7.30pm: 2017 Talks Season: Bristol Old and New
Kingswood Heritage Museum
Kingswood Heritage Museum's summer series of talks continues with a pictorial review of some of Bristol’s most interesting and important buildings. The speaker is Chris Bigg, the well known local historian.
Chris's presentation will remind us of the changes in Bristol's urban landscape over the past years, concentrating on how buildings like Colston House have evolved. Other landmarks featured include the Wills Memorial Building, Filton House, Temple Meads, Glenside, Kings Weston House and the Council House (City Hall).
The talk is to be held at the Museum on Monday 21 August, commencing at 7.30pm. A small entry fee of £3 will include refreshments. For more information contact the Museum, by telephone on 0117 960 5664, or by... Read more >>
The Museum is located in the former Champion Brass Works, at Tower Lane, Warmley BS30 8XT, just off the A4174 Avon Ring Road (Cadbury Heath exit). Buses 19, 19a , 42 and 43 stop nearby.
Enjoy free parking, toilets, refreshments and a book and gift shop.
Kingswood Heritage Museum is open on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 2pm to 5pm, April to November.
It also opens on Bank Holiday weekends (including Mondays) from 11am to 5pm. The grotto and gardens are open at Bank Holiday weekends, but only on the Sunday and Monday (ie not the Saturday).
The Museum is closed December to March inclusive.
We are always pleased to entertain group visits from schools and local societies, and refreshments can be provided. Interested parties should make contact via email to or by telephone at 0117 960 5664.
Kingswood Heritage Museum has taken its first step toward joining the big league of museums, by obtaining accreditation from the Arts Council of Great Britain.
Accreditation means that we are classed as a properly run museum, with all the systems and procedures in place to conserve and maintain the artefacts in our custody.
It also means that we can seek appropriate artefacts on loan from other accredited museums and are eligible to apply for Heritage Lottery Fund grants.
This accolade has been gained only as the result of the work over the last two years of many Friends of the Museum and volunteers.
The second of Kingswood Heritage Museum's major exhibitions for the 2017 season, which opened on 1 August, concentrates on Staple Hill.
It showcases the history and social development of the area over the years.
There are lots of things you may not know about Staple Hill. For example, that firefighters' uniforms have been made there since the first decade of the nineteenth century - and are still made there, not only for British fire services, but for export to over 100 countries worldwide.
And do you recall one of area's less successful manufactures – the Quasar of the 1970s? And which front page celebrity opened the first laundromat in Staple Hill in 1965?
The answer to these - and many other - questions about Staple Hill will be found in the new exhibition.
But the Museum does not have the answer to all there is to know about the area, so it would welcome contributions from the public at large.
If you have memories of Staple Hill, or artefacts relating to your life there, please get in touch with the Museum using the contact details at the top of this page.
Kingswood Heritage Museum is pleased to announce its 2017 talks season. The Museum is hosting a series of monthly talks about subjects of interest to local people.
These range from the story of electricity in Bristol to the Clifton Rocks Railway - and the delights of day trips to the seaside!
The first of the series was held at the Museum in April, entitled “'elf and safety - fact or myth?”. The speaker was Roy Ackrill, who used to be an inspector at the Health & Safety Executive, so came with a store of knowledge about this controversial subject. For example, his fully illustrated talk revealed the true story about banning conkers in schools!
The following talk was illuminating – because it covered how electricity changed the Bristol area!
The speaker was Peter Lamb, one of the founders of the South West Electricity History Society, which maintains a museum and archive dedicated to the use of electricity since its early days. Peter introduced his audience to the introduction and development of electricity locally, covering the period from its beginning in the nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth.
July's date in Kingswood Heritage Museum's summer series of talks dealt with a subject ideal for sunny days!
Speaker John Penny holds a Master's degree in Regional and Local History, and so is well qualified to deal with his subject, the charm of an outing to Weston-super-Mare, Clevedon, Severn Beach – or even further afield - in the 1960s. John illustrated his talk with archive film.
In August the talks continue with a pictorial review of some of Bristol’s most interesting and important buildings. The speaker is Chris Bigg, the well known local historian. Above you can see his photo of Colston House.
See the calendar below for dates and subjects of the remaining season talks. A small entry fee of £3 includes refreshments. For more information contact the Museum.
Kingswood Heritage Museum again hosted the annual Douglas Motorcycle Rally and Cavalcade on the late May Bank Holiday weekend.
A new exhibit this year was an experimental electric motorbike, built by the Douglas company in 1979.
It is in the care of Henry Body, the veteran motorcycle racer, who is pictured astride it.
Henry is convinced that the idea was killed off by oil company interests, though it has to be admitted that its top speed on the level was only 12 mph!
The machine was constructed by a team of apprentices, under the auspices of the firm's Managing Director of Sales and Service, Eric Brockway.
The bike carries a plaque in memory of the team, but Henry has so far been unable to trace any of them.
If any reader has any information about them, we'd be pleased if you'd contact us or the Museum.
Fifty years ago a major part of the local business community closed its doors for the last time, after over a hundred years. That was the end of the Haskins Pottery, made in Warmley on a site only a stone's throw from Kingswood Heritage Museum.
