Descriptive History of Bristol
Shirehampton Story -
By Ethel Thomas
ISBN 0 9507477 1 8
Road, Shirehampton, Bristol. England.
Tel: 0117 9823549
Copyright © Les Harrold, June 2000
HISTORY OF BRISTOL
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
Lamplighters Feb 2000
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
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).
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
Pill ferry slip can
be seen on the right.
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.