ADJACENT VILLAGES ON THE GLOUCESTERSHIRE SIDE OF BRISTOL
Mathews’ Bristol Street Directory 1871
Charlton, Henbury, Gloucestershire
Charlton was the name of a small village in Gloucestershire, England, demolished in the late 1940s to make room for airport expansion. It was between Filton and Cribbs Causeway immediately north of Bristol.
Charlton was a tything in the ancient parish, and later civil parish, of Henbury. In 1870 it had a population of 425. Between 1910 and 1915 the village was served by Charlton Halt, on the Henbury Loop railway line just south of the village. In 1935 the village was transferred to the civil parish of Almondsbury. The B4057 road ran through the village. Charlton had several farm houses, a public house called the Carpenters Arms, a post office, several large houses and a few cottages.
In the late 1940s nearly all of the village was demolished to make way for an extension of the main runway at Filton Airfield, now Filton Aerodrome, to accommodate take-offs of the giant Bristol Brabazon propeller-driven airliner.
See Bristols Lost Villages click on link
The History of the Brabazon click on link
Just before demolition, many of the former residents were rehoused in council housing on Patchway Estate. Although the June Keating has described the village and supplied reminiscences from many people who knew Charlton in four booklets: (see below) In 1953, the extended runway proved very useful later, when Vulcan V bombers were dispersed to Filton during the Cuban Missile Crisis and when Concorde supersonic airliners took off.
The site today
Nowadays, the runway over the site is frequently used by various large Airbus jetliners, such as the A300 and A330. The name survives in Charlton Road, which led from Passage Road, Westbury on Trym, to the village, and Charlton Lane, which led from Henbury and Brentry. In the 1970s the name was resurrected for the new development of Charlton Mead, on the south side of Filton Airfield near Southmead, and in 2009 it was used again for the new development of Charlton Hayes, on the north side of Filton Airfield at Patchway.
Filton Airfield is to close from the end of 2012. The decision results from a review of its financial/commercial profitability. The future for the site, at this time, is unclear. The new Charlton Hayes development will probably be expanded into the former Charlton area.
(Notes: see 1935 map of the area click on link) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Aa_filton_near_Bristol_UK_1935…
Anyone interested in the history of Charlton is advised that former parish councillor June Keating has written 4 books on the topic of Charlton village – destroyed in 1947 to extend the runway at Filton Airport and make way for the development of the Brabazon. Should you be interested in obtaining a copy, each is priced at £3.00 including postage. June Keating has described the village and supplied reminiscences from many people who knew Charlton in four booklets: The Village that Died (published in 1995), Memories Fifty Years On (1998), Reunions and Rememberances (2001), and The Phoenix (2008). A leaflet entitled Charlton Walk, describing a walk around the perimeter of the airfield, can be obtained from South Gloucestershire Council.
Retired Patchway school cook Judith Davies is reviving a family tradition going back two centuries – by living as close to she can to the lost village of Charlton.
Both Judith’s father, grandfather and fore fathers were Charlton villagers born and bred and she has traced her Charlton ancestors back to the early 1800s.
So when she began house-hunting earlier this year she knew exactly where she wanted to be. And with a modern twist to the family tradition, Judith has bought herself a new two bedroom apartment at Charlton Hayes, the new Bovis Homes development that is within a mile of the lost village site.
Each day 66-year-old Judith surveys the local scene from the kitchen window of her new fourth floor home and can see the historic woodland behind which the old village of Charlton used to sit. She thinks fondly of the times when Charlton was a bustling village and was home to generations of her family including her father Frederick George Pople and her grandfather Frederick Thomas Pople.
Judith said: "It was such a shame what happened to Charlton. It was a lovely village with a duck pond, a pub, shops and cottages. My Dad was born in Charlton in 1910, as was his father before him and he was the village shoemaker. I was born nearby in Catbrain Lane, Henbury , in 1944, so have a close link with Charlton. The flattening of an old village like that would never be allowed to happen today."
The village was destroyed in the mid 1940s to enable the lengthening of the airfield’s runway for the take off of a prototype airliner the Bristol Brabazon, built in 1949 and the first of its kind designed for transatlantic flights. However, it was considered too large and expensive to use and was never put into production with the prototype was turned into scrap metal in 1953.
Judith said: "It’s quite ironic really that the reason the village was flattened and its inhabitants all moved elsewhere was for this amazing, great new plane, but then it never came to be."
When Judith heard the new development on the former airfield was to be named Charlton Hayes, she immediately felt it would one day be her home because of her strong family links to the old village.
"I think fate took a hand because I was intending to move to Bradley Stoke near my two sons, but the sale fell through and that’s when I decided to go back to my roots and settle at Charlton Hayes."
The widowed former cook who retired from Coniston Junior School in 1995, after 19 years, happily climbs the stairs to her new two bedroom apartment to help keep herself fit and regularly enjoys a stroll to the shops at The Mall, Cribb’s Causeway.
Her mother, 94 year old Elsie Pople and her brother and sister, all live in nearby Patchway and her cousin June Keating, also a former Charlton villager, has written several books on the lost village and was the VIP guest who opened the new Bovis Homes development last year.
Judith said: "From my kitchen window I have a superb view. I watch the planes refuelling and can see part of the runway that leads to where Charlton used to be. I think I’m as close to my family roots as I can get at Charlton Hayes and I’m very happy here."
Memories of Charlton
SOON after the ending of the Second World War, in 1946, the village of Charlton was requisitioned, bulldozed and the residents re-housed. Half promises about re-building the village elsewhere – a very costly project – came to nothing.
