History of Redland Green Open Space

The present open space has two components: the common land comprising the area adjacent to the Chapel towards Redland Green Farm and the Dell shaded green below; farm land that was part of the endowment by John Cossins to the Redland Chapel Trust and was not needed or able to be developed for housing shaded red below. This map dates from 1843 and was prepared for the commutation of tithes. Fields 491, 492, 494 and 495 all appear to be pastureland and it was known as Long Mead or Mead whereas Redland Green is recorded as 7 acres of ‘waste land’.

The earliest reference to common land is in the 1749 deeds relating to the Redland Chapel Trust which describes plot numbered 364 above (on which the Redland Green Road was created around 1910) as:

“all that Ground formerly a close of Meadow or pasture Ground commonly called or known by the name of Green Ground situate lying and being at Redland aforesaid then in the holding [ ] Rouse of the City of Bristol victualler which said close of ground contains by estimation three acres (be the same more or less) and is bounded on the East with a Lane then belonging to the said John Cossins and on the north and west by the said Redland Common but the same was then called the Chappel Ground the said John Cossins having erected and built the Chappel therein aforesaid on part thereof and which said last mentioned close was also purchased by the said John Cossins of and from Elizabeth Wilmott widow and relict of Thomas Wilmott deceased and John Wilmott son and heir of the said Thomas Wilmott”

The Common of Redland Green in the said Parish of Westbury-upon Trym was a parcel of the Manor or Hundred of Henbury. By 1865 that Manor had been divided into four parts, one of which had been purchased by Edward Francis Colston late of Roundway Park and was in the control of the Trustees of his grandson’s will, and the other three of which were owned by Sir John Henry Greville Smyth of Ashton Court in the County of Somerset Baronet. George Oldham Edwards had bought Redland Court and was anxious to preserve the right of access over the road leading to Hartington Park, Clarendon and Woodstock Roads. In December 1865 the Lords of the Manor of Henbury “grant and confirm unto the said George Oldham Edwards his heirs and assigns Full and free liberty to use and enjoy and allow the use and enjoyment by the general public or such person or persons as he or they shall think fit of the said Road colored Pink in the said Plan for the purpose of passing and repassing at all times and for all purposes and with or without Carriages and Animals but so nevertheless that the width of the said Road as shown in the said Plan shall not be increased and that no injury shall be done to the said Trees standing at the sides thereof on the Common”.

It would appear that the road leading up to the gates of Redland Chapel dates from the development of Redland Green Road and the London Planes date from the formation of this access to the new houses c.1908. There is a commercial postcard from immediately prior to the First World War.

The next useful source for what Redland Green looked like is the Ordnance Survey map of 1882 which was drawn at a large enough scale to record trees and garden layouts. It is noticeable how the trees are concentrated at the field boundaries and in the valleys. This presumably reflects the need to maximize the pasture for cattle.

The Green was disturbed in the 1920s for drainage works associated with the new housing in St Oswalds Road and for a high voltage electricity cable leading to the Cairns Road Sub-station from the new Portishead Generating Station. This cable was laid immediately alongside existing footpaths except between the corner adjacent to the back entrance of St Oswalds Court to the Dell where a new footpath was formed.

During the Second World War a public air-raid shelter was excavated in the area between the entrance to the Tennis Courts and the trees.

A local resident blamed the poor drainage of this area of the Green to the amount of clay excavated and placed on the surface. The land was recovered at the end of hostilities. The other war-time activity was the promotion of allotments, the far end of the Green being still under cultivation as late as 1958.

As part of the Bristol Corporation promotion of leisure activities, a municipal bowling green was established in the early 1950s opposite Redland Green Road.

1882 Ordnance Survey map of the Dell and the Cossins Road end of the Park. Note the concentration of trees on the field boundaries of Long Mead.

This is assumed to be the Dell looking back towards what are now St Oswald Court flats. The causeway was reconstructed in the 1920s when the high voltage cables were laid from Cairns Road to Hotwells.

Overlay of 1970 Ordnance Survey map on 1843 tithe map.

The housing developments were as follows:

Field 364 – building began in 1905 and finished in 1911

Field 492 and 494 – building began in 1924

Field 495 – building began in 1908

Field 496 – building on Coldharbour Road began in 1903 and in Cossins Road in 1931

Modern photograph of the Cossins Road end of the Green with the two foreground trees marking the old field boundary

An Edwardian commercial postcard looking from the site of Cossins Road towards the main part of the Green. The wall visible is still just about there!

The view from Redland Road to the Chapel c.1910. The road leading to the Chapel is only five years old and the London planes were planted here and opposite Redland Green Road houses, presumably as part of the housing development.

Redland Green Farm (built c 1786) at the turn of the 20th Century. Cream teas are advertised on the shed and no houses are visible in the background. The road is rough stone and the shrubbery has not advanced from the stream on the left.

Gerry Nichols