logo + link

Saltford Environment Group
  towards a sustainable future for our village


SEG Home > The History of Saltford

The History of Saltford

Saltford has a fascinating past. Whilst many are aware of Saltford's Domesday Book entry, our timeline reveals a remarkable history unsurpassed by any other English village.

Saltford Environment Group's extensive research has revealed many facts about the amazing past of this Somerset village that remained largely unknown until now.

Project News

Saltford Heritage Centre opens for Saltford Festival

St Mary's Church Hall, home to the Heritage Centre,
during Saltford Festival's "Old Village Day" 11.6.2017.

Saltford's new Heritage Centre was open on the first floor (upstairs) of the Church Hall for the Saltford Festival 2017 on the afternoon of Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th June. The Bath Record Office roadshow was also in attendance for the 10th June showing old OS maps of Saltford, seal presses, and informative displays on the BRO's Saltford records whilst also giving an opportunity for residents to discuss historical research with a BRO archivist.

History was a key theme for the festival. The first opening of the Heritage Centre was preceded by a joint presentation by local resident and SEG's history team member Dick Bateman and Saltford Drama Club in St Mary's Church on "Life in 19th Century Saltford". On Monday 12th June SEG's Saltford Station campaign Chris Warren gave an interesting and well-received talk on "The History of Railways at Saltford" in the main hall at St Mary's Church Hall.

"Admiral Kelly" outside Saltford House, 11.6.2017.

2017 is notable as being the 150th anniversary of the death of Admiral Benedictus Marwood Kelly, Saltford's famous resident. For the "Old Village Day" on Sunday June 11th, Saltford Drama Club member Kelvin Buck dressed up as Admiral Kelly and stood by the Admiral's Blue Plaque in front of Saltford House answering questions about the Admiral's life and directing festival goers to the Heritage Centre and other festival activities.

Some 250+ people visited the Heritage Centre over the two days and the overwhelming reaction to the information displays and Saltford artefacts from the Roman, Medieval, Tudor and later periods was very positive. Old Church and School records were also made available for visitors to see for the launch.

The Heritage Centre is a joint project from SEG and the Parochial Church Council. It will be opened during the warmer months from 2018 and for special community events whilst elements of its mobile and flexible display can support relevant events at other venues in Saltford.

Further information on our website can be found from these links:-

June 2017 (updated January 2018)

Return to top of page

Past Project News

Since 2015 SEG's news page has featured stories concerning the History Project as its research and other activities have revealed previously little known information about Saltford's history. These past news stories can be found on SEG's News page for recent news stories or in SEG's News Archive and include:-

  • 360 local school children visit the Heritage Centre, February 2018
  • Saltford Heritage Centre opens for Saltford Festival, June 2017
  • Rural 19th Century painting of Saltford revealed, May 2017
  • Our village in the 1950s, March 2017
  • Discovering Roman Saltford: Geophysics survey report (final) published on 6 Feb 2017
  • SEG publishes image of the oldest painting of Saltford, December 2016
  • Geophysics search for Roman dwelling completed! November 2016
  • Walking Saltford's history - new history walks published October 2016
  • Blue Plaque commemorating Admiral Kelly unveiled at Saltford House, 1 October 2016
  • 75th anniversary of fighter aircraft exploding on impact at Saltford station, October 2016
  • The emerging plans for Saltford Heritage Centre, September 2016
  • A Saltford Heritage Centre? August 2016
  • SEG's history project reveals fascinating new insights into Saltford's past, July 2016
  • Don't mess with Saltford's Admiral Kelly! June 2016
  • Roman Saltford: Geophysics (1st) survey report published, February 2016
  • Medieval artefact (Pilgrim's Lead Ampulla) found on Saltford/Keynsham border, December 2015
  • Surviving winter in Saltford for over 3,000 years, December 2015
  • Saltford's history and the mystery of the Piltdown Man hoax, November 2015
  • When drinking Saltford's water could be fatal... August 2015
  • Saltford Carthaginian Coin proves popular with festival visitors, June 2015
  • Launch of the Saltford Carthaginian, April 2015
  • Local actor from Poldark to help tell story of what was lost in Saltford 2,300 years ago... April 2015
  • The History of Saltford goes live! April 2015

Return to top of page

History Project Background

As part of its purpose to champion all that's great about Saltford for a better and more sustainable future, Saltford Environment Group decided in early 2015 to research and record the history of Saltford on our website. Only by valuing our history and origins can we gain a better understanding of the importance that we as a community should take care of the land and people that support us all.

This is a significant evidence based project. We shall be recording Saltford's history from pre-Roman times to the 20th Century and make it available for all to see here on our website. We are already uncovering fascinating facts about life in Saltford in past centuries. This is an iterative process, slowly growing and developing in content as we research and discover information.

We are grateful for all offers of materials to help produce this unique record of Saltford but please be aware that if you are kind enough to offer material for us to use, we need to be selective in what we decide to publish and cannot guarantee to use everything supplied to us.

We shall be making periodic requests for assistance via SEG's monthly newsletters. In the meantime if residents are able to lend us old photographs, sketches, historic documents etc. concerning Saltford (the older the better) please contact us (see below).

Please note. This is a continuous and growing project that commenced in March 2015. New content is added on a regular basis.

Project Team

A small Project Team from SEG's membership was initially established in early 2015 to plan the project and get it started. This is an ongoing process; we shall be constantly adding new information and images.

