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CITY | HISTORY

Indispensable Twerton

The Domesday Book of 1086 records that Twerton, once known as Twiverton on Avon, was held by the Bishop of Coutances, when the population only consisted of 32 households. Catherine Pitt investigates the village’s rich history

Image © Bath in Time

The opening of Innox Park Twerton Bath, 1909

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medieval field system. At St Michael’s Church a Norman doorway dating to c.1100 remains, and roads such as Connection Road and The Hollow follow ancient tracks like the Roman Fosse Way and Wansdyke. Travellers from Bristol or the south west heading to Bath had to pass through Twerton. During the English Civil War (1642–1651) the village was commandeered by various troops. At one point Colonel Montagu’s Parliamentarian Regiment of 800 men spent the night at Twerton. The households were expected to feed, water and shelter men and horses, but with only 28 households the impact was huge. The Civil War ended up costing Twerton £219. 11s. 11d. – nearly £23,000 today. From the 17th century onwards the village of Twerton gradually became more industrialised, and the population increased to 800. As Bath developed into a fashionable spa resort, industries such as weaving were forced out of the centre and into the surrounding villages of Twerton, Widcombe and Weston. Initially weaving was produced in workers’ homes on handlooms, and the cloth was taken to mills for fulling or dying. In the early 1700s around 160 homes in Twerton contained hand looms. The industrial revolution in the late 18th and 19th centuries saw the mechanisation of weaving which

meant that hand looms were swiftly replaced by machines that could produce cloth at an astounding rate. In December 1797, Bath magistrates learnt of a plan by unemployed weavers in Twerton to march to Upper Mill and burn it down in protest. A company of soldiers and dragoons were ordered to defend the mill against an expected 1,000 men – however only 60 turned up.

One visitor to Twerton described the blue-tinged faces and hands of those who worked as dyers in the mills

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werton has always been on the peripheries of Bath’s history, although it contributed hugely to the city’s economic wealth. Much maligned in the press, the suburb continues to enjoy a community spirit which goes back to its days as a small village. Absorbed by the city boundaries in 1911, Twerton, or Twiverton on Avon as it was once known, began as a Saxon settlement on the banks of the River Avon, its waters being utilised for milling corn and later fulling cloth. Originally part of the Hundred of Wellow in Somerset – one of the 40 historical Hundreds in Somerset dating from before the Norman conquest – Twerton’s name means ‘Two Weirs’ in Anglo-Saxon, indicating its riverside location. There is some evidence of early occupation in both the Bronze Age and Roman period, but by 1086 the village was owned by the Bishop of Coutances, who leased the land to two men – Geoffrey Malreward and Nigel de Gournay. At the time the population of Twerton was 32 households, there were four mills, and the land was mainly used for agricultural purposes. De Gournay held the East Manor that once stood near Upper Mill, and Malreward the West Manor where the High Street is today. There is still evidence of medieval Twerton in the landscape today. High up around Kelston View and Round Hill one can still see the

Today all that remains of Lower Mill is a gatepost into the student accommodation that was built on site. The holiday venue of Bath Mill Lodge Retreat has been incorporated into what was once Newton Mill. Mill owners such as Broad, Wilkins, Chapman, Sperring and Carr, are still remembered however in local records, and in the names of local parks, woods and surrounding streets. The mills that used to exclusively produce cloth started to produce leather and paper, and armament manufacturing during the wars. By the start of the 20th century Twerton industries had grown and included a malting, tannery, gas holders, stone quarry, two coal mines, the Pitman Printing Press, Bath Cabinet Makers workshops, and the Stothert and Pitt crane works. Access to and from Twerton improved in the 18th and 19th centuries, which encouraged industry to set up in this area. Between 1724 and 1727 the river between London and Bristol was made much easier and safer to navigate with the construction of the Avon Navigation, including Weston and Kelston Lock. During the 1840s Isambard Kingdom Brunel extended his Great Western Railway from Bath through to Bristol, dissecting part of Twerton’s High Street and what is now Lower Bristol Road with his viaduct. Twerton did get its own station, but it closed in 1917 never to reopen. Bath’s tram system –

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The Bath Magazine May 2019  

The Bath Magazine is Bath’s biggest monthly guide to life and living in the city of Bath

The Bath Magazine May 2019  

The Bath Magazine is Bath’s biggest monthly guide to life and living in the city of Bath