03 Nov 2020
A very local exploration today, but there are still bits of the near field that I never need to walk down, so it didn't take me long to find somewhere I haven't been in a decade or more, the little enclave of smaller Victorian houses around Oldfield Road and Sandford Road. I'd really like to live in one of those houses, but I doubt I could afford it.
Another place I've passed so many times that I forget it's there. Haberfield House is a giant Victorian almshouse on Joy Hill, hidden from the Hotwell Road by a tall brick wall, but apparently with gardens around that side. I believe it's now privately-owned bedsit-style accommodation, but it's hard to find out much about it. It doesn't help that there's at least one other Haberfield house in Bristol (also an ex-almshouse, now and old people's home) which makes searches a little difficult.
There are ongoing proposals from the owner to convert the roofpace into more flats, in Bristol's ongoing mission to cram even more poeple into even less space, it seems.
14 Nov 2020
28 Dec 2020
Fractionally outside my one-mile zone, but I got curious about Saint Vincent's spring, whose last remnants you can see in a defunct drinking fountain on the Portway. Along the way I passed Gyston's cave, sometimes called St Vincent's cave, in the sheer wall of the gorge. It's now accessible by a tunnel from the observatory—I tried it about twenty years ago, I think, and still recall the vertiginous moment of looking down from the protruding balcony and realising that you could see straight through the grille floor to the drop below—but from what I can work out the tunnel is relatively recent. Before the tunnel was dug it was accessible only by access across the cliff face, which must have been even more terrifying.
This cave was first mentioned as being a chapel in the year AD 305 and excavations, in which Romano-British pottery has been found, have revealed that it has been both a holy place and a place of refuge at various times in its history.
A few different sources say that the cave became a hermitage and chapel to St Vincent following Bristol's early trading in Iberian wines; St Vincent of Saragossa is Lisbon's patron saint, and a lot of nearby things bear the name.
I'm not sure where the crossover of Vincent and Ghyston happens, though. On the giants Goram and Vincent (or Ghyston), Wikipedia says:
The name Vincent for one of the giants rests on the fact that at Clifton, at the narrowest point of the Avon Gorge, there was formerly an ancient hermitage and chapel dedicated to St Vincent, at or near the present cave in the cliff-face which bears his name. Another (apparently modern) version of the story calls the Clifton giant Ghyston, which is in fact the name, of obscure origin, for the whole of the cliff-face of the Avon Gorge at least as early as the mid-fifteenth century, in the detailed description of the Bristol area by William Worcestre. The place-name was personified to produce the giant's name. Vincent's Cave is called Ghyston cave or The Giant’s Hole in an article in the July 1837 issue of Felix Farley’s Bristol Journal.
In my research on the original Hot Well House, I've seen quite a few contemporary paintings which state their viewpoint as "from St. Vincent's Rock", so in the 16th century it seems the cliff-face name was typically St Vincent Rock rather than Ghyston's Rock, perhaps.
I am, as you can tell, no historian!
On the way, I also wandered around the base of the popular climbing area, which I think is the site of the old Black Rock quarry.
So you don't disturb nesting falcons. Seems like a win for both climbers and falcons to me.
I'm afraid that this is a bit of a badly-curated wander, where I mostly just popped out to find out a little of the history of Underfall Yard and poke around the various open workshops, and, in hindsight, really didn't take pictures in any kind of coherent order. So there's a lot of pictures, but they don't really tell the story that, in hindsight, I seem to have been trying to tell, of the unusual electrical substation in Avon Crescent, the Bristol Electricity that predates the National Grid but is still in use, the history of the hydraulic power house... It's a bit of a mess.
But I suppose sometimes these wanders—always chronologically presented in the order I walked and took photos—simply will sometimes be a bit of a mess. Let's hope you still get something out of it, anyway...
Bower Ashton is an interesting little area just south of the river from me—in fact, the Rownham Ferry used to take people over from Hotwells to Bower Ashton, operating from at least the twelfth century to around the 1930s.
It's a strangely contradictory little area, with a cluster of old and new houses sandwiched in between the busy A-roads and significantly more industrial area of Ashton and the bucolic country estate of Ashton court roughly east to west, and also between Somerset and Bristol, north to south.
I've been around here before, mostly poking around Bower Ashton's arguably most well-known bit, the Arts faculty campus of the University of the West of England, but I'd missed at least Parklands Road and Blackmoors Lane, so I initially planned just to nip across briefly and wander down each in turn. On a whim, though, I texted my friends Sarah and Vik in case they were out and about, and ended up diverting to the Tobacco Factory Sunday market first, to grab a quick flat white with them, extending my journey a fair bit.
To start with, though, I nipped to a much more local destination, to see something that you can't actually see at all, the Gridiron...
(I also used this wander as a test of the cameras in my new phone. I finally upgraded after a few years, and the new one has extra, separate wide and telephoto lenses compared to the paltry single lens on my old phone. Gawd. I remember when speed-dial was the latest innovation in phones...)
The Babcock International Group do... things. According to their website, they're a "leading provider of critical, complex engineering services which support national defence, save lives and protect communities." That sounded a little euphemistic to me, and Wikipedia is a bit more revealing, calling them an "aerospace, defence and nuclear engineering services company". I have no idea what they get up to in Bower Ashton.