Zion History Group – Tales of Bedminster Down and International Woman’s Day

With it being International Woman’s Day I thought it would be appropriate to pay tribute to the many woman who have had a pivotal role in the making of this great community of Bedminster Down.

At the end of the 19th Century the Community of Bedminster Down was still very much a mining area. It sat between the old Bristol Boundary at the bottom of what is now Bedminster Down Road and the Village of Bishopsworth, which was then in Somerset. As the years progressed and the building of a new housing estate came it was populated with many families that had moved from the poverty stricken areas of the City. This was still very much a male dominated society, something that wouldn’t change for a hundred years. It was the woman in the community that became the rock of all families, staying at home to raise the children, whilst the men worked, often long long hours or in subsequent years when they went  to serve their Country in two World Wars. When WWII ended many family’s were left short of a husband and father.

In 1927 when the first school opened in Cheddar Grove it had four staff. In charge was a Miss Salter, and Miss, Brown, Miss Orchard and Miss Pearce were her Assistant Teachers (as they were then called). The Infant school continued to have females at the helm with Miss Moon, Miss Latimer and Mrs Lovell dominating the years that followed.

Whilst Bedminster Down Boys’ Club had a male Leader, its success over the decades that followed can also be attributed to the huge volunteer support network it benefitted from – especially the Ladies Group. Initially ran by Mrs Hurditch (Eastlyn Road) it was driven for many years that followed by Stella Rogers (Brunel Road). The Ladies Group contributed thousands of pounds to the clubs fund raising over the years – including providing at last two new mini buses.

Our uniformed organisations always had women involved, and whilst that might be typical of the generation of its time, in this “new world” the work being undertaken by the likes of Charlotte at Blenheim Scouts, and the staff at St. Oswalds that are the forefront of providing what limited services that remain on this estate. “The Grove” as it was called at its inception was the dream of one local mother, determined to provide facilities for the young females of this estate.

I was lucky that I worked with some fantastic female colleagues over the years, both in Employment and in Youth Work. Yes, of course I saw discrimination at first hand, and its sad that in this 21st Century many industries are still so male dominated at a decision making level.

The Elected Local Councillors in South Bristol are both male, and it would seem that even Political Parties do not understand the concept of “balance”.

So, on this 2020 International Woman’s Day, I salute those woman from the Community of Bedminster Down who dedicated so much of their lives for the benefit of others. I see the work that goes on a daily basis, from those involved in the many support groups at Zion, to those who work with our young people, those who work with the vulnerable in our community and those who strive to bring about the change that is needed.

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