JULY 2022: Local History - Centuries of local history on display

June 27 2022

Seb Rana in the CHAP stocks at the stall in Page Park

Seb Rana in the CHAP stocks at the stall in Page Park

HUNDREDS of people visited the local history stall run by CHAP – the Community History and Arts Project – at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Celebration in Page Park. 

The stall told the story of Downend and Emersons Green from the 1200s right up to 2021. 

Our voluntary group members enjoyed hearing local people’s stories and knowledge, and handed out our free historical map, which is also available on the website downendchap.org/historical-map.

Visitors enjoyed looking at copies of ancient maps which showed what our area once looked like as a small village.  They were surprised to learn about Edward Hodges Bailey, who was born here in 1788 and went on to become a famous sculptor, designing the statue of Nelson that tops Trafalgar Square in London. 

People of all ages enjoyed handling and learning about some historical artefacts from World War Two – an incendiary device, a helmet, a child’s gas mask and a blackout lamp.  

People also reflected on more recent times, looking back at photographs of the lockdowns Downend and Emersons Green residents lived through during the initial stages of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Some people said that felt like a lifetime ago, agreeing how important it is to capture events as we live through them, because today’s everyday life will become tomorrow’s history. 

But the most popular exhibit by far was the one about punishment.  Children and adults alike enjoyed trying out the stocks made by Downend Men in Sheds. 

Stocks like these used to be outside the Green Dragon in Downend when magistrates met inside the pub for the assizes (an early court) in the 17th century. 

People found guilty of misdemeanours were put in the stocks and left to suffer whatever humiliation and punishment passers-by could throw at them. 

Nowadays, thankfully, it was just a case of having their picture taken!

CHAP is a not-for-profit voluntary organisation that aims to produce a community history resource and encourage the local community to take part in all its activities.

The group aims to create a coherent identity for Downend and Emersons Green, built around interesting or significant places, people and events from the past. 

For more information visit www.downendchap.org, email downendchap@gmail.com or write to CHAP, 49 Overnhill Road, Downend, BS16 5DS.

Helen Rana