Hanham Mill existed prior to 1670 and the original lock opened in 1727, with
the river downstream remaining tidal until 1809,
This old inn dates back to a time before the River Avon was navigable. At
that time the river right up to Bath was tidal, but only navigable on the
high tides as far as Hanham Mills. When you talk about navigable on the high
tides you mean that boats could proceed along the river for a maximum of 2
hours on each tide and it was not unusual for boats to take a week to travel
from Avonmouth to Hanham Mills. The river was however used quite extensively
on a tidal basis and there was a coal wharf at Conham, Hanham in 1643.
The improvements to the river were critical to the development of the
industry in the Avon valley with stone from Bickley Wood quarries being
loaded onto barges just below the weir. Today however the area is a secluded
In addition to the Old Lock and Weir Inn,
there are a group of about six dwellings perched overlooking the river and weir.
These cottages are set against an attractive backdrop of the mature wooded
valley which rises steeply to the rear.
The rank of cottages known as Riverside Cottages, Hanham were formerly known
as Couch’s Rank and John Couch is described as a quarry owner, barge owner,
land owner, landlord, brewer, and church warden at St George’s Church, Hanham
Abbots. He must have been one of the large industrialists of the valley and
lived in his residence to the rear of Couch’s
Rank, (Riverside Cottages).
He must have had a very queer sense of humour because a Latin inscription on
the side of one of the cottages, translated, means that the foolish build from
sacrifice for the wise people to enjoy life. Presumably he was one of the wise
died in 1864 at the age of 90 and, during a great many years of his life, he
kept a record of activities in the Avon Valley. He referred to this as his
‘Ledger’ and indeed it was a ledger combined with a diary in which all his
financial transactions were entered together with his comments of the day to
day activities in the vicinity.
referred to such things as what stone was used for, how it was dressed, to
whom it was sold, and by what method it was transported, i.e.. either by barge
or horse and cart. However, because of the sheer weight and bulk the barge
eventually moved all the stone from the Valley until proper roads were
constructed and wheeled traffic took over.
the names of Hanham men who worked in the quarries, and their ages in many
instances were quoted.
Despite theories about the expectation of life being not very great in those
days it was common to read of men in their eighties still working. For
instance March 6th, 1842 — Sunday morning at 10 o’clock William Britton of
Hanham Mills killed in his 85th year. John Benjamin was killed in his quarry
exactly under the road leading to the batch in Castle Farm Road Thursday
February 27th, 1806 age 82 years; his wife died Sunday February 28th, 1858 age
101, and was buried at Bitton. On September 7th, 1826 Farmer Fry died at
Hanham Green. He also records that Sam Perriman stole some mutton from his
dairy on March 7th, 1833. 'He carried it home but his wife would not dress it
because it was stolen and he threw it at her and there is a stain now against
the wall in the rank,' August 13th, 1836 - Boat racing at Hanham Mills. Two
men and a boy drowned. June 10th, 1834 — At about 1.00 am in the morning Mr
George Day at Hanham Lock shot Sam Ward in the right shoulder as he was
breaking into his house. Ward fell down the steps and broke his right arm.
September 23rd, 1840 — Bob Dundhill killed in the gravel pit aged 88 years.
The name "Hanham Abbots" is derived from the Abbots of Keynsham Abbey who
between 1330 and 1539 owned the original Hanham Court and much of the
surrounding land. Rumour has it that there are tunnels running under the
River Avon to connect the two sites. The original Court was also mentioned
in the Doomsday records and was visited by King James II in 1686, the last
heir to Kingswood Forest. The present building is considered to be one of
the finest mansions in Kingswood and dates from the 16th and 17th century.
The tithe barn to the north of Hanham Court dates back to the 15th century,
when it would have been used by the monks of Keynsham Abbey to store the
"tithes" collected from the occupiers of the land.
There is considerable contrast
within the conservation area. To the north and centre the area is characterised
by the rolling Hanham Hills and open fields around Hanham Court, whilst to the
south, along the river front, the area is contained by a backdrop of the steeply
wooded slopes of the Avon Valley. Running alongside the Gate Lodge is Ferry
Road, which leads down to the Old Lock & Weir Inn at Hanham Mills,
Mentioned in Conan Doyle's novel 'Mical Clark'.
At first the road is bounded by raised grass
verges, stone walls and hedgerows and offers good views across the fields
towards Hanham Court and across the open plateau above the Avon Valley. It then
narrows and the character changes with views restricted by a high stone wall and
dense tree planting where the road slopes steeply down the valley towards the
river. The strong sense of enclosure is a key part of the dramatic transition
between the two areas and is essential in emphasising the contrast in character.
Hanham Field Names 1843
The Old Lock & Weir Inn formally the Chequers Tavern and not
to be mistaken for the new Chequers Inn had many landlords over time the
earliest records we found so far i
CHEQUERS TAVERN Hanham Mills
1841 - 72. Isaac Rogers / 1897. Abraham Attwood / 1923. Joseph Moss / 1927 - 38.
The 1861 census below shows the inhabitants of numbers 1,2 &
3 Hanham Mills at that time.
This Research courtesy of Amanda Gregory