Albert Mills - Caneshum Man The World according to Albert Mills

Keynsham History    Keynsham History
Spelt K-E-Y-N-S-H-A-M  H-I-S-T-O-R-Y


Keynsham Through The Ages
Adapted and updated from the Cane Shum archives
The award-winning clock tower
The award-winning
clock tower
Keynsham (or Keynsham-upon-Chew-upon-Avon) is a much-grown commuter town, plonked bang in between Bristol and Bath on the confluence of the rivers Chew and Avon, with a population of 16,500 Humans. The Romans hung out here until AD 430, evidence of which can be found near the train station in the form of a pile of rocks (which allegedly used to be a garrison) and some mosaics in Bath Hill. Welsh magician Gwenyth 'Saint' Keyna also lived here, generously giving her name to the town after she banished a load of serpents by covering them in cement. Many of these so-called ammonites can now be seen in the town's walls and buildings in place of more-expensive bricks.

Keynsham is recorded in the Domesday book of 1086 as 'Cainesham', with a value of about 24 grand (old money). In 1685, the Battle of Sedgemoor all but kicked-off here when some Royalist scouts got into a punch-up with Monmouth's rebellious mob, who were camping in the Lock Keeper pub because it was raining. Several days and a lot of marching later, the Duke's kingly plans were scuppered on the bleak moors at Westonzoyland when one of his men accidentally forgot to turn off his phone, thus alerting the King's Army who promptly kicked the rebel's asses, big time. The infamous Judge Jefferies sent most of the survivors to Wales as punishment.

"The King's Army promptly kicked the rebel's asses, big time."
In 1170, Keynsham took delivery of a shiny new Abbey, donated by William, Earl of Gloucester, but it wasn't to last long. In 1539, serial-shagger and inventor of religion King Henry VIII took umbrage to it, knocking it down and building a by-pass over it. In 1270, St John the Baptist donned his Cat boots, broke out the trowel and started building a church, albeit with the bell tower at the wrong end. Ultimately, his efforts were bodged, and, during a bit of bad weather in 1632, the steeple fell down, either an act of God or a dodgy mix. Undeterred, some other people re-built the holy house and it still stands today - easily the most impressive 'pile' in town. The bells can be heard as far away as Nottingham.

Brunel brought the Great Western Railway to the town in the 1850's. He even found time to build a bridge over the River Chew and to start a hairdressing college in Bristol. In 1968, following exceptional summer rain, a Great Flood™ washed away a few bridges and messed up the park for a bit. The Queen of England came here in 1977 as part of the 25th Jubilee celebrations. She stopped off at Chick-o-Land for a burger and fries and was heard to openly comment about the hideous Gas Board buildings, which were new at the time.

"When the wind blows from the North the town is filled with the aroma of chocolate."
Keyna was here
Keyna was here
These days Keynsham is a training ground for clueless architects and town planners, with many ill-advised buildings and traffic schemes littering the place. The former common land at The Hams is now occupied by Cadburys chocolate factory, which has been earmarked for closure and re-development since it was built. When the wind blows from the North the town is filled with the aroma of chocolate. The rivers Chew and Avon no longer power the countless water mills, instead carrying rich business folk in their boats to the Jolly Sailor at Saltford for lunch. Sir Abraham 'Ironside' Darby (the Heavy Metal producer who used to work here) must be smelting in his casket.

Keynsham has two rival comprehensive schools - Broadlands and Wellsway - and a By-Pass, the view from which is usually all that most non-Keynsham folks ever see of the town. The Bonzo Dog Band released an album called 'Keynsham', on which they sang about the 'Thermometer Zoo' and other strange, possibly-drug-induced happenings. The town also has its own army which lives near the Co-op in a complex where all the caravans park.



The Streets Of Keynsham
Because cars would be useless without them
Traffic chaos at The Circus
Traffic chaos at The Circus
Keynsham, like any small town, has its fair share of streets. But our roads aren't just containers for things like cars, houses, litter and dog droppings. Many of our beloved highways and byways are steeped in history, with wide-reaching influences throughout the known world.

