My historical research took a wander underground recently, partly inspired by the Canynge Square sinkhole, partly by St Vincent's (Ghyston's) cave and its tunnel to the Observatory, and I was surprised to find that there might be an intact tunnel from the Bristol Port Railway and Pier still just sitting there under Bridge Valley Road. A quick search turned up this recent video by an intrepid explorer, so it's definitely still there.
I went looking for the entrances today, and definitely found the south entrance, at the start of the Bridge Valley Path, the footpath that starts with steps at the bottom of Bridge Valley Road. It's easy to miss if you're not looking for it. I think I've figured out where the north entrance is, too, but it was getting dark at that stage and the Portway was still busy enough that crossing the road was still the normal nuisance, so I thought I'd leave further explorations for another day.
10 Apr 2021
There's a bit of Southville that I've been meaning to get to for some time, where the streets seem to take some strong inspiration from London. There's a Camden Road that crosses with an Islington Road, and a Dalston Road, even an Edgeware Road. For me these names are more evocative than the rather more exotic names I passed by to get there—Sydney Row or Hanover Place, say, because I've actually been to the places in London. The last time I was in Islington I saw Monkey Swallows the Universe play at The Angel, and I can't think of Camden without remembering a gondola trip with my friend Tara where a cheery youth played Beatles music for us on a saz...
I really liked this little area, with its mostly well-kept pretty houses and hints here and there of the creative side of the residents. It's arty and down-to-earth at the same time, and I wouldn't mind living there, I think.
On the way there I got the chance to walk through Underfall Yard for the first time in a while, and on the way back I had my first take-away hot food for many months, grabbing some crispy fried squid from the excellent Woky Ko at Wapping Wharf.
17 Nov 2020
A fruitless wander, as Spoke and Stringer (who I thought might do a decent flat white) were closed, and the only other harbourside inlet offering were a bit too busy to wait at, especially as I'd spent some time wandering some of the convolutions of Rownham Mead. This last congeries of dull alleyways and brown-painted garages was at least somewhere I've never been before, in parts.
A bethel ship was a kind of floating church; it would moor up near other ships and the sailors could board it for worship.
William John Lanham, d. 4 May 1927
I mostly went out to hang out with my friends Sarah and Vik in Bedminster, but along the way I thought I'd take a closer look at something a little nearer home: the last crossing point of the Rownham Ferry.
And here's the picture that inspired this little local visit today. A week or so back I was browsing the boxes of books at Rachel's and Michael's Antiques on Princess VIctoria Street, and flipping through their collection of Reece Winstone books. Winstone's famous Bristol As It Was series are an amazing documentary source created by a man who loved both photography and Bristol and effectively became Bristol's foremost documentary photographer for decades. A lot more of Bristol's history is visible today because of him.
In the Bristol As It Was 1939 - 1914 book I saw this picture of the Rownham Ferry. Unfortunately the book was a first edition and priced at £20, so I ordered a cheaper edition from an independent dealer in Stockport when I got home! (Let's consider that as me leaving the rare first edition for the true connoisseurs, rather than just being cheap.)
Here we see the ferry just five days before its closure on the last day of 1932.
Photo © Reece Winstone Archive. (I recommend buying the books if you like old photos of Bristol. They're amazing!)