Back to the 90s!

There’s something of a 1990s revival taking over culture right now; baggy combat trousers are back and raves are in again. Frightening to think that it was around 30 years ago! The 1990s was a bad time for the Kings Weston Estate. The house remained in use as the Avon & Somerset Constabulary police training school despite their aspirations to expand across the park being quashed. They already planned to move to Portishead and minimal maintenance was undertaken on house or grounds. The thin sloping strip of Shirehampton Park along Shirehampton Road, between Kingsweston Hill and Penpole Wood, was the only part of the main parkland controlled by the Council.

detail of the aerial photo survey flown over Kings Weston on 30th March 1990 capturing the funfair, tennis courts, and Fairways. 

At the start of the decade the Ordnance Survey sent over its survey planes on one of its periodical photography missions.  When it passed over Kings Weston in March it recorded an unusual visitor to the park: a funfair! The fair set up in a prime location on Shirehampton Road, between the Council tennis courts and the car park. It’s possible to pick out dodgems, carousel, and four other big rides as well as a small encampment of stalls, booths, and caravans. Newspapers reveal the fair was here for ten days  from the 21st of March, open 6pm or 2pm on weekends, but no indication of which travelling fair it was. Does anyone remember other times the fair came to Kings Weston, or is this photo a chance record of the only visit?

A couple of years later some alternative entertainment was going down on the estate – a rave. Now emblematic of 90s youth culture and fondly remembered by many, raves became a huge civil order issue for the Government. Many were illegally held, but, going by a flyer publicising the event, this one looks to have been more legitimate. In the days before internet and mobile phones in everyone’s pockets, flyers, often handmade, were an essential way to get the message out but rarely survive.  The Crank it Up One More Time session was held at Fairways pub in Feb 1992 and promoted by Beyond Control. On the decks were Vinyl Junkie, Luge+Perkz and MC Dope – where are they now? Guests were advised to dress to sweat.  We’d love to hear from anyone who remembers going!

 An alternative souvenir from the Kings Weston estate in the form of a rave flyer for Crank it UP One More Time 8.2.92

The Fairways pub was just opposite the war memorial, on the present Karakal site. It had begun in the 1972 as a social club for Portway Football club who used the pitch next to the cricket club on Penpole Lane. It was an unglamorous single-storey building erected on land purchased from Bristol Water Works.  It can be picked out in the aerial photo to the south of the old covered reservoir. Its construction coincided with efforts to establish a sports centre in the old reservoir building. By 1988 it was being advertised as Fairways pub, so it appears the football club had relocated to more suitable pitches in Sea Mills by this time. Although planning consent for a replacement purpose-built pub was granted in 1992 the old buildings continued until 1995 when it closed, never to reopen. The run-down buildings were demolished shortly afterwards, but by the time the owners of the site made any move to rebuild it things had changed, the estate was now nationally recognised for its historic value, planning policies had changed, and their new proposals were refused.

 1970s Architects drawings of the sports and social club on Penpole Lane that would become Fairways pub. 

The most significant moment for Kings Weston in the 90s saw the  future of the mansion and Home Park in the balance. Kings Weston house was put on the market by the police in 1995 with an asking price of £300,000. Ironically, this was £30,000 lower than the Council had purchased it for in 1970 before being forced to hand the property over to the police four years later when Avon County was formed. Initial reports in September that year suggested the police had accepted a £125,000 offer from “property tycoon” Hugh Parsons, but late bids were received from a developer seeking conversion to a nursing home, and another from the City Council keen to acquire the land and house for the public; A tussle ensued with legal threats flying. The battle over the bidding played out in the press for several months before it was announced in November that the council finally won with a bid of £300,000 and agreement that public access would be protected. Councillor Paul Smith, chairman of the city council’s land and building committee said: “The challenge for us now is to ensure it is properly looked after and the land kept open to the public”. How that came to pass is another story…

The Bristol press keenly followed the battle over ownership of Kings Weston house. 

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