Saltford Environment Group
Detail from St Mary's Church & Saltford Manor by Samuel Grimm, 1789.
The History of Saltford: ONLINE MUSEUM
Scroll down the page to see Saltford's past including the following special features on this page:-
This page 18th Century
Queen Anne passes through Saltford on her way to Bristol, 1702
Anne (1665 - 1714) became Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland on 8 March 1702. That September whilst staying in Bath she passed through Saltford on her journey to Bristol to have lunch with Bristol's Mayor.
For her journey from Bath to Bristol she was accompanied by her husband Prince George of Denmark and a host of servants and nobility. This involved 13 coaches, each drawn by 6 horses (totalling 78 horses!).
We have reproduced here using the old spellings and punctuation the text from the article published in 'The annals of Bristol in the Eighteenth Century' by John Latimer (1893).
At the end of August 1702, Queen Anne came to Bath, and on Tuesday 1st September, the Mayor, Sheriff and Towne Clerk of Bristol rode hither to await on Her Majesty to give Her an invitation to their City.
On Thursday morning, 3rd September, Her Majesty, accompanied by Prince George, attended by several of the nobility, occupying thirteen coaches each drawn by six horses, set out for the aforesaid City.
The only practical coach road between the two cities was on the north bank of the Avon, but as the portion between Bath and Kelston was founderous - the narrow tract by Keynsham was still in worse condition, the road between Brislington and Bristol was notorious for mud, delays and squabbles between coachmen driving in opposite ways - Bristol being blamed for this - and in portion the road was but seven feet wide, too narrow for coaches to pass each other.
The royal party proceeded as far as Newton-St.-Loe traversing a road or track to Saltford, along the Shallows, turning right at the top of the Shallow Hill, along a portion of Mead Lane some 1,000 yards, turning left into a rough lane which eventually led past a farm house - Avon Farm - and along a track leading to a ford at Swinford and then traversed the usual course through Kingswood being received at Lawford's gate, Bristol, by the Mayor, the dinner being at the expense of the City.
Between 4 and 5 o'clock, the Queen entered her carriage and the royal party set off again by the same route for Bath, which was not reached until long after nightfall.
1712 Prussia German Silver Half Einen Coin
1712 Prussia German Silver Half Einen Coin, found on the north side of Saltford, SE of Avon Farm, in 2014.
It is interesting to speculate just how this ancient German silver coin might have arrived in Saltford. This might be connected to the German immigrants skilled in brass battery who came to Saltford in the 1720s to be employed at Saltford Brass Mill.
SALTFORD's OLDEST PAINTING c.1728:
Jolly Sailor Inn (then the Miller's House)
The Miller's House (later Jolly Sailor), c.1728 (image updated March 2018)
This photograph of the original painting was taken by © Phil Harding, March 2018.
In 1993, 265 years after it was painted, this painting (oil on wood panel) left the Jolly Sailor pub where it had hung above the fireplace in the main bar. It was sold by Christie's in June 1994 for £8,500.
Measuring 167.2cm x 64.2cm (5' 5.75" x 2' 1.25") and dated at c.1728 by art experts and industrial archaeologists, this is the oldest known painting depicting a Saltford scene.
The lock had been opened in 1727 when the Avon Navigation was opened linking Bath to Bristol. It is thought that the house became an inn, the Jolly Sailor, from the 1740s; the first recorded landlord, from 1749 to 1789, was Francis Hunt.
Despite its simplicity and stretched perspective the painting is an important industrial and social historical record for the River Avon and Saltford. It provides a rare depiction of activity on the river soon after the locks had been built by Bristol-based civil and mechanical engineer John Padmore that allowed river traffic to bypass Saltford and Kelston weirs.
As the somewhat grand house is central to the picture it is thought that this painting may have been commissioned by the mill owner at the time, Mr Benjamin Fawkes (or Faux).
The painting depicts the miller's home (central building), the paper mill itself (left-hand building) that was later converted to become a leather mill, the drying house (right-hand building), and the new Saltford Lock.
In the central foreground is the lock island with steps, the original lock gates and beams. On the river can be seen a variety of boats including a wherry (left of picture, with square sail), passenger and other pleasure boats with red flags, small rowing boats, a cargo carrying barge with sail (centre within the lock) and a barge pulled by men (right).
This was before landowners along the river permitted horses onto their land for pulling barges. Concerned that heavy horses would damage their land, horses for pulling barges were not allowed access. However, lobbying and a petition from local manufacturers along the river led to the passing of the Amendment Act of 1807 (47 Geo III c.129) that allowed for a horse towpath along the river.
