The Past, The Present & The Future

The CHADRA Study – 1976

Copyright © Charfield and District Residents Association 1976.


The Past
    Where We Start
    Enclosure and the Woollen Industry
    Rural Industry and the Railway
    The Last Hundred Years
The Present
    The Villagers
        Health & Welfare
        Community & Recreation
        Local Government
    The Village
        Churchend and Outlying Areas
        Charfield Hill and Wotton Road
        The New Estate Bounded by Manor Lane
        Charfield Green & Little Bristol Close
        Little Bristol
        Station Road, Horsford Road & Cotswold View
        New Street
The Future?
    The Minimum Growth Option
    The Limited Growth Option
    The Maximum Growth Option
    External Influences
    Towards an Acceptable Solution
    Some More Suggestions
Information Sheet
    Local Government
    Health and Social Services
    Village Organisations
    Other Useful Information

Cover image

CHARFIELD &ndash The Past, The Present, & The Future?
The CHADRA Study 1976

Cover picture – The Railway Station, from a photograph taken around 1910.

This Study is produced by CHADRA, The Charfield & District Residents' Association. The views expressed in it cannot represent those of every single individual in Charfield but the Committee of CHADRA hope it is fair, reasonable and accurate. Comments and queries are welcomed and should be addressed to The Secretary:–

Mrs. D. Williams
xx, Durham Road


This Study is part of the contribution of the Charfield & District Residents' Association to the preparation of a Village Plan for Charfield. In August this year, Northavon District Council published a report, “Charfield – Alternative Development Options”, as a basis for discussion with the residents of Charfield. Our Study attempts to broaden the background to this report as well as discussing the alternative options from the various points of view of the residents themselves.

The preparation of the Study has been much more than this, however. It has made us much more aware of the assets and deficiencies of our village. So much so that often those taking part have felt that other activities were much more important than the Study. We have tried to identify areas where the community can help itself whatever the results of the Village Plan.

It has been a constant source of regret to us that many of the established leaders of the village community have not wished to associate themselves directly with the Study. We have drawn on their experience where possible but are sure that the Study could have been better with their direct participation.

In one way or another, however, most people in the village have been involved. We should like to thank everyone for their help. But, particularly, we must thank the many people who do not live in the village who have given us so much help and encouragement.

The Past

Population of Charfield 1801–1974.

Population of Charfield 1801–1974.

Estimate for 1974 based upon building completions.

There are two earlier estimates of the population available:
  1712 ‘The Ancient & Present State of Glostershire’ (Atkyns) – 145 people.
  1779 ‘A New History of Gloucestershire (Rudder) – Over 200 people.

Everyone's view of the local history of his parish will be quite different. We start with different expectations and ask different questions. Some wonder when their house was built. Others are railway ‘fanatics’. Others couldn't care less!

To have a place in this study, the history will have to be confined to a very general picture of the development of the community and the fabric as a whole with the emphasis very much on the more recent past. We can hope that some understanding of the past may give depth and be a guide to our plans for the future.

There is a great quantity of source material for those interested in knowing more about how Charfield has developed not just written records kept in the Archives Department of County Hall but much physical evidence within the parish. This section ends with a brief note of ‘places of interest’.

The present picture has been produced on a very part time basis within the last two years. Like all histories, it is to be hoped that it will be outgrown and superseded.

Where We Start

Charfield is a parish of about 400 acres, smaller than the neighbouring parishes of Wickwar to the south, Kingswood to the east, Wotton-u-Edge, North Nibley and Alkington to the north and Tortworth and Cromhall to the west. It lies on the western slopes of the Little Avon valley, looking east to the Cotswold escarpment, and the Little Avon river forms almost the entire eastern boundary of the parish. The other boundaries are more difficult to define as they do not conform to any obvious physical feature or to roadways. Until 1935 when Huntingford was severed from Wotton, the boundary in the north followed the main stream of the Little Avon instead of turning back along its tributary towards Wotton to give the parish today its distinctive three pronged shape.

By the time of the Domesday survey in 1086, which is the earliest written record of Charfield, the village was already well established. The oldest settlement was probably at Churchend, high on the southwestern side of the valley where the valley clays meet the lighter and more easily worked soils of the hill top and there is a spring line. The walls of the nave and chancel of the church of St. James at Churchend have been ascribed to the twelfth century and the church house opposite is probably the oldest building in the village. Although there is no archaeological evidence the present most recently restored mill building may well stand on the site of the Water Mill mentioned in Domesday as worth 10 shillings.

In medieval times the ‘manor’ of Charfield probably never had a manor house with a resident Lord of the Manor, although Manor Farm may have been the home farm of the bailiff. Here the site of the ‘demesne’ farm can still be distinguished on the Tithe Map surveyed and drawn between 1839 and 1842. Some of the surrounding field names, such as Long Park, Daisy Park, Ox Park, Green Park, Castle Leaze and Old House Grounds, suggest that they were part of the demesne. The following is an assessment of the manor made about 1340 on the death of Peter de Veel:–

“The said PETER was seized … of the manor of Charfield … by the service of one knights fee. There is in the said manor a capital messuage (ie a farm run by the Lord of the Manor) worth nothing beyond reprises; a garden the fruit and herbage of which is worth 6d per annum; 200 acres of arable land worth 33s 4d viz 2d per acre, and not more, because the land is hilly and stony. There are 10 acres of meadow, worth 10s. There are 17 free tenants, who pay £8 0s 2d at the said (four) terms … 2 custumary tenants, whose rents and services are worth 2s 2d per annum; one park, the herbage of which is worth 6s per annum. The pleas and perquisites of the court there are worth 3s 4d per annum”.

The Domesday survey does not mention free tenants, only 7 villeins and 4 bordars who would have had to do services on the demesne farm. By the 1340s when Peter de Veel died, there were 17 free tenants. Many of the sites of their farmsteads may be those of the farmhouses existing today and it is probable that even at this early date the present pattern of scattered farmsteads was established. Very possibly the reason for this in Charfield was the predominance of land better suited to grazing, rather than as a result of the profound economic changes brought about by the decimation of the population in the severe plagues of the later 14th century. Much later, in 1779 Samuel Rudder wrote ‘the greatest part of the parish is pasture’ and the standard entry in Kellys' directories which began almost a century after the publication of Rudders' history, is that the Charfield area was ‘chiefly pasture’.

Enclosure and the Woollen Industry

The intersection of the busy B4058 and the main Gloucester to Bristol railway line so dominates the physical layout of the village today that it is easy to forget that the origin and shape of the village has very little to do with these communication routes. From quite early in the middle ages, it was probably not entirely dependant on farming however, although outside the most famous rearing and cloth weaving areas, the woollen industry became important in the economy of the Little Avon valley. While weavers would also have been smallholders, there seems to have been more substantial clothiers in the parish whose income would have been derived from the wool trade rather than farming. At the beginning of seventeenth century when John Smith, the steward of the Berkeleys, drew up a militia lists only 4 out of 31 men did not work in the wool trade:–

3 clothiers & 1 clothiers' son.
5 clothiers' servants.
9 weavers and 4 weavers sons
3 tuckers (fullers) & 1 servant.
1 shepherd.
1 physican (unusual in a village)
2 labourers.
1 butcher
(extracted from Men & Armour (1608))

Late eighteenth century maps of the village show a quite separate and well developed settlement north of Little Bristol Lane on the west side of the Wotton road. It was called Charfield Green but was where Cotswold View, May Grove, Station Road and Horsford Road are today not on the site of the present flats. As many of the farms either required little labour or housed their own workers many of the Charfield Green residents were probably spinners or weavers. The Tithe Map shows that the houses were built on the edge of the common land and the settlement may well have been begun in the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries. The enclosure of the land by hedges probably took place over a much longer period of time than is general and must have been largely complete by the most popular period in the later eighteenth century and during the Napoleonic wars. There are a few fields on the Tithe Map called ‘lagnes’ which suggests such early enclosure. The last remaining common land was divided up in 1846 just after the drawing of the Tithe Map.

Rural Industry and the Railway

For the nineteenth century source material became more abundant and much easier, except in volume, to deal with. Two particularly good starting points are the Tithe Map with its schedule completed in 1842 and the original returns to the 1851 Census. The first is a large scale field map with a list of owners and occupiers of each field and its use, whether pasture or arable. The census returns name each individual in the parish on the night of the assessment, roughly where they lived, their family relationship, their age, place of birth and, most interesting, their occupation. The census shows that even as late as the mid nineteenth century, when there had been a severe decline in the west country clothmaking, approximately 1 in 4 workers were still employed in the woollen trade compared with 1 in 3 engaged in agriculture.

