History of Kingswood Heritage Museum

See the site of the first industrial process in Europe for making quality brass. How was Zinc produced in commercial quantities for the brass making process? Discover the 18th century Gardens, Grotto and gigantic statue of Neptune.

Discover the early medieval history of the King`s Wood – used for royal hunting in the 12th and 13th centuries. Learn about the lawless gangs who lived in the forest in the 19th century and the reformers including John Wesley who came to educate and convert them.

“The original Kingswood stretched from Lansdown to Kingswood Wooton-under-Edge”

Stone hillView the finds from a Romano British settlement which were found during the  Ring Road works. The settlement was probably a farm and a metal working site. Finds include jewellery moulds, a millifiore brooch and a metal working furnace.

“Around 300AD the Roman British had a metal working industry at Hanham”

ChampionWho was William Champion? Find out how he made a fortune from his brass making factory then lost it all. See a model of his revolutionary process for production of zinc from calamine ore. Visit his gardens and grotto.

” Champion’s works at Warmley made the first commercial zinc in Europe”

TowerSee the tower of the industrial windmill used, not to grind corn, but to drive the machinery for the brass making process.

“An industrial windmill – One of only five in Britain and is the oldest and tallest”

Ice-HouseSee part of the eighteenth century ice house – one of the largest examples in the country, with a capacity of about 250 tons of ice. Built by William Champion to take ice in the winter from his 13 acre lake in his gardens, why was it so large?

“This massive semi-underground structure can hold 250 tons of ice…contemporary ice houses would hold approximately 40 tons”

Pin MakingDiscover how women and children toiled in their homes to make pins from brass wire.

“There were 20 stages to make one pin. Have a look at the £20 note which is the division of labour in pin manufacturing”

Coal miningDiscover the story of coal mining from the Middle Ages in the Kingswood area. Find out the difference between a bell pit and drift mining. Why were the Kingswood miners able to use candles in their mines?

“Over 300 men and boys were killed in a coal pit in the Kingswood area”

Learn why John Wesley and George Whitfield came to Kingswood to preach Christianity to the local people. Why did rich boot & shoe manufacturers give money to build small chapels?

“George Whitfield invited John Wesley to Hanham Mount and from here the germ of the methodist movement began”

Boot & ShoeKingswood was one of the largest boot manufacturing areas in Britain after Northamptonshire and Leicester. Why did the boot and shoe making industry develop in Kingswood? See the examples of fascinating ladies shoes produced by skilled Kingswood workers. Examine the extensive range of boot and shoe making machines.

“Around 1911 the 50 or so Kingswood factories employed over 11,000 workers, making it the third largest centre for boot making in Britain”

Victorian ParlourSee the Victorian Parlour with everyday articles used by people in Kingswood during the late 19th Century.

“Queen Victoria’s empire was the largest the world has ever known, sustained by British industry benefits filtered down to some (not all) of it’s population”

DouglasLearn about the Douglas Motorcycle factory, situated in Kingswood and at one time in the early 20th century, the largest motorcycle factory in the world. 25,000 Douglas motorcycles were made for the military during the First World War. See examples of some of the earliest Douglas `bikes and other items manufactured by the factory, including a Vespa scooter, made under licence in the 1950s, and fitted with a sidecar.

“During the Great War over 25,000 Kingswood made machines were sent all around the world”

Can you remember the door-to-door sales men? See examples of the different types of brushes manufactured by Kleen-E-Ze. Watch a rare black and white film of the brush making process.

“Harry Crook built up his door to door sales empire from his base at Hanham. It’s name survives to this day but the manufacturing no longer exists”

WW2The proximity of the airfield and the Bristol Aeroplane Company factories meant that Kingswood was vulnerable to aerial attack. Cossham Hospital tower was said to have been used by Luftwaffe bomber pilots as a landmark. See inside a WW2 Anderson air raid shelter which came from a Kingswood garden.

“An original air raid shelter from Lodge Road, Kingswood was re-erected here in 2004”

1950Do you remember the 1950’s? After the austerity of the War years and late 1940’s came the end of rationing, plenty of jobs and a rising standard of living. See the new creature comforts and entertainment available, along with Rock and Roll and the start of the pop music scene.

“The new Elizabethan age can be viewed in our display”