CLEVEDON HISTORY

clevedon traingleThe town of Clevedon, now part of the new Unitary Authority of North Somerset. Clevedon is a busy seaside town, yet it remains relatively quiet. Clevedon has grown enormously since building plots measured out along The Beach and Hill Road were first advertised in 1820. Until then, it had been a quiet, agricultural village, sprawling piecemeal across the levels. The three most important buildings for the villagers of two centuries ago would have been St Andrew's Church, Clevedon Court and Highdale Farm.

St Andrew's, perched on the cliffs at the West End of Old Church Road, is believed to have Saxon origins. To those interested in old carvings, a number of corbels on the outside of the south wall have distinctly Celtic roots, depicting ravens, two faced men, a "shiela- na gig" mother goddess and horses heads.

Highdale Farm, below Christ Church, dates back to 1297, when the Chantry Chapel there was first mentioned in ancient records. The Chapel vanished after the Dissolution of Tudor times, but the farm was from the time of Doomsday the home of the Stewards of the Clevedon Manor, whose duty it was to manage the farm and cottage lease and collect rents. The house has since been rebuilt.

The growth of the town brought great benefits for the local people Carpenters, tilers and masons were swift to buy plots on the pieces of agricultural waste land first used for the Regency houses. Their wives let rooms and apartments in these houses, providing work for large numbers of servants. Along Hill Road, owners were quick to build shops on to the fronts of their villas to supply the needs of the inhabitants of New Clevedon. Hotels vied with each other in providing the best service for visitors; coffee rooms with separate entrances for ladies so that gentlemen could play billiards in peace; regular services from the railway station; the very latest London journals; the list is endless. Private schools proliferated, educating the children of the upper middle classes employed abroad in the diplomatic service, by the East India Company, in the Navy and the Army.

Clubs and societies sprang up to entertain and provide for the townsfolk. Prominent doctors, solicitors and professional people appear repeatedly on their committees, and on the list of members of the Local Board of Health, set up in 1852 and destined to become the Urban District Council in 1894. The minutes kept by this august body give us a fascinating record of the work it took to make Clevedon a respectable place. The Board supervised the construction of houses and public buildings, the improvement of drains - fiercely resisted by slum landlords - and even inspected the donkeys at the Beach for fleas.

The Clevedon Mercury was set up in 1863 to communicate national news and local happenings, providing a directory of visitors invaluable to local historians. It continues to record the unfolding story of our town.

Walton Castle: A 17th Century hunting lodge, one of the landmarks of Clevedon on the hill top overlooking the golf course, was for a long time just a ruin, now it is a family home having been restored with meticulous care to resemble the original.

CLEVEDON PIER AND THE RAILWAYS - GWR & WCPLR

With the growth of the town, the most prominent place came to be the new hotels, the railway stations and the Regency and Victorian houses. By the end of the nineteenth century Clevedon population grew by 4666 from 334 inhabitants to 5,000 inhabitants. New roads had been built, the Great Western Railway (GWR) and Weston, Clevedon and Portishead Light Railway (WCPLR) now brought visitors from further a field; even better, in 1869, the Pier opened and steamers could land their passengers from South Wales and Devon

Clevedon Pier was constructed from eight spans made of curved Barlow rails from Brunel's surplus material from the South Wales railway. Elegance and strength were ideally combined in its fabric, and it was used for promenading, fishing and streamer trips. As late as 1969, 50,000 people used it, but the following year saw its collapse under weight testing with the loss of two spans. After 20 years of dereliction, thanks to strenuous campaigning by both the Pier Preservation Trust and Piers Supporters, the Pier reopened on the 27th of May 1989, a hundred and twenty years after its first opening. Grants were obtained from the Heritage Lottery Fund and North Somerset Council to complete the works to the landing stage and reinstall the end of pier buildings. The Waverley and Balmoral call to the pier between May - October. The old Toll House stocks souvenirs and hosts art exhibitions in its upstairs gallery.

CLEVEDON COURT AND THE ELTON FAMILY
The National Trust now owns Clevedon Court, since1709 the home of the Elton family. It is one of the oldest manor houses in England, the tower to the east dating from the thirteenth century. The Elton’s played a large part in the responsible development of Clevedon from a small farming community to a select Victorian resort. They also provided sites for the hospital, schools and churches and campaigned vigorously for improvements to sanitation and drainage. Through Sir Charles Elton, Tennyson and Thackeray came to know Clevedon. His grandson, Sir Edmund, was the maker and designer of Elton Ware pottery. Elton Ware decorates the Clock Tower in the Triangle, given to the town to commemorate the Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

 

Website: Clevedon Court-National Trust

CLEVEDON HERITAGE CENTRE

Heritage Centre an exhibition illustrating the history of the town in words and pictures to stimulate interest in its past for visitors and residents and as an educational resource for children.

Clevedon Heritage, 4 The Beach, Clevedon. Tel: (01275) 341196
Website: Clevedon Heritage Centre

CURZON CINEMA

Opened in 1912, Curzon cinema is the oldest, continuously operated cinema in the country, the original building had 200 seats. By the following year the building had been expanded to 389 seats, and was the first public building in the town to have electricity.The cinema was saved from closure in 1996 largely thanks to community support and is now run and owned by the Clevedon community.

Today Curzon Cinema is still a popular venue for new film releases with at least one viewing daily, more during school holidays, as well as special events showing Silent Movies or Golden Oldies organised by the Film Club

Website: www.curzon.org.uk