02 Dec 2020
This may be the very first time I've gone for a One Mile Matt wander and not actually gone down any new roads, trod any new steps. I just wanted a coffee, frankly, so I went the same old way to Imagine That in the marina and back again.
This is the current plan to replace the caravan park
03 Jul 2021
I was headed into town to return RA Gilbert's biography of AE Waite to the library and along the way I noticed that Dreadnought had finished their refurbishment, but wouldn't be open until midday. That left me some time to kill, so I bimbled around the old St Augustine's/Gaunt's area for a while, then headed up Park Street for a coffee and a snack to eat on Brandon Hill before heading home the way I'd came so I could pop in and buy a pamphlet on the Hot Well I'd been interested in for a while.
Circa 1905. See the previous photo for the modern-day version. Several of the houses on display were destroyed during the blitz of 24 November, 1940.
I'd never heard of this being called Love Street before. It does seem that it was, though: I just searched through all the various digital research materials I've gathered during this project and found this tidbit in A Bristol Miscellany:
It is proposed to drain the whole of this district by means of a low level sewer commencing at the bottom of Woodwelllane or Jacobs Wells road nearly opposite Woodwell crescent passing along the whole length of the Hotwell road and Love street to Dowry square continuing along in front of Dowry Parade and the Gloster Hotel passing the bottom of Granby Hill in front of Ashton place to Saint Vincent's Parade at which point it will receive the sewage from the Royal York Crescent, the West Mall and Caledonia Place, from which point it will continue along in front of Hotwell House underneath the rocks to the towing path in front of Point House at the Round Point to the present outlet of the High Level Sewer District being about 1,100 yards below the Hotwell House.
...but no other mentions than that one. Looking around the web, I can see a few more references, including this delightful business card for Hotwells gardener John Waldron.
I did idly wonder if "Love Street" might've been a euphemism for something, at some point? There were an awful lot of sailors coming off boats nearby! But perhaps it was simply a nice name for a nice stretch of road...
Photo from Hotwells and the City Docks, ISBN 9781899388288
10 Jul 2021
Lisa had a couple of hours to spare before going up in a hot air balloon (exciting!) so we went for a quick local walk, revisiting a bit of Cliftonwood we've seen before, exploring the secret garden I'd visited before that I thought she'd enjoy (I didn't take any new photos there) and then pushing on to another garden, Cherry Garden. Last time we passed this way, I'd noticed the gate, but we hadn't gone in as I'd assumed it was private. I'd since found it on CHIS's list of communal gardens in Clifton, so I wanted to have a look inside this time, and try to figure out whether it was private-communal or public, and possibly Council-owned, like several of the other gardens in Clifton.
Photo taken from the book Bygone Bristol: Hotwells and the City Docks, by Janet and Derek Fisher.
You can see the gate from the previous photo at the start of Narrow Quay. Plenty of other changes in the area, too: the statue of Neptune stands at the head of the water; there are no Cascade Steps yet; cranes still stand on Broad Quay, and you can just about tell that there's still a main road running right across the middle of Queen Square in the distance.
The gate stands half-closed; presumably before the E and W sheds were converted into the cinemas, bars and restaurants of the Watershed and other publically-accessible attractions there was still some need to keep the (working) dockside a little more secure, and I'm guessing it might have been locked at night.
The gates are listed and have apparently been there since 1894.
18 Mar 2021
Reproducing historical photos seems to be a developing interest for me. On today's wander I just went for my normal coffee at Imagine That, but along the way I stopped at Baltic Wharf (the modern housing estate; historically-speaking, I was probably in between Canada Wharf and Gefle Wharf—about here, in fact) to reproduce a 1930s photo of the Mardyke area from the Tarring collection.
