A clear indication of the growth of the village in this period, together with an increase in the work of the Parish Council, may be deduced from the figures recorded each year for council expenditure. New rateable values for parishes came into effect in 1956. Timsbury, previously valued at £5572, now had a rateable value of £9644, an increase, the clerk told the Council, of 73.1%. A 1d rate would bring in £40.3.8d, enough to cover general expenditure for the year, with an additional 3d lighting rate to meet the cost of street lighting. By 1970, the village had grown sufficiently for a 1d rate to bring in £150, and Council expenditure, estimated at £1200 for the year, including £450 for lighting, necessitated a rate of 8d.
During the 1960s, the village took on much of its present appearance. New houses were built in Lippiatt Lane, St. Mary’s Close, Hillview, Newman’s Lane, Radford Hill, Bloomfield and Southlands Drive. The Council, alarmed in the mid 60s at several reports of increasing numbers of rats, was anxious that ‘slums’ and derelict properties all over the village should be speedily demolished.
Redevelopment of the sites was a matter for the R.D.C. planning authorities. They were under no obligation to consult with Parish Councils, and not all their actions met with approval. The Council appealed for consideration to be given to the effect on the beauty of the landscape when trees were felled, and asked to be notified of any planning applications affecting the parish. Disappointed at the reply, the Council decided to ask the Association of Parish Councils to sponsor national action to make the notification of planning applications to Parish Councils a statutory requirement. A resolution to this effect was submitted to the National Conference of the Association, and Mr. Paul Dean, M.P., was asked to support any similar proposal in the House of Commons. (Today, Councils have the power to comment on planning applications which affect their parish. However, the planning authorities can reject any recommendations, and they are not obliged to give any reasons for their decisions.)
Much Council time was taken up with matters related to street lighting. Under pressure from S.W.E.B., and after a special meeting of Local Government Electors had given consent, the Council in 1957 took over ownership of the existing lamps at the transfer price of £48. 13.4d. The system was then gradually extended to include more and more of the parish, from Hook to Tyning, and from Foundry to Radford Hill, taking in the new estates in Lippiatt Lane, Bloomfield, and Southlands Drive. All the installation costs were met by ratepayers, who, not without occasional complaints, faced the highest individual rate in the district. Normal hours of lighting were from dusk to midnight, and from 5 am to dawn, all the year round. At Christmas time, the lights remained on all night. Dusk to dawn lighting all the year round was considered in 1965, but rejected.
The Council worked hard to provide amenities in the village. For years, there were almost annual requests for a second telephone kiosk in the village. In 1956, with 68 new houses at Lansdown Crescent, hopes of success were high, but the promised kiosk went to Meadgate. All subsequent requests have been refused, including the most recent in 1994. However, the Council’s persistence in another matter was rewarded when, in 1957, permission was granted for a letter box at Greenvale.
At a time when many parishioners regularly depended on public transport, bits shelters were particularly appreciated. Early attempts to obtain land for this purpose failed, so the Council considered ‘open shelters over pavements’. However, the existing pavements were too narrow to accommodate such shelters. By October 1958 two sites were being considered: one was part of a ‘slum clearance scheme’ opposite the then Church Room, now the British Legion’, the second was at the junction of North Road with Crocombe Lane. Early in 1960, an agreement to purchase land was delayed while the consent of the Minister of Housing and Local Government was sought, and a Planning Certificate obtained. At last in March 1961 the shelter was reportedly completed to satisfaction at a cost of 4|10 for the land, £20.3.6d for legal fees and £73. 10.0d for the shelter. The Council even succeeded in obtaining a donation of £5 from the Bristol Omnibus Company. Not until July 1963 was the Church Room shelter completed, at a cost of £137.10.0. Arrangements were made in 1964 for the shelters to be cleaned at a weekly rate of 2/6d each.
Problems with the supply of water to the parish from time to time have already been mentioned. In March 1957, the Council was urged to investigate complaints that the High Street area was ‘without water during the middle of the day and especially on Mondays’. To overcome the severe shortages of the hot, dry summer of 1959 static tanks were provided in The Square and at the Junior School in South Road. The Council appealed to residents in the lower areas of the village to be economical in their use of water, so that sufficient pressure was built up in the mains to supply the High Street area. Clutton R.D.C. was asked about its plans to prevent such failures in future. Following the dry summer of 1962, the Bristol Waterworks Company was thanked for having maintained supplies despite a period of shortage.
Concerns resurfaced in 1964, first as a protest against high charges despite low pressure, and then after a fire in the Square highlighted fears about a poor supply of water for the fire engines. The Council received assurances that if a large supply of water was necessary, a radio call from the fire tender would result in water to the surrounding area being cut off in order to concentrate supplies at the point of need.
The increase in road traffic, and some nasty accidents, prompted Council efforts to persuade the County Council to improve road markings and road signs in the parish. White lines, ‘cat’s eyes’, and the substitution of ‘Halt’ for ‘Slow’ signs at dangerous junctions have contributed to road safety in the parish. For many years, and with fatal consequences, the priority of Hayesfield Road over The Avenue at ‘Coalpit Corner’ was not made sufficiently plain. Perhaps the round-about suggested in 1956 will one day be adopted to make this awkward junction safer.
In the early 1960s there was a strong expectation that a proposed new secondary school to serve the area would be built in Timsbury. The project was warmly welcomed by the Council. When Somerset County Education Committee decided in 1962 to postpone building, the Council protested to the Chairman and asked that the school be given top priority in the next year’s programme. Shortly afterwards, the local M.P., Mr. Leather, visited Timsbury Secondary Modern School (now the Primary School), and it was reported that he intended to raise the matter in the House of Commons. Building was repeatedly postponed, and eventually in 1967, the scheme was abandoned, much to the disappointment of the council.
The minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting for 1966 contain the first recorded discussion of the need for a village hall, ‘for use by all sections of the community, at all hours of the day’. The matter was raised again a year later at a time when the Council had been asked to consider taking over responsibility for the local Miners’ Welfare Scheme. An Act of Parliament in 1920 had authorised a levy of 1d on every ton of coal in order to finance welfare and recreational schemes for miners. The result in Timsbury was the present Recreation Field, with a hut large enough for playing snooker. In November 1969, this land was transferred to ‘the inhabitants of Timsbury’ with the Parish Council acting as a Management Committee.
Within days, a public meeting was discussing ideas for the redevelopment of the field for the benefit of the parish. Proposals included a community hall with a car park, a bowling green, a swimming pool, and a children’s playground, together with improved sports facilities. A ‘Development Committee’ was set up to consider the possibilities. The Council voted in April 1970 to give its full support to the suggested village hall, and made an immediate grant of £200 to establish a children’s play area.
The importance of these developments will be well appreciated by all who use and enjoy the facilities now provided on the former Miners’ Welfare Field.
Another significant development took place in 1970. The Chairman since 1953, Mr. Roland Pickford, decided to stand down. His Vice-chairman for that period, Mr. Arthur Moon, took over as Chairman, an office which he held until 1992. His Vice-chairman for that period was Mr. Martyn Jeffs.
Reproduced from ‘Timsbury Parish Council 1894-1994’ by kind permission of the Council and the author Mrs V Packham.