True Stories: Meadows to Meaders

The people best placed to tell stories about Southmead’s history are residents who have grown up in the area and been there from the start. For this second episode we wanted those storytellers to be involved from the outset, plotting together, combining old and new themes.

Southmead is full of stories and histories, some of which were woven into our first episode, but we always knew there were more. We revisited familiar characters, such as matriarchs, Rose Meadows and Iris Meader but introduced a few newcomers to the estate. We recalled again the war years, but also the aftermath and the bitter winter of 1947, when Henleaze Lake was frozen so thick with ice that people could skate on it. We celebrated again the sense of community and goodwill that has always been present, but also the great friendships that were forged as some Southmead families opened their homes to German children whose families were struggling to rebuild their lives – and homes – after the war.

Hiltrud (age 13) came over from Hamburg to stay with a host family in Southmead for 3 months in 1949. Photo courtesy of Joan Clifford (1948)


In 1948, Sunday School teachers suggested writing to school children in Germany. Letters went off and replies were received. In 1949 Mr Payne and Miss Carter travelled to Germany to bring back a group of children to Southmead (from Hamburg or maybe the surrounding area). They arrived on 23rd March and stayed until 28th June 1949. Photo courtesy of Joan Clifford (1949)

Horticultural teacher, Ron Rogers at Greenway Boys School. Photo courtesy of Ron Rogers

Tiny Rivals – Brian Fowler comes first in the Bonniest Baby competition – Monday July 25th 1932. Photo from Western Daily Press and Bristol Mirror (1932)

In the cadets at Fonthill Road School. Photo courtesy of Ken Ledbury (1940/41)

Doncaster Road School. Photo courtesy of Brian Gould (1937)

The Meadows to Meaders script has been shaped and produced by: Letty Anderton – Julie Boston – Ron Brooks – Joan Clifford – Barbara Cowell – Andie Fowler – Brian Fowler – Mary Fowler – Pam Fowler – Sher Fowler – Marion Garland – Brian Harding – Muriel Harding – Sue Hare – Henry Horseman – Kathleen Horseman – Oddvá Lauritsen – Mike Murch – Anthea Mustard – Ruth Myers – Pat Newport – Deana Perry – Alison Prince – Susan Richards – Bea Roberts – Pearl Rodd – Ron Rogers

If you are online you can listen to some of the stories we collected that reveal another part of Southmead’s history and hear recollections of cows being herded along Ascot Road, memories of the first Teddy boys, and one of the area’s longest serving residents remembering how she tricked an Air Raid Warden into a spot of gardening at  Tot Foster from Wildman and Herring Ltd recorded stories from the community to inform the original soap opera and exhibition of objects

We are particularly grateful to Bea Roberts, the original scriptwriter for Meadows to Meaders, for allowing us to build upon her initial concept and for the support she provided throughout the writing process.