Bristol Voice Features

1947 Skating on the lake. Pic: from Henleaze Swimming Club

BRISTOL VOICE FEATURE: From quarry to fishery: the strange and unusual history of Henleaze Lake in north Bristol

It may seem strange today as you walk down Henleaze Road towards Southmead that instead of the comfortable houses and well-kept front gardens you see now, in another era this was a scene of industrial quarrying.

Limestone was being extracted from quarries to feed into five kilns in the area to produce lime for use in construction, agriculture and for chemical and industrial uses in Victorian Britain.

However, as the limestone began to run out and newer sources were found, and industrial processes changed the two quarries at Southmead and Eastfield closed leaving large scars in the landscape. Today there is little sign of Eastfield Quarry which was filled in and features a playground as part of Old Quarry Park at the bottom of Henleaze Road. The last remaining buildings associated with the quarry have been replaced by Amelia Lodge on the junction of Southmead and Eastfield Roads.

Henleaze Lake members in the 1920s. Pic: from Henleaze Swimming Club

Southmead Quarry was much larger and deeper than Eastfield and is very much still a feature although no longer a quarry and no longer called Southmead. That changed in 1912 when quarrying ended and natural springs began to fill it with water forming a lake. Major Stanley Badock leased the lake and stocked it with trout so it could be used for fishing and it was even used for swimming although this ceased after a young man drowned as reported in The Henleaze Book by Veronica Bowerman.

Following the end of World War 1 a swimming club was established in the summer of 1919 which abided by the rules of the Amateur Swimming Association. The club initially leased the lake but later bought it from Badock in 1933 heralding a flourishing period for the club with new diving boards, changing rooms and projecting rocks were removed along with the remains of the kiln.

During the freezing winter of 1947 the lake froze over allowing for skating on the surface. The 1940s and 1950s saw the lake’s popularity reach a peak – sadly it was not to last as in the 1960s membership fell away with diving competitions and water polo phased out as numbers dropped. By 1986 membership was at an all-time low of just 307 compared to today with the numbers over 2,000.

Henleaze Lake in 2022

In 1988 the lake was drained completely to remove any rubbish, to check on fish stocks and to clear away pond weed heralding a new era as the lake refilled naturally and membership increased. Today the club has a waiting list for new members such is its popularity, and many residents not only go swimming but to relax, picnic on the lawns and sun-bathe.

Since its inception the lake has become surrounded by development with Lake Road eventually linking up with Doncaster Road on one side and the development of Lakewood Road on the other side. It is a long way from more than a century ago when the lake was a quarry and rang to the sounds of machinery and Edwardian workmen working the cliff faces that still overlook one side of the lake.

For details of the lake and how to join the club visit

Harry Mottram

Harry Mottram writes features for the Voice publications in Bristol and Bath and is a freelance journalist. Visit



UPDATE: Lantern parade set to light up Bedminster in FEBRUARY

By Harry Mottram. The Bedminster Winter Lantern Parade is perhaps more like a Somerset carnival parade – but without the light bulbs – rather than a parade of children and their parents with paper lanterns. It is a major community event through the streets of South Bristol involving thousands of onlookers, participants and performers – all blessed by every section of Bristol society.


𝗔 𝗺𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗮𝗴𝗲 𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝗔𝗱𝗲 𝗪𝗶𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗮𝗺𝘀 – 𝗖𝗵𝗮𝗶𝗿 – 𝗕𝗲𝗱𝗺𝗶𝗻𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗪𝗶𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗟𝗮𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗻 𝗣𝗮𝗿𝗮𝗱𝗲 𝗣𝗿𝗼𝗷𝗲𝗰𝘁 𝗦𝘁𝗲𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗚𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗽I am getting in touch to let you know that the Bedminster Winter Lantern Parade which as you know, was due to take place next Saturday 8th January, has been 𝗿𝗲𝘀𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗱𝘂𝗹𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗼 𝗦𝗮𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗱𝗮𝘆 𝟭𝟮𝘁𝗵 𝗙𝗲𝗯𝗿𝘂𝗮𝗿𝘆, subject to approval by Bristol City Council.This was a difficult decision to make but myself and members of the project steering group have looked carefully at the risks involved in running a large public outdoor event at this time, with rising numbers of Omicron infections affecting people across Bristol. Our priority has to be on keeping our Bedminster community as safe as possible at this challenging time and we therefore decided to move the event to 12th February.I’d like to thank you for all your support and hard work in getting behind the project this far and I want to reassure you that together with the project team, many volunteers, schools and businesses across BS3, we’re now focusing on putting on a splendid event in February.We will share more details about this as soon as the plans are confirmed and look forward to you being part of a delayed but just as wonderful community event.

