On Wednesday 13th August around 25 people joined us for a heritage walking tour of Knowle West with local historian and lifelong resident Ken Jones. Ken gave a detailed account of Knowle West’s rich history, stretching all the way back to its past as a Roman settlement in the 3rd Century.
The walking tour started with the history of the Knowle West Media Centre site where there used to be a health clinic built in the early days of the NHS in 1952. It was next door to what was colloquially known as the “fever hospital.”
The tour then moved on to Inns Court. Several churches have existed over the years on the site of Holy Cross Church at Inns Court and the current church was built in 1999. Though the building is new, an old bell and font from Temple Church, which was bombed during the Second World War, reside there.
Behind the church at Inns Court Ken showed us where parts of an old manor farmhouse are still visible. The farmhouse was subsequently used as a vicarage and later to house chickens. There was also another farm situated near the current site of the bus depot. In the old farmhouse there was a secret room revealed by a levered shelf in the larder – where it is claimed that Royalists hid from Roundheads during the Civil war in the 1640s.
The tour then visited Filwood Broadway where you can see a series of purpose built buildings from the 1950s, including Filwood Library, Filwood Social Club, and the swimming pool which closed in 2008. The old cinema that was first opened in 1938 is also on Filwood Broadway – some of the seats from which can now be found at the MShed museum.
Ken provided a comprehensive and, at times, surprising journey through the history of the area. He explained that “Knowle West” was invented as a postal address by the Post Office in the 1930s and the area’s official name is Filwood Park. “There’s no such place as Knowle West,” commented Ted, who is the caretaker at Holy Cross Church.
Participants found the walking tour very interesting and were interested in attending similar events in the future to hear more of Ken’s unrivalled local knowledge.
Thanks to Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives for working with us to organise the walk as part of their summer programme.