Welcome to KWAG's December Newsletter
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Have a happy Christmas!

Above: Kings Weston house in last year's snow 


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This month:

  • 2019 Working Party dates
  • Working Party update - Above the quarry garden 
  • Updates in brief
  • A new arrival on the South Walk  
  • A poignantly timed discovery
  • Can you help with this mystery?

Working Party Reminder - Saturday 15th December - new laurel clearance 

Reminder:   November working party will take place this Saturday 15th.Following a few months of alternative work we will be returning to the main task of tackling invasive cherry laurel close to the main path through the woods, and above the former Quarry Garden.  PLEASE NOTE this Month we meet again at SHIREHAMPTON ROAD CAR PARK at 10am. We will be working here:

Please feel free to come along any time during the day, but we do prefer to be able to do health and safety briefings as a group at 10am if possible. There will be tasks to suit most abilities though this month it will be principally focussed on felling vegitation. Please come along with suitable clothing for the weather on the day, bring hand-tools if you have some suitable,  and we hope to see you there. Please keep an eye on our Facebook Page in case of any change of location, or call 07811 666671 on the day to find us.


2019 Working Party dates
If you're keen to join in with our regular working parties you'll need this essential list if dates for next year! The first couple of month at least will continue laurel clearance above the former Quarry Garden. Later in the year we will need to return to some areas of laurel we've dealt with before to keep on top of them. September will most likely be annual Doors Open day and October should be our next Big Bulb Plant. 

If you have any suggestions of projects you would like to see us tackle please drop us an email and we will consider adding them into the callendar. 

JAN - 12th
FEB - 16th
MARCH - 16th
APRIL - 13th
MAY - 11th
JUNE - 15th
JULY - 13th
AUGUST - 17th
OCTOBER - 12th

Working Party update - above the Quarry Garden 
Some will have noticed KWAG’s working  parties have returned to clearing the invasive cherry laurel from the estate. Our current target is the area above the former quarry garden to the north of the main walk through Penpole Woods. Our plan is to remove the laurel along the top of the quarry before installing a small protective rail and post fence, before planting native hedge species in place of the destructive laurel.

Above: Before and after wook looking north-east towards the edge of the quarry
Below: The view west through the working area before and after work 
It’s rare that we get bad weather for our working parties, but our luck was out in November and the heavens opened; however our dedicated band of volunteers were insistent and work continued through the downpours until about one o’clock in the afternoon when everyone was wet to the skin!

Considering the poor weather we achieved a surprising amount as these before and after views show. We’ve successfully opened up a strip along the top of the old quarry, from where there were some attractive views created through the woods. As with past work we’ve ensure that it is a single species, the laurel, that’s been removed and all other native trees have been left, though many are stunted and unhappy from their time engulfed by evergreens. Our work for the following months will continue clearance in this area before the fence is installed.

Below: View north-west across the working party area with the quarry edge in the foreground

Updates in brief                            

As you may know, the application for YardArts to move caravans onto the Fairways site on Penpole Lane has been registered. There are already 126 objections registered online, including robust comments against the plans from the National Trust, The Gardens Trust, Avon Gardens Trust, and the Conservation Advisory Panel who advise the council on heritage matters.The planners have stated that there are waiting further information and clarity from the applicant before they can continue with the application process; until they have received this it’s being held in abeyance. Formal notifications to local residents and consultants to the council will be sent out after that.We’ve also noted that YardArts have made an application to South Gloucestershire Council to extend the use of their current temporary site, in Britannia Road, Kingswood, by two years: the same period as the Penpole Land application is intended for.   

Above: YardArts current site in Kingswood (Facebook)

Penpole Planning Appeal:
There was an appeal against the Council’s planning decision refusing the proposed use of part of the Fairways site on Penpole Lane for storage containers; This appeal will be dealt with by the Planning Inspectorate. There is no clear timescales for this, but we expect to hear early in the new year whether the Council’s decision is upheld, or the refusal overturned. We hope very much that the Inspectorate recognise the visual impact and harm that would be caused and stand by the Council’s decision.