And it all started almost by accident over ten years ago as one of the founders Malcolm Brammar explained to South Bristol Voice: “We were originally involved in a one off event run by ACTA the community theatre group who put out an appeal for volunteers to help marshal their parade in Bedminster.”
Stef Brammar explained that the parade was the closing event of an arts festival – and that was the seminal event of the current lantern parade.
She said: “We had just moved here and we thought that’s a nice thing and so we volunteered and went along to help marshal it.”
Organiser Naomi Fuller said the first parade took place in 2011 after the Brammars decided to stage a parade which they called The Bedminster Winter Lantern Parade.
Stef said they managed to raise the £9,000 required to stage it compared to the £21,000 needed for this year’s event..
Naomi said: “Some people don’t realise the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes throughout the year to make it happen.
“And also they don’t realise that it takes a lot of money to put on an event that brings so much joy, that lights up the streets and is so inclusive.
“There are workshops, materials, artists to be paid for and lots of logistical costs such as paying for the road closures, traffic management and insurance.”
Malcolm said: “The first one was a short circular walk and we didn’t even stop the traffic.
“But as it got bigger and more popular we thought we’d better have a rethink and stop the traffic to make it safer.
“At that point the business group BID was established and they said they would support it but asked us to change the route to support the traders.”
The tie up was agreed and the traders chipped in with sponsorship cash.
The parade on Saturday 8th January sees local roads closed to traffic from 3-7pm so the parade sets off along North Street, Cannon Street, British Road and part of South Street with the parade beginning at 4pm near St Francis Church.
If the weather is bad the event is moved to another Saturday with details given out to everyone.
For more details of the parade visit

More at 


Harry Mottram is the news editor of South Bristol Voice monthly magazine and a freelance journalist. Visit



A cigarette card from the 19th century

A short (and hidden) history of women’s rugby union

By Harry Mottram: Despite over 130 years of rugby union played by a wide variety of club teams in Bristol currently it is Bristol Bears Womens’ rugby team who are the most successful this season.

The female side of the game has for long been in the shadows of the male fifteens partly due to sexism and partly due to historically games such as tennis and hockey were seen as the preserve of the so-called fairer sex.

This as we know is rubbish as I can testify with a female relative playing at a very high level in the women’s game.

Although women have long wanted to play the running game it wasn’t until 1984 when Clifton Ladies RFC was founded, before changing their name to Bristol Ladies and eventually Bristol Bears. Surprisingly the history of women’s rugby dates to the 19th century and due to prejudice has been ignored by mainly male sports commentators.

De Monfort University’s Professor Tony Collins said: ” The story of women and rugby has been hidden from history. Women have played a huge part in the sport, whether it is playing the game, organising it or supporting it.”

The Leicester academic said the first known female rugby player was a schoolgirl called Emily Valentine, who played in a team formed by her brothers at Portora Royal School in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, where her father was the headmaster. She is recorded as scoring a try in a match held in 1887.

Four years later there was even an international between England and Scotland women revealing that even in Victorian Britain feminists were breaking out of the social restrictions of the time.

The main drivers of female rugby were to be found In New Zealand and universities where women keen on sport tried out various sports through college clubs.

In the land of the Long White Cloud down under women were playing the game with inter club competitions taking place by the turn of the 20th century.

In the 1920s as women’s football took off rugby was making inroads as well especially in Wales and France. It wasn’t until the 1960s and 1970s with the sexual revolution heralded by changes in attitudes, the Equalities legislation and the increase in leisure time and attendance by women in higher education that the female game began to flourish.

In 1983 the Women’s Rugby Football Union (WRFU) was founded with ten clubs including Leicester Polytechnic with home internationals starting in 1996 followed by the Six Nations in 2007.

The game has come a long way since those Victorian women picked up the oval ball and ran down to the pitch – but with the world cup set for later this year the game has come of age.

Since it began in 1991 only three teams have won it. England, New Zealand and the United States.

New Zealand will host the next Rugby World Cup for women in 2022, one year later than planned due to Covid. From 2025 the competition finals will be expanded to 16 teams, from the 12 competing in 2021.

January 2022’s issue of South Bristol Voice is out just before Christmas 2021 – free to thousands of homes plus in shops in south Bristol.

More at 


Harry Mottram is the news editor of South Bristol Voice monthly magazine and a freelance journalist. Visit



SOUTH BRISTOL VOICE FEATURE: Red Star Bedminster FC: how it all began back in 1987

Red Star in Berlin while on tour back in 2006

By Jon Stephens: They called themselves Red Star Bedminster – after Red Star Belgrade – not the Post Office.

It all started in October 1987 when myself and Mark Newman – we were friends who had recently moved to Bristol from Durham – met up to think about having a kick-about on a new artificial 5-a-side pitch at Windmill Hill City Farm.
We managed to amass six people for that first game – nobody really new each other very well.
Over the first few month’s connections were made through various social contacts and also cajoling kids form the local park and anyone else who was passing.