Samuel Long and his brother William, whose family continued to live for a time at Charfield House in Mill Street (now New Street) built a complex of new mills between 1812 and 1829 on the much older mill site and they survived the years of depression by specialising in ‘doeskins’. The following extract is from the ‘Report on the Handloom Weavers’ published in 1839:–

“There is a species of fabric recently made in the county of Gloucester called ‘doeskins’. It is 8 treadle work, and different in some degree to plain felt work. It requires a greater degree of skill but less labour; and the weavers who are jealous of any alteration and unwilling to be ‘put out of their way’ have a dislike to undertake the work: in fact a weaver in the woollen trade has no aptitude and he thinks that work must be found him of that sort to which he has been most accustomed.

Messrs. S. & W. Long of Charfield Mills state that they have been manufacturers for nearly two years; that they employ from 70 to 100 persons to weave this sort of work, which is a recently introduced fabric. The weavers now employed on this work were previously broad and cassimere weavers. The doeskin work is more difficult and skillful than the common sort of fabric but is less laborious … the men could earn more on this work than any other.”

Another interesting point which arises from the Report is that the Longs had no power looms at that time and employed only 16 men and 7 children as handloom weavers at the mill premises. Most weavers must have been outworkers long after water-driven machinery had brought the spinners into the factory and the introduction of gig mills had brought in those engaged in the finishing processes. The weaving sheds which have more recently been occupied by John Morgan Ltd., were a later addition as was a steam driven beam engine in the ‘Bristol’ mill, the block nearest the village.

Although Church of England himself, Samuel Long allowed the nonconformists to have a room in the mill buildings for their meetings. The Gloucestershire Diocesan Records show a long history of nonconformity in the parish and from the late eighteenth century, various private houses were licensed as meeting places. Paul Long of Charfield House laid the foundation stone of the first chapel in July 1846 and the £290 required was met by voluntary subscription. The land and the stone had been granted by Lord Ducie. The buildings had to be registered again in 1857 after alteration and enlargement made necessary by the Sunday School and the Evening Writing School.

The intense rivalry between Chapel and Church, to be found all over the country at that time, at least prevented Charfield from remaining an educational backwater. From being one of the largest villages in the County without a school of any kind in the early decades of the century both the British (Chapel) and the National (Church of England) schools were built in the 1850s. The Rev. Prankherd Jones, whose railed memorial is most prominent by the old church of St. James, left in his will the interest on £2000 to pay a school teacher. He also arranged for the first National School premises:–

It was my intention to have left the house, blacksmith's shop and premises for the purpose of being converted into a schoolroom. I therefore bequeath the premises to Mr. Joseph Neeld of Grittleton who is now patron of the living in the hope that he will convert it into a daily school. It is some distance from the church but it is tolerably central and convenient for the population.

This school, just below the ‘Pear Tree’ remained in use until the new school premises were built in 1893, opposite the new church of St. John begun a decade earlier. The focus of the village had long moved from Churchend.

It is a popular misconception that the development of the centre of the community at Charfield Green was caused by the coming of the railway in 1844, but it can be clearly seen that this pattern was already established by then. However, as the cloth industry declined so the importance of the railway to the village grew making possible the replacement of the major source of employment by a variety of smaller scale industries and businesses. The building of the great embankment almost on top of the houses by the Green, obliterating the old lane to Little Bristol and cutting the village in two, must have been an enormous shock to a quiet population. By the 1850s, however, the railway can already be seen to be a useful source of employment in itself and to be drawing in new influences from outside. Eleven men were directly employed on the railway, of which the station master and the surveyor were outside the district, and seven more worked in the coal trade which was directly dependant on the railway.

The Last Hundred Years

Despite the sharp decline of the population in the 1870s, the period to the first World War seems to have been one of generally growing prosperity and the ‘golden age’ of the railway in Charfield. The war made irrevocable changes and despite the gradual increase in the population and the improvement of amenities in the period between the wars there was less new enterprise and by the 1950s an aging population was beginning to decline in numbers. This population trend was changed with quite extraordinary abruptness by the rapid building of the first part of the new estate. The ‘affluence’ of the 1960s and the growth in ownership of private cars underlay the possibility of Charfield becoming part of Bristol's commuter belt. The building of the motorway made the village even more accessible. These general circumstances coincided with the more fortuitous local opportunities which opened to builders and developers.

The scale and rate of growth has changed in the last fifteen years out of all proportion to that in the past. In many ways, Charfield may be thought to have been a better community in the last decades of the nineteenth century. The railway made possible the market, started in 1878, and a number of new houses were built between this date and the turn of the century. Station Road, with as many shops and pubs as supply the whole village today, including a baker and a slaughterhouse, was busy with railway traffic. Samuel Longs were finally put up for sale at the beginning of the 1890s and cloth making was replaced by Tubbs Lewis and a variety of other small businesses. Even the oldest inhabitant cannot personally remember the manufacture of cloth at the mills but many villagers have worked for Tubbs Lewis at the ‘Pin Mill’ and the ‘Bone Mill’. The products gradually changed over the years, bone crochet hooks and bobbins being replaced by plastics but the business provided a fairly steady source of local employment. Tubbs Lewis already owned the mills at Kingswood where braid and elastic were made so Charfield Mills also supplied small items to supplement these manufactures such as large wooden reels, display racks and cards on which the products were wound and the firm was described in Kellys as wood turners. For a short time at the turn of the century part of the mill was occupied by Frith & Company, printers, who had pioneered what was then a new collotype process.

The railway made a considerable contribution to the village's ability to find new sources of employment as the woollen trade collapsed, by encouraging the location of new enterprises. The lively market, primarily for cattle, pigs and sheep, was held twice a month in the station yard. The fortunes of the railway and the market were reflected in those of the Railway Tavern. By 1889 Kelly's directory was describing it as the Railway Hotel and posting house; traps on hire. In 1902 and 1910 it had become the Railway Posting House & Commercial Inn offering Flys, phaetons, brakes etc. on hire, good stabling and loose boxes. By 1927 it was just the Railway Tavern again. The railway also enlarged the social and professional range of the village by introducing the first commuters – the ‘residents’ section of Kelly's in 1902 includes Joseph Francis Benson, Langleigh – artist and photographer and Valentine Cass, Melrose House – Supervisor Inland Revenue.

During the same period, some rural craft industries declined and some have disappeared altogether. From the mid nineteenth century, the number of shops seems to have increased as mass production brought a new range of consumer goods to the rural community, from groceries to bicycles (W.H. Tayler & Co. advertised in 1902 as cycle manufacturers and agents), but the same access to the products of urban industry inevitably led to the gradual disappearance of a small but traditional range of craftsmen. The 1889 Kelly's shows a very similar range of crafts to the 1851 census – 2 blacksmiths, 2 boot and shoe-makers, a wheelwright and although only one tailor and draper instead of two, there was an additional saddle-maker. In 1910 there was still a wheelwright (and there remained a blacksmith until more recently) but Mr. Richards, the tailor and draper of the 1889 directory, took up the supplementary work of running the Post Office. Although he still advertised in 1927, he had no successor.

The Great War was very much a point of change. Not only was the shock of bereavement more heavily felt in a small community but an unprecedented number had gained experience outside the village and ideas changed. For the first time, the 1927 directory advertised the motor garage instead of flys and phaetons. A village nurse also appears in the entry and during the thirties a large number of council houses were built. There is a subtle change in the degree of intervention of national government policy in local affairs. The local authority rather than the Lord Ducie or Samuel Long now provided housing and other forms of social welfare. However, national politics still hardly affected the self-reliant country community in comparison with the town and Charfield was relatively cushioned against the effects of the General Strike and the years of depression. A new industry was begun in the late twenties by the Phormium Cavity Block Company Ltd. and tiles and later bricks continued to be made in the village, until recently. The works closed in the early seventies. Unlike Tubbs Lewis, however, the firm tended to employ men who had experience in the industry outside the village. During these inter war years, while the community was not prosperous, the amenities and services seem very good in relation to the size of the community. The village was fortunate to be the recipient of the Y.M.C.A. memorial hut and local enterprise provided the playing field and later a larger hall.

