Your Site Name - Your Primary Keywords
Friends of Cock Road Ridge
 
home :: history

History of the Ridge

History
Mining
Lime Kiln
Fruit Farming
Nursery
Trigpoint
The Cock Road Gang
Cock Road Ridge Today
Sketch Map of Historical Sites (.pdf file*)

History

Cock Road Ridge is within what was once the ancient Royal Kingswood Forest. The Forest was an area of about 18 square miles running from the River Severn to the Sodbury Hills, and then south towards Lansdown near Bath, across the River Avon to Filwood in Somerset, and then north again to the Severn with Bristol to the west. The Forest was part of the domains of the Saxon kings who hunted deer and other game here from their royal palace at Pucklechurch.

Cock Road possibly took its name some centuries ago from the practice of keeping narrow pathways through the forest for the purpose of driving birds, such as woodcock, to trap them. The Great Oak by the pond is possibly one of the original trees.

From as early as the 900s Saxon and Norman kings awarded rights in the area to the Constable of Bristol Castle, or to forest rangers, to reward them for managing the land on their behalf. They may have been allowed to hunt some of the many deer that used to live in the forest or to take wood.

During Henry III’s reign in 1228 disafforestation took place with portions of the land being sold off to raise funds or converted into common land. Parts of the area took the status of a Royal Chase and ownership and management of the land became fragmented. By 1261 robbers and highwaymen had moved in and claimed land in the Chase. Kings continued to grant privileges to Knights, Barons and Lords such as rights to hunt a certain number of animals in the parts that remained as Kingswood Forest, or to take a limited number of trees and wood as a gift for services rendered. In 1564 King Edward VI sold the Forest of Kingswood and it became separated entirely from the Castle of Bristol. Over time it became harder to distinguish the Forest from the Chase.

Charles I finally handed Bristol Castle and the management of the forest over to the Mayor and Burgesses of Bristol. As time went by authority to manage the land became piecemeal. Anybody came in claimed land and built homes, cut down trees, mined coal, quarried stone and let their animals out to pasture. From time to time subsequent kings tried to take back the land and this resulted in riots breaking out when the poverty stricken people using the land found that their homes and livelihoods were threatened. By 1739 the Crown finally gave up the fight against the local landowners and the Lords of nearby manors.

There is more information at:

http://fishponds.org.uk/kingsfor.html (All external links on this page open in a new window.)

http://hanhamhistory.blogspot.co.uk – and look for Kingswood Forest and Kings Chase.

History of Kingswood Forest’ – A. Braine

Map of Kingswood Forest (Chase) in 1610

Back to top

In the past, commercial usage of the land on Cock Road Ridge included mine workings, a fruit farm, a nursery and market garden.

Have a look at our downloadable sketch map of historical sites on the Ridge which opens in a new window.*

Old maps can be viewed at http://maps.nls.uk/os/6inch-england-and-wales/

and viewed and purchased from https://www.old-maps.co.uk/#/

Mining

Miners dug for coal in the Forest in shallow workings as early as the 1200s and there is plenty of evidence of this in the soil in areas on the Ridge. After Newcomen had developed the steam pumping engine it became possible for deeper pits to be dug to replace bell-pits and other shallow workings.

There is an engine house dated from around 1820 in the grounds of the private property at No 54 Cock Road on the border of the Ridge.

Engine House from Cock Road   Engine House from Cock Road Ridge

The Engine House is built of blue pennant stone dug from the small quarry opposite which is still visible on the Ridge, now surrounded by trees and bushes. The Engine House contained a rotative beam engine with a large flywheel and external winding drum. It was used for pit ST658728 owned by Thompson or Batchellor. There were two compartments in the shaft, one for winding and one for pumping and when not winding during the day, the engine drove pump rods at night. Thompson was the schoolmaster at Cock Road and Batchellor was the Lord of the Manor from 1831 to 1862.

Smiths Pit, ST660728, was further along the Ridge towards Wraxall Road and is shown on the 1904 OS map. These pits had all closed by 1871. (Information from ‘Kingswood Coal’ Edited by South Gloucestershire Mines Research Group. Website: http://www.sgmrg.co.uk)

wellThere is a capped mine shaft at the Holly Guest Lane end of the Ridge next to the allotments, probably Park Wall pit shown as disused on the 1882 OS map. This is approximately 152 metres deep with a diameter of 1.4 metres. It was backfilled in 1967-70 by the National Coal Board. A well has formed which is constantly fed by water from an adjacent pumping shaft. The water drains through a pipe into the wildlife pond near the Great Oak.

An old Lime Kiln is shown near the site of the above colliery on the OS maps of 1916 through to 1965.

Another capped mine shaft exists in the Community garden at the Hollyguest end of the Ridge.

Further reading in 'The Bristol Coalfield' by John Cornwell

Back to top

Fruit Farming

More recent use of the land was by the Pow family for their cider apple and fruit orchards. By 1928 their plantation reached from the top of Barrs Court, up to the back of Kingsfield Road and up the hill, then known as Bobby Kendall’s Hill, to the top of Cock Road Ridge. Local ladies helped with the picking when the fruit was ripe. Several of the fruit trees remain and are being maintained by the Friends of Cock Road Ridge. http://www.cock-road-ridge.org.uk/fruit-trees.htm

View across the Pows plantation
Apple laden tractor

View from the Pow Fruit Farm House across the plantation

The Pow Fruit Farm House

Tractor in orchard
Packing apples

Driving down the Tractor Path through the orchard

Sorting and packing the fruit

If you walk along one of the paths at the top of the Ridge you may just discern Pow's old apple store hidden in the bushes. The building was mainly underground so the temperature remained constant.