The painting shows a sense of prosperity for the Bath to Bristol area, sustained by the industrial activity of the many mills along the River Avon and the amount of river traffic including for pleasure use that had become possible by the new navigation as a result of the installation of locks.
This new navigation* enabled the river journey by wherry in 1728 of Princess Amelia the daughter of King George II from Bath to Hanham through Saltford (see below).
*Not everyone welcomed the new navigation on the river. See the item below "1738: Rioting Kingswood coal miners wreck Saltford Lock".
1728: Princess Amelia passes through Saltford on the River Avon
In 1728 Princess Amelia the 17-year old daughter of King George II who was well known for her dislike of road transport whilst staying in Bath travelled to Bristol on the River Avon by "roomy wherry".
This river journey was made possible as the river had recently been made navigable from Bath to Hanham, that work having been completed in late 1727. The wherry was decorated for the occasion, attended by several boats and barges and the banks were lined with many spectators as the royal party passed through Saltford and Keynsham.
1738: Rioting Kingswood coal miners wreck Saltford Lock
In November 1738 Kingswood coal miners, angered by the threat to their livelihood, wrecked the lock at Saltford. Rioters claimed that 300 men had caused the damage and that 1,000 men were ready to stop the transport of coal by water. However, the protests subsequently died down.
NOTE: A larger version of this important and historic painting in jpeg format may be available from the copyright holders, Saltford Environment Group and Phil Harding, on request and in exchange for a small donation to help cover SEG's costs. You can contact SEG via our Home page.
1750: Prince Frederick has a picnic at Saltford
Prince Frederick the Prince of Wales and brother of Princes Amelia (see above) visited Saltford in July 1750. This was during a visit to Bath when he travelled by wherry along the river to Saltford for a picnic accompanied by his eldest daughter Augusta, aged 13 that month.
According to 'A History of Saltford Village' by Percy Sims (1976):
the illustrious visitors, attended by several noblemen and ladies, went down the river in wherries to Saltford and dined in public under two tents in a meadow near the water side, known in the 1700s as Browning's Park - of some eight acres - below the Ship Inn, where a great number of country people resorted to which the Prince gave two hogsheads of beer for anyone who would drink it. A band of music attended all the time and the crowd began to swell and persons from the neighbouring districts joined them.
The people, getting bolder, came closer to the tents until they were able to watch the Prince and Princess Augusta dining.
After dinner the country folk became part of the party and soon they were dancing and singing, and what added to the diversion - says the record - was the humour of the people who deemed several country dances, though, as they were weighted with two hogsheads of beer, the agility of some could have been no more conspicuous than their grace.
Frederick and Augusta smiled and clapped and Frederick talked and joked with the rustics. Between eight and nine in the evening, the royal party returned to Bath in their wherries, the banks of the river being crowded with a cheering multitude.
NOTE 1: Frederick was the eldest but estranged son of King George II and predeceased his father. When his father died in 1760 the throne passed to Frederick's eldest son, George III. Frederick was nicknamed "Griff" within the family due to his physical appearance (heavy-nosed, thick-lipped and yellow-skinned).
NOTE 2: To jointly celebrate the third birthday (31 July 1740) of Frederick's eldest daughter Augusta who later accompanied him on the 1750 picnic in Saltford and the accession of George II to the throne, the first public performance of Rule, Britannia! was given on 1 August 1740 at Cliveden, the country home of Prince Frederick in Taplow, Buckinghamshire.
13th July 1751: First recorded cricket match in Somerset played at Saltford
To commemorate the death in March 1751 of Prince Frederick of Wales, who had visited Saltford for a village royal picnic with his eldest daughter Lady Augusta in 1750 during a visit to Bath (see above), a cricket match was organised in his honour.
This match is the first recorded cricket match in Somerset and was repeated annually for a few years thereafter. According to 'A History of Saltford Village' by Percy Sims (1976) the cricket match was held in the same Saltford Meadow where Prince Frederick had dined.
The above article is from the programme for the 9th July 1995 cricket match between Saltford Cricket Club and Somerset County Cricket Club. The full programme can be viewed in the Document Library of the Online Museum or from this link >> (pdf 3Mb, opens in new window).
1750s One Holer(!)
The lean-to stone building shown here is the "One Holer" lavatory used by workers at Saltford Brass Mill from the 1750s up until the mill closed in 1925.
The building simply contained a plank with a hole in the centre of it and the worker could relieve himself straight into the river.
It is perhaps worth mentioning that Swineford and Keynsham are downstream of Saltford!
Oldest wrought iron
18th Century Manillas
Manillas are horseshoe shaped armlets or anklets, typically made of copper, brass or bronze, which served as 'commodity money' among West African peoples, most notably on the Guinea Coast and Gold Coast, in Calabar and in other parts of Nigeria.
