at home and abroad, as well as their future. ​In 2003 CHIS erected a plaque in Oakfield Road to Eliza Walker Dunbar and we were delighted with the lecture by Judith Franklin on this pioneering female doctor and how she promoted welfare for health for women in Bristol. LAMP POSTS. The Beckington Road controversy has received national press cover. CHIS has always championed the retention and maintenance of traditional posts in our area and beyond. We deplore the allegation that posts in other suburbs are to be removed (with modern replacements) so that the originals would go to conservation areas such as ours. Bristol is second only to London in the richness and variety and the numbers of fine lamp posts. Bristol City Council is to be congratulated on the recent excellent restoration of the fine elaborate lamp post in Pembroke Road opposite All Saints Road. Alas, a different road off Pembroke Road is ever more squalid, with some slum-like front “gardens” and never removed waste bins galore: Alma VILER Vale. COMMITTEE MEMBERS ​We are sorry to announce that because she has moved away from Clifton Katherine Croft has retired after more than twenty years of service, particularly in her responsibility for the research and siting for CHIS Green Plaques which record the residences of many distinguished people in Clifton and Hotwells. ​Katherine’s experience as a city Librarian, including Clifton Library, was central to her ability to research potential recipients and maintain a harmonious relationship with respective property owner and our suppliers. ​Her energetic enthusiasm for CHIS’s values enabled the society to depend on her active help in many tasks. For that and for her knowledge of recent Bristol history as well as for her warm nature she will be greatly missed at talks and committee meetings. ​There is also an unseen side to CHIS in the distribution of newsletters. Katherine was the person who stuck the labels and stamps (often bought in advance of increased prices) on the envelopes – a necessary but rather mundane chore – but she did it year after year without complaint! ​In contrast, a welcome new adviser to the committee is Tom Hedges, Director of Estates at Bristol Zoo. He has offered invaluable help on the matter of trees.As they come into leaf and blossom I wish members well for Spring and Summer – especially with Green Squares and Secret Gardens in mind. Brian Worthington.