Suzanne Heath - Blackberry Park
Christys of London hat finishing works on Park Lane at Frampton Cotterell, built in 1818

Blackberry Park
Coalpit Heath, South Gloucestershire

This forthcoming creative commission is associated with a new development of 215 homes, open space and infrastructure on 15 hectares of undulating arable farmland east of Park Lane in Coalpit Heath. Coalpit Heath is one of a cluster of three villages that also includes Winterbourne and Frampton Cotterell, located about 8 miles north of Bristol.

The project is funded by the developer, Barratt Homes, through a section 106 planning obligation. The developer is seeking an artist to create a site specific permanent artwork or series of works that respond to the industrial history of hat-making locally. Frampton Cotterell has a 300-year history of hood and hat-making and it is thought that around 4,000 men were employed locally in the industry, including hat-makers and felters as well as furriers who supplied rabbit fur and those involved in producing the materials for hat-making.

Coalpit Heath was founded as a coal mining settlement, however the Blackberry Park site is not known to have been mined. Instead it has many connections to the local hatmaking industry. Park Lane will serve as the main entrance to Blackberry Park, and the hat company Christys built a hat factory there which employed about 200 people locally. The hat factory (now housing), some hatmakers’ cottages and Christy’s Manager’s House were all located along Park Lane, together with 9 factory buildings, two paddocks, outbuildings and a cottage. It is thought the industry developed in the area because of the availability of water. Park Lane was once known as Penny Lane, the amount paid to locals per bucket of urine used in processing hats.

Hatmaking is thought to have begun as a cottage industry in the 1570s to serve haberdashers in Bristol. It took place in a dozen villages east of Bristol where hats were handmade in felt, wool and animal fur. By the 1830s around 1,320 hats were made in Frampton Cotterell every week. In 1841 a census showed that 196 hatters were employed in Frampton, and 177 in Winterbourne, representing about a third of the working population.

Hatters were among the first workers to form trade unions for mutual support and The Worthy Society of Felt-makers (a benefit society) met in Frampton Cotterell until it collapsed in the 1850s.

If you are an artist interested in applying for the commission please download the brief and full details from

The deadline for submissions via email is 9am on Friday 31st May 2019

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