Local History with Chap: Learning about the old days

MORE children have taken part in a guided walk to learn about the history of our area, thanks to voluntary group CHAP, the Community History and Arts Project.  

Downend School teachers and teaching assistants, along with Michael Gorely, Historic England’s local heritage education manager, took nearly all Year 7 students on a walk around Downend, as part of the school’s activities week. 

They pointed out how the ghosts of the past are evident in Downend’s streets, and how buildings and roads have grown up here over the centuries. 

Students were shown some important aspects of the history all around them, such as where the Britannia aeroplane crashed during a test flight, and where Cleeve Hill House country estate used to be. 

They learnt that assizes (court sittings) were held inside the Green Dragon in the 1700s and 1800s, where decisions were made about what punishment should be handed out for which ‘crime’ – things that today we would not consider criminal, such as being a noisy neighbour! 

They were shocked to learn that some unfortunate people were whipped at a whipping post there.

Some of the children enjoyed a short spell in the reproduction stocks, made by Downend Men in Sheds.  

Nick Smith, from Downend School, said: “I’ve been so impressed by the students’ enthusiasm for their community’s history, and really encouraged to know that the stories of our ancestors will live on in another generation.”

CHAP’s historical map can be viewed and downloaded at www.downendchap.org/historical-map.

CHAP is a not-for-profit voluntary organisation that aims to produce a community history resource and encourage the local community to take part in all its activities. 

It aims to create a coherent identity and sense of belonging for Downend and Emersons Green, built around interesting or significant places, people and events from the past, through enjoyable and inclusive community activities that bring history to life.  

To contact CHAP visit the website, email big.gin@talktalk.net or write to CHAP, 49 Overnhill Road, Downend, Bristol, BS16 5DS.

Helen Rana