Bath Hill was recently voted 'Keynsham's Best Hill' by a panel of lunatics, and who are we to disagree? It took its name from the old municipal tin bath that used to be housed in a small, pointy-roofed building where the mini-roundabout is now situated. The bath was used to supply drinking water to the flocks of sheep that could often be seen hauling barrels of beer and rum from Penzance to the nearby Lamb & Lark Hotel. The neighbouring city of Bath was named after the hill, and, by way of thanks, Bath hired its name back to the local council on a 99-year rolling lease, at an undisclosed cost.

Temple Street is one of the town's oldest and straightest roads on account of it being built by the Romans, as a route to the Temple which was situated where Temple Surgery now stands. Keynsham's two rival councils both live in Temple Street, as does the award-winning Trout Tavern and some shops. A recent archaeological dig unearthed the remains of a small building, thought to be the birthplace of Edward The Confessor.

"Bath Hill was recently voted 'Keynsham's Best Hill' by a panel of lunatics."
Charlton Road used to be called Dane's Lane after King Arthur and King Alfred chased the Vikings up it in a cunning Pincer move that culminated in victory for England at the Battle Of Lays Drive. It gained its present name following the completion of the Charlton Pub in 1923. The junction of Charlton Road and the High Street is known as The Circus. Clowns can regularly be seen in the area, which is easily identified by the non-geometric blob painted in the road, a blob that motor-car enthusiasts often mistake for a roundabout.

Station Road was named after the International Space Station and carries pilgrims to the Asda Temple at Longwell Green. During the Great Flood™ of 1968, large sections of Station Road were washed out to sea by the waters of the River Severn. A Bill Bailey Bridge was used to carry trains and trams over the River Avon and on into Dorset, while workmen moved the River Avon in order to create the Picnic Area.

Most of the other streets in Keynsham don't merit mentioning here, except for Back Lane, which used to be called Front Lane until some hapless town planner with a broken compass built the High Street in the wrong place. Since then, all roads in Keynsham lead directly to Rome, via the A38.



Keynsham's Lost Shops
Also adapted and updated from the Cane Shum archives
Keynsham's busy High Street
Keynsham's busy
High Street
Keynsham's High Street shops haven't always been a dull mix of travel agents, take-aways, charity shops and empty units. Not at all. The town has a rich history of long-gone stores. Rawlings on Bath Hill was the first port of call for any birthday-cash-wielding small boy, with it's heady mix of Hornby train sets and Raleigh Choppers. Those same bicycles would, 3 years later, end up being cashed in at the Kasbah commission shop in Temple Street, raising just enough money to buy a bag of sherbert lemons over the road at 'New' Ogborns, a sweets 'n' albums haven. Yes, the Town Council office used to be home to a myriad of records, punks and cool people, all being, er, cool. It was like Carnaby Street in the 60's, only less London-y.

Down the road on Bath Hill you could find 'Old' Ogborn's - a dimly lit mecca of books and pens, with it's own Narnia-like back room, replete with Beano annuals and books about trees and stuff. The Ogborn dynasty even managed a successful take-over of the infamous 'Birthday Shop', which, according to legend, was the easiest shoplift in the south west. The eventual winner of the infamous Newsagent Wars of the 70's and 80's ended up being Church's, which is the shop where they let you read the magazines for free.

"Church's is the shop where they let you read the magazines for free."
In bygone days, Keynsham was home to a great number of chain stores - such luminaries as Woolworth's (now TSB), John Menzies (charity dump), Fosters (Specsavers), Fine Fare, Halford's, Tesco's and even a branch of Curry's once occupied Keynsham's 'Golden Half Mile'. And who remembers the town's 'quirky' shops such as Etcetera (gift emporium), Strudwick's (everything from hammers to jet engine parts), Nicotine (fags and papers), Harvey's (more ciggies), Kaleidoscope (freaky deaky stuff) and the improbably-named Clifton Sports? Obviously that last lot suffered a Dorothy & Toto-like wind-assisted relocation from the 'oooh la lah' area of Bristol.

In the 1980's, Leslie Crowther used to do his shopping in the town's High Street, mainly because in those days the price was indeed right. Oh, and Pete Budd from The Wurzels used to run a fishing tackle shop here too. Yes, the modern town might be over-run with non-shops, but once upon a time Keynsham was a place you could do your Christmas shopping without leaving town. Glory days indeed.


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