Troopers Hill has two Grade 2 listed chimneys. The one at the top of the Hill dates from the 1790s and was built to serve a copper smelting works by the river; a duct ran up the side of the hill to the chimney. It was later used by a chemical works until falling out of use around the time of the First World War.
The lower chimney on the corner of Crews Hole Road dates from the early 1800s and was part of an engine house for Crews Hole Colliery. You can read more about the history of both chimneys here.
Aim 188.8.131.52 of the Management Plan is to maintain the two listed chimneys in line with the results of regular inspections.
In September 2012 both chimneys were inspected and as a result restoration work was carried out from 2013 to 2016 as described below. All this work was funded and managed by Bristol City Council.
How Tall is our Chimney?
How tall is the chimney? This is one of the questions we get asked most often.
During the works to the upper chimney in 2016, we asked Bristol City Council if they could measure the height.
Rather than just publish the answer we thought it would be fun to have a competition to see how close people can guess and ran this in March 2017.
Lots of people entered at our stand at the St George Community Fair at St Aidan's Church and we also accepted entries via Facebook & Twitter. Guesses ranged from under 30 feet (10m) to just over 120 feet (37m).
The winner (the person who guessed closest to the measurement taken by Highline) was Mali Kedward who guessed at 15.5m.
Runners up were Mark Logan, Ben Hemmings and Maddy Joyce who all guessed within a metre.
Mali won a prize of a large Easter Egg and also a butterfly ID chart to help identify the butterflies seen on the Hill which we presented on a sunny morning by the chimney.
Works to Upper Chimney
Works to the upper chimney have been carried out in three phases in 2013, 2014 & 2016.
In 2013 works were done inside to remove the risk of stones becoming loose. During further inspections as part of these works, it was established that further works to the outside of the chimney would be beneficial. There was concern that the cement slurry render smeared over the outside surfaces at some point in the past would cause the pennant stone to decay. Removal of the render would also improve the appearance of this important part of Bristol's industrial heritage.
Removal of the render was of lower priority than that carried out in 2013 as it was aimed at preserving the chimney in the long term rather than addressing an urgent safety issue. An initial phase of this work was carried out using rope access in 2014, the final phase was done from scaffolding in 2016. More details are given below.
October - December 2016 Works
Work on the removal of the render, re-pointing and other stonework repairs to the chimney started on 10th October after the scaffolding was put up during the previous week. The aim was for the work to be complete by the end of the month.
Having removed some of the render it was found that some extra work was necessary, with some small areas of stonework needing to be rebuilt. Work to the stonework was completed on Friday 9th December and after a final inspection on the Monday, removal of the scaffolding was carried out from Wednesday 14th to Friday 16th December.
This work was done from scaffolding (rather than from ropes) because the Council Engineer was aware that this face of the chimney might require more work, but the actual condition was worse than expected. There was no access to the chimney while the works were in progress.
As with all the works to the chimneys, the work was managed by Bristol City Council.
The works were reported on the BBC Radio Bristol breakfast show on Tues 4th October including an interview with Chair of Friends of Troopers Hill, Susan Acton-Campbell. You can hear the interview here:
There is a bit of miss-synching of the voice and pictures in the video. The upper chimney is the remnant of the local copper smelting industry, it's the lower one that is to do with the coal industry. But still lovely images and the information about the repairs to the upper chimney is spot on. Spot how out of breath Susan, is, after walking up the Hill twice.
(click on photos to enlarge)
Before and after:
YouTube drone film with good views of the chimney and scaffolding:
March / April 2014 Works
Following an initial trial of a small area in March it was decided to remove this render and repoint the stonework. There was only limited funds available for this work, so not all of the render could be removed in this visit. The work was done using rope access.
This work was funded and managed by the Council's structures team with advice from the conservation officer and carried out by Highline Rope Access Services.
The photos below shows a close-up of the first section with some of the render removed and the start of the work to re-point it using a lime based mortar. As well as helping to preserve the chimney in the long term it is clear that its appearance has also been greatly improved.
In February 2013, steelplejacks from Highline Rope Access Services working for Bristol Parks carried out a further inspection of the top chimney and cleaned off some of the growth of grass and moss at the top. They used rope access and kindly agreed to take Friends of Troopers Hill's camera up with them. You can see some photos and a video here here: www.troopers-hill.org.uk/topview.
Following this inspection the Council decided that due to a small risk of loose stones or mortar falling inside it was necessary to prevent people going inside until repairs were completed. The entrance to the chimney was therefore blocked up. During the summer, further monitoring of the chimney was carried out to check for other problems.
Happily no other issues were found. Work to repair the stonework inside started in early September 2013. The entrance to the chimney remained blocked while works were in progress but then re-openned.
The plywood initially used to board up the chimney as an emergency measure was stolen after being painted with some street art, and was then replaced with a black metal grid. This is fitted inside the arch so that it was not visible at a distance and was adapted for use as a door while the work was being done.
Bristol City Council carried out some work to remove some buddleia and loose bricks from the top of the lower chimney in September 2012. This was to prevent any further deterioation and to ensure nothing could drop onto the road below.
More extensive work was carried out starting on Saturday 25th May 2013 when some scaffolding was put up. One corner of this was in the road and protected with water filled barriers.
The top section of the chimney was rebuilt. The chimney used to be higher than it is now, extra brick courses have been reinstated to give people a clue that the chimney did indeed carry on up further.
The old road name signs were removed to repaint and restore them; these were replaced on 16th August.
25 May 2013 Scaffolding being errected:
Stonework progress at the top:
Final detail at the top compared with September 2006: