Is this you?

As we go through the project we are collecting lots of old photographs. Some come with names and dates but others don’t. We will post some of them here, let us know if you recognise a friend, relative or even yourself – or if you can help us date a photograph.

Photograph 1. Sea Mills School 1932

view close up versions

A series of small challenges…

One of the most exciting and visible parts of the Sea Mills 100 project is the renovation of the phone box in Sea Mills Square on the junction of Shirehampton Road with St Edyth’s Road to turn it into our mini-museum in time for the 100th anniversary in June.

After the phone in the kiosk was disconnected by BT the box was officially “adopted” by Sea Mills Community Initiatives in order to put it to community use. It’s already housed our christmas tree and lights and now it’s time to get started on turning it into our museum. This is as the title suggests a “series of small challenges”. Our box currently is without most of its glass, the door doesn’t close properly, a transom bar is missing and it’s slightly the wrong colour. Also we don’t have the power supply we need to light it or to power the audio interpretation we would like to put in our museum.

All phone boxes have some sort of power supply, apparently a few rural ones ran on batteries but most have an unmetered mains supply, ours did but we adopted it as disconnected, without the supply. We have been looking into getting this reconnected, the alternative would be some sort of solar power arrangement. To cut a long story short, after speaking to Western Power this weeks small challenge is to get into the fusebox area of the phone box to see if the wiring is still connected. Challenge one – identify the tool needed to remove the security panel. Challenge two – find and order said tool. I’m sure the there will be further challenges but at the moment we await the removal of the panel!

We will keep you posted but if you can help, please get in touch. We’ll be looking very soon for an electrician to help us with our installation, it could be your quickest “whole building rewire” ever!

Children’s work – library exhibition

In November 2018 we ran “Snack, Chat and Reminisce”, a chance for older residents to get together over a cuppa and some cake and share memories at St Edyth’s Church.

The group were joined by a year 6 class from Sea Mills Primary School who had been learning about the area and about interviewing people. They had lots of questions to ask.

Now the children have written up the stories they were told and they are on display at Sea Mills Library along with some historic photos of the area. Pop along and have a look.

Snack, Chat and Reminisce was made possible with additional funding from Heritage Schools, LinkAge and the support of Local Learning.

Find out about your home – Sat Feb 2nd & Wed Feb 6th

Free workshops
Bristol Archives

B Bond Warehouse, Smeaton Rd, Bristol BS1 6XN

Sat 2nd February 1.30pm (FULL)
Wed 6th February 1.30pm (FULL)

(both identical 2 hour workshops)

We have arranged free workshops with Bristol Archives to show us how we can find out about our homes and the people that lived in them when they were new. A lot of our homes in Sea Mills were built in the 1920’s and would have housed returning veterans of WW1, however some houses were later, and a few have been around a lot longer. Come and find out when your home was built and start to find out who lived there. We will also be looking at public buildings and the history of the estate. We’ll be looking mainly at houses in Sea Mills Coombe Dingle, but if you don’t live in the immediate area you could still come and help as there will be lots to do.

The information we gather will form part of a heritage trail and our mini-museum which opens in the old red phone box on Sea Mills Square in June 2019.

Email us to book

NEWS: New Year, new video, new you tube channel!

Happy New Year everyone, it’s time to get this project really going. In the next few weeks we will be booking visits to our local record office and getting started with researching into the estate and into our own homes. The information we find will be used in our heritage trail and our mini-museum in the phone box on the Square. The trail will take place over the weekend of 8/9 June 2019 and the mini-museum will also open that weekend and stay for a year.  Look our for news of developments here, on our social media, mailouts and on the noticeboards at the Cafe on the Square, outside the old Ironmongers and of course keep an eye on the phone box on the Square.

We have also opened a new you tube channel  for the video clips we will generate during the project. We hope you enjoy our New Year video below, it’s also on our you tube channel along with our Christmas lights switch on for those who missed it.

NEWS: Christmas lights switch on

Sea Mills Xmas Tree

Despite poor weather quite a crowd gathered last Tuesday 18th December 2018 to watch long-standing local Sea Mills resident, WW2 veteran Stan Tozer turn on possibly the most unusual Christmas lights in the country. Our lit tree is causing quite a stir as it’s INSIDE a disused phone box on Sea Mills Square – on the junction of Shirehampton Road and St Edyth’s Road in north Bristol.

