The Bristol Chronicles 1900 - 1904
1900 - Population of Bristol rises to an estimated 330.000.
Archibald Alexander Leach Born
1904 - Hollywood actor Cary Grant is born at 15 Hughenden Road, Horfield on January 18. He was christened Archibald Alexander Leach.
1904 - In January John Latimer died; until a few days before his death he had been editing his edition of Bristol’s charters. He was born in Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1824 and moved to Bristol in 1858. He edited the Bristol Mercury for 25 years and had been interested in local history from an early age. Of him it was said that ‘nature appears to have given him a strong bent for jotting down events which, even when trivial, have their value in picturing the life of the age.’
In February Sir W.F. Butler commanding the Western District unveiled a South African War memorial at Bristol Grammar School and visited the Crimean and Indian Mutiny Veterans Association. In the same month there was an assembly of temperance workers addressed by Lord Peel at which there was an emphatic demand for licensing reform.
During the year there were a number of sittings of the magistrates’ court at which orders were made to distrain upon the goods of persons refusing to pay the education rate. There were also a number of public sales of the seized goods. At each court appearance and sale there were public statements made by those who refused to pay setting out their reasons for the refusal. George Cooke, a solicitor, often represented members of the Citizens League, an organisation of the protesters.
Bristol City FC move to Ashton Gate
In March Bristol City Football Club left their ground at St. John’s Lane and moved to Ashton Gate. the ground on which Bedminster FC formerly played.
In the following month a memorial was erected by the Clifton Improvement Committee at 2, Bellevue, Clifton Hill. It recorded the fact that between 1819 and 1824 the house had been the residence of Lord Lawrence of the Punjab and his brother Sir Henry Lawrence, defender of Lucknow.
The new art gallery and museum extension opened in May; the development was due to the generosity of Sir William Henry Wills who had provided the full costs of construction amounting to upwards of £40,000. The building was designed by Frank Wills and the builder was William Cowlin & Son. In June the Corporation debated whether to open the art gallery on Sundays. They had received objections from a number of organisations but, despite this, decided to open on 26 Sunday afternoons during the year.
In the same month there was an exhibition of animated photographs at the Colston Hall that was seen by a large number of visitors. The scenes depicted included actual fighting in Manchuria and the Niagara Falls; there were also some humorous pictures.
Notwithstanding the objections from Westbury-on-Trym Parish Council, the Bill to increase Bristol’s boundaries to include the whole of Shirehampton and Westbury, part of Henbury and the upper part of Hot-field was passed by the committee of the House of Lords at the end of May and received the Royal Assent on 15 August. The new boundaries resulted in an increase of 13,443 in the city’s population. Another result of the change was that the Barton Regis Union ceased to exist.
In June the South African war memorial at Clifton College was unveiled by Lord Methuen. 43 old Cliftonians were killed during the conflict.
Fire Dean Lane colliery
Later in the same month there was a fire in the engine house at Dean Lane colliery. Most of the men were absent for their annual outing but there were two men underground. They were eventually brought to the surface by other means.
The new wing at the Diocesan Training College at Fishponds was dedicated in June by the Bishop of Bristol. The work included the installation of several frescoes on the walls of the chapel. The architect was W.V. Gough and the builder C.A. Hayes.
The Annual General Council of the Federation of Trade Unions was held in the city in July. 80 delegates met under the presidency of Pete Curran of the Gas Workers and General Labourers Union. The conference thanked those Members of Parliament who had supported the Trades Disputes Bill and condemned the importation of cheap Chinese labour into South Africa.
In July HRH Princess Henry of Battenberg, the King’s youngest sister, visited the city. She was formally welcomed at Temple Meads station and after lunch with the Lord Mayor she took the train from Clifton Down Station to Portishead where she laid the foundation stone of the new nautical school built to replace the old training ship Formidable. She was presented with a silver trowel by the architect Edward Gabriel.
Also in July the foundation stone of All Saints church, Fishponds was laid. The church had been built on land at Grove Road given by Miss Casfie; it was designed by Lingen Barber & Son and built by Clark & Son.
In August the Bristol Guardians resolved to provide quarters for eight married couples at the Stapleton workhouse.
E.S. & A. Robinson’s Building Redcliffe Street
September marked the completion of the reconstruction of E.S. & A. Robinson’s premises at the junction of Redcliffe Street and Victoria Street; the exterior appearance differed very little from that of the premises that were destroyed. The architects were Oatley & Lawrence and the builder William Cowlin & Son.