Slowly the attendances increased to a regular 15 and had a record turnout of 35.

The Eighties were a time of the “new man” and non-competitive sports. The first game played on the Windmill Hill pitch were parachute games. Jonny was slightly surprised at how all these new guys were so into football and he coined the team BAFC – Born Again Footballers Club.

The team on tour in Belgium in 2016

Over the years a full record was kept of all the players and in 1994 the core of these formed a 11-a-side team called Red Star Bedminster. Teacher Chris Carter from Bedminster and the news editor of this paper Harry Mottram of Henleaze Corinthians had discussed the possibility of forming a “casual league” to play friendlies. There were about six or seven teams in those early days – Easton Monday, Redland Ramblers , Poetic Champions, Cunning Stunts and Snow Hill (who had women players). This ramshackle bunch of teams became the now famous Bristol Corinthian League which now has over ten leagues and over fifty teams of over 35s over 45s and over 50s.

Red Star Bedminster went from strength to strength and over the years boasted over 250 players, 25 different nationalities including South African, Benin, Japan, USA, India, Peru, Brazil, French, Kosovan, Georgian, Welsh, Scottish, Gibraltar, a host of Germans, Spanish, Ethiopia, Portugal, and more recently Hungarian. There were also asylum seekers from Zimbabwe, Senegal, Iran and Russia. And guys who were recently homeless and a young street kid from Columbia brought over and adopted by one of our German players.

Also, there were at least ten fathers and sons who played together. The oldest player 67 youngest 8.
Tours were made to Belgium, Berlin, Poland, Stuggart, Porto, France, Hamburg and Devon joining the international “Alternative World Cup|” which another Bristol Team – Easton Cowboys were involved in. And often hosted by the infamous “Lunatics” from Belgium.

The famous Red Star Badge which its five points became to represent.

  1. ABILITY – accept anyone regardless of how good they are
  2. BACKGROUND – accept anyone from any ethnic or class
  3. INTERNATIONAL – connections and players from many different nationalities
  4. YOUTH – crossing the age gap. Fathers and sons old and young
  5. GENDER – support woman’s football
    In about 2016 circumstances saw the attendance at the farm dwindle as older players stopped playing. Red Star struggled to raise eleven players and had to rely on Easton Cowboys’ recruits.
    It was about to fold but in 2018 joined up with another Red Star team – Red Star Republic – who had similar beliefs. This is called Red Star and now has a 35s 45s and 50s team who play in the Corinthians League.
    Jonny and Mark still play on in the 50s team and joined the Bristol Casuals over 60s team which play teams around the country – such as Oxford over 60s, Wales over 60s and 65s, and England over 65s.

December’s issue is out on December 1st, 2021 – free to thousands of homes plus in shops in south Bristol.

More at 



Harry Mottram is the news editor of South Bristol Voice monthly magazine and a freelance journalist. Visit


When ‘Fatty’ Wedlock took City to the FA Cup Final

By Harry Mottram. They often say you can be fat and fit. Well that was certainly true of Bristol City’s most capped international footballer William John Wedlock.
Born in October 1880 ‘Fatty’ Wedlock as he was known remains the club’s most-capped player appearing in the England team’s line up 26 times and scoring two goals for his country.
The stout and short centre-half had a natural talent for the game as well has having that low centre of gravity possessed by players such as Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona.
He was with the club in the 1905/06 season when the Bristol Babes won the Second Division title with the club and then wove his magic on the pitch the following season when City were runners up in the top flight in Edwardian England. It was a golden era for the club which has rarely been matched since although supporters live in hope that the Robins will one day rival those heady days.
In 1909 the team came close to achieving the ultimate dream of clubs when they reached the FA Cup final losing out by a single goal to Manchester United, which they lost 1-0.
In total the one time city skipper made 391 appearances for the team, bagging 17 goals. Bristol City was his only club in professional football.
He retired from the game in 1921 before running a pub near the ground at Ashton Gate which sadly has long since been demolished.
Wedlock’s name lived on after his death in 1960 with the Wedlock stand (now gone) and in the personality of humorist folk singer and entertainer Fred Wedlock.
The man behind the 1981 chart hit ‘The Oldest Swinger in Town’ was a regular fixture in venues and theatres across Bristol until his passing in 2010.
Truly two greats who blessed the city with their diverse talents.

South Bristol Monthly News Magazine is free. Thousands of copies are delivered door to door in Bedminster, Knowle, Southville, Totterdown and Ashton every month – and to shops, libraries and super markets in Bristol. More at and and

Harry Mottram is the news editor of South Bristol Voice monthly magazine and a freelance journalist. Visit