11 Apr 2021
My friend Lisa joined me again, this time for a long wander through "Bemmie". In fact, I tweeted recently using "Bedmo" as my abbreviation for Bedminster, and apparently there's something of a culture war going on. From what I can glean, the longer-term residents call it "Bemmie" and consider "Bedmo" a name made up by hipster gentrifiers.
I had no idea, but then I didn't grow up around here, and I don't live in Bedminster, and I'm not a hipster. I'm not sure I've ever gentrified anywhere, either; Hotwells was already quite gentrified by the time I arrived. I probably just lowered the tone a bit.
Anyway. Lisa and I entered Bemmie by the traditional toll gate (though actually you'd only have paid if you were coming from the Long Ashton direction, not merely nipping across from Hotwells) and then almost literally combed the streets to knock several new roads off my list of targets. Along the way we saw lots of street art, as you'd expect, and admired the area's panoply of gorgeous knockers.
The more I research it, the more I find that Hotwells had far better transport links back in Victorian and Edwardian times than it has today. Along with buses that went to more useful places than the City Centre, there were trams, the funicular up to Clifton, the landing stage for paddle steamer services and two railway stations all within easy walking distance of me.
Today I took a day off work as preparation for doing the bookkeeping for my tax return1, and took a wander along to the site of what would have been my nearest station, Hotwells (or Clifton, as it started out in life), nestled in the shadow of the suspension bridge, the Bristol terminus of the Bristol Port Railway and Pier.
From there I wandered down the Portway, following the original line, until I got to the area around Sneyd Park Junction, where the tunnel from the slightly later Clifton Extension Railway joined up with this originally-isolated BPR line. Then I headed up to Clifton through the "goat gully" at Walcombe Slade, seeing the few above-ground bits of evidence of the tunnel (which is still in regular use) along the way.
It was a lovely day, and a good walk, and it was interesting to daydream of the times when I could have walked a few minutes from my flat down to Dowry Parade, caught a short tram ride to Hotwells Stations, and then headed from there to Avonmouth, perhaps even to board a transatlantic passenger service. The completion of the Clifton Extension Railway that linked the Avonmouth station with Temple Meads made relatively direct transatlantic travel from London via Bristol possible, with passengers travelling up from Paddington to Temple Meads, on to Avonmouth on the Clifton Extension Railway and Port Railway and Pier line, then perhaps catching a Cambpell's paddle steamer—which sometimes acted as tenders for large steamers—to a larger ship that was headed out for Canada, say.
1 I've learned that the best approach is to take two days off and deliberately do something that's not my bookkeeping on the first day, as otherwise I just inevitably end up procrastinating and feeling guilty on the first day no matter what. I have an odd brain, but at least I'm learning strategies for dealing with its strange ways as I get older...
2 Information mostly gleaned from Colin Maggs' The Bristol Port Railway & Pier and the Clifton Extension Railway, The Oakwood Press, 1975.
I did not see hide nor hair of a single goat the entire time I was in the goat gully. I clearly need to spend a bit more time there.
My friend Lisa texted me to see if I wanted to pop down and take a photo or two of the event she was taking part in: Santa SUP. SUP Bristol organise stand-up paddleboarding on the floating harbour, and their annual Santas-on-paddlboards event is quite the sight.
On the way there, I grabbed a historical photo I'd been wanting to recreate for a while of the shiny and new Cumberland Basin flyovers back in 1965, because I reckoned I could fit finding the same viewpoint into my outbound journey. Also, after having only used it on a wander for the very first time yesterday, I managed two crossings in the cross-harbour ferry today to get to the best locations for snapping the paddleboarders...
So, then, this wander is mostly a bunch of photos of paddleboarding Santas. Tis the season... Enjoy!