During the last war, the situation of the village on the railway led to its choice as a first aid centre and distribution point for soldiers evacuated from Dunkirk. After the war the railway continued to be a valuable link for work in Yate or shopping in Bristol. It became increasingly an uneconomic station both for passengers and goods in the 1950's and its closure under the Beeching reforms seems to have been inevitable.

Brunel's handsome station was closed just at the beginning of the enormous upswing in the population. The cheapness and convenience of the private car had superseded it. The railway had brought new opportunities to a long established community but the motor car created a very much more mobile population with their work and interests outside the village. This change, taking place also on a national scale, was reflected by the creation in 1974 of the new County of Avon of which Charfield now is one of the most outlying parishes. That world wide influences may still have an effect, however, was brought home to the population by the Arab oil embargo in that same year when the sudden increase in the price of petrol made distances of ten miles seem very long again.

Following is a small selection of ‘PLACES OF INTEREST’ to add to those with larger references in the text.

Churchend – later nineteenth century farmhouses replaced original farmsteads on either side of the church, now only bumps and stones in the field.

St. James Church – vested in the Redundant Churches Fund in May 1974 and repair is almost completed. Churchyard still burial ground – memorials to many local families – to Rev Prankherd Jones and to the victims of the railway accident.

Church House – divided into two cottages by Arthur Jotcham, clothier, for his sons in Charles II's reign.

Little Bristol Cottage – outbuildings once a wheelwright's yard – 18th century maps mark Little Bristol at Devil's Lane junction where the map shows a group of 3 cottages.

Southend Farm – 17th century date-stone and typical larger farmhouse of that date with two gabled windows with gallery between.

Charfield Hall – 17th century known as the Hole Estate.

Brunel's Station and Bridge – shown on front cover before the famous railway accident severely damaged the bridge.

Charfield Green – once common land – see the Tithe Map illustration – most obvious now in open area in front of Park Farm and long ribbon of land behind detached houses in Manor Lane and lying towards Churchend.

Vexley Footpath – cuts the angle between Church Lane and the Wotton Road. The original track seems to have become sunken and overgrown. From the Wotton Road, the lane to Poolfield Farm and the footpath to Cullimore's Quarry, crossing the railway to the mills, takes up the same line.
(See Tithe Illustration).

Charfield in 1842

Charfield in 1842

This map is based on the Tithe Map surveyed and drawn between 1839 and 1842.

The farms have generally been given their modern names although it is not certain that they all had the same name in the 1840s.

The Present

Places of Work of Charfield Residents 1976

Places of Work for Charfield Residents 1976.

Avonmouth, Bristol, Filton & Patchway – 31.2%
Berkeley – 3.8%
Charfield – 20.7%
Chipping Sodbury & Yate – 8.4%
Dursley – 7.5%
Kingswood – 2.6%
Thornbury – 2.4%
Wickwar – 2.4%
Wotton-under-Edge – 7%

This section is our view of our village. It is complementary to rather than contradictory of the excellent appraisal in Northavon's “Alternative Development Options”. There are, naturally, differences of emphasis.

We have divided this section into two subsections – the Villagers and the Village. It is to be hoped that this does not hide the interaction between the people and their surroundings, because for many people it is this which makes life in the countryside so attractive.

Because we live in the Village we have at times found it impossible to be entirely objective. Some readers may, therefore, disagree with what is written. We make no apology for this provided it stimulates thought and discussion and causes no offence.

The Villagers

Although the new residential development of the last 15 years has tended to create a disproportionately large number of professional people in Charfield, it can by no means be considered to be entirely a commuter dormitory. Small local industries, the nearby quarries and agriculture still draw a large part of their workforce from the village. There are old people who have lived here for much of their lives and others retire to the village from places far and near.

The influx of new people has obviously changed the pattern of village life and created special problems which are aggravated by the physical structure of the village. However, many social activities involve people from all sections and, although there is room for improvement, a healthy community spirit exists.

This section looks at the people, the various services they need and how these are administered. An information sheet, which will also be available separately, is included for reference.


The current population of Charfield probably numbers over 1700. This figure may be arrived at in two ways. By multiplying the current number of dwellings, approximately 550, by the average household size of 3.1 (in 1971, when the last census was taken) giving 1705; or by multiplying the number on the 1976 electoral roll, i.e. 1166, by an estimate of the ratio of the number of people over 18 years old to the total number in the population (this ratio is estimated, from the 1971 figures again, as 66.3%), giving 1760. Both the average household size and the percentage of people under 18 indicate that, compared with the average for the rest of the country, Charfield has a young population, presumably as a result of the recent development. At the other end of the age scale there are rather less over 65's than average but even less than average in the age group 45–64, confirming a subjective impression of a lack of middle-aged balance in the community. At the present time the population is still growing, due to a higher than average birth rate and gradual occupation of completed new houses, but by how much is very difficult to estimate. The average over the past five years would be approximately 55 people a year. The rapid development of the past 15 years means that much less than half the population have lived in the village for more than 15 years. On the other hand a fairly large turnover amongst the new residents has meant that many have lived in the village for less than 10 years.


On the divider card at the beginning of the “Present” section of this study we have chosen to highlight the places of work of Charfield residents. This figure clearly illustrates the economic ties that Charfield now has with Avon and with the Bristol area in particular. The large number of commuters (over 40% of the working population travel more than 10 miles to work) probably includes almost all of the nearly 30% of men classified in the 1971 census as being in the professional and executive groups. Nationally only 18% fall in this category, pointing to a very significant characteristic of the village.

Many people will be surprised that as many as 20.7% of the working population find work in Charfield itself. It is probable, however, that this figure includes a greater proportion of part-time workers. This category would include many women of whom, in fact, less are in employment than is average for the country as a whole. The employment available in Charfield is in agriculture, service industries, building, and the small factories at Charfield Mills and Aero Bearings. It should not be forgotten that these also provide some employment for people who live outside Charfield. An interesting result of the demand for employment for women is that many of the shops are run by housewives who live in the village.

The places of work outside Charfield in themselves indicate the sort of employment of the workers. Chemical engineering and the docks at Avonmouth; Aeronautical engineering at Filton and Patchway; Insurance, Banking and Commerce in Bristol; Light Industry in Yate and Dursley. Obviously a large number will fall into the manufacturing industry category as the 1971 census shows with 44.2% in this group as compared with 34.5% nationally.


As the new estates account for about half of the total number of houses in the village it is not surprising that Charfield has a greater percentage of owner occupied houses than is average for Avon County as a whole. Of the older owner occupied properties some are very old but most have been improved. The percentage of council owned housing is slightly less than for Avon but there is much less privately rented and almost no privately rented furnished accommodation. A large proportion of the council housing results from the clearance in the '60's of some of the low standard housing remaining from the early 19th century, but much was built between the wars and does not compare in building standards with the more recent. There are six purpose-built old peoples bungalows. The lower income young families have very limited choice of housing in either the private or public sectors.


A well run pre-school play group meets each morning and two afternoons per week at the Chapel school rooms. It is managed by an enthusiastic voluntary committee of parents but the sessions are controlled by paid supervisors with mothers helping on a rota basis. The play group is so popular that there is a waiting list.

Between the ages of 5 and 11 children are well catered for in the village by the County Primary School. With a mixture of the old, the new and the temporary the school buildings are not ideal but are better than many. Some parents are prepared to take their children quite long distances to private schools.

For secondary education children have to travel the two miles to the Katherine Lady Berkeley comprehensive school at Wotton-under-Edge. Although a large proportion of the children attending the school are from Charfield, it is in Gloucestershire and outside the direct control of Avon.

Further education in a range of subjects is provided by technical colleges at Bristol, Stroud and Gloucester. A limited range of adult evening classes is offered in Wotton-under-Edge but a very much wider variety is available for those who are prepared, or able, to travel further.


The information sheet shows the seven shops that are still open at the moment. These are a Post Office and General Store; a Newsagents'; 3 general Stores; a Greengrocer's and Garden Shop; and a Hairdressers. There is also a Garage which sells petrol and some motor spares and accessories. Two other shops are presently vacant. As can be seen from the map these shops are distributed around the village so that a shopper will sometimes have a fairly long walk to obtain a particular item, but on the whole the village is well served as far as daily shopping requirements are concerned. For their weekly/monthly shopping requirements, those who can travel further afield, mostly to Wotton, Yate or Bristol. Some practise bulk buying and own freezers.


