January 2024: Local History with CHAP

DOWNEND today has a lively mix of shops and businesses, and readers have been sharing their memories of days gone by with local history group CHAP.  

Mr Reice remembers Lambs Garage with “number one mechanic Sid Jury” and an old car on display which would probably be worth a fortune nowadays. 

It had a sign outside, “All Days and Onions”, which he never could make sense of! 

There was a wide range of businesses, including hairdresser Hunters, stationer Hoons, greengrocer Brittons, gents’ outfitters Dunn and Hopton, the post office run by Mrs Biggs, in the building on its own at the roundabout, and Hardy’s timber yard. 

There was an ironmonger, a paint and wallpaper store, a drapery, an electrical goods shop, a shoe shop, a butcher’s and a fish shop.

Mr Harris, who is 87 years old and has lived in Downend all his life, corrects an earlier CHAP article in which we claimed that Don Burland ran the shoe shop. 

In fact, this famous England rugby player was landlord of the Horseshoe pub (the shoe shop was run by Mr Hinckley).

John Palmer recalls a nursery owned by Albert Parsons, who grew produce for his greengrocer’s shop at 131 Staple Hill Road (on the corner, now a residential property), and probably lived above the shop. 

The only access to the nursery was by the lane which now leads to 59 Cleeve Park Road, and runs alongside the lane at the back of Oakdale Road towards the Cleeve Hill Farm buildings. 

Mr Palmer remembers regularly being sent to the tobacconist (next to the garage opposite the dentist’s), to buy “A two-ounce tin of Player’s Whiskey, Ready Rubbed, and a box of Swan Matches, please”. 

Downend Community History and Art Project (CHAP) is a voluntary organisation that aims to create a coherent identity for Downend and Emersons Green, built around interesting or significant places, people and events from the past. 

Our goal is to build a sense of belonging and commitment to our area and understanding of its character, produce a community history resource and encourage the local community to take part in activities.

You can contact CHAP by email at big.gin@talktalk.net or by letter at CHAP, 49 Overnhill Road, Downend, Bristol, BS16 5DS.