The Lower Lodge
There could be a monster up there.
The public were allowed into the Lodge for one afternoon in October 2015, before renovation work started.
We’re seeing a lot of rubble, old coat hangers, goal posts, anything that people wanted to get rid of and haven’t quite known what to do with and they’ve come and dumped them here.
Ex-pupils of Ashton Park School remember the Lodge which was tucked away on the schools boundary.
I just remember it being kind of run down…..brambles growing out of and around it…..Looked like a castle…..Very haunted house-esque…..I can vaguely remember the groundsman used to keep the white-lining machinery for the pitches.
I can see up through the ceiling, see the sky, the beams have been broken and they’re falling through the roof as it were.
You passed by it almost everyday, it was just there, it was a feature of the school.
That was Nila, Chris Allen, Evan and Aled Roberts. Teachers from the school have memories of the Lodge too; Derek Blower.
I can remember when I came here way back in 1961, that over the following years it was used for a variety of purposes, one was to enable youngsters who werent finding it very easy with their academic work to improve technical skills; decorating, painting, doing a little bit of plastering. And then when they’d done their job then the school groundsman was happy to use the lodge as a place to keep many of his tools.
My name’s Glen Fisher and I taught here from 1977. It’s sad really because it was in a state of disrepair and there was talk about restoring it in 1977, they did the roof I think, but that’s all they could do because it was a question of money. It stayed semi-derelict for most of the time I was there.
Jack House remembers the pupils sneaking in there.
It was a great smokers den and I was often consigned to go and clear out the smokers during lunchtimes and break times. I crept along the back of the boundary wall and then suddenly appear, that was the way of doing things ‘cos obviously if you made a straight target they would see you coming and would flee, probably through the windows, I don’t know. Lots of these youngsters, their parents earned their money through making cigarettes, there was a sort of vested interest. Time and again one tried to argue with them, reason with them as to the morality and the health situation, but I think the thing was just to let them know that one was on the prowl.
The Lodge has always been the logo of the school, its on the uniform, in the early days on the tie.
The colour of the gatehouse denoted what house you were in. Kingsley was green, Fry was red, Brunel was sort of mustardy gold and Smythe was white.
Chris Allen was at the school in the 1980’s.
I’d never seen it opened, I’ve never seen it used for any sort of access. I’ve walked past it a few times, well ran past it ‘cos we did cross country and all that, and that was about it really. If you go out on that road I think just past that building you get the sign for Somerset, so was that a border between Bristol and Somerset at some point?
Locals too remember the Lodge.
It’s one of those little landmarks that you know you’re home, you know when you go past it and you’ve come from the South West along Ashton by-pass you’ve got just a couple of minutes before you get there, it does feel like a sense of being back if I travel that way.
Growing up in Totterdown back in the 70s and the 80s there wasn’t much to do so me and my friends we’d keep ourselves occupied by getting up to all sorts of mischief and I can remember with the Lodge, really clearly, cos that was the bets place to get into the Ashton Court festival without having to pay cos no-one used to hang around that area, and it was great, love it.
That was Su Tucker and Zahid Gill. Despite being run down the Lodge made quite an impression on pupils and teachers alike.
Back years and years ago you can imagine it being really spectacular when Lady Smythe was alive.
It was such a beautiful looking building, you can see the Bath stone all over it, and you look up at it, and first of all when we were younger we thought it was someones house.
What a place! My very earliest memories of the Lower Lodge, about 1938, being brought by my parents as a little treat on a Sunday evening, out to sit in what was then known as the First Field, opposite the Lower Lodge, and the place used to get packed. And then just watching those that were fortunate enough to own motor vehicles coming back from Weston Super Mare, wondering does anyone in fact actually live in this lodge and what happens there. And these sort of things went through the mind of a 4 or 5 year old. ou would have glimpses, far away in the distance, of things happening outside the big house. As one who was brought up in a terraced house with an outside toilet, one wondered just what sort of lifestyle these people had. It was very much a ‘them and an us’ situation. I think the Lower Lodge was itself a symbol of that boundary between, I have to use this phrase; the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. Little did I know that one day I would be teaching in a situation very near the Lower Lodge.
Peter Swann, also a teacher, researched the history of the Lodge and is telling current pupils about it.
The Smythes had completed a 12 mile wall around Ashton Court to keep undesirables out.
What were your first impressions of the Lower Lodge?
It had had people living in it and when I first saw it in 1959 there were still bits of crockery in the cupboards, there were still bits of wall paper hanging off, but nobody had lived in it since 1940. Then it would have had a family living in it, and they needed to have somebody there all the time making sure who came and who didn’t come.
Visitors to the Lodge see its original purpose reflected in its architecture.
If your job is to man the gatewya, let people in and out, cos there’s a wondow on either side of the building you can see what’s happening on the outside of the Estate and well as the inside of the Estate.
One of my friends, Nasser, he went to Ashton Park School and I can remember one summer he came with us and he was telling ‘this is just a gate, this is just an entrance to the rest of the ground’ and we were like ‘Wow, what an amazing entrance’ and you look at it and you think it was made in such a caring way, yet its only an entrance. In one sense it was our free ticket into Ashton Court but at the same you’re standing and thinking I wonder how many people walked through these gates and who they were and what they did, and now its me and my mates going to a festival. I just find it really humbling sometimes.
I remember it before it was wrapped in plastic, but I don’t remember it being used.
Jill Cawardine has lived near the lodge for many years.
You can see quite clearly where the drive would have been because just beyond the school gates there’s a cart pond, and people have said it’s to wash their wheels on the way to the house so it looked tidy after their journey, but in fact I’m told that it was because the wheels were wooden and they had metal bands on them, if they went through the cart ponds it made the wood firmer, and there’s a lot of cart ponds in the Estate but this one here is a particularly good one.
All the people we interviewed were happy to see the Lodge brought back to its former glory.
Once it’s done it’s going to look absolutely amazing…
I am joyous and I hope I shall live long enough now to see the place put back into its pristine condition, and particularly now with the possibility of the use of the Lodge by the school and by the local community, then in fact it seems to me that its probably the final piece of a jigsaw, a jigsaw that started off with the renovation with the house, the democratisation of the whole estate, people can come and go, my wife can play golf there as she does from time to time, and the whole thing can now become integrated totally in the community.
Thanks for your time for this interview, have a nice time and see you again.