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Nailsea Glassworks

John Robert Lucas was born in 1754. After his father Robert Lucas died in 1774, he took over his beer and cider works in Bristol and his shares in a glass making business in Limekiln Lane, Bristol. In 1781 John Robert married Anna Adams and they had a son and two daughters. In 1787 he leased a glassworks at Stanton Wick.

John Robert Lucas established a glass works at Nailsea in 1788. He chose Nailsea as the site for his new glassworks because of the abundance of coal produced by the mines around the town and local supplies of sand and limestone. He may also have been influenced by plans for the Grand Western Canal, which would have linked the English and Bristol Channels with a branch to Nailsea. However only the section from Tiverton to Taunton was ever built.

Lucas's company was called Nailsea Crown Glass and Glass Bottle Manufacturers. Initially one cone shaped kiln and a furnace were built at Nailsea. A second glass furnace was built there in 1790. In 1793 John Robert Lucas went into partnership with William Chance, Edward Homer and William Coathupe. In 1788 William Chance had married John Robert's sister Sarah and Edward Homer had married John Robert's sister Mary.

In addition to window glass and bottles, the Nailsea Glassworks also produced domestic ware and novelty items such as flasks, rolling pins, pipes, jugs and walking sticks, which were sometimes decorated with flecks, loops or bands of white or coloured enamel. Most of these items were produced by workers at the end of their shifts using leftover pieces of glass.

In 1811 William and Sarah Chance's son, Robert Lucas Chance, took over the management of the Nailsea works and married his cousin Louisa, the daughter of Mary and Edward Homer. In 1812 he persuaded John Hartley, the leading crown glass expert in the country, to come and work at Nailsea.

The partnership of Lucas, Chance, Homer and Coathupe lasted until 1821 when William Chance sold all of his shares and Edward Homer sold part of his to William Coathupe. Edward Homer's son James Edward Homer was taken into the partnership at this time and the company traded as Lucas, Coathupe and Homer.

John Robert Lucas died in 1828 and was buried at Backwell. Most of his estate passed to his grandsons John Rodbard Bean and Henry Lucas Bean.

The New House Cone was built at Nailsea c1828. Experienced sheet glass blowers were recruited from France and Belgium from the 1830s, due a shortage of skilled British glass blowers. By 1835 Nailsea was the fourth largest glassworks in Britain. Bottle making ceased at Nailsea in the 1830s in favour of plate, crown and sheet window glass.

In 1835 a partnership called Lucas, Coathupes, Homer and Cliffe was formed to run the business. In 1844 the company became Coathupes & Co with Charles and Oliver Coathupe, John and Henry Bean and James Edward Homer as shareholders. In the 1840s a new cone known as the Lilly or Lily Cone was built.

In 1848 Charles Coathupe retired and Oliver Coathupe became manager at the Nailsea works. Over the next 25 years there were various changes in the partnership and shareholdings. In 1861 the Nailsea works were closed for a while and the following year they were leased to Samuel Bowen, a glass merchant from West Bromwich, and John Powis of London. They traded as Nailsea Glass Company and made patented ventilating glass, cut glass and coloured glass for stained glass windows. Samuel Bowen became bankrupt in 1869 and he and Powis surrendered their lease. In 1870 the Nailsea works were sold to Chance Bros of Smethwick, together with a coal mine on the same site.

Glass production ceased at Nailsea in 1873, due to competition from cheap Belgian imports and the decline in production from the Nailsea Coalfield, and the works were closed in 1874. The New House Cone was demolished in 1905. Some of the rubble from it was supposedly used to build the extension to the runway at Filton in the late 1940s.

Extensive archaeological excavations began on the glassworks site in 1983 and continued for several years. In 2002 a supermarket was built on part of the site. The only surviving building is the one which housed the French kilns, and gas-fired furnaces. This was later converted into the Royal Oak Garage.

A collection of Nailsea Glass items can be seen at the National Trust's Clevedon Court. However much of what is today described as Nailsea Glass was not made at Nailsea but was made in the same style elsewhere in England e.g. Stourbridge.

High St, Nailsea, Glassblower Sculpture
The Glassblower Sculpture, High St, Nailsea



This was sculpted by Vanessa Marston and unveiled in 2008

Nailsea Glassworks Cauldron
Glassworks Cauldron, High St, Nailsea

This would have been filled with cold water into which surplus molten glass would have been ladled. Once the glass had cooled and solidified it was broken up and used to speed up the melt of the next batch of sand, limestone and soda.

Nailsea Former Glassworks Building
Former Glassworks Building, later the Royal Oak Garage, High St, Nailsea
Nailsea Glassworks
Drawing showing the layout of Nailsea Glassworks c1873
Tile 1 Nailsea Glassworks
Nailsea Glassworks Tile 1
tile 2 Nailsea Glassworks
Nailsea Glassworks tile 2



Two glazed ceramic tile panels illustrating the glassworks and its various manufacturing processes. The panels were designed and produced by Ned Heywood of the Workshop Gallery in Chepstow. They incorporate fragments of glass excavated from the site. They are on display on the outside wall of Tesco's Supermarket.

