05 Mar 2022
I had a lot to get done around the house, so as soon as I heard there might be a shiny new piece of street art near me, under the Cumberland Basin flyovers, I immediately decided that was all the excuse I needed to set off on a round-the-harbour lunchtime walk to get some fresh air and see if I could spot it. So, here's a circular wander that takes in graffiti, boats, wildlife and graffiti again...
And I've got sore feet, too, so I'm glad I'm back where I started, not far from home...
16 Jan 2021
A raggedy wander with my friend Lisa, picking up a few stray streets and venturing only briefly onto Whiteladies Road, where it was too damn busy, given the current pandemic. We retreated fairly quickly. Found a couple of interesting back alleys, and got a very pointed "can I help you?" from a man who was working in his garage in one of the rather run-down garage areas behind some posh houses, and clearly didn't want us just wandering around there.
Clearly we're in student territory.
I bought a vintage post card from eBay this week. It's a well-known photo of the Hotwells landing stage, showing what's likely to be a P&A Campbell paddle steamer moored there. (Just yesterday I snapped a photo of their buoy on display at Underfall Yard with its information sign.) It was posted from here to Canada in 1936, and has now returned via a presumably quite circuitous route.
For tens of thousands of people, the pier at Hotwells was the starting point of their day trip as they boarded steamers with names like Glen Avon, Glen Usk and Britannia. The salty tang of the sea was never far away as the steamers headed for Ilfracombe, Weston-super-Mare, Clevedon and Portishead on the Devon and Somerset coast and Barry, Porthcawl and Tenby in South Wales.
The landing stage is long-abandoned. A variety of economic issues, including fuel prices, the increasing prevalence of the motor car, the construction of the Severn Crossing giving easier access to Wales, and the collapse of Clevedon Pier during safety testing in 1970, which prevented larger pleasure boats from stopping at the resort, all led to dwindling trade.
I went to have a poke about there today, not staying for long as it's a cold day and the wind was biting. I couldn't reproduce the postcard's view—you'd need to risk life, limb and presumably a trespass prosecution—but I did try to judge the rough viewpoint and angle of the photo by lining up with Rock House, the Colonnade and the Suspension Bridge and snapped a photo looking back to where the original photographer would have stood on the pontoon.
This Bristol City Docks history page has many good photos of the landing stage and the nearby Port and Pier Railway line (whose tunnel I was in the other day) and the Hotwells Halt railway station, which was just the other side of the suspension bridge from here.
Well, I think that's what it says.
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.
Never tried them before, but they did me a great flat white and I'll be going back.
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.
Er... I'll try.
19 May 2021
I just nipped up to Clifton Village to get a coffee, though I did manage to walk down a little alleyway I'd not really noticed before. Or perhaps I had noticed it and it looked private, but today I felt like wandering up its twenty or so feet anyway... The reflections in the shop windows on Boyce's Avenue gave me the idea to take a few snaps of them, so that's the majority of my small amount of snapping today.
28 May 2021
Another dash to Greville Smyth Park for a coffee from Rich at Hopper, but at least this time I managed to divert a bit and knock off a small section of Cumberland Road I'd managed to miss on previous excursions. Along the way I muse on a strange residence in between a warehouse and a tannery, and wonder if the Mayor might be deliberately letting the Cumberland Road Flyover area go to seed...
I composed a few photos to get the full length of wall in here. The whole of the Cumberland Road Flyover System is covered in tagging and graff at the moment; either it's really burst into life as pastime for bored youth since Covid or the council have given up on cleaning it up.
I suspect the latter—the more clapped-out and unattractive this bit of Hotwells is made to look, the more the Mayor can point at his pet Western Harbour project as an improvement.
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
06 Jul 2021
I really only took the GPS and camera on a "just in case" basis, as I knew I was only going for a coffee in Greville Smyth Park along a well-trodden path this lunchtime. Still, I saw a few new things along the way, so I figured it was worth uploading the handful of photos I took...
04 Dec 2021
I didn't take many pictures on this quite long wander, partly because Lisa and I wandered across to Bedminster via Bower Ashton, which I've snapped quite a lot of on the last couple of walks, and also because we lost the light fairly quickly, though spending a half-hour drinking mulled wine in the Ashton might have had a little to do with that...
Before we left Hotwells I wanted to visit a door I'd heard about on Cornwallis Crescent and also take a little look at a couple of houses in Dowry Square to consider the 1960s regeneration of Hotwells.
It's possible I had a bit too much alcohol—Lisa and I stopped off for another mulled wine at Corks on Wapping Wharf (best mulled wine in Bristol; they use ruby port), then had one in the Rose of Denmark and one for the road (in Lisa's case, the bus down the Portway back to Shirehampton) in the Merchant's Arms, which I must visit more often. They had the fire going and were as welcoming as ever.
Anyway. After waving Lisa off I tried to buy fish & chips but was stymied by the Hotwells Fish Bar not being open, so ended up in RED, which certainly has some of the strongest branding on the Hotwell Road.
I seem to remember something about rats being driven mad by an experiment that saw them locked in a bright red room, but the staff here seemed calm enough. A quotidian shot to end on, but a genuine slice of everyday life, I suppose.