Northavon's “Alternative Development Options”, tell us that over three quarters of the journies to work by Charfield residents are made by car. This clearly indicates the importance of the car to Charfield's economy. The same document also states that 74.3% of households have access to a car while the “Bristol Land Use Transportation Study”, also indicates that Charfield lies in an area where the ratio of the number of cars to the number of households is between .8 and 1.2. Many households, therefore, have more than one car (as is also obvious from a casual walk around the village in the evening or at a weekend). What of the 25% of households with no access to a car, many of them old people; and the wives when father takes the car to work; and the children? Unfortunately they are less well served, for the increased use of the car has caused a disproportionate reduction of public transport services. The decline in standards is illustrated in the Bristol Land Use Transportation Study. Between 1964 and 1972, the changes in the Country Bus Service were:–

Passenger receiptsincreased10%
Operating Costsincreased32%
No. of passengers carried  reduced45%
Vehicle miles operatedreduced24%
Receipts per passengerincreased  200%

In 1972 the total subsidy for the Bristol Omnibus Country Bus Service was £100,000 or 6.1% of the total operating costs. Just one bus route passes through Charfield and at their most frequent buses are one an hour. The bus takes a tortuous route from Bristol to Gloucester. A connection to Yate at Kingswood is possible but can mean a very long wait. The public transport service in Charfield is thus infrequent, inadequate, expensive and yet subsidised.

In this situation, the presence of the old railway station on a busy line which passes through destinations that people would like to reach constantly raises the question “could there be a station in Charfield again”. Another approach to improving the situation could be a minibus service centered on the village itself.

Health & Welfare

For most people in times of illness a visit to or from their general practitioner will be all that is required. Charfield is served by doctors in Wotton-under-Edge and because there is no chemist in the village these doctors may also dispense the required medicine. Repeat prescriptions or other medicines will, however, require a minimum journey to Wotton-under-Edge. If a visit to hospital is required then a much longer journey is necessary to one of the large hospitals in the Bristol area, except for some maternity cases who go to Berkeley. A long stay in any one of these hospitals can place a considerable burden on family and friends wishing to visit the patient.

After a severe illness or in cases of handicap and disability the Health and Social Services may be called upon to assist the efforts of individuals, their friends and family. District Nurse, Home Help, Home Laundry and Meals on Wheels services may be provided in the home. In Charfield the Meals on Wheels services is provided with meals cooked in Thornbury and delivered by voluntary drivers. A Luncheon Club, run on an entirely voluntary basis, is held once a fortnight in the village hall. Social Workers, Health Visitors, Occupational Therapists and Aids Technicians are not based in the village but many, in certain circumstances visit those in need. The Health Visitors have a special responsibility to the under fives and a Child Health Clinic is held in the Village Hall. A day care centre for the mentally handicapped is provided in Thornbury.

Community & Recreation

The village is well catered for in voluntary organisations with twenty or more providing for most needs.
(See information sheet.)

Most activities take place in the village hall or on the playing fields. Unfortunately as interests have developed and more organisations have come into being so do accommodation problems develop for the village hall. At the moment only one group can use the hall at a time. Organisations from outside the village also use the hall. For those who like a drink there are three public houses two of which provide musical evenings, attracting a lively audience, many of whom are not from Charfield.

There are two churches in the village, the Parish Church of St. John and the Congregational Church.

Local Government

The civil parish is territorially the smallest unit of local government but its powers are quite independent and it should not be regarded as the ‘third tier’ of local government, implying that it is controlled by the ‘higher’ authorities. The Parish Council levels its own rate (although for administrative purposes this is collected by the District Council) and they may engage in any activity from which the law does not exclude them or allocate to another government body.

The Parish Council in Charfield has nine members who generally meet on the second Tuesday in the month at 7.30pm in the primary school staffroom. Any elector has the right to attend but may not participate in the proceedings unless invited to do so. The secretarial work is dealt with by the clerk to whom any letters should be addressed. The present members, elected in May 1976, will normally be expected to serve for four years.

Parish Councils have the power to improve the quality of village life by spending sums of money on things which in their opinion are in the interests of the parish and its inhabitants. Charfield Parish Council is responsible for the village hall and playing fields and have had the toilets on the car park built. They deal with a wide variety of other matters such as footpaths, bus shelters, public seats and the holiday play scheme. They could provide allotments or even a launderette. Money may be given to voluntary bodies who similarly act in the interest of the parish. Both our Play Group and Luncheon Club receive grants from the Parish Council.

The Parish Council can report local opinion to other authorities such as the District and County Councils, the Health and Water Authorities or to Ministries. This function has become more important since local government reorganisation made District Councils larger and more remote. Since the 1972 Local Government Act, the Parish Council has the right to be informed of planning applications. Representatives are appointed to various other bodies such as the School Managers.

Charfield Parish is part of Charfield Ward of Northavon. This ward elects one member to the District Council. The responsibilities of the District Council are, briefly, – Housing; Planning Applications and Local Plans; Environmental Health, Refuse Collection; Bye laws and building regulations; Technical Services; Swimming Baths; Physical Training and Recreation.

Charfield Parish is also part of the Thornbury No. 3 Division of Avon County Council. The responsibilities of the County Council are briefly:– Education; Youth Employment; Personal Social Services; Libraries; Museums and Art Galleries; Structure Planning and Development; Tourism; Highways; Transportation and Road Safety; Refuse Disposal; Police; Fire Service; Technical Services; Airports; Swimming Baths; Physical Training and Recreation.

It can be seen that in some instances responsibilities overlap between the three Councils. These are known as concurrent powers.

[Leaflet: Information sheet]

The Village

Overlooked by the officially designated area of natural beauty of the Cotswold edge, the parish of Charfield is set in less spectacular but still very beautiful scenery, largely between the smaller escarpment of Charfield Hill and the Little Avon river. Charfield's northwestern boundary also forms that of the new County of Avon.

There is a confusion of different architectural styles in the village which some may consider untidy but is more often used as an excuse for untidiness. Very few buildings look out of place, even the more functional ones such as the school, garage, shops and mills. Only the large prefabricated buildings erected for industrial and agricultural use really intrude and perhaps even these will in time become an accepted part of the landscape, as has the old brickworks, when their garish finish has weathered and trees grow to screen their sides.

Most of the population of the village is centred at the intersection of the Wotton Road (B4058) and the main Bristol to Gloucester railway line but the parish covers a much wider area and some 11% of dwellings are situated more than ½ mile away from this centre.

In this section, each area of the parish, necessarily chosen on a rather arbitrary basis, is examined in an attempt to illustrate its own special assets and problems.

Churchend and Outlying Areas

Anyone taking the short cut from the M4 to the M5 along the B4059 is unlikely to realise that nearly two miles of his journey was through the parish of Charfield and coming this way he will not be impressed by its scenic beauty. He might if the council have not already cut the wide verges notice an abundance of wild flowers, but he is more likely to be concerned about the chippings spilt on the road by lorries from the nearby quarries. At midday he might be surprised by the sounds of blasting from these quarries but the residents of Charfield are unlikely to take any more notice than they might of a clock chiming. When he comes to the junction with the B4058 it is to be hoped that he spots the ‘Give Way’ sign in time, for the junction is quite misleading, and there has already been one fatal and several other accidents here. Could it be that an increase in the traffic since the motorway opened has made this junction more dangerous.

A traveller in a light aircraft, however, might notice the large fields to the East of the road and have the legend “Emergency Landing Practise Area” printed on his map. These fields are regularly used by trainee pilots, not for actual landings, but for practise engine out approaches. Occasionally, indeed, the intermittent drone of the engines of these aircraft causes some nuisance to the residents of the Parish.

A very different view of the village is obtained by taking a short detour from the B4059 through Churchend. Here is a rural hamlet, established for many hundreds of years, with an ancient church and set in picturesque surroundings. It enjoys a panoramic view of the Cotswold Edge, but a view which has been altered recently by the long and stark white line of the chicken farm sheds on top of the intermediate ridge and by the ravages of Dutch Elm Disease, which has exposed, even in summer, the bareness of the new estate in the valley. Also visible are some electricity wires passing near the southern edge of the new estate which provide some constraint to further development in that direction. The view here shows that the land is still largely used for agricultural purposes, a mixture of arable and pasture, with the previously mentioned factory chicken farm. The land is generally of good quality. At the head of the brook below Southend Farm there is a small overgrown area which acts as a miniature nature reserve. There are still enough rabbits to encourage occasional shooting and a clay pigeon club meets, fortunately not too often on the hill. The hedges of Devil's Lane were once an interesting venue for botanists but have in recent years been rather drastically cut. There are still, however, many wide hedges and small copses to encourage wild life.