Small wonder, then, with so much emotional distress, that this "lost" village claims to have a ghost, if not many.
Charlton was once, like many villages, a well integrated and self sufficient community. It had a handful of large mansions, eight farms, 38 homes, a church, a school, a pub (a large Edwardian building called the Carpenter’s Arms) a post office, a village hall, a duck pond and a common. By all accounts it was, despite the nearby BAC works, a peaceful place.
Today most of Charlton’s old streets and buildings lie buried under 14 feet of soil and tarmac.
All was lost in the name of progress – in this case a huge, lumbering, propeller-driven white elephant which needed a very long runway for take off. Charlton village was, unfortunately, directly in the way.
Standing 50 feet high, and with a wingspan of 230 feet, the Brabazon was then the largest civil land plane in the world.
But with jet engines set to take the aviation world by storm the aircraft was also technologically outdated.
Hopelessly overweight, under-powered and out of date, the Brabazon was doomed to failure.
In 1953 the project was scrapped – but the runway, all 2,500 yards of it, remained.
"It was an aircraft that you either loved or hated – a choice very much in the minds of the inhabitants when it was announced that they were to lose their homes because of it," recalls June Keating, who once lived in the village.
"After trials it was hoped that the plane would be able to carry 100 passengers non-stop from London to New York.
"Sadly this whole effort was very short lived and in just a few years the Brabazon was but a memory, not only for those involved in its construction, but for those who had once lived in Charlton and felt let down by the decision to scrap it.
"After all, they had given up their beloved village for nothing.
"I can’t help wondering what the outcome would have been had we had the power of TV, as well as the press, behind us. Would the destruction of Charlton happened?"
It’s since been revealed that wartime leader Winston Churchill was against the runway extension, albeit on the grounds of cost.
As the bulldozers moved in to destroy their homes so the villagers were moved out to council houses in nearby Patchway.
"When the runway was built we could not belive it" recalled farmer Ben Durston.
"Everyone was very upset and, of course, you always miss it. If you leave a place, you can go back to see it, if you want. But Charlton was completely wiped off the face of the earth."
Charlton’s 17th-century Manor Farm had once belonged to the influential Cann family, who had provided Bristol with two Mayors.
"There were three large houses in Charlton," recalled David Bissell.
"Pentre, where the Hosegoods lived, Pen Park Manor, the home of the Wallers, and Charlton House, where the Sunderlands lived. My grandfather, Charles Bissell, was a gardener at both Pentre and Pen Park, before and after the First World War."
The Sunderlands, it was said, with its trees, pond and geese, was the nicest house on the common.
Many residents recall the gypsies, who seem to have favoured the area, especially the common.
"My most vivid recollection is of the gypsies camping opposite our house in Catbrain Lane with their old fashioned Vardoes (Romany caravans)," recalls ex-resident Joyce Ferry.
Fellow villager Keith Hardwidge recalls the gypsies coming around the cottages every year selling their wares – clothes pegs and the like.
"My father had electricity put in our cottage before we were forced out to Patchway, but my earliest memories are of oil lamps and a tin bath in front of a warm fire," he adds.
"The fields, where it was safe to roam, were filled with cowslips, bluebells and in the hedgerows were primroses in abundance. We would catch sticklebacks in the stream at the bottom of Catbrain Hill.
"For me, moving to Patchway was not so bad. I met many new friends and had new places to explore, but my parents never got over losing their cottage, and the way of life that they had enjoyed on Charlton Common."
Now, as the use of the airfield comes to an end, the runway is being dug up and the land replaced by more new housing.
The village name survives in Charlton Road and Charlton Lane. The name is also celebrated in new developments at Charlton Mead and Charlton Hayes, both near the original village.
If you have any memories, or photos, of old Charlton village that you would like to share then please contact me.
(Some burials listed St Mary’s Church Almondsbury)
Mathews’ Bristol Directory 1871 (Charlton)
Bishop John, farmer on Charlton Common 99 acres, born 1810 Henbury died 1890 (see comments below)
Hillier Orlando, farmer (wife Amelia Hillier) Also Listed In the 1874 Wrights Bristol Directory is Orlando Hillier farmer, of Charleton, Henbury, Bristol. In the 1902 Kellys Directory is Orlando Hillier, farmer, of Fryern’s Close, Wickwar, Glos.
Hopton William, farmer (Bristol Record Office contents: declaration of William Hopton of Charlton, Henbury, Gloucester, farmer that his family were tenants on the land at Westbury on Trym from 1819 and he remembers the land well.)
James William, farmer (died 19th February, 1874. The London Gazette, March 22nd 1875 Court of Probate on the 10th day of April, 1874, by George Nichols Evans, of Pucklechurch, in the said’ county of Gloucester, one of the executors named in the said will)
Light Frederick, beer retailer, White Horse Hayes Lane (Charlton Village) 1851. William Counsell / 1861. George Seagar / 1871 – 91. Frederick Light.
Porter Rachel, (nee Penly, married Robert Porter in 1855) farmer (see comments below)
Powell Timothy Samson Esq. 1805-1881 Charlton Common (see comments below)
Richards Charles, licensed vict, Carpenter’s Arms, Hayes Lane, Charlton, lost when Charlton was wiped from the map for a new runway at Filton airport. bristolslostpubs.eu/page330.html
Watkins Charles, wheelwright, carpenter and builder in Charlton and employed three men, by 1871-1880. He was also a land and property owner. (see comments below)
Milner George, farmer, Charlton House, Charlton Common (see comments below)
Notes: Search records at Gloucestershire Records Office for Charlton, Henbury
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