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Abbots Leigh Parish Council History


									 Abbots Leigh
Parish Council

       Compiled by
       Steve Livings
  From the Minutes Books
             Abbots Leigh Parish Council History

The First Parish Council
The first Parish Council meeting was held in the schoolroom Abbots Leigh at 7pm
on Tuesday 4th December 1894. The meeting was called to elect the first Parish
Council under the Local Government Act 1894. Mr Hollyman one of the
overseers proposed, and Mr Alvis seconded that Mr Carey Batten be chairman of
this parish meeting, this proposal was carried unanimously.

From the minutes:
 ‘Mr Batten having taken the chair explained the object of the meeting was to elect
five Parish Councillors for the Parish of Abbots Leigh and asked that nominations
might be handed into him. Many nomination papers were handed in, several being
duplicated, the chairman waiting about 20 minutes announced that the following 8
parochial electors had been duly nominated:

Sir Cecil Leopold Miles, Bart                 Samuel Parsons
Henry Robert William Miles                    Richard Jenkins
John William Ford                             Alfred Pillinger
Robert Gage                                   Charles Symes

It was then explained that as eight people had been nominated to fill five places; it
would be necessary to take a show of hands in favour of each candidate; but before
doing so, the chairman called the attention of the meeting to the second sub
section of Section 2 of the Act, warning each elector that he had only five votes and
therefore must not hold up his or her hand more than five times. The names were
then put to the meeting in alphabetical order and a show of hands asked for, by the
result that:

Sir Cecil Leopold Miles                       John William Ford
Henry Robert William Miles                    Richard Jenkins
Robert Gage

were subject to a poll being demanded and not withdrawn and declared elected.

The chairman now asked if any parochial elector present wished for a poll. Having
waited over ten minutes without any poll having been demanded, the meeting was
declared at an end and a certificate was given to the chairman that the above
named parochial electors had been duly elected for the first Parish Council of
Abbots Leigh.

The minute was signed H. Carey Batten.

Minute Books
The minute book then records the debate of the Annual Parish Meetings from that
inaugural meeting throughout the life of the Parish Council. It would appear that
many of the subjects that confront us today were the burning issues for the village
at that time. The state of the parish footpaths, the Abbots Leigh Charities, and
the report of a ‘way warden’ who seemed to report highway matters back to the
Highway Board.

At the Annual Parish Meeting of 27th March 1896 the Chairman produced some
simple accounts announcing the expenditure of the Council since its formation in
December 1894 was £10.1.7.

Items discussed were the state of repair of the road leading from the Vicarage to
the park with the Reverend Brinkley calling for some urgent attention to be given
to this matter. A straightening of the road to be constructed across the Village
Green had been completed at a cost of £3.5.6. There was general concern at the
state of the roads throughout the village. There was also an item discussing
obtaining fire appliances for the Parish, insufficient mains water pressure and the
need for allotments as it was thought there were several people in the Parish who
would like to have them. There is correspondence between Chief Officer Gott of
the Bristol Fire Brigade and the Parish Council, over a period of years, as to the
provision of fire appliances in the Village. There was ongoing discussion about the
provision of allotments. Negotiations were held with landowners and tenants
regarding parcels of land they would be willing to lease for this purpose. In 1897 the
quarry at Leigh Hill was considered dangerous and that the proper authorities
should provide a fence between the quarry and road. One person said that he had
witnessed at accident there and had nearly fallen into the quarry.

Village Post Office
Negotiations took place with the Post Office authorities to progress the provision
of a money order and savings bank office in the Parish.

One proposal at the meeting of the 14th March 1898 records the negotiations with
the Post Office authorities for the provision of a money order and savings bank
office had been carried through and the office was opened in the village of June 17th

In 1909 the Post Master for Bristol wrote to the Parish Council asking for their
views on a proposal that the Post office close a half hour earlier at 7.30pm rather
than 8.00pm. Later correspondence in 1910 requests if there would be objection to
the Post office hours being confined to 8.00am to 12 noon on bank holidays.

At a meeting on 17 March 1913, the Rev Brinkley proposed that the Parish Council
be requested to take steps to obtain the establishment of a public telephone call
office at the Post Office. The meeting heard from the Postmaster of Bristol who
felt that the establishment of a public telephone call office in the village would not
attract the revenue and therefore he could not presently justify it.

