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Heritage Interpretation History of the Pier

New Flag. New Jerseys. Such extravagance!

Local Clevedon Historian and Archive Volunteer Jane Lilly recently rootled out another bit of the story of the pier. It involves new sweaters and a new flag – a perfect story for a dull November Friday. ……………

After the Clevedon Local Board of Health took over ownership of the pier in March 1891, they had a new pier head built, at a better angle to the tide for ships landing passengers. The pier and indeed the ships, had suffered damage previously as a result of the tide slamming the vessels against the landing stage.

In June 1894, the old flagstaff from the pier head was moved to the Green Beach and erected on the point that divided Little Harp Bay from the Long Beach – that’s the beach with the Marine Lake now at the western end. For many years this was called Flagstaff Point, and only ceased to exist after the storms of the 1990s, when the flagstaff finally fell, having been replaced with what would seem to be similar to a long scaffolding pole. It was not replaced following the storm, but Ralph Fryer rescued it and it now lives with the Pier Archive! Read the full story of the life of the pier flagstaff on this link.

However, more is added to the story in the Clevedon Mercury of the 7th July 1894, when it is revealed that the local authority was feeling extravagant. They not only purchased a new flag for the new flagstaff on the pier, but laid out good coin on new jerseys for their employees, the two pier porters, Mr James Sims and Mr William Hyett.

Photo provided by Jane Lilly. 

Two men working for the pier.

Date unknown.

Wearing the jerseys of the type worn by the pier porters.

These two men were both master mariners and both from Gloucestershire. After the railway had stolen trade from both the Stroudwater Canal and the ferry at Framilode, a number of mariners had moved down the coast to Clevedon and these two were among them. William Hyett also imported coal for his father-in-law George Thomas, who ran a coal dealership at Old Church Road West End, Clevedon, travelling regularly to Lydney and Newport in his 66 ton ship the Jane – probably a trow, a type of boat particular to the Severn and Bristol Channel. You can find out more about a Severn Trow, just like the Jane, on this link to the Royal Museums Greenwich.

James Sims came from Framilode,  as did Captain John Gower Rowles, the pier master. When Sims was homeless with his wife and seven young children after a house fire in 1898, Captain Rowles started up a collection to help them rent another house. How fascinating that Clevedon didn’t seem able to supply its own mariners for these jobs, being a seaside town!

By Clevedon Pier Archive

Stories that tell the history and heritage of Clevedon Pier and town using the collections held in the Clevedon Pier and Heritage Trust Archive

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