Roads & Highways

KINGSWOOD & SOUNDWELL Local History Site

An article about some local roads from The Western Daily Press dated 6 June 1925, reproduced courtesy of The British Newspaper Archive. I've only included the sections about the roads in the Kingswood area.

 

ROMANCES OF BRISTOL'S NEW THOROUGHFARES

 

By Frederick C. Jones

 

It is not generally appreciated by Bristol citizens how very interesting, historically, are some of the sites of the new roads now undergoing construction by the Coroporation. For whenever such work is being done - and roads are cutting into the suburbs with amazing rapidity, obliterating old landmarks, breaking up estates centuries old, and creating a transfigured countryside - it is being done amid surroundings which are instinct with hoary and valued tradition.. In these days of increased locomotion roads are being made of length and width that would have astonished our grandfathers; and often where old highways have been straightened new names have been given them, so adding to the confusion of our older citizens.

 

Among such thoroughfares, now or only recently resounding with the steam roller and the pickaxe, may be mentioned Portway, Kellaway Avenue, Kingsway, Woodland Road, Thicket Avenue and Southmead Road. The roads constructed, widened, or completely remodelled on this great Corporations estates must be legion. We can only pretend, in the limits of a brief article, to call attention to a few thoroughfares, but these examples will show that they are not deficient in proud memories.

 

Gordon Road

 

Corporation workmen are at the moment straightening and widening one of the most interesting lanes in the vicinity of Whitehall. Gordon Road, presumably named after General Gordon, is still spoken of by old inhabitants as Johnny Crow's Lane. A family named Crow still live in the district, but whether their forebear gave his name to the country byway is a problem not yet settled. Anyhow, the name has "stuck" and when spoken in the broad pronounciation of an inhabitant it sounds queer enough. The noteworthy feature of the lane is the square old country house, once perhaps the manor-house of the district; and the garden at the rear, where imagination may conjure up the Vicar of Wakefield. Of interest, too, is the avenue of poplar trees, landmarks not only in the district, but to travellers on the Midland Line, and it is to be devoutly hoped that in any widening of the lane the trees may be preserved. At the bottom of the lane, and opposite the railway arch, is the spring which, not many years ago, supplied the local inhabitants with water. The district, perhaps more than any other in Bristol, is closely associated with the preaching of George Whitfield. The Rose Green East Bristol Central School stands upon the preaching-site. The cost of the construction of a 60 feet thoroughfare in place of a narrow country lane is estimated at £60,000; and on the completion of the scheme the linking up of Whitehall with Eastville will be an accomplished fact.

 

Kingsway

 

Inhabitants of the district will not soon be reconciled to the beautiful broad thoroughfare which links up Two Mile Hill Road with Bryants Hill Rd. To them it will always be Blackboy and Trumpet Lane. The name is older than the oldest native, and like Meg Thatcher's Green and Nags Head Hill, its origins lost in the misty past. When Kingswood Forest stretched away from Mangotsfield, so near to Bristol that St. Philip's and St. Jacob's Church was the forester's place of worship, Blackboy and Trumpet Lane was undoubtedly a bridle-path running through it. Persons now living can recall the old pack-women of Kingswood riding their horses to market with a plentiful supply of eggs, butter, cheese and poultry. They had a distinctive dress, dialect, folk-songs and customs all of their own, but now as a race they have disappeared for ever, Only the Pack Horse Inn at Lawrence Hill perpetuates their memory. The old lane, with its trees and hedges, which held so many memories, has gone too - without regret. People who have been accustomed to travel daily along deep-rutted cart tracks do not usually bemoan when a fine wide thoroughfare takes their place. Before many years have passed houses on either side of the road will have swallowed up what is now market garden and open countryside.

 

Thicket Avenue

 

This is a continuation of an old road, planned as the main thoroughfare of the Hillfields Park Corporation Estate, with the purpose of linking up Staple Hill with Kingswood. As a thoroughfare, lined with trees, and a busy fleet of motor-buses plying throughout the day, it will bear comparison with any of the suburbs. Six years ago, when the first house was built on the estate, it was a winding hilly road, possessing one or two old cottages dating back at least two centuries. One cottage, which bore that characteristic country emblem, the horseshoe, with a shady old-world garden, was swept away only recently. Whether the name of the road goes back very far the writer is not able to say; but in any case the name is apt, for the road passes through the great Kingswood Forest, to which was alluded in the previous paragraph. It is an interesting fact that Thicket Avenue is within a short distance of two of the most ancient houses of the neighbourhood, one "Hill House" and the other "King John's Lodge". The former overlooks Staple Hill Park, and is, with its graceful frontage and green lawn, a fine example of a Georgian mansion. At the corner of Hill House grounds, a little south of the high road, there formerly stood an ancient oak, known as Staple Hill Oak. This oak gave its name to Staple Hill. The latter house, known also as Brain's Lodge (from a previous coalowner), stands at the right of Lodge Hill, on the highest point in the district, and is the site of the chief Royal lodge of the ancient forest. The basement is a veritable dungeon, and its walls are of tremendous thickness. A bricked-up archway is said to have at one time led to Hill House, and also to Kingswood Castle. King John is said to have stayed at the house on various occasions.

 

END OF ARTICLE

 

 

 

The Kingsway today

Looking from Thicket Road across the Midland Railway bridge into Thicket Avenue

Gordon Road