A long ramble, starting with trying to find the Hot Well of Hotwells and leading up the side of the Avon Gorge to the Downs and then through Clifton for coffee.
I tried it. It didn't work. No drinking fountain I've ever tried in Bristol has ever worked. It seems like such a shame. I'd use 'em.
06 Dec 2020
I wasn't really feeling it when I set out today, on my first car-assisted wander. By the time I'd parked on Alma Vale Road in Clifton it was just starting to rain and I picked my way about in quite a desultory way. It felt strange, as I was very familiar with the area because I'd walked through it hundreds of times when I worked at the top of Whiteladies Road, and used to walk up the hill from Hotwells and through Clifton to get there, and back again, every day.
Then a complete coincidence seemed to make the change I'd been hoping for. I was standing taking a photo of Christ in the front garden of All Saints church when a couple of people walked out of the front door. I got talking with a lady I took to be part of the ministerial team, who invited me to come in and look around—something I'd always wanted to do on the morning commute. (I think we connected a bit when I recognised the name John Piper, who did the amazing windows—I learned about him while I was at Warwick, through his connections to Coventry Cathedral.
I left with much more of a spring in my step, wandered around the area a bit more, finally working out that the tennis courts I used to pass every morning are those of Clifton Lawn Tennis Club, and finally grabbing an excellent Hungarian sausage hot dog from the Budapest Cafe. I feel a lot better now than I did before I went out.
10 Jan 2021
Went for a wander with my friend Lisa—the current lockdown rules seem to be that one local walk for exercise per day with a maximum of one person not in one's "bubble" is fine—up to the University of Bristol area right at the edge of my one-mile perimeter to see the Jeppe Hein Mirror Maze, among other things. On the way we mused about Merchant Venturers, the slave and tobacco trades, and dating in the time of Covid.
Faith and fortitude, presumably. Seems to be the back door to the yard behind the modern office building St Catherine's Court, apparently Clifton's only Grade "A" office building, according to their blurb.
According to Bristol and Region Archaeological Services, the builder of the Pro Cathedral up the hill first tried to build the Pro Cathedral, ran into quite a lot of difficulties caused by land slippage, and went bankrupt. In the meantime, however, he managed to put up a small chapel to St Augustine of Canterbury. Then (in 1848) a convent and schoolhouse were added, and a group of Dominican nuns devoted to St Catherine of Sienna moved in, hence Catherine's Court.
St Catherine is patron saint of Europe, among other things.
Historic England simply says that he's a Tudor head. Interesting that this arch and the matching arch at the other side have a complete collection of Zodiac signs on them, too—something tells me that's not a particularly Catholic thing?
06 Feb 2021
A lovely walk in the early spring sunshine with my friend Lisa. We headed directly for Jacobs Wells Road, to start off around the scene of one of our earlier walks, but this time took in Jacobs Wells from QEH upward, stopping to snap some photos of a Bear With Me, some interesting areas between Park Street and Brandon Hill including a peculiarly quiet enclave with a ruined old build I'd never found before, then crossed the Centre to grab take-away pies from Pieminister (I had the Heidi Pie) and head back to my place down the harbourside.
I headed to Bedminster to do a crossword with my support bubble today. On the way I delved into a couple of bits of Hotwells history, first of all snapping a "now" shot to go with a historical photo of Holy Trinity I happened across recently, and second of all to snap the Britannia Buildings.
The Britannia Buildings are a little strip of offices on a corner of the Hotwell Road. They've mostly been the headquarters of a cleaning company for years, but I've often wondered what this distinctive curve of offices, its ground floor standing proudly out from the upper floors, used to be. Well, after my last wander, where I poked about the landing stage just down the road, I found out! Researching the paddleboat company P&A Campbell I came across this nugget in The A-Z of Curious Bristol, by Maurice Fells (£):
The firm of P & A Campbell was the main steamer operator in the Bristol Channel, with its local headquarters in offices close to the Hotwells pier and overlooking the harbour at the Cumberland Basin. Campbell's named their offices Britannia Buildings, after one of the ships in their White Funnel Fleet.
So! Turns out the Britannia Buildings were named after a paddle steamer—you can see some pictures of Britannia here.
In related news, I've now bought three of Maurice Fells' local history books, and they were hand-delivered by the author on Sunday, a half-hour after I ordered them online (through a message exchange on Nextdoor!) Not even Amazon Prime has managed to deliver me anything that quickly...
Since setting up a search for Hotwells on eBay I've mostly managed to restrain myself from buying much (or in one case, was outbid, luckily for my finances.) However, I couldn't resist a 1902 flyer for a singalong at the Terrett Memorial Hall, which would have stood five minutes' walk from my flat, overlooking Howard's Lock.
