History of Bristol & west
Bristol & West - A History of Mergers
Like many hockey clubs in the area, Bristol & West is a club born out of various alliances. In 2008, West Gloucester and North Bristol Hockey Clubs united to form Bristol & West Hockey Club. North Bristol itself being formed as a result of an amalgamation of Almondsbury and BAC HC nine years earlier.
Our most recent collaboration came in 2019, when we welcomed Jaspers Ladies Hockey Club into our hockey family to grow our women's contingent under the title "Bristol & West Jaspers".
Find out more about the history of each of these hockey institutions below.
The History of West Gloucestershire Hockey Club
West Gloucestershire Hockey Club is certainly one of the oldest hockey clubs in the West Country. It is believed that the name was derived from the former West Gloucestershire Cricket Club founded in 1842 by Dr Henry Mills Grace – father of W G Grace – when he was the village Doctor at Downend. It is also known that the club played at the Stapleton Cricket ground for many years and that Stapleton also put out a hockey side as far back as the late 1880’s.
What is certain is that West Gloucestershire Hockey Club became affiliated to the Hockey Association on the 23 September 1893, along with Chippenham from this area. The club was, by reference to its affiliation date, the first club in Bristol to play the game in the form as we know it today and defected to the HA from the National Hockey Union.
The club has never had a specific base, although it played on Blaise grounds for many years. It could still be described as having a nomadic existence, with numerous changes of grounds and even more changes of venues for teas, meetings and functions. Until the merger with North Bristol the club played its hockey at Badminton School, having moved back to its more common patch from Clifton College where it played for 13 years. The continuous problem of getting pitch slots which ran consecutively was eventually eased by the move to Badminton School, enabling a closer involvement between the sides to be introduced.
Previous grounds used by the club
1923/24 – 1930/31 Stapleton Cricket Club (also prior to these dates)
1930/31 – 1931/32 Golden Hill YMCA
1932/33 – 1938/39 Blaise Grounds
1939/40 – 1944/45 War years (Blaise was dug up)
1947/48 – 1949/50 Redland High School
1950/51 – Knowle Cricket Club
1951/52 – 1991/92 Blaise Grounds
1987/88 – 1992/93 Bristol University Astro
1991/92 – 2003/04 Clifton College
2004/05 – 2007/08 Badminton School
In the early years the club ran only two sides, this eventually increased to four sides in 1968/69. In the 1978/79 season a fifth eleven was started and in 1991/92 a sixth side, known as the Vets, was created. This lasted for a few seasons, but with the pressure of numbers and lack of opposition the number of sides was reduced back to five.
In the early years club teas were held at a variety of venues, eventually settling at the Black Swan in Westbury – commonly known as the Dirty Duck – for many years. This became a prime meeting point for many clubs, some often stopping off while “passing”. However, following the retirement of the landlord and other issues, the club moved to the Bristol Lawn Tennis and Squash Club, this also coincided with the changes in pitch venues. Teas were soon held at two different sites, but as a consequence of deals done to stay at the Clifton College pitches all teas were eventually held at this ground until the recent pitch move to Badminton School. Teas are once again being held at the Black Swan.
For many years training was confined to pre-season activities while the light lasted, but with the introduction of league hockey in the West starting in the 1977/78 season, only fitness training was carried out at various venues, including Bristol City Football Club. It wasn’t until the club moved to the new pitch at Bristol University in 1987 that training was maintained throughout the season for both fitness and hockey skills. Training eventually moved to Clifton College until the move to Badminton School.
The club had always been a single entity until the merger with North Bristol (in spite of several attempts to join forces with other sports clubs in the past). The most successful venture was with Redland Ladies Hockey Club, however this tended to be on a social basis rather than as a joint club. Other attempts have been made with Optimists Cricket Club, Colston School, Almondsbury Sports Club and Clifton Ladies Hockey Club. Although none of these ventures came to fruition, the club still looked to the future and in 2008 joined forces with North Bristol.
The History of North Bristol Hockey Club
North Bristol Hockey Club was formed in the spring of 1999 from a merger of Almondsbury HC and BAC HC. At the time Almondsbury ran 3 sides and BAC 4 sides.
Almondsbury HC originated as Bristol Civil Service in 1951 playing at the Bristol Civil Service Sports & Social club at the junction of Filton venue and Muller Road. Infact the BCS club still exists as a social club. It became Almondsbury HC in 1985 when we moved to the Almondsbury Sports & Social club off the A38 at the junction of the M4 and M5 motorways. In 1987 Hanham HC merged with Almondsbury when they lost their pitch. This enabled us to run 3 teams.
BAC HC originated in 1949 as a works team formed from the Bristol Aeroplane Company and Bristol Siddley Engines, playing at the BAWA playing fields off Southmead Road. BAC were one of the first Bristol clubs to use a shale pitch instead of grass, at Downend School/Sports Centre. Both BCS HC and BAC HC were one of the first clubs joining at the start ofthe West of England Hockey league and the ‘Bristol’ Summer Hockey league.
The History of Jaspers Ladies Hockey Club
Jaspers LHC was born in 1981 and founded by a group of friends as a result of a successful touring side. The club has always had a strong social emphasis and has maintained that ethos throughout the years with one of the founding members still playing for the club. Over the years that we have been in action we have also run an indoor team and participated in a floodlit league. Gradually we have increased our membership to now run 2 league teams.
One of our most famous members was Lucy Culliford who started playing for Jaspers at the age of 13 and eventually went on to play for England and the Great Britain squad.
It was decided to merge with Bristol & West HC as they needed to boost their ladies' side and we wanted to take advantage of all their umpires!