Bristol Chronicles 1946 - 1959
1946 - It's interesting, but not really surprising, to find that ago the weather - in another gloomy November week - was dominating the headlines. Fog enveloped Bristol - or at least the Eastville and Fishponds areas of the city - (aided, no doubt, by pollution from the many coal fires) almost paralysing transport.
By 11pm visibility at Filton was down to five yards, with traffic almost at a standstill on the Gloucester Road. But while the city suffered, the Bristol Evening Post said that many country areas were clear. Despite this, the Aust ferry - which carried passengers and cars over to Chepstow - was cancelled indefinitely. Dense fog was reported at Portishead. No aircraft were arriving or leaving from Whitchurch airport and there was a complete hold-up of sailings from both Avonmouth and the City Docks.
Trains were arriving from London up to half an hour late and city businessmen were taking an unprecedented 50 minutes to get to work from places such as Clifton and Henleaze. It was chaos.
On the Buses
Other news of the week concerned bus drivers and conductors (they were the ones who took the money and gave you tickets in those far off days) who were due get a pay rise of 11 shillings a week (just over 50p). Maintenance workers, however, were only to get eight shillings and 3p a week more. The unions had been asking for between 16 and 33 shillings. As it was estimated that the rise would cost the Bristol bus company an extra £100,000 a year, guess what? Yes, you're right - fares went up by 2p and 3p the following week.
You'll no doubt be pleased to hear that busmen of all grades would now be getting between £7 and £8 a week - with drivers getting £7 and 18 shillings. That, incidentally, was about the average wage in those days. Of interest - if only because it's recently been announced that it's on the way back - was the Corporation's collecting of kitchen waste to use in pig swill. The average weekly collection totalled 300 tons which, after 'treatment' yielded about 260 tons of so-called 'Bristol pudding', collected by farmers and used for pig food. Only five other cities in the country had such a service, and Bristol's was considered to be the best. Chief credit for this, said the Post proudly, were the city's housewives. Each week they filled 130,000 specially- provided bins. People were being asked politely not to put their cutlery in the bins - the pigs didn't like it.
'She'll love a Hoover Steam Iron for Christmas'
Still on the subject of housewives, many of them (if not all) were delighted to hear that purchase tax was to be withdrawn on household brushes, brooms and mops (remember them, the stringy ones?). The idea was to help the trade, rather than the household purse, especially as many blind and disabled persons derived their living from it. Still, people must have been revelling in domestic bliss back then - one festive street ad suggesting: 'She'll love a Hoover Steam Iron for Christmas'. Such a wonderful present at only £4 19 shillings and 6p. Want a tip? Don't take that advice today.
Savage Assault in Southmead
A shocking Bristol court case that made the headlines in 1945 concerned a 'savage assault' allegedly made by a 35-year-old Southmead man on his wife using a broken milk bottle. The couple, the court was informed, had been married 15 years and had three children, aged six, 12 and 14. Their life together had not been happy, and three months previously the man had put his wife 'out of the house'. She had moved into lodgings, but then resorted to prostitution. There was evidence, it was said, that the husband had received some of the money earned this way. On the evening of the alleged assault, the couple had been out drinking.
There was a quarrel on the way home and the man told his wife: 'I'll rip your face so that no man will look at you.' She was crying when they reached the house, so their 14-year-old daughter made a cup of tea. After using bad language, which the daughter tried to stop, the man threw his cup of tea over his wife. 'As she stood up he punched her hard in the mouth with his left hand,' said the prosecution. 'She fell back against the wall.
Then he picked up a milk bottle, smashed it against the wall and took hold of his wife by the back of the head. 'Holding her with his left hand, he struck her repeatedly in the face with the jagged glass, causing very severe injuries. She was taken to hospital and had 16 stitches inserted, 14 in the face.' In evidence, the wife said that while they were walking home her husband said 'I'll 'chiv' you'. During the alleged attack she felt a sharp pain and everything went red. She told the court: 'He was saying 'I'll finish you off' and dragged me up by my hair and slung me around the room.' A policeman said that when he went to the house the woman's face was badly cut and bleeding. 'All she could say was, 'take him away, he's mad'.' In his defence, the husband said that he had told his wife that if she did not change her ways he would change them for her for the sake of the children.
He had made allegations against his wife, and his eldest daughter slapped his face. 'She started to yell and shout and I lost my temper and struck her,' he said. 'She fell face down among the glass from the broken milk bottle and that was how her face got cut. 'I did not actually intend to cause the injuries - I threw the milk bottle at her and it smashed against the wall. While I was punching her, her face was twisting about and must have been going into the broken glass.' The man was committed for trial - on a surety of £100 - at Bristol Assize (the old Crown Court). The jury found him guilty.
1945 - Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Chancellor of Bristol University, receives the freedom of the city.
1947 - Some Bristolians begin to complain about an odd buzzing noise and the Bristol Hum is born. According to the five per cent of people who can hear it, the hum sounds like the dull drone of a distant aircraft. It varies in intensity from a soft background noise to an overpowering onslaught and causes headaches. nausea, dizziness and even muscle spasms.
1949 - The Bristol Brabazon, the world’s largest passenger airliner, makes its maiden flight from Filton on September 5.
1952 - Following the failure of the Brabazon prolect, the Bristol Britannia makes its maiden flight from Filton. It goes on to become the first plane to carry 100 passengers non-stop cross the Adantic.
1956 - Queen Elizabeth II opens the new Council House on College Green.
1957 -The Duchess of Kent opens Bristol Airport at Lulsgate.
1958 - On December 5, Queen Elizabeth II makes the first trunk dialling call in Britain from Bristol Central Telephone Exchange.Trunk dialling is making a long-distance call without the aid of an operator. She calls the Lord Provost of Edinburgh. Her call lasts two minutes five seconds and costs 10p.
1959 - Bristol’s first curry restaurant opens. The Tal Mahal in Stokes Croft is run by Mr Ahmed, a Bengali. It is the the first Indian restaurant in the West Country.
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