Queen Victoria
1897 - Mr Miles proposed that something should be done to commemorate the
Queen's Diamond Jubilee and after great discussion, it was decided that
celebrations should take place in the parish on 22 June 1897 by lighting a large
bonfire which was built in the Deer Park. This was lit at 10pm in front of a large
number of villagers who sang the National Anthem. Rockets were let off and the
fire burned well and could be seen from many miles away. Other festivities were
celebrated on 30 June on the cricket field where an athletics sports day was
arranged. A copy of the programme of events is attached to the minutes. ‘After
the sports were over the company, numbering 355 sat down to a capital tea.
Dancing and various other games were indulged in until dark when a good display
of fire works was let off. The day was beautifully fine and the Bristol South Prize
band were in attendance’.

At another meeting the Reverend Brinkley proposed a resolution of regret that no
permanent memorial was erected in the village green to commemorate the 60th
year of Her Majesty's reign.

Recorded in the minutes of the meeting of the March 1901 Reverend Brinkley
referred to the recent demise of her Majesty Queen Victoria. He proposed the

following resolution; ‘ that this Parish meeting desires to place on record its deep
sorrow at the loss the Country and Empire has sustained at the death of our late
Majesty Queen Victoria and expresses a wish that his Majesty King Edward VII
may long be spared to rule over’.

A Coronation Celebration – King Edward VII
At a meeting in 1902 it was unanimously agreed by the Parish Council to ascertain
what contributions could be obtained for celebrating the approaching Coronation
and report to the next meeting. The clerk reported that subscriptions had been
gathered in and the Coronation of his Majesty King Edward Seventh would be
celebrated during August 1902 by holding and athletic sports event in the cricket
field kindly lent by Mr Offers. A tea was provided out of the subscriptions raised,
for 189 adults and the children, by the ladies of the Parish who also presented each
child with a Coronation mug. Mrs Milton of Clifton was the caterer. After that
dancing and various other games were indulged in until about nine o'clock when Sir
Henry Miles lit a large bonfire, which had been erected in the Deer Park. The
weather was fine and a string band was in attendance.

Another Coronation Celebration – King George V
Recorded in the meeting of the 19th March 1912 subscriptions amounting to £53.12.6
were collected to celebrate the Coronation of King George V and a celebration was
held by the kind permission of Sir Henry Miles; Bart at the ‘Court on June the
22nd 1911. A church service was held at 11am, athletics sports were held in the
afternoon, (a programme is attached to the minutes). The inhabitants of the Parish
having previously met at the George Inn marched in procession to the ‘Court
headed by the Kingswood Evangelical Silver Prize Band. A tea was given to the
parishioners who numbered 217 adults and 89 children. Again, Mrs Milton of
Clifton was the caterer. A Coronation Mug was presented to all the children and
a large bonfire built in the Park by Sir Henry Miles Bart and was lit at 10 p.m.
The weather was unfortunately on this occasion extremely wet.

We have no Gas!
In 1911, the clerk to Easton in Gordano Parish Council stated that his Council had
approached the Bristol Gas Company about supplying gas to Pill and district.
However, before entertaining the same, the Gas Company required a guarantee of
a percentage of the capital outlay and was inquiring as the whether other Parish
Councils would take a supply. After consideration the Abbots Leigh clerk was
instructed to reply that this Council did not see their way to giving any guarantee
in this connection.

Housing the Working Classes
The Rural Housing Association wrote to the Parish Council in 1910 requesting a
return as to the needs and condition of the Housing of the Working Classes. The
Reverend Brinkley after some discussion requested the subject should be allowed
to lie on the table. Further correspondence on this subject appeared in 1919 when
the then Long Ashton Rural District Council commented on correspondence and
asked Abbots Leigh Parish Council to suggest sites for building for houses under
the housing of the working classes scheme. It was recorded that these houses
should be built separately and not put them in one block. The clerk was requested
to reply to the Council suggesting that two houses be erected on land belonging to
Mr Chapman near Pound Batch Farm and two on the field lately occupied by Mr
Arters near Claypools. The Rural District Council had inspected the sites and
suggested all four new cottages be built on the road adjoining the Lower Lodge.
This development was later postponed.

