Chilcott's Descriptive History of Bristol

Shirehampton Story

By Ethel Thomas
ISBN 0 9507477 1 8

The Lamplighters
Road, Shirehampton, Bristol. England.
Tel: 0117 9823549


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Copyright © Les Harrold, June 2000

About a mile from Shirehampton, on the bank of the river, situated close to the highwater mark, is a good inn called Lamplighter's Hall, once a place of considerable resort during the summer months, to witness the busy scene at the mouth of the Avon. It was built by a Mr. Toy,a contractor for lighting half the parishes in Bristol. The worthy distributor of oil and cotton-wick, -- for in his day gas was unknown, -- intended the hall for his country residence, having constantly before him the romantic and picturesque village of Pill but grew tired of the smell of the brackish water and the villa became an inn. Philip Weeks, nephew to 'Jack', of patriotic and Bush-keeping celebrity, was 'mine host' at Lamplighters for many years. It was here William III. landed, upon his return from Ireland, after the battle of the Boyne. Opposite Lamplighter is the port of Pill, where is a customs house, at which all vessels leaving the port of Bristol are obliged to take their last clearance, and from which they are supplied with pilots.
Source: Chilcott's Descriptive History of Bristol, Ancient and modern,1851

Lamplighters Hotel

Lamplighters Hotel Front
Lamplighters Front 2000 Lamplighters Feb 2000

SHIREHAMPTON STORY -The Lamplighter's by the riverside was originally called 'Lamplighter's Hall', and as far as is known is the only Inn in the country to bear this uncommon name.First mention of the Lamplighter's comes in the Bristol Journal of 17th December 1768 when offered to let as 'The Public House at Passage Leaze opposite Pill, commonly called 'Lampligher's Hall'.The next mention was in 1772 when the property was up for sale, and described as 'sometime the estate of Joseph Swetnam, Tinman of Small Street, Bristol, deceased'. It is thought that Joseph Swetnam was probably the son of James Swetnam a Tinman who traded at the Three Ship Lanterns on Bristol Back around the year 1740, and who is believed to have been the first tradesman to use an an engraved bill head on his invoices. Joseph Swetnam must have been a prosperous businessman, because at one period he was contracted to light several of the Bristol Parishes by means of oil-lamps, and out of the profits he built himself a splendid house in the country 'in full view of the picturesque beauties of Pill' which he appropriately named 'Lamplighter's Hall'.

Isaac Taylor marked Lamplighter's Hall on the map he surveyed in 1777, and subsequently the Inn became a favourite resort of pleasure parties. On 12 June 1794 the Bristol Gazette reports that 'the annual dinner of the Bristol Sailing Society (founded 1785) was held at Lamplighter's Hall and made a loyal fete to commemorate the natal day of one of the best of Monarchs (namely 4th June1794 which was George lll's 56th birthday).

The Lamplighter's Hall comes in for mention several times in connection with the history of the Society of Merchant Venturers of Bristol. From time to time the Standing Committee of that society
went down to Lamplighter's Hall at Shirehampton to examine the ship's pilots, and to make its authority felt. On one occasion the pilots had to be rebuked for being drunk and fighting in front of the Committee. When the committee examined the pilots there in the year 1800 it was found that some were deaf, one had rheumatism, one gout, one intoxicated and another suffered from nervous disorder. On that occasion is is not surprising that steps were taken to appoint suitable men in their places.

By the year 1810 the Lamplighter's Hall was known as 'Lamplighter's Hotel' and advertised as being in especial favour - the landlord stating that 'his house was so much frequented on Sundays that he was under the necessity of engaging additional waiters from Bath. Ordinary every Sunday two shillings per head..etc.' Further more, a Bristol Guide Book of 1824 suggested a day's excursion as 'Voyage down the Avon to Kingroad, either in light boat with sails, or on the deck of one outward-bound steam-vessel as far as the River's mouth (i.e. Avonmouth). Opportunities to return the same day occur frequently with a flowing afternoon tide, or by land-conveyance from Lamplighter's Hotel'. Thus it is that the Lamplighter's has for more than 200 years played a significant part in the history of the Parish, and must have been well known to seamen from all over the world who visited this hostelry during long periods of anchorage in Hungroad.

Source: Shirehampton Story by Ethel Thomas
ISBN 0 9507477 1 8

Entrance Lamplighters Hotel
From Pill 1895
Pill ferry slip can be seen on the right.
Front From Pill 1895
The structure on the left appears to be an early signal station. Wellington house is the white building to the left of the Lamplighters Hotel.

Impression  1788

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