PillAt Avonmouth, on the Severn Estuary near Pill, the difference between high and low tide can be as much as 40 feet (12.3 metres) – the second highest tidal range in the world. With each rising tide, enormous volumes of water push into the mouth of the river from the Bristol Channel, only to flow out again a few hours later.
The Pill Pilots
The village of Pill was famous for the skill of its pilots, who used their knowledge of the tides and currents of the Bristol Channel to guide ships safely to the mouth of the Avon. But the journey up the river to Bristol was no less arduous. Ships had to be towed upriver on the rising tide and safely moored before the ebb. At low tide ships had to rest on the river bed. The journey for a ship being towed from Pill to Bristol could take a week.
The Pill Hobblers
The cargoes of some larger ships were transferred to smaller craft to make the journey up to Bristol. The big ships were moored at Pill's Hung Road and the Pill Hobblers hauled the smaller boats upriver using the towpath and sometimes horses. The hobblers also towed ships into Bristol with rowboats. Steam tugs eventually took over, but Pill still has its Hobblers who do the same job they have done for centuries. Find out more about the modern day Hobblers here.
Visit Pill & Easton-in-Gordano History Society's website to find out more about what's going in the Pill area.