A Fire Brigade
At the meeting of the 17th March 1913 the clerk read a letter together with a
circular proposing the formation of a Fire Brigade to be called the Somerset

Volunteer Fire Brigade. The letter provided details of the proposed scheme and
suggested that a halfpenny rate should be made towards the annual upkeep. Mr J.
S. Davie attended the meeting, discussed the various points, and stated that since
the letter had been sent out he had seen some insurance managers who had refused
to contribute towards the cost of the upkeep. He suggested that the parishioners
refuse to contribute if the scheme was approved. The detail of the scheme was
discussed and it was pointed out that it would be necessary to convert the existing
fireplugs into cocks, which entailed a considerable expenditure, and that local fire
appliances would be necessary. It was not clear, how this expense was to be met.
Sir Henry Miles made the following proposal; ‘ that the meeting was expressing
itself in favour of the scheme and desire the clerk to ascertain further details and to
intimate that there appeared every likelihood of the parishioners guaranteeing the
equivalent to the halfpenny rate towards the upkeep’. The following meeting heard
that the formation of the fire brigade had fallen through.

Army Recruits
1915 the Parish Council considered correspondence dealing with the National
Registration Act 1915. On the proposition of the chairman the Rev Brinkley he
was elected as a canvasser. He called upon men who according to the national
register were eligible for investment. He volunteered his residence to be used as a
canvassing office until the close of the campaign. A canvassing subcommittee was
elected and the Rev Brinkley was appointed to take sole charge of the canvassing

At the meeting on December 9th 1916, the Rev Brinkley presented a report
regarding his canvassing for recruits to His Majesty's Army. This produced the
following results: married men -- 15 cards issued; three were tested, five refused,

two medically unfit, one over age, one discharged wounded from the army, two
postal service servants and one police constable. Of single men, ten cards were
issued and the result was that two were enlisted before the canvassing campaign,
three were tested, four proved medically unfit, and one refused. The chairman
proposed a vote of thanks to the Rev Brinkley for the able way in which he carried
out the strenuous duties and the following names of the men for the Parish who
were already in the army or enlisted previous to Lord Derby's canvas:

Lieutenant-Colonel J. Beardmore             Wm. Frampton
Batten                                      J Gillard
Major H Copeland Batten                     JJ Griffin
Major R Bright                              LJ Horsington
Captain Sir Charles Miles                   J Nelmes
Captain ER Murraugh                         A Parsons
Lt D Fry                                    H Parsons
Lt. J Fry                                   A McLevin
Lt W Gardener                               A Wheare
Lt A Hadden                                 J Wheare
Lt J Hadden                                 E White
Lt WH Miles                                 F White
Lt HA Staples                               G White
                                            T White
J Alvis                                     R Wiltshire
T Alvis                                     J Wiltshire
F Bishop                                    J Welch
F Boobyer                                   J Gittings
A Chamberlain                               P Harris
F Chamberlain                               E Holden
Frank Ford
Fred Ford
                                            40 men in total from this parish.

Another proposal that the names of all those who were connected with the Parish
who had given their lives for their Country in the Great War be recorded in the
minute. The Parish Council suggested steps should be taken for a more permanent
memorial in the Parish of their noble example. This was seconded and carried
unanimously. Mr Savoury a church warden provided information respecting
various proposals suggested by the church council regarding the restoration of the
village cross, a memorial window, a bronze in the church, suggesting that the
question of a memorial window and that of a bronze tablet to be erected in the
church be dropped and to proceed with restoring the cross.

Bristol wants to expand
1917 correspondence was received from the Town Clerk of the City of Bristol
proposing extensions to the City requesting details and information about the
Parish. The land in question was owned by Capt., Sir Charles Miles and together
with correspondence from his solicitors Messr’s Burges and Sloan the Parish
Council made it very clear they did not approve of any portion of the Parish being
taken and included in the City of Bristol. A deputation from Bristol required the
Parish Council to grant them an interview in the Village Hall.