Success for the Crumbs City Trail app for Weston

An app, which has been launched to help Weston residents and visitors find historic landmarks in and around the seaside town, has exceeded targets and is the second most downloaded walk, and more popular than the Buckingham Palace trail.

The Crumbs City Trail mobile app, which has been launched under the Heritage Action Zone, takes the user on a walking route scattered with clues and trivia questions all based around the history of Weston.

Cara MacMahon, Heritage Action Zone Officer, said: "We are delighted with the positive response from local residents and visitors. Weston is a treasure trove of hidden historic gems and we welcome anything that highlights the beautiful architecture we have here.

The ‘Great Weston' Trail is on The Crumbs City Trails App. To find out more about Crumbs City Trails go to

Crumbs City Trails app is a free download. You will be asked to register and sign in to download the app. Available from Apple store and Google Play.

Norman Font, St Augustine’s Church, Locking

The highly decorated rectangular carved stone font in St Augustine's Church at Locking probably dates from the 12th century. At each corner there is a human figure with both arms outstretched to meet the hands of the figures on the adjacent corners. The figures are alternately male and female. Three of the four sides are also highly decorated with intertwined Celtic serpent designs. The fourth side is plainer with two bands of chevrons, probably because in its original location this side faced a wall.

The font originally stood on one central pillar. Four corner pillars were added in the 19th century for extra support. The head-dresses of the four figures were cut off in the 19th century when the rim of the font was reduced in height to make it level.

St Augustine's Church was probably founded by the monks of Woodspring Priory in the 13th century. The oldest part of the present church is the tower, which dates from 1380, but this may have been built on the site of an earlier church.

Font 2 St Augustine's Church
Font showing chevrons and serpents
St Augustine's Church
Intertwined serpents on the font
font 1, St Augustine's Church
Serpents and human figures
Locking St Augustine's
St Augustine’s Church Locking

Historic England request

Historic England is asking the public to share their knowledge of England’s secret, unknown and forgotten memorials. They want photographs and information about lesser-known memorials, and those that are well-loved by small groups or communities but unknown nationally. It is also looking for rituals and activities attached to memorials. The stories and pictures contributed by the public will be recorded to form part of an exhibition in the autumn. The best examples of community memorials may be listed.

If you know of any forgotten memorials in North Somerset, head to Historic England’s website and share your pictures!

Don’t forget to put any photos on Know Your Place too!

Frederic Weatherly – Songwriter

Frederick Edward Weatherly, songwriter and barrister, was born at 7 Wood Hill (now 63 Woodhill Road) in Portishead on 4th October 1848. He was educated at Hereford Cathedral School and Oxford University. After graduating he remained at Oxford and worked as a teacher. In December 1872 he married Anna Maria Hardwick in Worle and they had a son and two daughters. They later separated and he lived with Maude Francfort for many years.

At some point in his adult life Frederick dropped the k from the end of his name and became Frederic. In 1887 he left teaching to qualify as a barrister in London. In 1893 he joined the western circuit and moved to Clifton, Bristol. In 1900 he moved to Bath where he continued to work as a barrister. Frederic's wife Anna died in 1920. Maude Francfort died in 1923 and later the same year Frederic married a widow, Mrs Miriam Bryan. He died in Bathwick on 7th September 1929 after a short illness and was buried at Bathwick Cemetery.

Frederic Weatherly published his first song lyrics, poems, two novels, many children’s books, and librettos for cantatas and oratorios while he was living in Oxford. He went on to write the words to many of the most popular songs in the English-speaking world in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His songs were performed by the leading singers of the time. He also translated several Italian and French operas into English.

Frederic Weatherly claimed to have published more than 1,500 songs in total. Dozens of them were extremely popular in his lifetime, and several of them, including Nancy Lee (1876), The Holy City (1892), Danny Boy (1912) set to the tune of ‘Londonderry Air’, and Roses of Picardy (1916) remained popular after his death.

Portishead, 63 Woodhill Road
63 Woodhill Road, Portishead
Plaque, 63 Woodhill Road
Commemorative plaque on the front of 63 Woodhill Road, Portishead
Portishead, Weatherly Drive
Weatherly Drive, Portishead

FREE Know Your Place Training workshops

Adding contributions to the Community Layer

North Somerset is part of "Know Your Place", an online mapping and local history project. This is a free digital mapping project which allows users to explore the heritage of their local area through old maps, archive images and linked information. From the coastal communities of Portishead, Clevedon and Weston, further inland to Blagdon and Leigh Woods, you can now discover how North Somerset has been transformed over time.

