Chester Park, Bristol
|Chester Park, Bristol|
Chester Park, Bristol shown within Bristol
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Police||Avon and Somerset|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
|UK Parliament||Bristol East|
It is on the outskirts of the outer urban area of Fishponds, adjacent to Mayfield Park, Speedwell, Kingswood, Hillfields and Lodge Causeway. To the south it is dominanted by the Lodge Hill skyline and the magnificent clock tower of Cossham Memorial Hospital.
In parallel with Mayfield Park, the area of Chester Park developed just off Lodge Causeway in the late 19th century. From the 1870s the Provincial Land Company let land for building and a large number of semi-detached villas and other houses were built. In 1891 it was described as a "rising and most populous district". It originally consisted predominantly of the Victorian and Edwardian terrances of Chester Park Road, Berkeley Road, Argyle Road and Charlton Road and is served by the shops on Lodge Causeway. The most substantial building on the Causeway is Chester House at no 312, built in 1879 as a beer retailer. It became the local branch of Lloyds Bank in 1962, and more recently became offices following the bank's closure in 2006.
Early history of the area
The area of Chester Park was once covered by the Royal Forest of Kingswood. It was reduced in size in 1286 by Henry III and downgraded to a Royal Chase when large tracks were converted into common land.
The forest was progressively reduced and developed over the centuries, and by 1670 the western end of the chase was known as Thomas Chester's Liberty, whose family were great land owners in the area. The common rights were cancelled in 1781 by the Stapleton Enclosure Act, which led to the area to grow rapidly and probably saw the first settlement on Lodge Causeway in the area of modern day Chester Park. In 1831 the area comprised only 10 houses cluster around Long Lane (now Forest Road) and Lodge Causeway, the most well known of which called Lodge Causeway Cottage. The area had been named Chester Park by the 1870s.
Barton Fields, the park itself, is a gently sloping strip 500 yards long, and containing a children's play area and the pitches and pavilion of Barton Hill Old Boys Rugby union Club. The club was established in 1908 and moved to its present site on Dunscumbe Lane in 1978. The park is popular with local children and dog walkers, but has in recent times been reduced to accommodate flats on the Speedwell side. Coombe Brook once ran through the park, and it still exists over the road in Coombe Brook Valley Nature Park. The Speedwell colliery opposite (now underneath Speedwell School), opened in the late 19th century and was served by the railway line still evidenced by the abutments on Whitefield Road. It was one of the last Bristol pits still working when it closed in 1932.
Nearby churches and schools
Chester Park is well served by churches, which in the late 19th century and early 20th century struggled to kept pace with the development of the area. The earliest known church was the Chester Park Mission Church set up by St Mary's of Fishponds in the Parish of Stapleton in 1885, which later became St John's when the original church opened.
St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, on the corner of Forest Road and Lodge Causeway, was designed by Sir Frank Wills and built by Clark of Fishponds in 1925. It replaced an earlier temporary corrugated iron church on the site which had been purchased from the Redemptorist Fathers of Kingswood in 1911 and demolished in 1975. The fine high altar, dating from 1872 and originally part of The Sisters of Perpetual Adoration convent chapel in Taunton, was installed in 1929 and designed by John Francis Bentley of Westminster Cathedral fame. The site now also contains the St Joseph's Catholic Primary School on Chatsworth Road with capacity for 277 children.
St John's Church of England Church of Fishponds was inaugurated in 1887 when the Bishop of Bristol gave the vicar of St Mary's of Fishponds permission to hold Divine Service in a school room of Chester Park School. In 1894 to cater for the expanding population a second-hand corrugated iron, pitch pine interior church was erected on Lodge Causeway and opened as the original St Johns on 28 July 1894. The current St Johns church, designed by EH Lingen Barker, was consecrated on 25 May 1911. The chancel and sanctuary were supposed to be temporary until the old church was pulled down in 1971, but funds meant it was rather oddly finished in render rather than pennant stone.
The red brick Argyle Morley United Reform Church on the corner of Chester Park was designed by A E Longden and originally opened in April 1899. It was a Congregational Church from 1958 until 1972. It combined the original Argyle and Morley church congregations, after the latter church on Lodge Causeway built in 1889 developed structural problems and had to be demolished in 1970. Morley Congregational Church was named after Samuel Morley, MP for Bristol from 1868 to 1885, and like St Joseph's opposite was designed by Sir Frank Wills.
The Chester Park Church of England School was originally opened in two houses on Chester Park Road in 1884, but moved to a new location on Lodge Causeway in 1896 when the impressive Victorian school was built. The Junior School now caters for 245 children and the Infant School for another 210. There are no Secondary Schools in Chester Park, the closest being Whitefield in Fishponds and Bristol Brunel Academy. Nearby, 1860 (East Bristol) Sqn Air Training Corps is located on Whitefields Road towards Speedwell.
The central pub in Chester Park, the Berkeley Arms on Lodge Causeway, closed in 1944 having been originally opened in 1900. The closest pubs are now on the outskirts of Chester Park, comprising the Greyhound and Spotted Cow on Lodge Causeway, both built in 1883, and the Warwick Arms, built in 1906 on Charlton Road.
- Bristol City Council: Dogs On Leads Order. Retrieved on 26 June 2008.
- The History of Kingswood Forest. Retrieved on 13 November 2007.
- Bristol City Council: 2006 Population Estimates by Lower Layer Super Output Area. Retrieved on 26 June 2008.
- Bristol Chronicles. Retrieved on 19 November 2007.
- St Johns Church of England Church
- Fishponds Local History Society
- Barton Hill Rugby Club
- 1860 Sqn ATC