Not immediately apparent is the fact that the slopes of the hill contain one of the few occurrences in the world of celestine. This mineral, actually strontium sulphate, although rare is not widely used. Its main uses are to produce the reds in coloured pyrotechnics, for a German sugar beet refining process, and it was used for colour television tubes. It was once extracted commercially from the hill but not very successfully. It lies in the top few feet of the soil and, indeed, pieces may be picked up from the ground by those taking the footpath from Manor Lane to Churchend.

Charfield Hill and Wotton Road

Many people get their first impression of Charfield as they drive down the hill and see the village set in the valley against the backdrop of the Cotswold Edge. This one view perhaps more than any other of the fine views to be seen in the Parish typifies the rural setting which so many of the residents value so highly.

Unfortunately, magnificent as the view is some drivers see the hill only as an opportunity to gain speed and will ignore the 30 mph limit signs, sometimes travelling at 60 mph or more, dodging into the bus stop to avoid anyone turning into Manor Lane, making no allowance for pedestrians and slowing only to cross the railway bridge before accelerating out of the village. It is difficult indeed to write about the Wotton Road without producing a long list of traffic hazards. Almost every road junction along its length has had at least one accident involving damage to vehicles or injury to persons recorded in the last ten years. Not that the road can, in national terms, be regarded as especially dangerous. The school crossing patrol, which has to be used by nearly all the children, has operated without an accident, but it cannot be regarded as very desirable for such a large number of young children to have to cross a fairly busy main road to get to and from school. There are some other hazards particularly worth noting. The Post Office Shop and Pear Tree Pub are at a point on the hill where vehicles are often travelling at high speed. The shop building restricts vision on the bend and there are often delivery lorries or vans parked on the road further obscuring the view, while its situation at the edge of the village means that cars will often perform U-turns in the road here. The other major traffic hazard is the railway bridge, but no accident has been recorded here in the last ten years and many villagers feel that its benefit in slowing traffic outweighs the hazard. Pedestrians are at most risk and a separate bridge for them alongside would probably be welcomed. A street light at the Manor Lane junction has been requested by the Parish Council but has yet to be installed. At night, too, parking in the Wotton Road outside the Plough and Railway Tavern can be a nuisance and hazard. A possible extra hazard at the Drive due to tipping at the Tortworth Clay Pit should not occur as it was a condition of the planning permission that access should not be gained this way.

There is more to the Wotton Road, however, than its accident potential. At the top of the hill, and well disguised, is the water reservoir. Further down, the new (almost 100 years old) church of St. John is attractive if rather large for the present day congregations. Opposite, the original school buildings, designed by the same architect, have had to be supplemented by a variety of more modern buildings, permanent and temporary. Unlike most schools it is not hemmed in by houses. There is a fine copse of trees around Warners Court and opposite is the narrow entrance to New Town. The village hall is a plain building but adequate for most purposes at the moment and conveniently situated, although it does bring some nuisance to the residents of New Town. the new public conveniences are again plainly built, although spoilt inside by constant vandalism. On the other side of the railway bridge, the drive up to Park Farm is a particularly pleasing visual asset, offset to some extent by the sometimes untidy state of the garage. The coalyard is well hidden from the road but the oil depot is also thought by many to look untidy. Next to the Chapel is the Kings Hall now used only as a furniture store but behind is the Chapel Hall where playgroup is regularly held. At the bridge over the Little Avon river one may look just into Gloucestershire and contrast the careful screening of the engineering works with the conspicuously new farm buildings opposite.

The Wotton Road may seem long and straggling, like this account of it, to many passing through, but people who live here begin to realise over how long a period it has grown and how many important and industrious assets to the village are disguised by its haphazard appearance.

The New Estate Bounded by Manor Lane

Even on the new estates there is a considerable variety of housing styles and building materials. This has been due more to the elapse of time during building than careful planning and the newest houses on the Old Manor Estate, rushed to completion during the boon of 1972, 3 & 4, but still not all occupied, are all the same reddish brick. Some of the other shades of brick to be seen are products of the Charfield Brickworks during its last days of operation, while there are also a number of reconstituted “Cotswold” stone buildings. This variety of materials, rather fortuitously, reflects the number of different clays and rocks upon which Charfield stands.

Houses are mainly three bedroomed semi-detached and many are chalet style, but there are also some terraced, some detached, and some two bedroomed semi-detached bungalows. The longer streets of the earlier development may be compared with the cul-de-sac layout of the later housing and with the “back-to-front” Radburn layout of the newest houses on Willow Park Estate. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Children are probably less safe playing in Durham Road or Manor Lane, say, than in Old Manor or Orchard Close, but the houses have more drive space for car parking and are more separated from their neighbours. It remains to be seen whether or not the Radburn layout will be successful but the garage courtyards do seem rather out of place in a rural setting and contrast with the open aspect afforded by the open plan fronts of the more conventionally laid out parts of the estate. This open aspect is aided by the undergrounding of all services but the skyline is spoilt by the forest of television aerials, pointing in three different directions but none giving absolutely perfect reception.

Quite a large proportion of the total area has been used for public open space rather than private gardens. This was primarily for children's play areas and although used as such has not been entirely successful. It has proved difficult to supervise the children's play, the older children and youth cause vandalism to the seats and trees, bicycles cause danger to old people and toddlers, dog fouling is a nuisance, the surrounding screen walls fall down in high winds, and grass cutting and maintenance is an additional cost on the rates. A magnificent oak tree has been left standing in Underhill Road and it is a pity that more of the original trees could not have been left. Parking for the four new shops (one of which is still vacant) has proved just about adequate but many people prefer to park in the road and turn around at the Avon Road junction.

Street and footpath lighting is generally adequate. Particular road hazards are the junctions of Underhill Road and Manor Lane, and Avon Road and Manor Lane. Many residents are particularly worried about the effect of the latter junction if or when Manor Lane becomes a through road.

Charfield Green & Little Bristol Close

Although the flats at Charfield Green are quite new they do house many people who have lived in the village for most of their lives. This is because they were initially used for rehousing when the old cottages at the Mill and the Wye (where May Grove now stands) were pulled down.

The property in this area is mainly council owned. The older brick built houses, small but with large, carefully tended, gardens, contrast with the newer flats, built to much higher standards with small garden areas at the rear and open plan lawns at the front. As on the Old Manor Estate these open areas have not proved ideal as play spaces for children. The same difficulties of supervision, clashes between young cyclists and pedestrians, and dog fouling are made worse by the very limited car parking space available and the consequent congestion.

The small general shop performs a very valuable service, particularly for the old people, some of whom may find even a once a week trip to the Post Office quite a strain. Although there are many old people in the flats the small purpose built bungalows in Little Bristol Close are much more suitable. They are excellent examples of old peoples dwellings, in fact, from which only the noise from the railway line, the high cost of heating, and the lack of easily available emergency help can detract.

A light at the junction of Charfield Green and Manor Lane is required, but despite the efforts of the Parish Council, is not yet there.

Little Bristol

It is unlikely that construction of a group of houses such as those at Little Bristol would be allowed within the modern framework of building and planning regulations. The between-wars houses are not built to a high standard and they are situated a long walk away from the school, bus stop, and shops. Their remoteness makes life especially difficult for the very old and those with young children. Only their magnificent views of the Cotswold Edge and Charfield Hill and their large gardens offer compensation to some of the residents.

It is now more than two years since there was a fatal road accident here in which two young children were killed. Although it can be said that the accident was a chance happening the fact remains that despite very great local effort very little has been achieved to make a reoccurrence less likely. Only the rather negative but necessary policy of fencing the fields opposite more securely, to prevent children gaining access, has been carried out. Plans have been drawn up by the District Council and planning permission obtained for a car park and play area, but nothing has appeared on the ground and due to cut-backs in public spending it seems possible that nothing will ever come of these schemes. Obviously this state of affairs has a very bad effect on the morale of the residents. “They don't care about us so why should we care about anything.” The play area at least should be considered a priority, even if it should be necessary to pursue the suggestion made at a Parish Council meeting that a voluntary labour scheme should be organised to bring this about at minimum cost. But the two years delay has meant that much momentum has been lost and such a scheme will come about only with some very positive organisation. A footpath along Little Bristol Lane and the car park must remain as long term objectives.

