Beautiful Bradford on Avon

This share house is working very well in Freshford. Yesterday Graeme produced eggs on toast for breakfast and a joint effort led by Ben produced a very tasty spaghetti bolognaise accompanied by a fresh salad for dinner. It’s great fun being all together and making deeper connections.

After breakfast Ben drove us to the Railway Station in Bradford on Avon along some very dubious roads – they are very very pretty roads but they wind and weave; the hedgerows are high and you can’t see ahead of you. Why does the GPS do this to us, I wonder?

At the station we met our guide for the day, Phil Arthur who is an accredited guide for SW England. We were very pleased we hired Phil for a couple of hours because he was so very knowledgeable and he explained the history of the town and what life would have been like for our ancestors who lived there back in the 1800s.

My grandmother was Rose YORK who was born in Trowbridge which we will visit on Wednesday but going back from her, the YORKS, HARRINGTONS and HUDDS lived in Bradford, I should have taped Phil’s talk because I’ve forgotten so much of the detail. I think the first written record of Bradford was 1152 but it is much older. Roman ruins have been found, as you would expect with it being so close to Bath. It is named because it provided a crossing place or ford across the Avon River.

The bridge across the river with its funny jail where drunks were thrown to sober up. They were said to be “under the fish and over the water”. Look closely and you will see the fish on top of the jail.

There’s an amazing Saxon Church which has had many uses, apart from worship, over time even as a storage place for the wool industry which our family was involved in

Many of our family were in the wool trade. Up until the 1850s it was a domestic industry with people doing the work in their homes. The clothiers were wealthy men who lived in flash houses and allocated the various stages of the process to the weavers or dyers etc

A clothier’s home.

Meanwhile the workers such as our lot were very poor, lived in crowded houses in crowded street and the whole family worked hard.

Most of the worst areas have been demolished and replaced with better housing.

In the 1850s woollen mills were introduced, all built beside the river which of course became very polluted. Big vats of urine were heated and used to clean the wool. It was a very unpleasant place to live and work. By the early 1900s the industry was finished but Bradford was saved by a rubber industry

An iron duke used in the rubber industry., started by the MOULTEN family.

The Holy Trinity church here featured heavily in the lives of our family with many baptisms, marriages & burials. We didn’t have time to chase down individual people.

The Holy Trinity Church, Bradford on Avon
Kay, George and I behind the font where our lot were baptised
The church was refurbished with money gained from the sale of a valuable old painting of Jesus which was found hanging on the wall in the church.

Some of the men in our family were masons. The church was built from stone dug from an area just behind it. I imagine there would have been plenty of work for masons with all these beautiful stone buildings.

Bradford is such a beautiful place now but life here for our family in the 1800s would not have been fun!

An old woollen mill, now apartments
The lovely old tea house built in the 1500s. We didn’t have time for scones with jam & clotted cream today. David and I were lucky enough to do that in 2016.
A view looking across the river and up the hill.

David and I caught the train back into Bath to visit the dentist who said to pop in on Monday if I was still having trouble. But he wasn’t working yesterday so that was a waste of time. David did find new shoe laces which had been on our shopping list for about 6 weeks so that was something.

Kay & Ben & George & Graeme headed off to Stonehenge which was about a 40 minute drive.

Ben’s pic of Stonehenge. Looks great