31 Oct 2020
Starting up close in Hotwells with a few bits around the Cumberland Basin flyover system, I walked to Bedminster and back on Hallowe'en, including finding some excellent decoration work.
07 Dec 2020
I realised that if Hopper Coffee in Greville Smyth Park was in reach during my lunch hour, then perhaps Mark's Bread at the end of North Street would be do-able, too. And I was right. I also managed to cross Clift Road, with its pretty gable bargeboards, off my list, and encounter a dapper gent walking his dogs while playing loud jazz music from somewhere under his jacket. That's North Street for you.
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.
12 Mar 2022
There's a few tracks in Leigh Woods that lie within my mile and show up on my map but that I've not walked yet, so I decided to take one of my traditional big long walks through the woods on this nice crisp sunny morning.
For years—decades, even—I've been doing a similar route from my place, along the towpath to the far woods entrance, up the hill for a varied walk on one of the marked tracks and then across the Suspension Bridge to Clifton Village for a coffee-based reward. It's my default "long walk", really, and I almost always enjoy it. Today, at last, spring actually seemed to be springing, which made for some extra positivity...
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.
Yes, okay, it's quite the challenge to spot the hand-made historic artifact in this picture. In the next pic I'll zoom in a bit.
There, hopefully you can see it now—the slipway of the last incarnation of the Rownham Ferry, in use from as early as the 12th century to 1932, when this particular slipway was last used.
There's not much to see at the moment, as the tide's a bit too high. I'm going to head over to the Tobacco Factory Market, meet some friends, do a crossword or two, and head back at lower tide.
Again, the slipway is easy to miss. I like these little barely-visible curiosities that hide such heritage. The site of the crossing moved around—it's fairly obvious it wasn't right here in the 12th century, for example, because the river was only diverted into the New Cut, which the ferry crosses here, in the early 1800s. Earlier it was further downstream.
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.
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!)
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.
27 Mar 2022
I wanted to have a wander along to the Tobacco Factory Market for some shopping, and checking the map for any leftover nearby streets I noticed a tiny curve of road on the way into the modern flats at Paxton Drive that it didn't look like I'd walked down before. I wouldn't take me too far out of my way, so I decided to head there first and then across to North Street to get my groceries and a coffee...
Work on the New Cut, this man-made diversion of the river to allow the harbour to float free of the tide, was officially started on 1st May 1804 and finished on 1st May 1809, with something of a party:
On 1 May 1809 the docks project was certified as complete and a celebratory dinner was held on Spike Island for a thousand of the navvies, navigational engineers who had worked on the construction, at which "two oxen, roasted whole, a proportionate weight of potatoes, and six hundredweight of plum pudding" were consumed, along with a gallon of strong beer for each man. When the beer ran out a mass brawl between English and Irish labourers turned into a riot which had to be suppressed by the press gang.
At some point, the Council say that the Chocolate path will finally be repaired and I can at last add one of my favourite paths in Bristol to my One Mile Matt project.
08 Aug 2021
This was a wide-ranging wander. I started off crossing the river to Bedminster, to walk a single little cul-de-sac, Hardy Avenue, that I'd managed to miss on at least one previous walk. Then, pausing only to explore a few back alleyways, I headed for a few destinations related mostly by the Hughes family, who I've been researching a little as part of background for a possible novel, as several of them were involved in the Stella Matutina.
However, mostly it's the artistic side of the family I wanted to explore today, as that's where most of their public history lies (as you might expect, there's often not much in the public record about the workings of an occult organisation.) First I visited College Green, where the façade of the Catch 22 Fish & Chip shop still bears the work of Catherine Edith Hughes. Then I wandered up to the top of Park Street to pop into the Clifton Arts Club's annual exhibition, as Catherine, her half-brother Donald, his wife Hope and at least two other Hugheses were members. Donald was chairman for 40 solid years; Hope was Secretary for eight, and Ellard and Margaret Hughes, two more Hughes siblings, were members along with Catherine.
Finally I walked home with a small diversion to Berkeley Square, to confirm the location of Donald Hughes's house by checking for a particular plaque by the front door.
I must admit I'm not entirely sure where all this research is really leading me, but I'm finding it quite interesting to bump across the faint lines of history that link the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, founded in 1888, to modern, quotidian Bristol.