Hill's long industrial legacy is clearly etched on the landscape
OVERLOOKING the River Avon at Crews' Hole is Troopers' Hill, a legacy from the area's industrial past.
The name derives, so we're told, from a Parliamentary army which camped here during the Civil War, in 1645.
The area started to change from rural to industrial in the late 17th century. Having established a copper smelting works at Conham, Abraham Elton bought Harris's Hill, as it was then known, possibly for stone quarrying or coal mining.
At one time the Crews' Hole area had 49 brass furnaces with a further 17 at Conham, the foundations of which can still be seen today.
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In 1758, the Elton family sold Troopers' Hill to the Bristol Brass and Wire Company, who later moved to Warmley. The landmark chimney was built sometime later, in the 1790s, to serve a new copper company.
A coal mine, known as Crews' Hole Pit and part of the East Bristol series, was worked here between 1803 and 1845. The only reminder today, however, is the Grade II listed stack, or chimney, that stands at the junction of Troopers Hill and Crews Hole Road.
During the construction of a new riverside housing development some years ago an old pit prop was discovered at a depth of 80 feet.
In the General Strike of 1926, people desperate for fuel came here to try and find old bits of coal.
In the 1880s the hill was leased to the Fireclay Company – fireclay is often found alongside coal seams. But it's the quarrying of pennant sandstone, which only ceased about 1900, which has affected the look of Troopers' Hill the most. In fact, the exposed sandstone faces, varying in colour from red to grey, remain a striking feature.
Most of the land between the hill and the river, but not the hill itself, was later sold to Butler's Tar Works but it's unlikely, as many people believe, that they ever used the chimney.
Bought in 1956 by Bristol City Council and now cared for by volunteers, the hill became a nature reserve in 1994.