The Northern Slopes Initiative "raising awareness of stunning views and hidden places" 
Northern Slopes Initiative
CopyrightThe Bommie
greatviewtocentralbristolCopyrightLWWhere is the Bommie

The area is the most easterly of the three Northern Slopes areas.

To the south and west is Knowle West, and to the east and north, Lower Knowle. The area is located some 3 km (just over a mile) south of Central Bristol.

The UK Ordnance Survey map reference is ST 596 705. The area is around 9 hectares in size.

The postcode BS4 1DQ for sat navs gets you to St Barnabas Church, and there is an entrance just to side of the Vicarage next to the Church.

The area is surrounded by housing located on Daventry Road, Wedmore Vale, Wingfield Road, Beckington Road, Beckington Walk, Redcatch Road, Stockwood Crescent and Andover Road.

What is on the site?

The site is a mixture of small areas of wood, wildflower areas and scrub; long grass cut about three times a year; and amenity grass kept short to encourage people to use it. The highest point of the site is about 50m above sea level.

Two seasonal streams fed by springs run from the Springfield Allotments then join up and run down across the site in shallow valley. The spring water used to be one of sources of water for south Central Bristol from medieval times onward. A pipe ran from the spring to just outside St Mary Redcliffe Church in Redcliffe. The route of this water supply is still walked once a year in November.

The site has a number of informal paths - the most used ones connect Wedmore Vale with the St Barnabas gateway; Wedmore Vale and Stockwood Crescent, and St Barnabas with Beckington Road. There is only one surfaced and registered footpath which runs the short length between Beckington Road and Wingfield Road.

The site has to the south of it, St Barnabas Church and St Barnabas Close Sheltered Housing. To the north Wingfield and Beckington Roads. To the east Stockwood Crescent - and finally to the west Wedmore Vale.

What goes on now on or near the site:

  • Two allotment sites - Springfield (Andover Road/Daventry Road) and Wedmore Vale are in use; but other areas have the potential to become allotments again. In 2007/8 The City Council restored the Redcatch East allotments and improved access to the Redcatch East (between Beckington and Redcatch Roads) and Springfield.
  • Bramble Farm (originally set up by Hugh Fearnley=Whittingstall's Riverside Cottage) grows fruit and vegetable and raises farm animals.
  • The area is used for informal play by local people.
  • Dog walkers exercise their dogs across the site.
  • The areas around Stockwood Crescent and St Barnabas have great views across to Central Bristol - you can see Clifton Suspension Bridge, Cabot Tower, the Bristol Balloon Festival, public Firework Displays and flights into Bristol International Airport.
  • Fly tipping, setting fire to grass and general vandalism does occur.
  • Wildlife (especially birds, insects and animals) thrives in areas which are less disturbed - and has suitable habitat for them. So far some 60 plant species have been seen on the site.
  • Some areas are turning from valuable neutral and calcareous grassland, into scrub and potentially in the future to woodland. There are already some large ash and sycamore trees in the area. Management will be needed to keep the grassland from disappearing; and making the most of woodland and scrub.

What about the future?

The Northern Slopes Initiative has an Action Plan for the area - it covers the need to:
  • Get more people involved - including local schools and organisations.
  • Make the entrances to the site more attractive.
  • Improve the quality of the paths across the site.
  • Improve the quality of the landscape and wildlife of the area.
  • Investigate whether site could be used for training and employment.
  • Find out more about the history and wildlife value of the site.
snowyviewtobedminsterCopyrightLWThe history as far as we know

  • In 1902 the area was probably part of Lower Knowle Farm - but somewhere along Daventry Road there were two cottages - Queensdale Cottages suggesting a link to Queensdale Farm which was in what is now known as Knowle Park.
  • In the 1920’s the area was part of Lower Knowle Farm - and the Knowle Golf Course.
  • The 1902 and 1920 ordnance survey maps show a row of stones just down the slope from Daventry Road and the current St Barnabas Church; and Starveall Cottages. We think that Starveall Cottages was located somewhere near the location of St Barnabas Close now. Does anyone know what the stones were like, exactly where they were and what happened to them?
  • Main areas of housing built around site in 1930’s, with some newer houses during the 1960s and in 2004 along Wedmore Vale.
  • During the Second World War - the whole area, except some small areas of vegetation, was turned into allotments. A temporary water store was built outside St Barnabas church.
  • 3 January 1941 - German bombers bomb Knowle, the bomb known as "Satan" dropped onto Beckington Road but did not go off. Is the name of the area "the Bommie" because of the bombs that fell in the war?
  • St Barnabas church reduced in size in the 1980's - St Barnabas Close shelter housing created.
  • 'Play area' alongside Wedmore Vale turned into housing 2004.
  • Wedmore Vale Methodist Church closed 2004 - housing built on site 2006/7
  • Since 2006 volunteer groups from LoveBristol, the Environment Agency, Community Voluntary Service (CSV) British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV) and Buried Treasure have cleared paths, managed vegetation, installed bird boxes and restored wild flower areas.
  • In 2007/8 the City Council installed Northern Slopes gates and created a hard surfaced path from Wedmore Vale towards Stockwood Crescent. A path suitable for wheelchair and pram users was put in from next to St Barnabas Church to a surfaced area with brilliant views.
  • Since 2008 Bramble Farm was created on disused allotments between Beckington Road and Stockwood Crescent.
  • Since 2010 BTCV have run a "green gym" on the Bommie - for further details see our News and Events page.

If you want to get involved in helping the Bommie - find out how on the "contact" page.