Mardyke, from what I can work out, means "a ditch along the margins". Before my researches, I only really knew the name from the Mardyke pub, a big place on the Hotwell Road. Everyone knows the Mardyke, partly because of its size and signage, but I've only been in once or twice, too long ago to remember much of what it was like. However, the wharf there used to be known as Mardyke Wharf, and the area in general as Mardyke. (I just found an 1826 painting by Thomas Leeson Rowbotham of "Mardyke seen from near Hilhouse's Dock, showing the 'Clifton Ark' floating chapel" that shows the area before much development had happened, incidentally, and now I feel like I need to find out a bit more about the floating chapel...)
I enjoyed snapping the "after" photo; the process involved moving a group of swans out of the place I needed to stand to get the photo; luckily I've started carrying waterfowl food along with my on my harbourside jaunts, so I could use bribery rather than a more confrontational approach. Not sure I'd fancy my chances against a swan, though I did once team up with another passerby to shoo a recalcitrant one off the Redcliffe bascule bridge so a busful of commuters could continue their journey to work...
Showing both the Clifton Industrial School on the Hotwell Road, and the Clifton National Schools building on the hill above.
(via the Loxton Collection from Bristol Libraries on Flickr.)
The Mardyke area—apparently Mardyke means a dyke on the margins, which would make sense for the location—in the 1930s. That's got to be a Campbell paddle steamer from their White Funnel fleet, but I don't know which one. Looks to be a similar configuration to the Princess May, though the paddles look a bit different. In the background, the Mardyke Pub still stands today, but the three largest buildings do not. They are:
Top right: the Clifton National School (there's a Loxton sketch uploaded to this Wander where you can see the name on the front.)
Directly in front and below the Clfiton National School, on the main Hotwell Road: The Clifton Industrial School, Mardyke building.
Standing halfway up the hill, more towards the middle of the picture: the Clifton Industrial School, Church Path Steps building.
Lots of info to be found on the Industrial Schools here:
In addition to their classroom lessons, the boys were employed in tailoring, shoemaking and brush-making, with basket making later added. The boys also assisted with the kitchen, laundry, and house work. In 1870, some additional rooms were rented in the locality for use as an infirmary if required. A School band was established.
I can't find so much on the National School (though apparently the Bristol Archives have some of their records) but the Clifton & Hotwells Character Appraisal suggest it was built in 1835 and, along with the Industrial School buildings, destroyed during WWII:
A bomb also largely destroyed the Clifton National School and Mardyke House School. The lack of bomb- proof shelters in Clifton led to the Clifton Rocks Railway to be used as shelter, which was prepared for occupation in 1940.
The colourful modern flats stand on School Road, presumably the last hint that the Clifton National Schools building was there before. It's nice to see both the Mardyke Pub and some of the ordinary houses from the terrace dead centre still there and looking much the same.
24 Sep 2021
A quick lunchtime jaunt to Clifton Village. Along the way I admired the new sign on Hope Chapel and added to my tsundoku collection.
Apologies for the poor picture quality; it was a quick snap from the iPhone. There's a better picture on t'blog. It's notable that this book was written by "J L", Joseph Leech, former Bristol newspaper magnate and the man who had Burwalls Mansion built, just the other side of the Suspension Bridge.
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!)
Now the tide's lower, we can see the end of the slipway we looked at earlier poking out from the Somerset side. According this article from the Bristol & Avon Family History Society:
In 1793 the ferry was identified as being used by many passengers to "cross the river at Rownham ferry and walk to the sweet and wholesome village of Ashton to eat strawberries and cream"
Whereas on the Bristol side, this is the only visible bit, really.
At an earlier site, the ferry was mentioned in the Proceedings in the Court of the Star Chamber in the Reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII after a dispute between a new competitor and the existing ferry, which was run by St Augustine's Abbey. Presumably the crossing was used to get to and from the abbey property at Abbots Pool, which I've actually swum in, from the Abbey, now Bristol Cathedral.
Looks like the stones at the bottom corner were replaced with some simple poured concrete with grip lines drawn across it at some point.
This is definitely all that peeks out now.
Although the tide's better now, the light was not great for taking documentary photos. Here we are heading towards sunset on the vernal equinox, so I decided to just try being a bit arty instead. I even took the lens hood off to try to encourage more flare. Just call me JJ Abrams.
