A reach… and reach!

I was looking at some information about our area, I can’t now remember whether it was our local newspaper, or maybe something on a local news site, but I came across a reference to Finzels Reach in Bristol. Now, although I’ve lived in the west country for over fifteen years and been associated with it much, much longer (in fact since I was in the sixth form here) I don’t know Bristol that well, and nor do I know and have never heard of Finzels Reach.

From the context of what I read I guessed it was a new development of some sort, but I had no clue as to whether it was a new name or an old name (thinking of how new pubs are called things like the Flask and Spile, the Toad’s Ear, and new roads are called all sorts of strange things) Then, today, just by coincidence, a friend and I were walking along by the Floating Harbour in Bristol, just by where the castle once was, and across the water we saw ‘Finzels Reach’!

It looked as if it might have been an old building, now much smartened up and with new development going on behind it. When I got home I looked it up to find out exactly what it had been; The area where we were walking opposite it had been virtually flattened during the Bristol blitz, but the old warehouses opposite were still standing.

Originally there had been a sugar refinery, the Counterslip  Sugar House, on the site from the last quarter of the seventeenth century. Bristol merchants have had a chequered past, on a particular shameful time  was when they were involved in the vile trade of enslaving African people and taking them far from their home, across the Atlantic to work the new plantations established in the Americas – displacing and ‘eliminating’ the original inhabitants. Sugar was brought back to Bristol, and this was the site of one of the refineries.

The building we were looking at were those rebuilt by Mr Finzel, to be precise, Herr Conrad Finzel in 1846. It was rebuilt because it had burnt down and it became one of the major refineries in the country. When Herr Finzel died, his son also Conrad took over, and the business continued until the early 1880’s when it became a brewery.

So this was Finzels Reach… my friend who is Hungarian asked about the word ‘reach’ as she only knew it as a verb. I knew it also meant a stretch of water… and we wondered whether the verb came before the noun, or vice-versa… another thing to look up.

It seems – as I understand it that, there were two origins of the word reach – one which was a noun meaning a stretch of water, and one the verb meaning to stretch out to grasp something… so, there we are!

PS my featured image is not of Finzels Reach but it is Bristol, what’s known as Bristol Byzantine

Caff vs Café

This morning we breakfasted in Bristol; we didn’t intend to – we’d had a quick snack before leaving home for a day out to visit the city and also to go round BBC Broadcasting House. The group we went with split into two, and our half was due for the tour at 1:00 so we had a morning to visit the art gallery and museum and then join our party. We didn’t realise that neither the art gallery nor museum opened until ten, so we popped into a small café for a drink… and then feeling peckish had a spot of breakfast.

The café we went into is quite small, with a couple of pavement tables outside, and describes itself as ‘a casual hang out-style cafe for a range of comfort food dishes from the UK and America.’ It has a bar, serves food as well as drinks,  coffee and shakes, is pleasant and attractive, has lots of nice features, and we had good coffee and a satisfying breakfast (pancakes, bananas and maple syrup for him and avocado, rocket, tomatoes and sour dough toast for me) Sitting near us were three young women who were obviously students from the nearby University. I couldn’t help but think how different  my friends and I were as  students. We were the typical scruffy student types, we had no student accommodation but were in what was laughing called ‘a flat’ in actual fact an attic at the top of a very old building, shared bathroom on the floor below, no kitchen, only a Baby Belling, a one ring cooker with tiny oven. There was no heating, and in winter there was ice on the inside of the windows. These young women were fashionable and smart and were sitting in this nice café for their breakfast before heading off for lectures.

It made me think back to where my friends and I had breakfast. I have to say, we thought it was marvellous, cheap, decent food, interesting owners. – but it was from a different era. Burt’s  was in a cellar in Manchester, in a building near Piccadilly Station, opposite the Fire Station. I don’t think the buildings are even there now. All though the café was clean, no doubt the building had all sorts of vermin, I dread to think about it now. it was run by Burt and Mrs Burt; he was Polish or Ukrainian, or somewhere in what was then Communist block Europe and he may have well been in England since the war – in fact I think it’s almost definitely he case.

