The name "Pill" comes from the Welsh word pwl, which means an inlet, harbour, or pool (e.g. a creek or tidal inlet off a river or channel, or a small harbour).
The original name Crockerne Pill means literally 'pottery wharf' and arose from the fact that an industrial-scale pottery thrived nearby. The actual kiln was excavated about 50 years ago and is located in the fields above Chapel Pill. The pottery was made in the period from 1100 AD to 1250 AD and was exported from Pill by boat. The so-called 'Ham Green' pottery has been found and identified in archaeological digs from the Algarve in Portugal to Iceland. It is an important archaeological 'dating tool' because the period of manufacture is so precise. Bristol City Museum has a good selection of pottery artefacts from the site and other locations showing the unique decoration and form of Ham Green pottery.
The town was traditionally the residence of pilots, who would guide boats up the Avon Gorge, between the Bristol Channel and the Port of Bristol. The port moved in the 20th century to Avonmouth and the Royal Portbury Dock. Pill was once home to 21 public houses and was known as being a rough place, to the extent that the founder of the Methodist Church, John Wesley, says in an entry in his journals for 3 October 1755:
I rode over to Pill, a place famous from generation to generation, even as Kingswood itself, for stupid, brutal, abandoned wickedness.
The 1860s saw the building of the railway line between Bristol (Temple Meads) and Portishead. The line, which was opened to passengers in 1863, passed right through the village of Pill, with the result that a large number of buildings had to be demolished to allow its necessary straight and level passage. The railway also consumed many acres of farm land during its construction. However, it brought new life to the area, not to mention new blood as many of the navvies working the line met and married local girls and stayed on to raise their families after the line was completed. They brought new names, some of which are still with us today, over 100 years on.
The small rowed ferry from Pill to Shirehampton closed because of loss of trade once the opening of the Avonmouth Bridge in 1974 enabled pedestrians to walk over the Avon. Few did of course, but some rode their bicycles and many more turned to their cars. So a transport link to and from the parish of Easton-in-Gordano, one that had survived since Medieval times, was closed and the river mud has swallowed up most of the now unattended slipways. The village and its vanished ferry are commemorated in the Adge Cutler and The Wurzels song "Pill Pill".
The parish has five places of worship: St George's, Easton-in-Gordano; Christ Church, Pill; The Salvation Army, Pill Baptist Church and Pill Methodist Church.
Pill has several shops in the centre for day-to-day needs, including a Southern Co-op, pharmacy, Post Office and hair salon. There is a Co-op at the top of the village near the site of the former railway station. Pill has several take-away restaurants; however, it can no longer boast 21 pubs and currently has only four: The Kings Head, The Star, The Duke and the Pill Memorial Club, although this excludes the nearby pubs in Easton in Gordano.
Clubs and Societies – Easton-in-Gordano Table-Tennis Club (meets Thursday nights) has been running since 1956 when the Church Memorial Hall was opened. The Luncheon Club provides a weekly get together for the elderly on Thursdays at the Community Centre. The village is proud of all its community activities full details of which are included in the Community Diary held at the Resource Centre (Precinct).
- St Katherine's School, located at Ham Green within Abbots Leigh parish, not actually in Pill, with approximately 1,000 students aged 11–18.
- Crockerne Primary School, which is located in the village and caters for Nursery to Year 6 pupils. The school has one of North Somerset's first children's centres, officially opened on 1 July 2006, as well as a small, indoor, heated swimming pool and an active PTA.
The Pill Ferry has been immortalised in the recent book by Phillipa Perry, "Tabitha Miggins: Ship's Cat (On the Pill Ferry)" (see 'External Links' below). The book mentions the hobblers, Pill pilots and various of Pill's public houses, most especially The Duke of Cornwall, which overlooks the old ferry slipway.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pill, Somerset.|