This form of African currency also became known as 'Slave Trade Money' after Europeans started using them to acquire slaves. This practice was prohibited by the Slave Trade Act of 1807. Records of the slaver James Rogers show that Joseph Hardford's firm (Bristol) was still exporting brassware aboard Guinea ships as late as the 1790s.
The Manillas shown here are from a collection made by A. Cecil Davies, the last manager of the Keynsham and Saltford Brass Mills.
1771: Highwayman speeds through Saltford
Bath Chronicle 12th September 1771:-
Last week a journeyman carpenter was robbed of thirteen shillings and some half-pence, by a single highwayman, well mounted, in the lane leading to Corston from the Bristol road.
He had been at Bristol to seek for employ, where he met with this villain, who prevailed on the poor fellow to ride behind him to Bath; but when they came to the above-mentioned lane, he turned his horse that way, under pretence of calling on some of his relations, who he said lived at an adjacent farm-house; however they had not proceeded far, where he jumped off his horse, and dragged the other after him; and threatening to knock his brains out if he made any resistance, took from him the above sum, being all the money he had; and immediately rode back full speed towards Bristol. He had a remarkable large cut on his forehead and on one of his hands.
1772: Saltford resident returning from Bath attacked and robbed
Bath Chronicle 16th January 1772:-
Saturday night, between eleven and twelve o'clock, as Mr. Barnes, of Saltford, was returning home on horseback from this city, he was attacked near Lock's Brook by a footpad, who robbed him of his watch and one guinea.
Note: Footpad is an old term for a highwayman or thief who robs on foot (and thus the victims are usually on foot too).
1788: Poverty stricken Welsh clergyman appointed at Saltford by the 3rd Duke of Chandos
The appointment in 1788 of a new Rector for Saltford, the poverty stricken Rev Thomas Davies from Wales, by the British peer and Whig politician, the 3rd Duke of Chandos, James Brydges (1731-1789), is recorded in the 21st March 1788 edition of the Bath Chronicle.
We have reproduced here using the old spellings and punctuation the text from the article published in the 21st March 1788 edition of The Bath Chronicle. The full article incorporating additional information about the financial poverty of Welsh clergymen at the time can be found here: St Mary's Church - The Rectors of Saltford.
BATH CHRONICLE, 21st March 1788
Wednesday Richard Gamon, esq; member for Winchester, acquainted the Committee of the House of Commons, (appointed to consider the Returns of Charitable Donations,) that his Grace the Duke of Chandos hath most generously, with his wanted goodness of heart, presented the Rev. Mr. Davies, the poor Welch clergyman, whose affecting circumstances were stated in our paper of the 6th instant, with a rectory in Somersetshire, worth 120l. [£120] per annum.
His Grace, on the first hearing of the above clergyman's distressed case, sent him a bank-note of 20l. [£20] with a promise of his future patronage, which he has now so nobly fulfilled. - We hear the rectory is that of Saltford between this city and Bristol.
Note: Rev Thomas Davies was Rector at Saltford for 25 years (1788-1813).
1789 Saltford: St Mary's Church and The Crown Inn
The evocative 1789 pictures (ink wash on paper) featured here are by Samuel Hieronymus Grimm.
Samuel Hieronymus Grimm (1733 - 1794) was an 18th century Swiss landscape artist who worked in oils (until 1764), watercolours, and pen and ink media. He illustrated books and specialised in documenting historical scenes and events. The British Library possesses over 2,500 drawings in twelve volumes by this artist, covering many of the counties of England. We have sourced these two 1789 pictures from the British Library (Online Gallery).
St Mary's Church
The Crown Inn
The following advertisement appeared in the 1st October 1789 edition of The Bath Chronicle, i.e. the same year the picture below was created by Samuel Grimm. The same spelling and punctuation has been reproduced from the original article:-
To be LETT, and entered upon immediately, that well-accustomed PUBLICK-HOUSE, the CROWN, at SALTFORD-HILL, the present tenant quitting business owing to an ill state of health.
The following news item appeared in the 14th March 1793 edition of The Bath Chronicle, four years after Samuel Grimm's picture and demonstrates the hospitality and ability of the Crown Inn to satisfy numerous clients in the late 18th Century:-
Capt. Henry F. Edgell, having raised in Frome and its neighbourhood, 150 men from the sea-service, marched them last week into Bristol: they halted at the Crown Inn at Saltford-hill, in their way, where the Captain caused a sheep to be roasted whole, and given to his men, with plenty of excellent liquors.