I've found out a fair bit about this non-denominational seaman's mission, including tracking down both a Loxton drawing and an aerial photo of it. The main thing that's eluded me, ironically enough, is finding out who Terrett was, so as a Memorial Hall it didn't do a very good job 😀.
EDIT: Ah! Did a little more digging and found that the Bristol Archives has a Bristol Dock Company document on file called "William Terrett, Esq.; corresp. etc. re proposed erection of a Mission Hall at Cumberland Basin, 1892", so that might be worth a look once the Archives are properly open again. Given that:
Sarah Terrett died suddenly on 25 November 1889, aged 53, after speaking at a meeting of the White Ribbon Army, the temperance organization she had founded in 1878. Following her death many people sent letters of sympathy to her bereaved husband, William. One of these, from the Rev. W. F. James, a minister of the Bible Christians, makes for especially interesting reading. The Bible Christian denomination, to which Sarah and William belonged, was one of the smaller Methodist connexions, and had its heartland in rural Devon, the area where she had grown up. James recalled the hospitality he enjoyed when visiting the Terretts’ home, Church House, in Bedminster, south Bristol...
...I wonder if William Terrett built the hall in memory of his late wife. They were clearly just the kind of temperance movement people who would've founded a seaman's mission to get people together to have a nice non-alcoholic singsong rather than a night out on the tiles.
Anyway. This walk to grab a coffee from Hopper Coffee in Greville Smyth Park was mostly an excuse to post the leaflet, a few other things I found related to it, and some pictures of how the site looks now. I would suggest that the present day is not an improvement.
This was my random eBay purchase. I had no idea that the Terrett Memorial Hall had ever existed until I saw this leaflet up for sale.
There's some information on the hall on the Places of Worship database; as you can guess from the title of the leaflet it was basically a seaman's mission, with the aim "to promote the social, moral and religious welfare of sailors and provide sleeping accomodation for seamen, also free beds for destitute seafarers"
My favourite random thing on this leaflet is probably that the Surgeon Dentist is called Mr Heal.
The Loxton Collection, part of Bristol Library's Reference collection, has over 2000 pen and ink drawings that were created by Samuel Loxton in the first decades of the twentieth century for the Bristol Evening Post and Bristol Observer.
Helpfully, many of them have been scanned and posted to Flickr; you can browse more Loxton drawings including this one in the album "Loxton Illustrations: Part 3" (this picture is item #Q1071), and browse more albums of the drawings from the Library's albums page
I got interested in Bristol's medieval water supplies after poking around near Jacobs Wells Road and Brandon Hill. It was during that research I found out about a pipe that's still there today, and, as far as I know, still actually functioning, that was originally commissioned by Carmelite monks in the 13th century. They wanted a supply of spring water from Brandon Hill to their priory on the site of what's now the Bristol Beacon—Colston Hall, as-was. It was created around 1267, and later, in 1376, extended generously with an extra "feather" pipe to St John's On The Wall, giving the pipework its modern name of "St John's Conduit".
St John's on the Wall is still there, guarding the remaining city gate at the end of Broad Street, and the outlet tap area was recently refurbished. It doesn't run continuously now, like it did when I first moved to Bristol and worked at the end of Broad Street, in the Everard Building, but I believe the pipe still functions. One day I'd like to see that tap running...
There are a few links on the web about the pipe, but by far the best thing to do is to watch this short and fascinating 1970s TV documentary called The Hidden Source, which has some footage of the actual pipe and also lots of fantastic general footage of Bristol in the seventies.
On my walk today I was actually just going to the building society in town, but I decided to trace some of the route of the Carmelite pipe, including visiting streets it runs under, like Park Street, Christmas Street, and, of course, Pipe Lane. I also went a bit out of my way to check out St James' Priory, the oldest building in Bristol, seeing as it was just around the corner from the building society.
There are far too many pictures from this walk, and my feet are now quite sore, because it was a long one. But I enjoyed it.
It's been restored since then, quite recently. It was very shabby before.
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.
21 Aug 2021
Lisa and I mostly went out to have a look at Luke Jerram's Museum of the Moon as its tour hit Bristol Cathedral—I missed it when it was previously in town, at Wills Hall, I think—but we also took a trek up to Redland. Lisa's kind enough to indulge my strange current fascination with the Edwardian eccentrics that made up the Stella Matutina, so we swung by a couple of places with a vague connection to the Bristol branch of the organisation. Well, it was good walking, anyway...
As a stunning bonus, one of the picture's descriptions has more information than you'd probably want on the Bristol Port Railway and Pier's Clifton Extension Railway line, but I did happen to coincidentally write up this wander after reading about the extension line during my lunch hour at work today. It's a thrilling life, I tell you...