The tree will be lit every evening over the Christmas period and see us into 2019 which mark 100 years of the Sea Mills estate. Selfies are definitely encouraged! #SeaMillsTree

The tree was made possible with the financial support of: Keith and Gill Bonham, Collistear Hair and Beauty, Sea Mills Together and Sea Mills Community Initiatives. The decorations were made by local school children.

Stan Tozer turns on Sea Mills Christmas lights
Photo by Dave Mallard

Sea Mills Xmas Tree
Photo: Mary Milton

Sea Mills Xmas Tree
Photo: Mary Milton




EVENT: Christmas lights switch on

For the brave hearted this evening (18th Dec 2018) we will be switching on the lights in the Square at 6.55pm. We will then be going down to St Edyth’s Church as Carols on the Square have been relocated there due to the rain. Refreshments  afterwards.
If you miss the switch on please have a look on your way home! Selfies encouraged #SeaMillsTree


Everyone is invited to our Christmas Tree lights switch on
Tuesday 18th December 6.55pm followed by Carols on the Square.

Sea Mills Square, red phone box. Switch on by long standing local resident. WWII veteran Stan Tozer.

Kindly sponsored by: Keith and Gill Bonham, Collistear Hair and Beauty, Sea Mills Together and Sea Mills Community Initiatives.

Phone boxes

phone box and oak

The current red phone box in Sea Mills Square no longer has a phone inside and has been adopted by Sea Mills Community Initiatives. As part of the Sea Mills 100 heritage project it will be converted into a mini museum which will open in June 2019 and stay for a year. If you would like to help please get in touch.

The current phone box is a K6 designed by Gilbert Scott and introduced in 1936 to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of King George V

Previously there was another phone box on this site. It has features similar to a K1 Mark 235 or  K1 Mrk 236, which was made of concrete, they were first used in 1922 which would be right for the origins of the estate.

Photo: Vaughan postcard  know your place

There was also another phone box at one time at the other end of St Edyths Road by the Pentagon which looks more like the later K6. Does anyone remember that?

Photo: Postcard, collection of Mary Milton

Incidentally. Do we think this is the Addison Oak? Or is that further back?

UPDATE: We can be sure now that the tree in the black and white photo above is definitely not the oak. You can see both trees in the later photo below.

Post boxes

A lot of the street furniture in Sea Mills dates back to the origins of the estate. It turns out some of it is pretty unusual too. Most pilar boxes have the initials of the reigning monarch on them which also helps to date them. Indeed most of the pillar boxes on the estate, like this one on the corner of East Parade include George V’s initials 1910 – 1936.

As the estate started to be built in 1919 is what you would expect.

However the pillar box on the Pentagon has no initials and was made by a company in Scotland. What is the story behind this one?

According to this is a 1950’s pillar box made for use in Scotland.

“In Scotland there were protests when the first boxes made in the reign of Elizabeth II were produced. These bore the cypher “E II R” but there were objections because Queen Elizabeth is the first Queen of Scotland and of the United Kingdom to bear that name, Elizabeth I having been Queen of England only. After several E II R pillar boxes were blown up by improvised explosive devices, the General Post Office (as it was at that time) replaced them with ones which only bore the Crown of Scotland and no royal cypher.”

How did this post box, which also features the crown of Scotland come to be on a corner in Sea Mills?

UPDATE: A couple of long standing local residents remember the post box being vandalised about twenty years ago and replaced. This seems a likely explanation for why it’s different to the others on the estate. Perhaps Royal Mail just had this Scottish one spare to re-use?

History of Sea Mills

Sea Mills was built as a designed garden suburb on land gifted and sold by the Kingsweston estate, to meet the housing crisis following the First World War. Many of those first inhabitants were soldiers and their families returning from the horror of war and escaping poor, overcrowded housing no longer fit for purpose in other parts of the city.

Competition to live here among those first residents was high. Sea Mills’ design of cottage style architecture fitting neatly within the landscape, with focal points, allotments, tennis court, recreation ground, uniform plot sizes, front hedges, tree line streets and views to the landscape beyond has won praise over the century with John Betjeman calling it ‘that magic estate’ in 1937.

In the eighties it became one of the first council estates in the country to become a conservation area which was later extended following the successful ‘Save Sea Mills Garden Suburb’ Campaign.