You can access the map here:

Know Your Place logo
Know Your Place project logo

Visitors will be able to upload and share their own information about the area to help build a rich and diverse community map and discover how North Somerset has transformed over time. In order to help those who wish to add such information, North Somerset Council will be running FREE training workshops around the district in March and May 2018. The workshops in May will tie in with Local and Community History Month.

The aim of Local and Community History Month is to increase awareness of local history, promote history in general to the local community and encourage all members of the community to participate.

The workshops will be taking place as follows:

Wednesday 14th March – Clevedon Library – 10.30am to 12pm

Wednesday 16th May – Yatton Library – 10.30am to 12pm

Wednesday 16th May – Long Ashton Library – 1.30pm to 3pm

Tuesday 22nd May – Pill Library – 10.30am to 12pm

Wednesday 23rd May – Portishead Library – 1.30pm to 3pm

In order to guarantee a place on the free training workshop, you will need to book onto the relevant session via Eventbrite. Please search for ‘Adding contributions to the Community Layer' in the events in your local area.

If you would like any more information, please email


Langford History Group events coming up


The Langford History Group have some new events coming up this season.
  • Thu, Mar 8th: Domesday Book and the locality
  • Thu, Apr 12th: Commercial Archaeology Uncovered
  • Thu, May 10th: Gardens of the Wills Houses
  • Thu, Jun 14th: Wrington Walk

Membership of the Group is £10 annually, and allows free access to all the meetings and access to the records. Visitors are more than welcome to individual meetings for a nominal fee of £2 to cover speakers' costs. See the Langford History Group website for more details.

History with a difference!

Four fully illustrated Civic Society lectures delivered in the comfort of a Weston hostelry by John Crockford-Hawley. On Mondays 5th, 12th, 29th and 26th March, John will be delivering talks on ‘The History of Weston’. The topics will be:

  • 5th March: A Flock of First & A string of Seconds. How Weston leads the world..
  • 12th March: Chuff Chuff to the Seaside. How the railway has played a significant role in Weston’s development.
  • 19th March: To the Manor Born. Grove House and the Smyth-Piggotts.
  • 26th March: Weston at War. Weston in WWI and WWII, with some amazing photographs.

All talks will be held at the Imperial, South Parade, BS23 1JN at 7.30pm. Pre-booking essential. Please see details on the Civic Society webpage.

Milestones and Mileposts

Milestones and mileposts are stones or short pillars set up at the roadside indicating the distance in miles from that point to a particular place or places. The first milestones in England were erected by the Romans, who constructed good metalled roads to enable them to move soldiers and supplies quickly across the country. They measured out distances to assist with timing and efficiency and marked every 1,000 double paces with a large cylindrical stone. 117 of these stones still survive in the UK, although most of them are no longer in their original locations. The Latin word for thousand is ‘mille' and the Roman mile was 1618 yards long. In England the statute mile of 1,760 yards was defined by Act of Parliament in 1593 but various other miles continued in use in many parts of Britain until the 19th century.

In 1697 an Act of Parliament enabled Justices of the Peace to order the erection of inscribed waymarkers known as guide stoops or guideposts at the intersection of paths in remote moorland areas. These stone guide stoops, which often resembled farm gateposts, pointed the way to the nearest market town.

From the late 17th century to the 1840s Turnpike Trusts were set up by Acts of Parliament to improve the state of Britain's roads, which often became impassable in the winter months. Local groups of wealthy people paid for improved roads to be built and then charged people tolls for using them. The turnpike milestones of the 18th and early 19th centuries used statute miles. At first these milestones were made of stone or were engraved in walls of buildings but the later ones were made of cast iron. After 1767 milestones were compulsory on all turnpike roads to inform travellers, to help coaches keep to schedules and for the calculation of charges for the changes of horses at coaching inns.

Most milestones and mileposts were removed or defaced at the beginning of the Second World War to confuse the Germans in the event of an invasion and not all were replaced afterwards. Some have been demolished more recently during road widening schemes and others have been damaged by vehicles colliding with them or by hedge cutting equipment. However several have survived in North Somerset.

Portishead Guidestone
1733 guidestone at the junction of Clapton Lane and Clevedon Road, Portishead
Nailsea Milepost
Bristol Turnpike Trust’s 1837 cast iron milepost in Clevedon Road, Nailsea
Tickenham Milepost
Somerset County Council’s 1911 milepost in Clevedon Road, Tickenham
Chelvey Batch Milestone and Milepost
Bristol Turnpike Trust’s 1823 cast iron milepost and an older milestone on the A370 at Chelvey Batch

Gems of Weston heritage walk

As part of the Heritage Action Zone initiative a new walk has been developed through Weston-super-Mare. The walk aims to highlight some of the wonderful buildings we have in the town and encourages you to ‘look up' to enjoy the architectural gems in Weston. Local artist John Hickley has taken some of the key features and developed a lovely map of the walk. Follow the link to access the PDF of the walk Gems of Weston Walk 2018

Heritage Action Zones, Historic England
Heritage Action Zones, Historic England