Call for graves action

GRAVES falling in to disrepair have sparked a call for action from Portishead’s old ‘Nash Boys.’

The graves of young men who died while training at the town’s Nautical School, are now in a poor state in North Weston Cemetery, some of the headstones are cracked or have pieces which have broken off.

Members of the public with connections to the old school say the Nautical School is a part of Portishead’s heritage and as such, the graves of those who trained there should be refurbished.

The training ship BTS Formidable was anchored off Portished Pier from 1869, providing a place where boys, usually from poor backgrounds, could learn to be sailors.

The National Nautical School in Nore Road was built to replace the ship’s activities. It opened in 1906 but was sold off in 1982 and developed in to the Fedden Village apartment complex. Money from the sale was put in to a charitable trust to help disadvantaged young people.

A row has now broken out, as members of the community call for the trust to pay for repairs to the old graves.

Former trainee Tony Smith of Victoria Square says it’s a disgrace that no consideration is being given to this important part of Portishead’s history.

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Councillor Colin Howells, who was approached by residents in his ward about the matter said: “While there is no doubt that North Weston Cemetery is one of the best kept cemeteries in North Somerset, the graves of boys who died while at the Nautical School have been neglected.

“Members of the community are now asking for them to be given some respect and understandably want to see them repaired.”

In response, a letter from the Nautical School Trust says that the request falls outside the aims and objectives of the charity and cannot therefore be considered.

Cllr Howells added: “I know the aims of the trust include assisting young people who suffer ‘deprivation, financial hardship, parental neglect or other misfortune’. Without being flippant on such a serious subject, it doesn’t stipulate if they are alive or dead and I would suggest that these young people, although dead, are suffering from deprivation, parental neglect and misfortune.”

Cllr Howells says he will continue to look for a solution.