But you won't be likely to drink your tea from any of the factory's products, because the business made pipes and other items for commercial and industrial uses. The clay was fired in huge furnaces, and the best known, built in 1912 and shown in the attached photo, was named “Titanic”, after as the famous liner.
Kingswood Heritage Museum is privileged to open its new season with a display about the Haskins firm. The exhibition features not only the products of the business, including its very last pipe of millions (pictured in the attached photo), but also memories of the people who worked there.
The Museum opened for its 2017 season on 1 April, and you can visit on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays until 28 November from 2.00pm until 5.00pm, and on Bank Holidays between 11.00am and 5.00pm.
Kingswood Heritage Museum's volunteers have been at work creating new exhibits for 2017, and refurbishing last year's displays.
As well as the feature on Haskins Pottery of Warmley, new subjects for this season include a commemoration of the opening of Cossham Hospital one hundred and ten years ago, in June 1907, and a special exhibition centred on Staple Hill.
At the same time, many of the regular attractions, like the successful display celebrating the local corsetmaking business, are being revised and updated for the new year. The picture shows Alan Chillcott, assisted by Alan Bryant, fixing a new ceiling for the 1950s room.
Alan Bryant, Joint Museum Curator, said: “We are very much looking forward to the 2017 season, and as usual we welcome contributions from local people to add to our knowledge of the area. Anyone with a story to tell, or artefacts for display, is encouraged to contact us at .”
A regular feature of the Spring (end of May) Bank Holiday is the Douglas Motorbike Rally and Cavalcade, attracting Douglas motorcycle enthusiasts from all over the country.
The Rally commences at 11.00 am, and the Cavalcade – including a run along one of the former bike testing circuits via the Chew Valley - begins at noon.
Everyone is welcome to come along, see dozens of vintage motorcycles, talk to their riders/owners and watch as they move off on the Sunday to ride the old factory test route.
One of the best known Douglas riders comes along with his 1929 bike – although it's been much modified to make it faster.
Now in his eighties, Henry Body has been competing in bike races for many decades, especially on veteran bikes. And - to prove there's nothing new under the sun – Henry exhibits the experimental electric Douglas from 1979!
The world famous Douglas bikes were built in Kingswood from 1907 to 1957. Some 25,000 were constructed for military use in the First World War.
Kingswood Heritage Museum has a major exhibition featuring the marque, including one of the machines designed for war time despatch riders. The bikes were regular winners of the Isle of Man TT races.
The Douglas Company saw the potential in the Italian scooter after World War II, and started making Vespas under licence in 1951. A sidecar was introduced in 1952.
By the time production ceased in 1962 126,230 had been built. The 125cc model was marketed at just under £150, including purchase tax.
Bill Douglas, great grandson of the founders of the firm, said: “It is always a stirring sight to see the bikes in action, and we expect a big turnout around the area to watch the cavalcade”.
The line up opens at 11am, and the run - along one of the former bike testing circuits via the Chew Valley - begins at noon.
Men in Sheds has set up a branch at Kingswood Heritage Museum, and is looking to welcome new members.
The group provides an exciting opportunity for men (and women) to work in wood and other materials on their own projects, using the workshop and tools belonging to the Museum. Members can also create and repair mechanical items in the workshop.
The concept was initiated in the UK by the charity AgeUK, but is now an independently run organisation. It has some 250 branches in the UK, with 90 new groups in the process of forming. There are two established branches in the Bristol area.
Mervyn Bishop, one the new group's organisers, says: “What we seek to do is to provide a safe and friendly atmosphere where people can work - on their own or with others - on projects of their own choosing and at their own pace.”
The group meets at Kingswood Heritage Museum on Thursday mornings, starting at 9.30am. Other sessions will be added as more members join.
Mervyn adds: “For more information, contact me via , or leave a message for me at the Museum (phone 0117 960 5664) - or just come along. You'll be very welcome!”
A major historical feature in the care of Kingwood Heritage Museum is only open to the public at large for a few days each year, so do not miss the chance to visit.
Shaun Gibbs, one of the Museum's experts on the attraction, calls it "an eighteenth century theme park".
Shaun adds: "When William Champion's zinc making business in Warmley became successful in the late eighteenth century, he built himself an elegant and imposing new house at the heart of his works. The surrounding gardens he added were particularly impressive, laid out in the then popular Dutch style.
"A focal point was the large lake which was not only ornamental but also provided the water supply for the works. In the centre of the lake was a ten metre high stature of the god Neptune with his trident. This is still there, and is believed to be the largest garden statue now standing in the country.
"An essential feature of any large garden of that era was a grotto, and Champion's is thought to be the most extensive man-made grotto surviving. It was probably based on the example at Goldney House, in Clifton, Bristol, built by Champion's uncle, but - uniquely - was comprised mainly of the same black clinker waste from the factory that adorns Neptune."
See the events calendar for upcoming dates.
Kingswood Heritage Museum is based in the Brassworks built by William Champion, an 18th Century Quaker industrialist, with Warmley Historic Gardens alongside.
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Kingswood Heritage Museum welcomes friends and volunteers to support a wide range of activities.
Friends get free admission to all events and receive a newsletter with event details.
Meetings are held at the Museum on the second Thursday of February, April, June, August, October and December at 7.30pm to plan fundraising and work co-ordination.
If you would like to help with displays or events, or would like to join the Friends Scheme, please get in touch.