Electric Lighting
On Saturday November 30th 1918 the chair announced to the Council that as
electric light would be shortly available in this Parish it was resolved that the
Lighting and Watching Act 1833 be adopted. The number of lights available
(probably 8) would be rented from the Clevedon, Portishead and District Electric
Supply Co Ltd providing the cost did not exceed three-quarters of a penny in the
pound on the rate for value of the Parish. Some two years later in 1920 the Parish
Council discussed the positioning of the lights on the village green which appeared
unsatisfactory and that an extra light was required beyond the church. The clerk
was requested to write to the Electric Light Co asking for costs. The reply from
North Somerset Electric Supply Co was that the cost of removing the public light,
presently positioned on the village green to the core of the churchyard would be 25
shillings. It was agreed that this work should be carried out. The chairman
proposed that sum of £20 be raised for public lighting for the six months ending the
31st of March 1920. An interesting minute in that year describes an account of an
accident occurring whereby one of the stay wires at an electric post became
electrified. A strong letter was written to the North Somerset Electric Supply
Company complaining.

Village Hall
It was in 1926 that the council received a letter stating that Mrs Yda Richardson
of the Manor House was prepared to provide the Parish Hall and she was glad to
learn that the Parish Council was prepared to accept and maintain her gift. After
some discussion, it was proposed that Mrs Richardson's offer to transfer of the
Village Hall the Parish Council be accepted and the clerk was directed to write to

Mrs Richardson accordingly. At a meeting in October 1926, the clerk reported he
had received the deed of conveyance of the parish rooms from Mrs Richardson’s
solicitor for execution by the council. It was unanimously decided that the
document be executed which was accordingly done and thanks given to Mrs
Richardson for the generous gift. The terms on which the building should be let
were discussed and it was decided that the scale of charges be set

 It was unanimously agreed that the present caretaker Mr Archer should occupy
the cottage on the following terms: ’ to pay the rent of six shillings per week to
include rates and water rates -- that the small room be kept clean free of charge and
two and sixpence be allowed for cleaning the large hall.’

The following is a scale of charges as agreed by the Parish Council
1.Dances promoted for profit; hours 7 to 11pm, Charge £1.
2. Social gatherings, political meetings, lectures, dances and private parties given
by parishioners, entertainment’s, concerts, whist drives and dances for Parish
objects or charitable institutions £10 -- the use of the reading room to be included in
the above charges.
3. Dancing classes -- hours 7 to 11pm; five shillings per hour.
4. Religious meetings – 1/6.
5. Reading room except in cases one and two, the above charges to include lighting
and be paid in advance, one shilling.

It was agreed that the hiring of the Parish Room should not extend beyond
midnight unless previous sanction obtained. It was also agreed that the Parish
Council should reserve the right to refuse the hiring of the room for any purpose
not approved of. In addition to the above charge it was agreed that Girl Guides
and Boy Scouts be permitted the use the room for one shilling per night, the room
to be left clean.

At a meeting in October 1926, the Skittle Club applied for terms of being allowed
the let of the skittles alley. It was agreed to let it to the club for £1 for the

following 12 months. Many years later in June 1944, a Mr Gillard booked the
skittle alley having been approached by other villagers to form a skittles club in the
village. The club needed to have use of the alley on two nights a week. It was
pointed out the Home Guard were at that time using the building as a rifle range.
The clerk was instructed to find out the Home Guard's requirements regarding
future use.

 Another Jubilee
1935 brought about discussion of Jubilee celebrations. It was decided to incorporate
the service at St Pauls, London commencing at 11am to be relayed to the church.
Then with a cricket match (ladies versus gentleman) in the afternoon followed by
sports, tea and refreshments and at 10 o’clock a bonfire and fireworks. A
committee was formed and an account equivalent to a penny rate was spent on the

Household refuse
1936 saw for a trial period of 6 months the collection of household refuse.

Edward VIII Coronation
A meeting of parishioners took place on 1st December 1936 to discuss plans to
celebrate the Coronation of King Edward V111 the following May. It was agreed
that festivities should follow those of the Jubilee Celebrations and a rate of 2pence
in the pound was set for a sport day followed by tea and fireworks in the evening.
A further meeting on Monday May 3rd 1937 by the Parish Council to deal with the
Coronation agreed the payment of £3 for arrangements from an orchestra
composed of violin, banjo, and piano. It was also decided to order an oak tree with
a tablet and the vicar suggested that Mr & Mrs Gunn plant the same on
Coronation day in the burial ground. The clerk was instructed to send a telegram
to His Majesty on Coronation morning as follows: ‘Your loyal subjects of Abbots
Leigh, Somerset, send you their greetings trusting your reign may be a long and
happy one’. The chairman reported that £42 had been collected towards expenses.