Just trying to wring as much lens flare out of the camera as I could here, to be honest :D
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.
14 Mar 2021
An enormous walk today, or at least it felt enormous. My feet are sore, anyway. I started off recreating a couple of local historical photos in Hotwells, but then headed for my traditional walk along the towpath in the Avon Gorge to the far extreme of Leigh Woods, up and through the woods to the height of the Suspension Bridge, finally crossing into Clifton Village for a well-deserved vanilla latte.
I say "traditional" because this used to be a very regular route for me, first walking, years and years ago, and later jogging—this route combined with a circuit of the Downs on the other side used to be my way of making sure I was fit to do a half-marathon (I did six of them in total, between 2010 and 2014).
I miss the routine of this walk, even though it's a long way and it used to pretty much wipe me out when I did it—I'd come back home and collapse and do very little for the rest of the day. But perhaps that's what Sundays are for, and I should try to remember that.
Doing this walk regularly was quite a meditative experience. Not so much of that today, but once I got to the further extreme of the towpath, where the roar of the Portway traffic on the other side of the river dwindles and I turned into Leigh Woods to climb ever closer to birdsong and further from rushing cars, I did seem to recapture a little of the feeling of previous walks. (I would say my mind cleared, but I was mentally singing along to Life Without Buildings' The Leanover for most of the wander. There are worse songs to have stuck in one's head, though; it's a great track...)
Anyway. Apparently the walk made me more likely to ramble in words, too. I'll stop now :)
06 Apr 2021
I'd originally intended just to pop up to the area around Alma Road, where I'd missed a few streets on earlier wanders. It was such a nice evening, though, I decided to extend my walk up to the very top of Pembroke Road, just outside my one mile radius, to take a few snaps of something intriguing I'd found in my researches.
I've driven, walked and jogged past the little triangle of land at the top of Pembroke road a great deal in my time in Bristol, but I didn't know that it used to be the site of a gibbet, in fact that the road itself there used to be called Gallows Acre Lane. According to the Durdham Down history trail, by Francis Greenacre (an excellent name for a Downs researcher!) among other sources:
...it was below this quarry near the top of Pembroke Road, once called Gallows Acre Lane, that a gibbet stood. It was sometimes occupied by those who had committed robberies on the Downs and was last used in 1783 to hang Shenkin Protheroe for the murder of a drover. Stories quickly spread that he descended from the gibbet at midnight every night and stalked through Clifton. Such was the alarm that his body was cut down and buried.
Also very close to this little triangle of land was one of the gates of the extensive turnpike system...
Anyway. Along the way I encountered a wooden tortoise and a real squirrel, among other things. It was a good walk, and more light in the evenings means I can move my wanders out of the ticking countdown clock of work lunch-hours and be a bit more leisurely.
I came across this photo of 5 Wellington Terrace back when it was the Gaping Goose, two doors down from the Portcullis, and decided to snap the site as it is today. Interesting comparison!
A bit of a wider shot to show Prince's Buildings on the other side of the road.
A "Jumble Jaunt"—just the kind of thing you want to see on a community notice board.
21 Nov 2020
A rather more wide-ranging weekend wander with Sarah and Vik, taking in some mock Tudor bits of Bedmo (I should note that I've subsequently been corrected to "Bemmie", but I'm an outsider and have been calling it "Bedmo" for short for decades...), a chunk of Ashton, a path up Rownham Hill called Dead Badger's Bottom(!), The Ashton Court estate, a bit of the UWE campus at Bower Ashton, and some of the Festival Way path.
Gosh. I had no idea why it's called the White City Allotments, but apparently:
Bristol International Exhibition opened in May 1914 promising to be 'a place of pleasure and delight', celebrating 'the resourcefulness and progress of Great Britain and her Dominions'. 32 acres in Ashton Gate were transformed by palaces and pavilions. It quickly became known as the ‘White City’ because of the plaster used on the temporary buildings.
"above is a 3-light oriel with cusped tracery and flanking niches with statues of knights"