Station Road, Horsford Road & Cotswold View

Nobody is likely to describe Charfield as a village “full of olde worlde charm” and yet it is a very old community and if anywhere gives the village a sense of establishment and continuity it is Station Road. The remaining mill workers' and weavers' cottages (all now to some extent improved and modernised) were here before the railway, which itself came through 132 years ago. At the height of the prosperity which the railway brought Station Road had the market and as many shops and pubs which supply the whole village today. The fabric of most of these remains but apart from the Railway Tavern and shop and the hairdressers, which previously had various uses including an ironmongers, they have all been converted to residential accommodation. The recent building of a pair of semi-detached houses in the rank of cottages has added to the mixture but, unfortunately, their higher roof line makes them rather prominent. The closing of the railway station and the subsequent use of the yard and old market place as a road haulage depot has done much to destroy the character of Station Road as well as being a nuisance to the residents here and a prominent eyesore for the whole village. In retrospect this can only be seen as a great mistake.

Apart from two very old cottages and a few ‘between-the-wars’ houses the area behind Station Road has all been redeveloped within the past 15 years. These new houses are uniformly constructed in reconstituted Cotswold Stone. Some further infilling is possible in this area, planning permission existing for a further 14 houses.

The main traffic hazards in this area are the turning into the lorry depot and the low bridge under the railway connecting Station Road to Little Bristol Lane. A scheme to make this one way has been suggested but remains to be worked out in detail.

New Street

Two factors dominate discussions of New Street – the road and the old brickworks. Road safety problems arise from the narrowness of the road and its use by heavy lorries and cars in transit to and from the industrial premises at Charfield Mills. The hazards are particularly bad for pedestrians. Outside the old brick cottages the pavement is narrow and it disappears altogether further along towards the Mills. The sharp bend just before Charfield House is a hazard for pedestrians and vehicles alike.

Some consider that the old brickworks is unsightly, others that it is a distinctive and historic landmark, but few would deny that it is unsafe and should be demolished before it falls down. Some residents may recently have noticed industrial archaeologists, resigned to its eventual fate, measuring up and photographing it as a record for future generations. The suitability of the site for light industrial use has been discussed ever since the works closed down but, bearing in mind the problems of access along New Street, it would seem that most residents along here would prefer it to be used for houses.

On the other side of the railway line, opposite the brickworks, is the very oldest part of Charfield, the several hundreds of million years old volcanic rock exposed by the old workings of Cullimore's quarry. Much younger, but still very ancient fossils may be seen here, too. This site has been recognised as being of special scientific interest.

The present buildings at Charfield Mills have been in industrial use for about 150 years and the site probably for much longer. At the moment the buildings are occupied by two concerns, one a sheet metal fabricator, the other a jewellery box manufacturer. One unit, previously occupied by a printing company, has recently become vacant with their move to Kingswood. Despite its long standing use, the site is not ideal for light industry, due to the presence of a few domestic premises and again the problems of access along New Street. The site also at times has looked very untidy, which is a pity because the buildings themselves and their setting on the Little Avon river are quite picturesque. On the other hand the site is well screened by trees and the railway embankment so that it is not visible from any great distance.


For most of its length where it forms the boundary of the Parish of Charfield the Little Avon River is a fairly insignificant and narrow stream but after it passes under the Wotton Road at Watsome Bridge and meets a tributary just before Charfield Mills it becomes wider and enters a very pretty valley. Here the angling club find very satisfying sport and in the summer many people from Charfield will enjoy a pleasant walk. Unfortunately since the storms in the early summer of 1975 washed the bridge away at Huntingford Mill they have no longer been able to cross the river there and they may have to wait a little longer.

The mill has had a very long and varied history. It is now used as a hotel and restaurant. There was once a pub further along the road at Rose Cottage, a sign of the once quite separate and flourishing hamlet, busy around the mill and with through traffic on the way to Berkeley. There are a surprising number of dwellings and three groups of farm buildings as well as the boarding kennels which are much closer to Charfield. Between the kennels and the river lies the site of the proposed new sewage works upon which the future development of Charfield so much depends.

The Future?

Charfield – Possible Future Development?

Charfield – Possible Future Development?

From the resident's point of view there is only one simple question which need be asked of a development proposal, “Would it make the village a more attractive place to live in?”. If the majority can answer “Yes” then that proposal should be encouraged.

Would, fifteen years ago, the residents of the village then have answered yes to the same question about proposals for the village now? Of course many would not but there is little doubt that Charfield would not be the community that it is today, had it not been developed. The population would be ageing, the school threatened with closure, and social and recreational opportunities would be fewer. On the other hand, vandalism, traffic and neighbours would be less of a problem and the rural scene would remain largely unaltered. Now, however, there are twice as many people to answer the question.

Not that the residents themselves are the only force which will decide the future of Charfield. External pressures may come from commercial and business interests and can be counteracted or indeed stimulated by the local government authorities. These influences must be properly explained to the residents or the residents may have the resentful reaction, “if they want it, what can we do about it?”.

In this section we look at Northavon's three development options and try to answer the question, “Would it make the village a more attractive place to live in?”. We try to asses the external influences and how the village might react to them. We try to describe how an acceptable solution might be arrived at. We also include some suggestions for consideration whatever the results of the Village Plan.

The Minimum Growth Option

The Minimum Growth Option proposed by Northavon suggests that if existing planning permissions for housing in the village were taken up this would result in a population of approximately 1800. It then admits the desirability of demolishing the old brickworks and suggests that housing development would be appropriate. This, together with infilling permitted within the existing settlement boundary, could eventually bring the population to about 2200. No timescale is suggested.

The following factors relating to this option could make the village a more attractive place to live in –

  1. As pointed out in the Northavon report it would allow the community to mature after the rapid change of the last fifteen years. With a strong sense of community some of the deficiencies of the village may be alleviated on a self-help basis.
  2. The completion of houses would clear the present mess associated with the building sites. The demolition of the brickworks would remove a potential source of danger.
  3. There would be no more intrusion upon the rural scene. In fact, with the removal of the brickworks and the maturing of trees and gardens on the new estates there should be a distinct improvement on the present scene.
  4. It is probable that at least one, if not both, of the vacant shops would be taken. Unfortunately, there will probably still not be a chemist.
  5. Residents in New Street would not have to suffer the inconveniences that could be associated with even a light industrial use at the old brickworks. In addition, should there be an increase in the demand for houses at some time in the future, pressure might be put on those non-conforming areas of industrial use within the existing settlement boundary to be sold for housing.

The following factors relating to this option could make the village a less attractive place to live in –

  1. Traffic would be increased along Manor Lane and New Street. Residents along the west side of New Street may additionally suffer some loss of visual amenity.
  2. It does nothing to encourage opportunities for local employment or business enterprise.
  3. If a policy of no growth were continued in the long term then Charfield could, in twenty years, say, have a disproportionately large number of old and middle-aged residents. On the other hand the natural turn-over of population could mean that this state of affairs would never happen.

The Limited Growth Option

Although Northavon call this the Limited Growth Option it can be calculated that it continues the growth rate of the last fifteen years for a further twenty, to give a final estimated population of 3300. In the context of no population growth nationally or even a projected 10% growth from 1974 to 1991 in Avon, “Limited” is surely a misnomer. The areas of land to be developed in this option are shown in the figure at the beginning of “The Future” section. The brickworks site would be used for light industry, the other areas for residential purposes.

The following factors relating to this option could make the village a more attractive place to live in –

  1. There is likely to be a slightly wider range of shops.
  2. There may be a slightly wider range of recreational activities within the village.
  3. Opportunities for local employment and business enterprise might increase.
  4. Pedestrian movements at the railway bridge might be made safer (but this might be possible anyway).
  5. Residents at Little Bristol would enjoy easier access to a primary school and some more shops.

The following factors relating to this option could make the village a less attractive place to live in –

  1. Two primary schools on different sites and two community centres, possibly on different sites.
  2. It would create considerably more traffic within the village. Most of this would be borne by Manor Lane, while New Street would have to put up with lorries and delivery vans to the new industrial site.
  3. There is no guarantee that secondary schooling for Charfield children would continue to be available at the Katherine Lady Berkeley School. Alternative schools at Yate or Thornbury would involve much extra travelling. This would be expensive and detrimental to out-of-school activities.
  4. It destroys much of the rural aspect for those who already live in the village.
  5. It would reduce the ease of access to the surrounding countryside. Not only would there be further to walk for those who already live in the village, but there would be more people causing nuisance to the local farmers who are likely to develop a less tolerant attitude.
  6. It does not, in the long term, help the prospects of younger age groups wishing to remain in the village since the projected rate of growth is much higher than is needed to satisfy this demand.
  7. There is still no guarantee of there being a chemist in the village.
  8. The village could continue to suffer the inconveniences associated with large building sites for the next twenty years.
  9. It has been shown in the past that it requires constant vigilance and effort from the residents to ensure the provision of even sufficient services to cater for any new population.

