Colin remembers misbehaving in Bedminster in the 1930s.
This story was created by people interested in Bristol’s mining history in and around the Bedminster area. It was led by Aikaterini Gegisian, Paddy Uglow and Katie White and was supported by Bristol’s Museums, Galleries & Archives.
I remember being a boy, playing at Dean Lane Park in the late 1930s. The park was all gravel apart from an 8 foot boundary of shrubs with iron railings to protect the plants from us little boys.
In the park there was one area that always attracted us as boys – girls we never bothered with, it was just boys, we could enjoy ourselves well. On the right hand side of the park, looking up from Dean Lane entrance, the top corner was a mound of slag. This was made of coal dust and waste.
Through decomposition, generated by gas damp, when hot would ignite upon meeting the surface and, to us kids, looked like a miniature volcano and, seeing the flames and being Bedminster lads, we would collect sticks and twigs to keep the flames burning ‘til the fire brigade arrived.
We had to back away and let them get on with it and put the flames out.
In the late 1938, the fire brigade was being expanded into the National Fire Service (NFS). Much to our amusement, they used it at Dean Lane park as a practice and training area.
With the onset of the second world war, and the risk of flames from the slag heap breaking the Blackout restrictions, the NFS would use gallons of water to flood the slag heap to prevent it from igniting. Now to us kids, that was an additional bit of sport, because the rivulets of black water ran down to fill the gully that emptied into the drain at the bottom of the park. Us kids dammed the gully to make a flood to play battleships with pieces of wood. What we would’ve done without Clarks timber yard providing bits of timber to make it into battleships, and occasionally swords and daggers for us when we re-enacted all the films we had seen up at the Town Hall.
The Park Keeper to me appeared round and pretentious. When he though our time was up, he would knock down the dam to keep his park prim and proper, and pretend to chase us away.
That was fun, because we always said he was too old and too fat to even catch us. No abuse, no back-chat, we knew our time was up.
The slag heap is no more. That corner, too, is now changed and well beyond my recollection. Just a memory of my childhood.
Fire engine created by PhillipC, www.flickr.com, used under copyright licence.
Flames created by Darwin Bell, www.flickr.com, used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence.
Volcano created by Superlei, www.flcikr.com, used under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 licence.
Water picture created by Naomi Ibuki, www.flickr.com, used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence.
Hose picture created by Jef Poskanzer, www.flickr.com, used under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 licence.