The original Project Team (2015) comprised Phil Harding (SEG Chairman & Project Leader); Debbie Cini (SEG Secretary); Andrew Stainer (SEG Treasurer); Dick Bateman; and Jon Godfrey. Roger Vaughan was subsequently brought in to organise the geophysics surveys with BACAS.

Phil Harding and Andrew Stainer continue to lead the project and they are also curators for the Saltford Heritage Centre whilst several SEG members are assisting the project on an ad-hoc basis.

photograph   photograph  
Phil Harding & Andrew Stainer

photograph   photograph
Debbie Cini & Dick Bateman

photograph   photograph
Jon Godfrey & Roger Vaughan

Please see below for how to contact the History of Saltford project.


SEG would like to thank the following who have provided various contributions, research, guidance and other support to this project:-

John Baker, Julian Balsdon, Dick Bateman; Adrian Betts, Dave Boston, Dave Brennan, Barbara Butler, Richard Canter, Derek Cann, Marie Carder, Debbie Cini, Jill Coles, Tony Coverdale, David Cox, Robin Dixon, Sue Dixon, Berenice "Bunty" & John Dunford, Trevor Ewins, William Feay, Ivor Ford, Jon Godfrey; Malcolm Guthrie, Phil Harding; Katie Horgan, Jaye, Steve Johnson, Robert Knaap, Leah, Richard Loxton, Owen McDermott, Dr Sam Moorhead (British Museum), Bob Mordle, Sam Norris, John Oswin, Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, Carl Say, Alan Sims, Hilary Smedley, Sally Smee, Adam Stratton, Alistair Sutherland, Margaret Stabbins, Richard Stabbins, Dave Taylor, Rob Taylor, Rosemary Turner, Roger Vaughan, Brian Vowles, Chris Warren, Michael Worthington-Williams.

We also thank everyone in the village who has supported and encouraged us on this project.

Contacting the project

You can contact the History of Saltford project via SEG's Chairman, Phil Harding - please state "SEG History Project" in the email subject heading.

Photographs: A high resolution copy of some of the historic and contemporary photographs may be available on request to Phil Harding via the home page of this (SEG's) website. Where available these can be supplied in return for an agreed donation to SEG to help cover the cost of this online publication.

Return to top of page

Research web links

We use online and other records for our research including:-

Bath Record Office www.batharchives.co.uk

Forces War Records & Military Genealogy www.forces-war-records.co.uk

Heritage Gateway www.heritagegateway.org.uk

Historic England (includes The Heritage List of listed buildings, scheduled monuments etc.) http://historicengland.org.uk

Keynsham & Saltford Local History Society (online records: Births, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials) http://www.keysalthist.org.uk/online.htm

Know Your Place West of England project www.kypwest.org.uk

Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) finds.org.uk/

SW Heritage Trust: Somerset Archive Catalogue somerset-cat.swheritage.org.uk

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, J. A. Giles & J. Ingram (Gutenberg free ebooks) www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/657

Return to top of page

Possible meanings of the Place Name 'Saltford'

Saltford ("Sallford") shown on a 1610 map of Somersetshire
created by John Speede during the reign of Elizabeth I

"A Dictionary of British Place-Names (Oxford Paperback Reference)" by A.D. Mill, Emeritus Reader in Medieval English, University of London, and a member of the Council of the English Place-Name Society and of the Society for Name Studies in Britain and Ireland, suggests:-

   Saltford, Somerset

   1086   Sanford   (Domesday Book) (link for more info)
   1229   Salford    (no source given)
   1291   Saltford   (no source given)

and concludes: "Probably 'salt-water ford' but the first element may, originally have been 'salh' meaning 'sallow, willow' ".

So, the derivation of Saltford's place name could be one of the following:

1.'Salt-ford', because in those days there were no weirs or locks on the River Avon and water here could have been salty, whereas, the tidal salt water did not reach the riverside village of Freshford, on the Avon to the east of Bath. Sal is also the Latin word for salt.

2. The 1229 entry in Mill's book refers to 'Sal-ford', meaning 'ford of the willows'. That is also plausible - indeed, you will see many picturesque willows along the bank here.

3. The Domesday Book entry for this place was 'San-ford' and that could have come from 'Sand-ford' because the banks of 'The Shallows' are sandy.

4. Another interpretation of 'Salt-ford' held locally by some residents is that the ford could have been named after the salt that may have been carried across the ford as a trade item.


Saltford Environment Group
History project website designed and produced by Phil Harding.
This is a W3C compliant website.

A-Z of pages
& features


TIMELINE (300 BC to the modern age)






Project News

Project Background

Project Team (& Acknowledgements)

Research web links

Possible meanings of 'Saltford'

QR Code for this page

SEG wishes to thank the following organisations for the support and/or advice they have given to this project:

logo + link
Bath Royal
Literary and Scientific

logo + link
Bath & North East
Somerset Council

logo + link

logo + link
Bath Spa University
(School of Humanities &
Cultural Industries)

logo + link
(Geophysics survey 2015 & 2016)

The British Museum
has provided advice & guidance on the
Saltford Carthaginian Coin - one of the
oldest coins found in Britain.

Saltford Station (c.1901)

Saltford Brass Mill (2013)

A mill is referred to in the Domesday Book entry for Saltford. Probably on the same site as the Domesday Book mill, Saltford Brass Mill was converted to working brass in the 18th Century.

The Brass Mill is the only surviving building, still with a furnace and working water wheel, remaining from a group of 18th Century mills making copper and brass goods in the Avon Valley between Bristol and Bath. The mill worked brass until 1925.