The Maximum Growth Option

The Maximum Growth Option put forward by Northavon would result in a total village population of 5000. It extends the development of the Limited Growth Option south, right to the southern end of the Little Bristol council houses and also fills in between the present school and the railway line, behind Warners Court. The plan has not been developed in any detail but refers to two new accesses off the Wotton Road, at Charfield Hill and near Warners Court.

The factors relating to this option which could make the village a more or less attractive place to live in are much the same as for the Limited Growth Option but it must be emphasised that it could make life considerably easier for the residents of Little Bristol, while most other factors make it much less attractive

External Influences

It can be seen from the history of Charfield that over the past 200 years, and perhaps for an even longer period, factors arising from conditions and events outside the village have played a large part in shaping its character and structure. This was just as true for the rapid growth of the last fifteen years. With the considerable increase in mobility that the motor car offered them and which they could now afford, many people were able to choose to live in what they considered more pleasant rural areas. Their desire for housing in areas rural, but still convenient for travelling to work, was reflected by the development of the new estates in Charfield (and the improvement of many older properties). When, in the early 70's, demand outstripped supply, pressure began to be exerted by developers for the release of more land in Charfield. A particular development study, commissioned by Manor Court Developments Ltd., which proposed approximately 400 dwellings, including flats, shops and a pub, on Charfield Hill, provided some of the initial impetus for this Study. Continued planning applications, together with the formation of the new county of Avon and Central Government policy pressing for the release of more land for houses, contributed to the decision by Northavon to begin preparing a Village Plan for Charfield.

In the meantime the local government authorities were also aware that the sewerage works which served Charfield was nearing capacity, and set in motion the process for a new plant. At the time of writing, construction of these new works, to be built between the railway line and Huntingford Kennels, had not been started but it would appear from Northavon's “Alternative Development Options” that the proposed size of these works could influence the final decision on the development of Charfield.

But it was in October 1974, when petrol became suddenly scarce and rationing was nearly brought in, that the people of Charfield were most recently reminded that circumstances far beyond their control could drastically affect their lives. In the last three years the cost of petrol has doubled and so has the cost of the average motor car. This has quite altered the economics of living in the countryside, particularly for those commuting large distances daily. These events have coincided with a peculiar situation in the housing market which makes precise estimates difficult, but it would appear that house prices in Charfield have dropped relative to places such as Thornbury and Bristol over the past two years to reflect the change in the day to day economics of travelling. There is evidence now of a slight recovery but it is unlikely that car travel will ever be as relatively cheap again. It is likely that there will be a change in Central Government Policy on planning in the near future to take account of this and that urban revival will be favoured rather than the moderate expansion of villages. Such changes obviously make it very difficult for the County and District Planning authorities to draw up satisfactory long-term structure and local plans.

Even on the basis of the existing Central Government policy that modest expansion in villages could make a valuable contribution to the supply of land for housing it might well be argued that Charfield has done its bit in the last fifteen years and could continue to do so for several years even if Northavon's Restricted Growth Option were pursued.

Apparently then, the external pressure on Charfield to develop is very much less than it was two years ago. However, the new Community Land Act, which is now law, could, if implemented fully, give the Local Authority considerable power to encourage development in the village. It would seem, therefore, that present circumstances quite favour Charfield residents being able to choose their own future.

Towards an Acceptable Solution

In one way or another all the residents of Charfield will have to accept what the future holds in store for them. Not only the final form of the Village Plan but also the way it is arrived at are crucial to whether they are happy or not about their future prospects.

Two statements in Northavon's “Alternative Development Options” referring to the results of their questionnaire earlier in the year might give a good indication of the reaction of the residents to the three options. “The view of approximately 50% of Charfield residents (is) that the existing rural scale should be maintained and further growth avoided,” – and – “Approximately 50% of existing residents would welcome further growth in the village if this could be accompanied by some improvement in the level of community services and facilities. Many residents stressed, however, that such growth should be limited so as not to detract from the village's rural setting.” Presumably, then, at least half of the residents would prefer the Restricted Growth Option, and that without infill, while only a small minority would actually prefer the Maximum Growth option. The remaining villagers must now ask themselves whether they see sufficient prospect of increased community services and facilities within a level of growth which would not detract from many of the features of the village which they now enjoy.

It should be remembered, too, that the three options have been put forward only as a basis for discussion. The final plan need not be any one of these options. Would it, for example, be possible to reserve a small area suitable for limited industrial use within the Restricted Growth Option to improve long term prospects of a wider economic base for the village? Perhaps the area behind the garage between the railway line and New Street would be suitable? Or do some of the areas of the Limited Growth Option offer more advantages than others? Area 3 for example, to the south of Charfield Green would result in only a small increase of traffic in Manor Lane but could serve to bring slightly easier access to the village from Little Bristol. It is to be hoped, however, that not too many new and perhaps unrealistic ideas will be put forward and confuse discussions.

The highpoint of the actual discussions will probably be the public meeting to be held in the Village Hall on Friday the 17th September at 7.30 p.m. but residents may also make their views known directly to the planners. These are requested not later than Monday, 27th September. The Planning Department will then prepare a “preferred alternative” and again some form of public comment will be invited before this is adopted, informally at first as it will still have to be considered by the County Council in the light of the Structure Plan. It is to be hoped that CHADRA's Study will contribute to the dialogue between the Planners and the Public both by the comments it contains and by encouraging the residents of Charfield to participate, particularly at the public meeting.

It is essential that the final plan to be adopted should be realistic. Will developers still be as interested now that people are, in general, less willing to commute long distances to work? Would any industries be willing to come to Charfield? Would private developers be interested in the commercial letting of small industrial premises, or would the District Council be prepared to invest public money? Would the District Council be prepared to operate the full provisions of the Community Land Act? Because there is a plan does not mean that there is necessarily the will or the power to carry it out – particularly the positive proposals.

Some More Suggestions

During the time which this study has taken to prepare many projects have been suggested whereby the villagers may improve their own lot or that of other villagers. In that time two such projects have been successfully started – the publishing of the quarterly Charfield Newsletter, and the restarting of the Youth Club. Having due regard to the resources available, and not wishing to prejudice the many other activities going on in the village we should particularly like to encourage the following projects:–

  1. The setting up of a Street Warden Scheme to ensure that those in need are offered suitable help when it is required. There will be an open meeting in the Village Hall on Thursday September 23rd at which an experienced social worker will explain how such a scheme might operate.
  2. If there is still no progress on the play area at Little Bristol very serious consideration should be given to a voluntary labour scheme.
  3. The village could next year, with its future more certain, consider consolidating itself and tidying up a bit. The “Best Kept Village Competition” might provide a suitable focus of activity.
  4. Suitable maps have been obtained in the course of the Study for a Tree Survey. This could now be done, preferably with the help of the local schools under expert guidance. Some trees suitable for Tree Preservation Orders have been suggested in Northavon's “Alternative Development Options”. The survey would certainly find others and could identify areas where additional planting would be of most benefit.