At the end of September the church of St. Aidan at Crews Hole was dedicated by the Bishop. The new parish comprised parts of the parishes of St. George and St. Michael, Two Mile Hill, and had a communicants’ roll of 140. The church had a Sunday school with 300 pupils and a men’s bible class of 50. The architect of the new building was Mr. Bodey.
In October there was an ingenious attempt to defraud the fledgling University College. A benefactor who wished to remain anonymous sent a bank note for £1,000 and the treasurer acknowledged its receipt in the press. A few days later he received a letter purporting to be from a Mr. Hartford claiming that he was the donor and had mistakenly sent the bank note for £1,000 whereas he should have sent one for £100 and requesting the return of the balance of £900. A detective was despatched to the address in London from which the letter had come and he arrested the sender Joseph Fitch who appeared before the Quarter Sessions at the end of the month and was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment.
In October the Miners’ Federation Conference was held at the Grand Hotel. There were 88 delegates who agreed that daily working hours (bank to bank) should be eight hours; they supported a motion that the Coal Mining (Employment) Bill should take precedence over all others and resolved that no child should be employed in a mine for more that eight hours in any 24. The delegates supported a resolution advocating the nationalisation of land, minerals, mines and railways.
Later in the same month the freedom of the city was presented to Sir W.H. Wills in recognition of his contribution to the city’s commercial interests and his munificence. The presentation took place at a special meeting of the City Council and the freedom was housed in a casket of silver gilt made by the Bristol Goldsmiths’ Alliance.
At the end of the month local miners expressed their dissatisfaction with the revised wages proposed by the employers. The offer was for a 2½advance during the winter months (October to April) up to 31 December 1906.
The miners decided to continue negotiations with the mine owners.
The result of the municipal elections held in November was the end of the Conservatives’ predominance, which had lasted since 1836. Labour and Liberal councillors and aldermen numbered 42 and Conservatives 35.
The Cottage Homes at Downend, constructed for the Bristol Guardians, were opened in November by the Rt. Hon Walter Long, MP, President of the Local Government Board. 20 acres of land had been purchased from Sir Charles D. Cave in 1901 at the cost of £5,000. The premises comprised 14 semi-detached homes in a crescent, a porters’ lodge, a convalescent home and a hail for general use. The cost of the building work (including fees) was £20,000 and the architects were La Trobe & Weston; the builder George Downs & Son.
As winter set in measures to combat unemployment were called for. The Council resolved to put in hand some additional works during the winter months. They decided to level some ground at Greenbank Cemetery and to repair sewers in Barton Hill, Pennywell Road, Denmark Street, Tankard’s Close and Welsh Back. The measures prompted a public meeting that was held in the Horsefair presided over by E.H. Jarvis, the chairman of the Trades’ Council, supported by W. Whitefield, the miners’ agent. John Gregory, Frank Sheppard and J. CurIe, the secretary of the Trades’ Council. The meeting emphatically condemned the dilatory manner in which the committee of the Corporation had set in motion the works for the relief of the unemployed.
Bristol Tramways Company
Samuel White of Bristol Tramways Company also offered assistance to unemployed painters. He had identified work that could be carried out during the colder months; there were posts that needed to be painted and, when the weather was not suitable for working outdoors, there was decorating to be done indoors. He stated that he could offer work to 100 unemployed guaranteed for the months of December, January and February; the pay would be £1 for a 40-hour week. The trade unions deprecated his proposal pointing out that the normal pay for a painter was 8½d per hour. Despite this condemnation some 800 men requested application forms within a few hours of the announcement being made.
On more than one occasion at the end of the year all parts of Bristol were enveloped in a dense fog. Traffic was virtually impossible; pedestrians had great difficulty in finding their way and most trains were late. Sport was affected; at the rugby match between Bath and Bristol at the County Ground the second half was played without the spectators (including the press) knowing what was going on.
William Perrin appeared before the Lawford’ s Gate magistrates charged with driving a locomotive at a greater speed than that allowed under the Locomotives Act. On 16 December he was driving up Warmley Hill with a load of bricks at a speed of 4 mph whereas the permitted speed was 2 mph. When stopped he said, ‘If I can’t go more than 2 mph I might as well stay at home.’ However, when he appeared before the justices, he undertook not to do it again and the magistrates let him off on payment of costs.
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