Air Raids
In 1939 the Parish air raid precautions scheme was received from the area organiser
it was fully read and discussed by the Parish Council. The clerk produced a letter
from the area organiser to arrange for the hire of the Village Hall for 12 consecutive
weeks for classes of 30 people to be taught air raid precautions. This was an urgent
matter and Commander Miles offered to oversee the situation and negotiate with
the area organiser. ARP classes were arranged and the following charges were
fixed for the hire of the hall at 10 shillings per evening. In September 1940, the
discussion of the hire of the hall to the YMCA was the issue. It was to be used as
a social centre and canteen for the troops stationed in the Village. The Parish
Council after hearing the special representatives present proposed that the hall be
let for this purpose for the period of October 1940 to March 1941 at a weekly rent of

                                   Village School
                                   At a meeting in June 1903 the Somerset
                                   County Education Committee asked the
                                   Parish Council to appoint one or more of the
                                   villagers to the board of local managers of the
                                   Abbots Leigh Parochial School. A Mr RB
                                   Withers and Mr EJ Swann were proposed and
                                   their appointment lasted 3 years.

                                   In 1949, Lady Inskip raised the question
                                   regarding the overcrowded condition of the
                                   village school now that there were now 57
                                   children attending. These number having
                                   increased and 40 more due to attend who were
                                   children from the camp.

Dr Carter said that he could confirm what Lady Inskip had said and to invite the
education authority at Taunton to see if extra staff could be supplied at the school
in view of the increasing numbers.

The following year the subject of school numbers was revisited. It was agreed to
negotiate with the education authority an additional classroom because of the
overcrowding of the school and that the Village Hall be used for that purpose.

Village Playing Field

At the same meeting discussions around a welcome home for our soldiers, serving
in the War took place. Mr H. C. Baker explained that there were many requests
from parishioners for a playing field in the village and the suggestion was made
that the amount of money totalling £470.00 raised to date should be devoted for
that purpose. He pointed out that the fund was registered with the Charity
Commissioners under the Charity Act 1940 to improve the amenities of the
Village Hall. In case of unanimous agreement of the parishioners, the Council
would make every effort to obtain the sanction to the Charity Commissioners to
divert the money towards the organisation, equipment, and upkeep of a playing
field. It was agreed that a public meeting should be arranged for Thursday April
20th 1950 to discuss the matter further. At a subsequent meeting it was declared
that the Charity Commissioners would not be an agreement with applying the
money on hand for the purposes of a playing field and therefore had to be used for
its original registered objective to improve the amenities of the Village hall.

Abbots Pool
Meetings in 1955 saw the subject of Abbot’s Pool being discussed. It seemed that
the owner Capt. Wills had offered the Abbots Pool to Bristol Corporation and the
Parish Council resolved that they should lobby for the pool to be kept for Somerset
as a ‘beauty spot’. They realised that as a Parish Council, they could not accept
responsibility for its acquisition or maintenance but it was hoped that Somerset
County Council would find it was within its power to do so. Further discussions
took place and it was learnt that Capt. Wills was prepared to make a free gift of
the pool and the surrounding woodland approximately 6 acres to the Parish and
that he was prepared to maintain the woodland. The timber would be reserved and
only felled as and when trees were dying, dead, or dangerous. The clerk was asked
to look into the public liability situation. Because of his findings, the Parish
Council resolved that they should not take responsibility of acquiring and
maintaining the pool. This was not a unanimous decision.

School Crossing Warden
1956 must have seen an increase in traffic as the Parish urged Somerset County
Council to enforce a 30-mph speed limit through the Village. The issue of a school-
crossing warden was discussed and the Parish Council endeavoured to put
pressure on the County Council for one to be appointed. Some time later a
crossing patrol warden was appointed. Mrs Hilda Groves and Miss Bothwell
residents of Church Road carried out a sterling job.

Over the following years many familiar subjects were discussed, use of allotments,
the main road and a speed limit street lighting, the quarry and dumping of rubbish
on Leigh Hill. The question of raising charges for the Village Hall was high on the
agenda as well as refurbishment and maintenance. The Village saw the closure of
the Village School and Post Office but some things continue to thrive, the Village
Hall, a new playing field, street lighting, and more concerns about the main road.


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