Information Sheet

The Parish of Charfield in the County of Avon

The Parish of Charfield in the County of Avon

Information Sheet. Price 10p

Local Government

Charfield Parish Council

Clerk:Mrs J Hughes, x Berkeley Close, Tel. Falfield 6xx
Chairman:Mr C H T Goscombe, Northcliff, xxx Merlin Haven, Wotton under Edge.
Vice-chairman:  Mr J G Poskett, xx Charfield Green.
Parish Councillors:
 Mr R K Baker, Manor Farm, Churchend
 Mrs S C Barrance, xxx Manor Lane.
 Mr J W Clothier, xx Charfield Green.
 Mr S A Mussell, x Manor Lane.
 Mr P Peaster, xxx Manor Lane.
 Mr D G Prately, xx Wotton Rd.
 Mr D Parker, xx Durham Rd.
Northavon District Council
Clerks, Treasurers, Housing
and Personnel Departments
Council Offices, Stokefield House,
Castle Street, Thornbury, Bristol BS12 1HF
Tel. Thornbury 416262
Technical Services, Planning
and Environment Departments,
Valuer and Estates Officer
Council Offices, Chipping Sodbury,
Bristol BS17 6ER
Tel. Chipping Sodbury 313501
District Councillor
(Charfield Ward)
Mr J Tully
x Orchard View, Falfield
Avon County Council
 PO Box 11, Avon House
The Haymarket, Bristol BS99 7DE
Tel. Bristol 290777
County Councillor
(Thornbury No 3 Ward)  
Mr J D R Cooper
xx High St, Thornbury
Parliamentary Constituency of South Gloucestershire
Member of Parliament  Mr John Cope
House of Commons
London S.W. 1
Mr Cope's agent is Mr Frank C Payne, who may be contacted in office hours and on Saturday mornings on Chipping Sodbury 312065

Health and Social Services

Doctors  Dr. B.C. Jones
Dr. J.C. Margerison  
Dr. J.K. Roberts
1 Culverhay, Wotton under Edge
General calls, Tel. W.u.E. 3252
Appointments, Tel. W.u.E. 3893
 Dr. R.J. Rowlands
Dr. M.P. Rowlands
Dr. H.G. Smith
Chipping Manor, Wotton u Edge
General Calls, Tel. W.u.E. 2214
Appointments, Tel. W.u.E. 2850
Health VisitorMrs. F. Storey, Thornbury Health Centre, Tel. Thorn. 414477
Charfield Child Health ClinicHeld at the Memorial Hall on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays every month from 10.00 am until 12 noon.
DentistsMr. R.J. Heyluer and Mr. Kitchen, Carlton House, Long St, Wotton under Edge, Tel. W.u.E. 2266. There are also several dentists in the Thornbury and Dursley area for those who wish to travel further afield.
HospitalsFrenchay Hospital. All enquires Tel. Bristol 565656
Southmead Hospital. Administrative Office Tel. Bristol 622821
(Both of these hospitals have Casualty Departments)
ChemistsD. Ivel Rees Ltd, 3 Long St, Wotton under Edge, Tel. W.u.E. 3171
R. Westons Ltd, 9 High St, Wotton under Edge, Tel. W.u.E. 3230
These chemists stay open until 6.30 pm on weekdays on a rota basis. In emergency after hours contact Mr. McLusky, xx Parklands, Wotton under Edge, Tel. W.u.E. 2xxx
Social ServicesDistrict Offices: 32 Gloucester Rd, Thornbury, Tel. 413556
244 Station Road, Yate, Tel. Chipping Sodbury 314859
(for all enquires relating to visits of social workers, the home help service, services for the elderly and/or handicapped, etc.)
 Department of Health and Social Security, Godwin House, Wilder Street, Bristol, Tel Bristol 48011
(for all claims and payments – sickness, unemployed, maternity, supplementary benefit, etc.)
Family Planning ClinicsThe Health Centre, Yate, Tel. Chipping Sodbury 313378
Thursday evening 6.30 to 8.00 pm.
 Wotton under Edge Clinic – 1st Tuesday in each month 2 – 4 pm
By appointment – Tel. W.u.E. 2236 3rd Tuesday in each month or contact Health Visitor. 9.30 – 11 am
 Dursley – next to Police Station. By appointment, Mondays and Thursdays 7 – 9 pm., Tel. Dursley 2784

Village Organisations

Angling ClubD Booth, Plough Inn, Wotton Rd, Tel. W.u.E. 3323
Bingo ClubE Orton, xx Wotton Rd.
British LegionS A Mussell, x Manor Lane, Tel. Falfield 5xx
BrowniesMrs J A Green, x Horsford Rd, Tel. W.u.E. 3xxx
Chess ClubHeadquarters at the Railway Tavern
Child Welfare ClinicMrs F Storey, Thornbury Health Centre, Tel. 414477 (Held in the Memorial Hall, 2nd & 4th Thursdays each month)
Congregational ChurchMiss Turner, xx Charfield Green
Conservative AssnMr & Mrs C F North, x Station Rd, Tel. W.u.E. 3xxx
Cricket ClubA Freegard, x Willow Park
CubsMrs A M Booth, Plough Inn, Wotton Rd, Tel. W.u.E. 3323
Drama GroupMrs P Simkiss, x Underhill Rd, Tel. Falfield 6xx
Football ClubF Shallcross, x Durham Rd, Tel. Falfield 2xx
Friendship ClubMrs Derham, xx Charfield Green.
Luncheon ClubMrs J Till, x Underhill Rd, Tel. Falfield 5xx
Netball ClubMrs J Hillier, xx Manor Lane.
Parochial Church CouncilRev. K Grant, The Rectory, Wotton Rd, Tel. Falfield 489
Pigeon ClubMr & Mrs P C Mann, xx Charfield Green.
PlaygroupMrs C Tarry, xx Wotton Rd, Tel. Falfield 4xx
Playing Field and Management CommitteeMrs J Clothier, xx Charfield Green, Tel. Falfield 6xx
Mrs P Smith, xx Avon Rd, Tel. Falfield 8xxx (Bookings for the Village Hall)
CHADRAMrs D Williams, xx Durham Rd, Tel. Falfield 8xxx
School County PrimaryMr D Malpass (headmaster) Tel. Falfield 5xx
ScoutsW H Goff, xx Underhill Rd, Tel. Falfield 8xxx
Tennis ClubMrs J Swallow, xx Manor Lane.
WIMrs K Jotcham, Old Rectory, Tel. Falfield 2xx
Young WivesMrs J Hendy, xx Durham Rd, Tel. Falfield 4xx
Youth ClubP Peaster, xxx Manor Lane, Tel. Falfield 5xx
WRVSMrs K Jotcham, Old Rectory, Tel. Falfield 2xx

Other Useful Information

SchoolsCharfield County Primary School, Wotton Rd, Tel. Fal. 518
Katherine Lady Berkeley Comprehensive School, Kingswood, Wotton under Edge, Tel. W.u.E. 2227
PlaygroupMrs C. Tarry, xx Wotton Road, Tel. Falfield 4xx
PolicePC White, Charfield Police House, Tel. W.u.E. 2219
(This station is not manned for 24 hrs each day. If no reply, please call E. Division HQ on Bristol 565333
ElectricityMEB, Severn Vale District Office, Bowling Hill, Chipping Sodbury. Tel. Chipping Sodbury 318380
WaterBristol Waterworks Company (Head Office), Bedminster Down, Bristol. Tel. Bristol 665881. For faults outside normal working hours, ask operator for Freefone 981.
Avon OilsMonk Meadows Dock, Hempsted, Gloucester
Boiler Maintenance and Emergency Service. Tel. Gloucs 29965
Accounts Queries and other enquiries. Tel. Bristol 293142
Samaritans37 St Nicholas Street, Bristol 1. Tel. Bristol 298787
Citizens Advice Bureau  YMCA Building, Station Road, Yate. Tel. C. Sodbury 318860
(also, opening in October 1976 for one day a week, Berkeley House, Long St, Wotton under Edge)
Sports HallKatherine Lady Berkeley School, Kingswood, Wotton under Edge. Mr J. Mapstone. Tel. W.u.E. 2626
Bristol OmnibusLocal Service Enquiries. Tel. W.u.E. 3115
LibrariesA mobile library visits Charfield once a fortnight on Mondays. The timetable is:
    2.00 pm Marklove Cottage
    2.10 pm Pear Tree
    2.35 pm Little Bristol
    2.50 pm Station Approach
    3.25 pm Tafarn Bach
Enquiries:– Tel. Yate 312475
Other libraries at Wotton under Edge, Tel. W.u.E. 2115 and at Thornbury, Tel. Thornbury 414197
Early ClosingWotton under Edge – Wednesday
Thornbury & Dursley – Thursday

This information sheet is produced by CHADRA, the Charfield and District Residents Association. Would anyone who notices an error or who has a suggestion for additional information please contact – The Secretary, Mrs D Williams, xx Durham Rd, Tel. Falfield 8xxx

Centre of Charfield

The Whole Parish – Showing Outlying Areas and Footpaths

The Whole Parish – Showing Outlying Areas and Footpaths

Transcriber Notes

Digitization by Brendan O'Connor.

Personal phone numbers and addresses have been redacted.

Minor typographical corrections and presentational changes have been made without comment.