SALTFORD in 1791
The description of Saltford from the 'History of the Antiquities of Somerset' by John Collinson (1791) depicts an evocative picture of Saltford just 2 years after the 1789 Samual Grimm pictures of The Crown and of St Mary's (above).
Note: We have reproduced the punctuation and spelling of words as used in the original article but replaced the use of the character f with "s" as appropriate.
A village situated on the north side of the road leading from Bath to Bristol, and on the banks of the river Avon, which divides it from Kelweston [Kelston] on the east, and Bitton in Gloucestershire on the north. Its name is supposed to have been derived from there having been a ford through the river at this place, at a time when the tide from Bristol flowed above this parish.
The lands are in general pretty good, being a loamy sand, and a stone rush. There is plenty of stone, wherein many fossil shells are found of the oyster, carduum, venus and pecten species. The wood is chiefly elm, and in several of the orchards between the turnpike road and the Avon, the apple-trees are loaded with the visum, or misseltoe, in a very uncommon manner.
The manor of Saltford was one of those many which were originally annexed to the honour of Gloucester, and was held thereof in the time of Henry III. And Edw. I. by the family of Bayouse, and afterwards by the Bassets and the Rodneys; which last family possessed it from the reign of Edw.I. to that of Queen Elizabeth inclusive.a
It is now the property of his Grace the Duke of Chandos.
The church, valued in 1292 at six marks and a half,b is rectorial in the deanery of Redcliff and Bedminster, and in the patronage of the Duke of Chandos; the Rev. Mr. Davies is the present incumbent.
The church is a small structure, dedicated to St. Mary, having one aile, with a clumsy tower at the west end containing one bell.
On the left hand side of the communion-table, is a monument of white veined marble, inscribed, - "To the memory of the Rev. Haviland John Hiley, who was rector of this parish 42 years; and also to the memory of Eleanor his wife, and exact in performing their duty to GOD, their neighbour, and themselves. He died Sept. 27, 1754, aged 65 years; she Feb 13, 1770, aged 82."
There are also divers[e] memorials to the families of Richmond, Purnell, Flower, Hunt and Browning.
a Esc, Var. b Taxat, Spiritual.
1791: Fatal road accident at Saltford
In the 22nd September 1791 edition of The Bath Chronicle a news item was published describing an accident on the road from Bath to Bristol in Saltford. Between eight and nine o'clock on the Monday evening as Mr Thomas Lewis, a wheel-wright (a person who builds or repairs wooden wheels), and Mr. Stone, a corn-factor (a trader in grains), from Bath, were returning from Bristol in a single horse chaise (a horse-drawn carriage for one or two people, typically with two wheels).
Pictured above is a broad-wheel wagon outside The Crown Inn, sketched using ink wash on paper by Samuel Grimm in 1789. Was this the same wagon that was involved in the fatal accident two years later?
They attempted to pass a broad-wheel wagon ("one of Mr Lyle's"), in a narrow part of the road, on the Bath side of Saltford. The chaise overturned, and they were both thrown under the wagon wheels, where they were "instantly crushed to death".
The article then made the case for road improvements in Saltford:-
It is much to be wished, that this melancholy catastrophe may induce the Bristol Commissioners for that district to take immediate measures for widening the road, now so shamefully narrow, from the parish of Corston to the top of Saltford hill, and if possible to avoid passing down that hill at all.
The continual passing of carriages between the two cities, calls aloud for every improvement of the road. In the mean time, till the narrowest parts can be widened, the custom of bringing stones to break in the road, should be wholly discontinued.*
*This dangerous custom, generally prevalent in these parts, is equally absurd and unnecessary.
Our correspondent, who surveyed the fatal spot early the next morning, gives it as his opinion, that the clear space was barely sufficient for the passage of the waggon itself, at least one half of the road being occupied by a ridge of road scrapings, and a parallel ridge of newly broken stones, prepared for spreading. Over the latter, it is justice to the waggoner to say, he drew his near wheels, with difficulty and risque to himself, in order to give all possible room to the chaise.
FOOTNOTE: 25 years later, in 1816, the Bristol Turnpike Trust appointed the Scottish engineer and road-builder John Loudon McAdam (1756 - 1836, inventor of the macadam convex road surfacing design to drain away surface water) to survey and thus help create the modern route between Bristol and London (including through Saltford).
1791 George III "Spade" Guinea Token
1791 George III "Spade" Guinea Token, found on the north side of Saltford in 2014.
This brass gaming token was an imitation spade guinea made by Simcox, a buckle and toy maker in Birmingham.
1794 Portsea copper token
1794 Portsea copper halfpenny token found on north side of Saltford in 2015
George III penny (late 18th C?)
George III penny found on north side of Saltford in 2015.