History of Sea Mills

Sea Mills Together is based upon the now residential areas to the north west of  the City of Bristol including Sea Mills Garden Suburb and Coombe Dingle.

The land is within the basin of the river Trym flowing towards the River Avon whilst to the North the Kingsweston Ridge forms the wooded skyline within which  undulating land allows vistas across the area  giving  it a strong character & sense of Place.

At the mouth of the Trym once stood the Roman port of Abona. Remains dating from the first century B.C. have been recovered. In 1712  the third “wet dock” in England, enabling  ships to remain afloat  at all states of the tide, was commissioned when this  agricultural area  was in the county of Gloucestershire.

Some Roman coins were found there in 1863 when the cutting was made for the  Bristol Port  & Pier Railway in I863. Sea Mills benefitted from its opening in 1865 and today the line runs from Bristol Temple Meads to Severn Beach via Clifton and Avonmouth.

The land was in the ownership of the Harford  Family, the Blaise  Estate and the Miles Family of Kingsweston  House. It was the latter family whose land later became Avonmouth with its docks  and who in the 20th century sold land to Bristol City Council, in April 1919, for the building of the Garden Suburb.” Homes  for heroes” after the first world war. The principles  for its design followed those set out in 1898 by Ebenezer Howard in “Tomorrow: a peaceful Path to Reform”.

The Harfords began to sell agricultural land  in 1910  for houses, starting at their boundary in Westbury Lane so that by the end of the 20th Century houses of varying age and size filled Coombe Dingle from the Trym Valley to the boundary of the Blaise Estate, by then in the ownership of the City of Bristol.

Part of the garden suburb was designated a Conservation Area on 18th February 1981 and extended, following a public petition on 17th March 2008. The Kingsweston wooded ridge was also designated on 18th February 1981. Again, following pressure from local residents, it was extended on 3rd february 1988 to become the Kingsweston & Trym Valley Conservation Area, which includes most of the postal area of Coombe Dingle.

Both areas include public and enclosed open spaces, grass verges, hedges and trees which allow green vistas between the low density housing. Detailed descriptions of the unlisted builddings of merit, including St Edyths Parish church (  Dedicated 19th October 1921 ) and maps are shown in  “  Sea Mills- Character Appraisal & Management Proposals” for conservation area 21 paras: 6,7 &8 ) These buildings also include houses and  buildings such as the former “Progress” Public House).

The public housing is all two storey, mostly semi-detached but including some short terraces designed in a simplified Georgian  cottage style. Natural clay tile hipped pitch roofs with facing brick and timber or simple metal windows give a cohesion to the scheme.

Due to the shortage of these materials after the 1st World War some houses of the “Parkinson” design, (using Pre-cast Concrete frames) were built with a rendered finish. Other were built using the “Dorlonco” system which were steel framed also with a rendered finish. Following the campaign by “Save Sea Mills Garden Suburb” in 2008 the non-traditional buildings have been upgraded, rather than demolished. This was recognised by The English Heritage Angel Awards certificate in October 2012.

The  Conservation Area Appraisal is available to download at :- www.bristol.gov.uk/conservationareas