Apple store entrance   Apple store   Close up of apple store

The OS maps of 1948-65 show the area covered in trees, which are probably the fruit tree plantation, and also the tennis court on the site of the Pow family home. Tanks are shown in the top right hand corner of the area - could these be water storage tanks for watering the trees? By 1955 the tennis court has gone.

The map of 1965-69 shows a much smaller area known as the Holly Guest Fruit Farm and further along the Ridge another Farm. The latter may have been the plant nursery or market garden. One of the Friends of Cock Road Ridge remembers a Fuchsia nursery. This Farm is still shown on the OS map for 1973-84.

Back to top

Nursery

Some of the Friends of Cock Road Ridge remember Lockyer's Nursery which specialised in growing Fuschias.

An old tractor path can still be found running from a main path where the nursery used to be and down towards the Ring Road through the woods. After following the line of the road it re-emerges and joins a path at the Wraxall Road end of the Ridge.

Back to top

Cock Road Ridge Trigpoint

In 1935 new legislation demanded accurate, up-to-date mapping and the Davidson Committee reviewed the future of Ordnance Survey. The new Director General, Major-General Malcolm MacLeod, launched a project known as the Retriangulation of Great Britain.

A network of concrete pillar triangulation points (trigpoints) was built and measured between 1936 and 1962. The Cockroad Trigpoint is one of the 6557 built and lies at OS Grid Ref: ST660728 (10 figure Grid Ref: ST6600572827). Latitude: 51.4534007, Longitude: -2.4906161, Height: 80 metres (262 feet). The site ID is: TP1594 and the concrete pillar still exists near the site of Lockyer's Nursery.

When all the trigpoints were in place, it was possible to see at least two other trigpoints from any one trigpoint. Careful measurements of the angles between the lines-of-sight of the other trigpoints then allowed the construction of a system of triangles which could then be referenced back to a single baseline to construct a highly accurate measurement system that covered the entire country.

Ordnance Survey was set on course for the 21st century. The National Grid reference system was introduced, using the metre as its measurement. An experimental new 1:25,000 scale map was launched.

(Reference: https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/about/overview/history.html)

The use of GPS (Global Positioning System), GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) and OS Net has made the trigpoints redundant though triangulation is still used for surveying.

Back to top

The Cock Road Gang

For many years there was a notorious gang of robbers, highway men, burglars and protection racketeers known as the Cock Road Gang which terrorised the locality. Eventually, in the mid 19th Century, a combination of the work of the Bristol Methodist School Society, the Association for the Prosecution of Thieves and Housebreakers, Bitton Troup of Yeomanry and the Bristol Constabulary brought the gang members under control. Many of them were transported or hanged. There are a great number of stories about the gang on other websites if you want to find out more.

http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/Ganging-vulnerable-town/story-11282463-detail/story.html

https://www.flickr.com/photos/brizzlebornandbred/3319293364/

Back to top

Cock Road Ridge Today

Cock Road Ridge is a public open space owned by South Gloucestershire Council. The Ridge is approximately 1 km long, facing south-east between Mount Hill and Cadbury Heath and is bounded by Cock Road to the north and the Avon Ring Road to the south.

Nowadays Cock Road Ridge is managed as a haven for wildlife in the midst of suburbia. The Friends of Cock Road Ridge group was formed in 1993 when a handful of local people got together with David Morrison from the Kingswood District. The Friends set up a management plan for the area and this was then adopted by the Council as a practical way of managing the Ridge.

MosaicThe inaugural project saw the development of a Community Garden with a pond at the Hollyguest end of the Ridge to the west of Hollyguest Lane. This was commemorated by the creation of a mosaic by the Brownie Pack from the Church of Ascension in Hollyguest Road.

Britain had joined the EEC (European Economic community) in 1973. A ring of Oak trees was planted in the area between the two orchards on the EEC's transformation into the EU (European Union) - 12 Oaks to represent the 12 members.

Another project was the erection of the Forest of Avon Sculpture on 26 March 2009. This wooden sculpture was created by Yusef from Ghana and was installed at the Wraxall Road end of the Ridge as part of a scheme to link different parts of the old Forest of Avon. The oak tree came from Overscourt Wood where another sculpture has been installed. There is a site marker on the top of the sculpture and when there are no leaves on the trees it is possible to follow the arrow pointing to Overscourt Wood and see the other sculpture.

Cock Road Ridge is there to be enjoyed by everyone - families, dog owners, nature lovers, walkers and Geochachers. We hope you will enjoy it too.

Today's view from Pow's Fruit Farm

Today's view over Barrs Court from where Pow's Fruit Farm used to be.

* .pdf files can be viewed using Adobe Reader. If you don't have a copy of Adobe Reader you can download it free of charge from Adobe (opens in a new window).

Back to top

Site Info

Where are we?
Look us up on the map


The Workday Crew
The core of the team who look after the Ridge

Join Us

Make a difference. Our work on the Ridge is rewarding to us and the local community. Come along and see what we do. Contact us for more details.

Friends of Cock Road Ridge

Promote your Page too
Site Office

Webmasters, submit your site for possible inclusion in our directory.

Share this site by pasting this code on your site.

Read our term of use and privacy statements.

Visit our partner listings.

For quick browsing of our site visit our site map.

Click here to bookmark this site