The cafe was tiny, as I remember, with maybe no more than eight tables, a single counter and that particular sort of yellowy light cast by a 40-watt bulb. I can’t remember now what the menu was but certainly at breakfast time it revolved round standard breakfast items, on toast or in a sandwich. Whether there was a different menu during the rest of the day I don’t know. I remember usually having a sausage sandwich (filled hungry students up best) or an egg sandwich, and tea or instant coffee. It was a limited menu, cheap but satisfying. Mrs Burt was always very friendly, Butt himself was usually jolly, but sometimes taciturn, sometimes decidedly grumpy. On the other hand, we were probably quite annoying!

The three young women we saw today would have been horrified by Burt’s… we would have been astonished by the café we were in today!



A day out in Bristol

Up to Bristol today to meet my daughter, and no doubt we will wander around from here to there, maybe we will gt a water taxi right into the city, maybe we will just use shanks’s pony… Shanks’s pony… the phrase did not come from a Mr Shanks, it didn’t come from the company now called Armitage Shanks, in fact it just came from the word for a bit of a leg, the shank, he bit between knee and ankle. We still call it a shank in an animal, but not so much i think for people. It’s a Scottish word apparently, but it’s origin was Old English from the German, so I guess it just lingered on in Scotland after it became less used in England… and of course there was a king who was called Longshanks, Edward I …

Back to Bristol… this is what I wrote a little while ago:

Bristol has been an important city and port for centuries but in earlier times there had been a problem with tides, that ships would be stuck waiting for the tide to be at the right height in the deep natural harbour… however in 1809 a floating harbour was created – for a while I stupidly misunderstood her term; of course it means a harbour in which ships could float. 80 acres of tidal river was used to create the harbour which enabled ships to remain afloat all the time.
This led to an absolute boom in shipping, trade and commerce for the city; once the Great Western Railway was established thanks to the giant of nineteenth century industrial architecture and engineering, Brunel the city expanded beyond any expectation. This was reflected in the buildings from the time which had a certain style, with Byzantine, Moorish and Venetian style of architectural design of many commercial buildings such as warehouses and factories. The style is very distinctive, described as “robust and simple” and using bricks with bold distinct colours, particularly red, yellow,  black and white brick. Sometimes the style included archways and upper floors which had a particular of horizontal or vertical arrangement windows.
Architects and influences of this style included Richard Shackleton Pope,  William Venn Gough, Archibald Ponton, and John Addington Symonds .  Sir John Summerson may have been the person who named this distinctive Bristolian building style, and it perfectly describes the elegant and handsome buildings s you can still see today.

A Cavern That Overlooks the River Avon

When I was growing up in Cambridge, we had local giants, Gog and Magog, or maybe it was a single giant Gogmagog after whom some low chalky hills were named… or so I always believed and so we learnt in our local history lessons when I was at junior school.  However there is also a Biblical connection, but Gog was the giant and Magog was his land…

Now we live near Bristol, it seems there were giants here too, Goram and Ghyston, or Vincent, who lived in a cave in the Avon Gorge… you can still see the cave today, but here is a poem by Robert Southey, who lived from 1774 to 1843; he was born in Bristol and obviously knew the legends:

For a Cavern that Overlooks the River Avon

Enter this cavern, Stranger! Here, awhile
Respiring from the long and steep ascent,
Thou mayst be glad of rest, and haply too
Of shade, if from the summer’s westering sun
Sheltered beneath this beetling vault of rock.
Round the rude portal clasping its rough arms,
The antique ivy spreads a canopy,
From whose gray blossoms the wild bees collect
In autumn their last store. The Muses love
This spot; believe a Poet who hath felt
Their visitation here. The tide below,
Rising or refluent, scarcely sends its sound
Of waters up ; and from the heights beyond,
Where the high-hanging forest waves and sways,
Varying before the wind its verdant hues,
The voice is music here. Here thou mayst feel
How good, how lovely. Nature! And when, hence
Returning to the city’s crowded streets,
Thy sickening eye at every step revolts
From scenes of vice and wretchedness, reflect
That Man creates the evil he endures.

