The Bristol Chronicles 1906
Liberal Party victories
1906 - The parliamentary election held in January resulted nationally in sweeping Liberal victories, In Bristol the results were: Bristol North (held by the Liberals) A. Birrell (L) 6953 J.A. Foote (U) 4011 2942.
Bristol South (gained by the Liberals; it was twenty-two years since the constituency had been represented by a Liberal. Walter Long had the unenviable task of defending the importation of Chinese labourers into the Transvaal; his majority in 1900 was 611)
Howell Davies (L) 7964 Walter Long (C) 5272 2692
Bristol East (held by the Liberals with a record majority)
C.E. Hobhouse (L) 7935 T.B. Johnston (C) 3129 4306
Bristol West (held by Conservatives; in 1900 Sir Michael Hick-Beach had been returned unopposed)
G.A. Gibbs (C) 4267 T.J. Lennard (L) 3902 365
New Bus Service
In March the West of England Transport Co. inaugurated a new bus service to Tockington; the service left Colston Avenue at 2.42 p.m. The vehicle used was petrol driven, carried 34 passengers and had a maximum speed of 12 mph. Despite this limitation it reached Horfield Barracks in 20 minutes. After waiting for 15 minutes at Almondsbury the bus was at Tockington by 3.45 and at Olveston by 4 o’clock. The proprietors hoped that the service would be able to carry milk and other produce to Bristol.
Direct Service between New Zealand and Avonmouth
In the same month the Bristol Provision Trade Association was instrumental in establishing a new direct service between New Zealand and Avonmouth; the first voyage was undertaken by SS Devon. It was envisaged that the average passage time would be 40 days.
Chief Constable, Henry Allbut charged
The city’s Chief Constable, Henry Allbutt, suffered the embarrassment of appearing before the magistrates’ court charged with allowing the chimney at his private residence to catch fire. He pleaded guilty and was fined half a crown. Later in the year the Watch Committee declined to accept his resignation and dismissed him from the service. His troubles were not over and in October there was a meeting of his creditors.
Aged inmates should be allowed to play cards.
In March the Bristol Guardians considered a proposal that their aged inmates should be allowed to play cards. The proposal was lost by 15 votes to 34.
Fire J. & S. Derham boot factory in Barton Street, St. James Barton
At the end of that month there was a serious fire at the boot and shoe factory belonging to J. & S. Derham in Barton Street, St. James. The premises were totally destroyed and some 450 employees temporarily made unemployed; the employer and a distress committee did their best to temper the hardship. Many occupiers of neighbouring houses were made homeless and Fireman Arthur Wade was killed by a collapsing wall. The company had originated in Wrington and moved to the city in 1854.
Bristol Grammar School
In April Cyril Norwood MA (Oxon) was appointed as headmaster of Bristol Grammar School in succession to R.L. Leighton.
freedom of the city
In the following month the freedom of the city was conferred upon Lord St. Aldwyn. As Sir Michael Hicks-Beach he had been MP for East Gloucestershire for twenty-one years and for Bristol West for twenty years and had served as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Chief Secretary of Ireland, President of the Board of Trade and Secretary for the Colonies.
New Central Library in Deanery Road
The new central library in Deanery Road was opened in June by Lord Winterstoke; its construction had been made possible by a bequest of £50,000 from the estate of Vincent Stuckey Lean. The architect, chosen after a competition, was Charles Henry Holden of the firm of Perry Adams. The opening ceremony took place in the reference library and Mr. G.R. Chapman’s orchestra played an operatic selection during the assembly and after the speech making.
Royal Sanitary Institute
In July the 23rd annual congress of the Royal Sanitary Institute was held in Bristol. There were delegates representing local authorities, government departments and professional and scientific bodies. They discussed the problem of dust created by macadamised roads, consumption and the health of factory workers, the employment problem with reference to the Bristol Distress Committee and milk supply.
Gruesome discovery in a house in Dragon Road, Winterbourne
On 30 July there was a gruesome discovery in a house in Dragon Road, Winterbourne. The Rev. Henry Alban Brown, a Congregational minister, employing an open razor, had killed his wife Maria Catherine and her sister Mary Elliott and had then committed suicide. The Misses Elliott had previously kept a school for young ladies in Clifton.
'Some of you fellows are a perfect nuisance and a pest to society and don’t care what you knock down and who you run over'
William Fraser of Peckham appeared before the justices at the beginning of August charged with driving a motor car at St. Augustine’s Parade at a speed dangerous to the public; the constable estimated his speed at 15 mph. Fining him £5 and costs, the magistrate, Colonel Coates observed ‘Some of you fellows are a perfect nuisance and a pest to society and don’t care what you knock down and who you run over.’ Mr. Fraser said that he only had £2 on him and asked for time to pay; the magistrate responded ‘You will have to pay the fine or go to prison. People who keep these infernal things can afford to pay fines.’
Ashton Vale Colliery closed
The Ashton Vale Colliery closed in August and as a result 184 men were out of work. Helped by their union about 100 left the district to work in collieries and a few found work in pits in the Bristol area. About 60 to 70 remained unemployed and received financial assistance from the union.
Band of Hope Union
The annual conference of the Band of Hope Union was held in the city in September and the delegates attended a festival at the Colston Hall to hear a choir of 600 voices conducted by George Cooke. The secretary reported that the juvenile movement comprised some 11,000 societies with about 90,000 members and that the whole juvenile temperance movement had over 29,000 societies and 3,500,000 members. He also observed that the new parliament contained 200 MPs who were total abstainers.
emigrate to Canada
Also in September the Bristol Distress Committee considered reports from some of the people they helped to emigrate to Canada. The emigrants said that they had not experienced any difficulty in finding work and were glad that they had gone.
New Chief Constable
In October the Watch Committee recommended that the Deputy Chief Constable James Cann should be appointed as the new Chief Constable at an annual salary of £650 with an allowance of £100 for a horse.
New Ashton Swing Bridge
On 4 October the Lady Mayoress, Mrs. A.J. Smith, opened the new Ashton swing bridge. The bridge had to provide facilities for pedestrians, vehicles and trains to cross between the Cumberland Basin and Ashton. It also had to have the ability to swing open quickly to allow masted vessels to pass up or down stream. The original estimated cost was £36,500 and the Great Western Railway agreed to pay a half share which was fixed at £18,250. When finally completed the actual cost was over £70,000 and the railway company had to be asked to increase its contribution; it agreed to pay £22,000 leaving the city to fund the balance of nearly £50,000.
Merchant Venturers’ Fire
On 9 October the Merchant Venturers’ Technical College in Unity Street was totally destroyed by fire. The Red Maids’ School in Denmark Street was separated from the fire by Harvey’s premises and the girls had to be roused from their beds ready to evacuate their school. By 4 a.m. the college was a pile of smouldering ruins.
Disturbances All Saints Church in Pembroke Road
The Wycliffite Crusaders were causing disturbances again in November when they entered All Saints Church in Pembroke Road and interrupted the holding of confessions which they considered to be an unlawful activity. They were ejected by the police and appeared before the magistrates charged with disorderly conduct. The justices bound them over to keep the peace but the protesters refused to enter into recognizances and were sentenced to fourteen days’ imprisonment. They appealed, unsuccessfully, to the High Court. Their supporters subsequently held a protest meeting in the Colston Hall presided over by Alderman James Inskip who, in his address, complained that the clerk to the justices had put impertinent questions to the protesters and that there was no need to ask them if their occupation was a paying one.
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