Bridge update
The grade II Listed Iron bridge was struck and damaged THREE years ago in November. This saga continues; The Council have now progressed work on the proposals and their preferred solution is to reinstate the bridge, raised just over a metre in height, with new access ramps or steps at either end. The proposals will be submitted for planning and Listed building consent, hopefully, in early 2019 following more detailed design work and the completion of the requisite reports. Once submitted, Historic England will comment on whether they will support or object to the proposals to the Listed structure and the Council’s planning department will consider the design and ecological implications. According to Councillor Don Alexander, assuming the plan is approved, budget will be allocated for the 2019/20 financial year.
The bridge will have to be dismantled and taken off site; final reinstallation should be sometime in 2020. The aim is to have a restored bridge higher than any lorries and therefore able to last for decades. Cost estimates vary – Organises of the save the Green Iron Bridge campaign have heard everything from £60k to £500k+, but have also been told that budget won't be an issue.
We are grateful for local MP Darren Jones for having brought the light of the bridge to the House of Commons, and having continued pushing for progress on this problem.  

A new arrival on the South Walk 

Recent visitors to Kings Weston cannot have missed the appearance of a new cast iron bench on the South Walk; It’s almost luminous colour was something of  surprise when it was installed as part of the closing project of the Forgotten Landscape project. KWAG have worked with Forgotten Landscape and their artist, Deborah Aguirre Jones, on the design and the location for this bench, one of several installed at special locations in the area.

Above, The arm & anchor of the Miles Family of Kings Weston house incorporated into the design of the new bench on the South Walk 
Below: the east end of the bench looking down the path  

The design of the bench ends is different at either end; on the west side the arm and anchor motif is the arms of the Miles family who lived at Kings Weston house between 1834 and 1936 and developed the docks and Avonmouth. On the east side the natural and landscape qualities of the area are celebrated, including one of the wind turbines that feature in the view from the South walk.  The location was carefully picked in partnership with the artist. From the bench you can enjoy a view of Kings Weston house with the Severn estuary beyond, framed beneath one of the huge cedars that line the path; a prospect that KWAG’s volunteers restored a few years ago.

This bench is a one-off artwork in the park, and doesn’t set the pattern for future installations on the estate, rather it will remain as a unique and special addition that we all hope people will enjoy for generations to come.  

Above: The bench with the framed view of the house beyond 

A poignantly timed discovery 

In poignantly timed discovery, days before the centenary of Armistice Day, we found a series of photographs of Kings Weston dating to the First World War. We’ve previously shared photos of the outside of the house during its time as an Auxiliary Hospital caring for the wounded sent back from the front; this new series of images shows the grand state rooms reutilised as hospital wards.

Above: the west end of the Vanbrugh Room with sheets hung up over the library shelves.
Below: The ante-room, now the Breakfast Room has changed remarkably little. The wounded and nurses relax for the photographer.  

The interiors are shown emptied of their ornamental furniture and paintings and laid out with beds for soldiers. The Vanbrugh Room, "breakfast room", and Drawing Room (now the oak room) are all seen in duty as wards, where Red Cross nurses tend to their patients. The largest of the wards, now the Vanbrugh Room is seen with empty  bookcases and around sixteen simple iron beds. All the images show small groups of wounded servicemen surrounded by the volunteer Red Cross nurses who tended to them. Surprisingly the rooms are adorned with numerous vases of flowers.
Below: The Drawing Room before the marble fireplace was removed and the windows in the main front re-opened. Notice the quantities of cut flowers. 

Some of the photos are numbered and we'd be keen to find the rest. If anyone knows where these originally came from we'd be keen to find out, and we’re trying to speak to the Avon and Somerset Constabulary archives from where the images first came.

We’ve also collated the known records of Red Cross nurses who worked at the house from the national database of First World War volunteers which can be found in this PDF. Many were local ladies who wanted to make their contribution to the war effort, including three members of the Moore family from Penlea in Shirehampton. It’s likely that some of these nurses are those who appear in the newly rediscovered photos.

Above: The Vanbrugh Room looking towards the wall that now features the mural. A group shot showing patients and nurses posing for the camera.  
Below: Remembrance Sunday service  this year at Shirehampton War Memorial (Courtesy of John Jefferies)


Can you help with this mystery? 

In 1913, Philip Napier Miles of Kings Weston house, premiered his first opera, Westward Ho! in the West End. Napier Miles was a well-known amateur composer and promoted music and singing in the local area and across Bristol as a whole. The notable violinist Marie Hall had been one of his most celebrated discoveries, but the gentleman shown here is more of an enigma.
This newspaper report  from the Daily Graphic describes a ships painter from Avonmouth who was raised to West End opera singer by Napier Miles, but fails to name him!  Does anyone know his name, or anything more about this story?


07811 666671
KWAG, c/o 75A Alma Road, Bristol, BS8 2DW
Copyright © 2018 Kings Weston Action Group, All rights reserved.

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