The more I research it, the more I find that Hotwells had far better transport links back in Victorian and Edwardian times than it has today. Along with buses that went to more useful places than the City Centre, there were trams, the funicular up to Clifton, the landing stage for paddle steamer services and two railway stations all within easy walking distance of me.
Today I took a day off work as preparation for doing the bookkeeping for my tax return1, and took a wander along to the site of what would have been my nearest station, Hotwells (or Clifton, as it started out in life), nestled in the shadow of the suspension bridge, the Bristol terminus of the Bristol Port Railway and Pier.
From there I wandered down the Portway, following the original line, until I got to the area around Sneyd Park Junction, where the tunnel from the slightly later Clifton Extension Railway joined up with this originally-isolated BPR line. Then I headed up to Clifton through the "goat gully" at Walcombe Slade, seeing the few above-ground bits of evidence of the tunnel (which is still in regular use) along the way.
It was a lovely day, and a good walk, and it was interesting to daydream of the times when I could have walked a few minutes from my flat down to Dowry Parade, caught a short tram ride to Hotwells Stations, and then headed from there to Avonmouth, perhaps even to board a transatlantic passenger service. The completion of the Clifton Extension Railway that linked the Avonmouth station with Temple Meads made relatively direct transatlantic travel from London via Bristol possible, with passengers travelling up from Paddington to Temple Meads, on to Avonmouth on the Clifton Extension Railway and Port Railway and Pier line, then perhaps catching a Cambpell's paddle steamer—which sometimes acted as tenders for large steamers—to a larger ship that was headed out for Canada, say.
1 I've learned that the best approach is to take two days off and deliberately do something that's not my bookkeeping on the first day, as otherwise I just inevitably end up procrastinating and feeling guilty on the first day no matter what. I have an odd brain, but at least I'm learning strategies for dealing with its strange ways as I get older...
2 Information mostly gleaned from Colin Maggs' The Bristol Port Railway & Pier and the Clifton Extension Railway, The Oakwood Press, 1975.
We'll be over there in a bit, at the entrance to the Gully. Before that, though, we'll just head to the other side of the quarry on the left.
Now I've found the end of the tunnel that leads up towards Clifton Down station, it's time to find some middle bits. Here I've walked back to the Gully entrance just south of the quarry.
People know this as the "goat gully" these days, but the official name is Walcombe Slade. (So valleyish they named it twice, perhaps, as both "combe" and "slade" mean "valley".)
Water for the goats, presumably.
So, along with the horizontal shaft that comes out rather unattractively in the side of the quarry below, there are two other air shafts for the tunnel. This one marks the spot where this path up Walcombe Slade crosses directly above the dead-straight Clifton Extension Railway tunnel running from left to right in the depths of the rock below.
It doesn't look quite contemporary to the 1870s railway tunnel, does it? That's because it was rebuilt with concrete blocks in 1950. I do like the top cover, though. I'm sure it could've been just a boring flat grille.