Robert Southey

Her is what the cave looks like:


How did I get here? How did they get there?

One thing leads to another, but not always the other I expect! I get fascinated by a little something and before I know it I’m thousands of miles away on a different continent. Names interest me, and I side-track into finding out about the person with the unusual name… So it was with the name ‘Edwin Clogg’. There is a grave in a local churchyard to an Edwin Clogg who gave his life trying to save a young boy from drowning. Interested in the name I pursed it and found here were many Edwin Cloggs, mostly coming from Cornwall… but one who cropped up in a newspaper report from Australia.

It seems that one of the Cornish Cloggs went to Australia with his young family, including an Edwin, and later this Edwin became the licensee of a hotel called the Camberwell Hotel. I couldn’t be sure when I found that snippet that the Edwin I had found was actually connected to the Cornish Edwins. I looked into the history of the Camberwell Hotel and deviated from Cloggs to George Eastaway, the man he bought the land and built the hotel – the Camberwell Inn when it started.

Here are some of my notes:

The Camberwell Hotel, formerly the Camberwell Inn was opened in 1857 by George Eastaway. George, in many articles about the inn/hotel, is said to have come from Camberwell in London after which childhood home he named his hotel. In actual fact George came from Bristol with his family and it was to Bristol he returned when he gave up the Hotel. George was born in Bristol in 1805 and became a boot maker/master, a skilled man, and employing six men; this was a works, not a little cobblers shop. He was married to Martha and had several children,  including Elizabeth, George, Susanna and Catherine in Denmark Street, in a house called The Bunch of Grapes. George junior was  a bonded warehouse clerk before the family left for their new life and new adventure in Australia. Elizabeth, however, had married a Frederick Cooper and stayed at home.

The family arrived at  Port Phillip, on 21st January, 1853, aboard the Barque Velore, George, his wife, Martha, his daughter Catherine and son George. However, eight years later, Martha died on 12th May 1861; George lasted another six years until his health broke down and in June of 1867, he retired and returned to England, to Bristol with Catherine. They lived with Elizabeth, now a draper’s assistant, and his granddaughter also called Elizabeth.

The area in which George purchased land in the early 1850’s was known as Camberwell because it actually did have a similarity to the original London area as a junction for different routes and roads. Gradually a little settlement grew up, but it was the area gave the name to the inn, not George, it already had that name when he arrived. Like many settlers at the time, George, had different occupations as well as the hotel; he had bought the land and while everything was being started out, including the building of the place, he did other work in the area including a time at Red Gum Flat, Baroondara where he may have been a gardener. He was licensee from 1857-61 of the Camberwell, and then a man named James Bulley took the hotel. George returned in 1863 and remained there until he departed for England on the good ship Norfolk in 1867; he was held in great esteem by his friends and neighbours, who wished him God speed when he left. George was the first landlord/owner, and he was obviously well-remembered, but others held the license until Edwin Clogg took it over in 1887, twenty years later.

So the Hotel had quite a history before Edwin and his wife Ellen bought it; the other landlords must each have a story to tell, but not here, not now.

So you see, from a grave in our neighbouring village, to Cornwall (via conscientious objectors in WW1, confectioners and importers of Japanese goods in Derby, fruit farms in Somerset, cobblers in Bristol, land purchase in Australia) I end up at a hotel in Camberwell, Melbourne… and there is a whole other story to tell about the Australian Edwin’s son, Edwin John… who had some very strange and distressing experiences… but that’s a story for another time.

I have checked my research, but I may well have made errors, even major ones – so if you see a mistake I have made, an incorrect assumption I have drawn, please do let me know!

My featured image, bu the way is in Bristol, a five minute walk from where the Eastaways lived.

Meanwhile, if you want to read about other places I have mentally wandered off to, then you can read my totally fictitious and totally imaginary books: