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Bristol Chronicles 1910 | by brizzle born and bred
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Bristol Chronicles 1910

unemployed labour


1910 - The Bristol Distress Committee had commenced work on the Portishead Marine Lake using unemployed labour. They decided to continue with the work despite a protest from the Ratepayers’ Association who objected on the grounds that the work was outside the city boundary, that the men did less work because the committee paid them for travelling time and that local residents (who contributed towards the cost) did not want it.


Burglary at 15, York Place - beaten with a hot water


In January Charles Nicholls appeared before the magistrates charged with burglary at 15, York Place, a lodging house. They heard that the proprietress, Sarah Ann Williams, and her domestic, Florence Mary Fox, had discovered him in the house and beaten him with a hot water can to such an extent that he said ‘Stop it - I’ve had enough’ and he left the house with his boots under his arm but leaving his bowler hat behind him. The dented can was produced in court. The magistrates committed Nicholls for trial at the next assize.


General Election


A general election was held in the middle of January but there was no change of representation in the Bristol seats. The elected members were:


Bristol North Augustine Birrell Liberal


Bristol South Sir W.H. Davies Liberal


Bristol East C.E. Hobbouse Liberal


Bristol West G.A. Gibbs Conservative.


Heavy Handed Policing in Kingswood


Members of the Kingswood Urban District Council protested to the Chief Constable of Gloucestershire, Admiral Henry Christian, at the heavy handed policing during a meeting addressed by Walter Long, an ex-member of the government. They felt that the presence of 100 policemen was unnecessary and a stigma on the people of Kingswood.


Sefton Park School opens


In the same month the new Sefton Park School was opened without ceremony. The school had provision for ten classrooms and a central hall with accommodation for 500 senior (aged 10 to 14) and 500 junior (aged 5 to 9) boys and girls. The builder was U. Humphreys & Son and the successful competitive design was submitted by W.V. & A.R. Gough. The new Labour Exchange operated by the Board of Trade situated in Victoria Street opened for business at the beginning of February. There was a large crowd of men waiting to register.


Easton Colliery


On 1 February there was a fire in the engine house at Easton Colliery caused by the fusing of an electric wire. Thanks to the prompt action of the manager, James Steele, most of the men Were able to escape. However, three men, Joseph Gaynor of Bedminster, Benjamin Jacobs of Bedminster Down and Robert Bush of Soundwell, were on the far side of the engine house and lost their lives.


Bristol Aviation


In February Sir George White founded the Bristol Aeroplane Co. Ltd., the Bristol Aviation Co., the British & Colonial Aeroplane Co. and the British & Colonial Aviation Co..


St. Mary Redcliffe


The three canvases painted by William Hogarth as an altar piece for St. Mary Redcliffe were sold in 1858 to Alderman Thomas Proctor on behalf of the Bristol Fine Art Academy (later the Royal West of England Academy) on condition that, in the event of their sale, the Vestry would receive one half of the proceeds. In February 1910 a sale was proposed to raise funds for the new Academy building but public opinion prevented the sale and the paintings were rolled up and stored.


Dean Lane Colliery


Lady Smyth, the owner of the Dean Lane Colliery, which had recently closed down, arranged for the site to be cleared by unemployed men and in March she offered a five acre site to the city as recreation grounds.


Inciting a Mutiny


In April there was further trouble at the Brentry Inebriates’ Home when William Yonds appeared before the Lawford’ s Gate magistrates charged inciting a mutiny. He was sentenced to one month’s hard labour. The death of King Edward VII at the beginning of May prompted services at most churches and chapels. The Stock Exchange, theatres and the skating rink closed and some athletic meetings postponed.




During the first week of May two new railway lines opened. The line from Stoke Gifford to Avonmouth enabled trains to run directly from the GWR and MR joint line to Avonmouth dock. This gave the opportunity to run boat trains and it also carried goods traffic so as to relieve the pressure on the Clifton to Pilning route. The other line ran from Hallatrow to Limpley Stoke and was mainly used for goods traffic.


memorial service for King Edward VII


On 13 May in all schools under the responsibility of the Education Committee a memorial service for King Edward VII was held and at the same time the proclamation of King George V’s accession was read. The proclamation was read publicly in the city on Saturday 14 May from a car of quaint design known as the ‘proclamation car’ drawn by four horses although it had originally been designed to be carried on poles on men’s shoulders. It had been used previously to proclaim the peace of 1801 and the accessions of George IV in 1820, William IV in 1830 and Edward VII in 1901.


The proclamation was read at the Council House and in the Haymarket, College Green and Queen Square. The King’s funeral service was held on 21 May and on that day services were held in Bristol Cathedral and nearly all churches and chapels; a Free Church service was held in the Colston Hall.


Halley’s Comet


Halley’s Comet was visible during the month and a popular illustrated lecture on the subject was given in the Colston Hall by Sir Robert Ball LL.D., D.Sc., ERS.


First woman in the world to qualify and register as a doctor


Elizabeth Blackwell died in Scotland on 31 May. She was born in Bristol in 1821 and graduated in medicine in New York State in 1849, the first woman in the world to qualify and register as a doctor.


German visitors


A party of German visitors interested in socio-religious matters came to the city in June. They were welcomed by the Lord Mayor and the Bishop of Bristol and inspected the YMCA and the Shaftesbury Crusade before being entertained to supper at the Grand Spa Hotel.




The Hon. A.A. Kirkpatrick, Agent General to South Australia, visited the city in July and viewed the docks at Avonmouth. Later in the same month Sir Thomas Robinson, Agent General to Queensland, made a similar visit.


Bristol Cathedral


In the same month a memorial tablet in Bristol Cathedral to Richard Hakluyt, a sixteenth century canon of the cathedral and a propagandist of colonial venturing, was unveiled; the ceremony was performed by Sir Clements Markham of the Royal Geographical Society.


Strike Breakers


In July some Bristol dock workers complained about the behaviour of two foremen and ceased working; they were then locked out. The management of the dock brought in some 130 men from other ports described as ‘Federation men’. The dispute spread to all parts of Bristol and Avonmouth and other workers - crane men, checkers and weighmen - would not work with men who they regarded as strike breakers. Normal working was resumed when both sides agreed to set up an independent committee to enquire into the activities of the two foremen. The committee reported in September that they could find nothing against the two men and the dockers withdrew their complaints.


Avonview Cemetery


In September the Council agreed to purchase land to extend Avonview Cemetery. They also considered the construction of a crematorium but rejected the idea, not on principle but on financial grounds.


Bristol University


The Chemical and Physical Wing of Bristol University in Woodland Road was completed in September and opened by Lord Winterstoke, the University Chancellor, in November. The building cost upwards of £50,000, was built by Cowlin & Son and designed by Oatley & Lawrence.


Avonmouth Docks


In September the Canadian Northern Liner Royal Edward from Montreal docked at Avonmouth. On board were the returning Bristol Commercial Delegation who had been visiting Canada and the USA to promote the city. The vessel also carried a group of Canadian and American journalists who toured the city and surrounding region.


The Workhouse


In the same month the Bristol Guardians considered a report that the introduction of the Old Age Pension had not brought about a decrease in applications for relief. One member spoke of an old man saying ‘I don’t want five shillings a week; I want an order for the workhouse’. Another commented that it showed that Poor Law was becoming more in touch with the people and that the Guardians had more humanity than in the old days.


Law Society


The Law Society held its annual conference in Bristol in September. In his opening remarks the President, Henry James Johnson, referred to provisions made by the University for legal instruction under the Board of Legal Studies and expressed the hope that a Chair of Law would shortly be established.


The Coliseum in Park Row was opened


The Coliseum in Park Row was opened by the Lady Mayoress in October. The premises were opened for inspection by the public and the management provided refreshments and music by a string band which was partly composed of lady instrumentalists. The ice rink had a skating area 360 feet by 100 feet and could also be adapted for public meetings or promenade concerts. Prices of admission were 6d for ladies and 9d for gentlemen and skaters.


Church of England


In October the annual conference of the Church of England Men’s Society considered the spread of pernicious literature, the opium traffic, the Athanasian Creed, safeguarding the British Sunday and the church’s position on marriage and divorce.


Bristol University


The first congregation for admission to degrees in the University was held on 20 October. The occasion gave rise to some picturesque ceremonial and a display of good-humoured rowdyism by a large band of students amongst whom the members of the medical faculty were prominent.


Moving picture shows at the Colston Hall


Robert Pringle had been holding a series of moving picture shows at the Colston Hall and conceived the idea of using his own premises. When, in October, the magistrates considered his application to open a picture hall in Dolphin Street they could see no objection despite protests from adjoining shopkeepers. At the end of the year he opened premises in Dolphin Street and Bedminster Town Hall which then became known as Pringle’s Picture House. There was a large audience at his new hall in Cromwell Zetland Road to view such film as ‘Edith’s Avoirdupois’, ‘Daddy’s Little Diddleums’, and ‘Incidents in the Life of Henry VIII’.


Miners Strike


As a result of the miners’ strike the Bristol Police Force was asked to send a contingent to South Wales, In the course of the disturbances at Tonypandy Inspector Rendell was felled by a piece of brick thrown at him and PC Roscoe had his thumb broken. In all ten members of the force were injured.


Successful Flight of the Bristol biplane


In November there was a successful flight of the Bristol biplane at Durdham Down. It was piloted by M. Testaud and flew at 150 to 200 feet; the longest flight lasted three hours and forty-five minutes.


Soundwell Pit


On 16 November there was an accident at Deep Pit, Soundwell, when the winding rope, which pulled trains up an incline, snapped. 27 men were injured and three men (Sidney Smith of St. George, Albert Henley of Warmley and Charles Taylor of Fishponds) killed.


General Election


The dissolution of Parliament brought about another general election in December. The members returned by the Bristol constituencies were the same as those returned in the election held in January.


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Taken on October 17, 2009