Tag Archives: WWII

The RAF at Kings Weston

During WWII Kings Weston house was requisitioned from the trustees of Bristol Municipal Charities by the Government. It’s been difficult to establish exactly what was happening at this time, both in the parkland and particularly in the mansion itself. With the obvious need for secrecy at the time there are scant records of what was going on. The concrete bases of Nissan huts along the South Walk remain the most tangible reminder of wartime use, but occasionally things turn up that add more to our knowledge; Such a new addition appeared just recently.  

Front and inside of the 1944 RAF Christmas card from Kings Weston house. 
Evidence that the Navy Sea Transport Office were using the mansion in 1941

A Christmas Card, of all things, now established the RAF at Kings Weston. An odd thing to find during wartime privations, the card includes the embossed crest and motto, “”through adversity to the stars”, on the front with stylised blue sky and clouds as a background. The inside includes the printed address of the RAF and Kingsweston House, Shirehampton and helpfully the date 1944, towards the end of the war.
Whilst a lovely find, this adds further confusion to how the house was being used. We’ve already found evidence of Navy officers and the army working here, but this adds another service! If anyone can shed light on what was happening here we would welcome it.

Army troops lined up on the front steps of Kings Weston during WWII. Note how the windows were protected. 

The Home Guard at Penpole Lodge

Another foray into the Bristol Archives has uncovered a new photo. The image shows the Home Guard in an official photograph, lined up at Penpole Point close to the end of the Second World War in 1944. These men were part of “C” Company of the 14th Battalion of the Home Guard.

The Home Guard at Penpole Point in 1944. Part of the Ethel Thomas Collection at Bristol Archives. 
The ruinous condition of Penpole Lodge in about 1950

During the war the Home guard used Penpole Woods and the Home Park at Kings Weston, at that time the District Scout Camp, for training purposes. In 1940 they even requisitioned the tower of Penpole Lodge. The Scouts, who still owned the building observed “some concern the activities of the home guard when they took over the tower” and their site warden recalls in his diary of the time that “In the autumn of this year  the Home Guard, or the LDV’s as they were then called, took over the tower as an observation post. They stayed until the Spring. Poor old tower – it bears its scars from friend and foe now. Still we won’t say too much about that; but it’s another job to be attended to after the war.” The journal now also forms part of the Bristol Archives collection.  

It is not clear exactly what damage the Home Guard might have inflicted on the tower, but this, and further vandalism by “Local toughs” in the years following the war, led to the building being ruinous by the 1950s.  

The Home Guard trained in the woodland and camouflage skills were practiced amongst the trees and undergrowth. The warden’s journal for the war years includes some humorous sketches of their activities!  

Humorous sketches abound in MR W Webber’s journal of the Scout’s district campsite (Bristol Archives ref: 45305/1)