04 Nov 2020
I only had a second to catch this moment, and I think I just managed it.
21 Apr 2021
Obviously, I was trying to connect to the industrial history of the Canon's Marsh area, to the old gasworks, the docks railway, the warehouses they blew up to make way for all the rather soulless modern stuff (though I do like the Lloyds building, at least.) But what I mostly got out of today's walk is a new cafe to go to for my lunchtime outings. It's perhaps a little closer than both Imagine That and Hopper Coffee; not quite as close as Foliage and Twelve up in Clifton Village, but also not at the top of a steep hill.
No, not the mediocre Costa, but only a little way away from there: Rod and Ruby's, which opened in 2018 and which I've seen in passing several times but never popped into until today. What can I say? I was foolish. Great flat white, lovely interior, astoundingly good cannoli.
Sometimes you just have to get your head out of history and enjoy a pastry.
From some approaches, it does actually look rather like him. It seems a bit too gormless from this direction, though.
12 Nov 2020
My goal is walk down every public road within a mile of me; sometimes it's not easy to tell what's public. I've passed the turning for Cornwallis Grove a thousand times, but never had a reason to venture down it, and although the street signs at the end seem to be council-deployed and I didn't spot any "private" signs, it's a gated road and definitely feels private.
Gathering all the white middle-class privilege I could muster, I wandered down and was rewarded with the sight of a Victorian pump, a statue of Jesus, and from the end of the road, a view of a private garden that once belonged to a private girls' school.
The Cornwallis House history page says:
In the early 20th century the house, together with Grove House, became a Catholic school, St Joseph’s High School for Girls. The Congregation of La Retraite took over the school in 1924, with the nuns living in Grove House while the schoolrooms were in Cornwallis House. The headmistress was Mother St Paul de la Croix (Sister Paula Yerby). By the 1970s La Retraite High School had around 700 pupils.
It closed in 1982 and the building was bought by Pearce Homes Ltd (now part of Crest Nicholson) who developed it into 21 flats. Grove House next door was bought by the Bristol Cancer Help Centre, and was later converted into flats in 2007.
This is opposite Grove House, but I'm wondering if it might be a remnant of the adjacent Cornwallis House having been a Catholic girls' school or a Protestant nunnery. All I know is that I've walked past the end of this road a thousand times without knowing how close to Jesus I was.
17 Apr 2021
I went rather outside my area today, as I went to pick something up from the Warhammer shop on Wine Street (Games Workshop as-was, and before that I think perhaps a rare retail outlet for Her Majesty's Stationery Office? I may be mis-remembering...) Anyway, a friend of mine wanted something picking up and posting to him, so I figured I'd knock some streets off my list along the way.
I first headed for the St George's Road area, walking down the narrow Brandon Steps and finding some strange wall art on Brandon Steep, then headed to the Old City via Zed Alley. The Warhammer shop visit was friendly and efficient, and, mission accomplished, I treated myself to a sausage roll and a flat white from Spicer + Cole, to take away and eat in Queen Square with its current decoration of hearts. I finished off with a detour up Park Street, looking out for St John's Conduit markers, before finally crossing Brandon Hill on the way home.
Quite a long wander, all told, and I'm a bit knackered today...
The dog was very unhappy about the statue. To be fair, from the dog's perspective, William III is basically holding a stick above him while refusing to acknowledge his frenzied barking.
With the old Lloyds bank building in the background. When I used to work on Wine Street, around the front of the building, back in the 1990s, every now and again there'd be the sound of sirens as the police stopped the traffic through the centre and armoured cars would drop off or collect (I can't remember which) large amounts of cash from the giant bank vault in this rather defensive-looking concrete building.
I have to say, whoever moulded this form really has captured the intrinsic banana-ness of the banana very well.
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.
"Morley supported abolitionism, a cause closely associated with 19th-century British Whigs and political radicals, and then the British Liberal party. He became treasurer of the fund to finance Josiah Henson, an escaped American slave who was given support in Britain. Josiah Henson later wrote Uncle Tom's Story of His Life: an Autobiography of the Rev. Josiah Henson (Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe's 'Uncle Tom'), from 1789 to 1876."
You'll notice nobody's been trying to throw his statue into the harbour.
"Built in #Bristol in 1851, the Demerara was the 2nd largest ship ever successfully launched (after the SS Great Britain.) However, her maiden voyage was a catastrophe when the tugboat guiding her misjudged the tides and she was broken in the Avon. She was later salvaged for parts... For many years the Demerara's figurehead, salvaged from the wreck, stood above a shop in Steep Street (now Colston Street) and a replica of it can still be seen above the Drawbridge pub on St. Augustine's Parade." — via @WeirdBristol. Well worth clicking through to: tweet 1; tweet 2 to see some pictures.
I managed to knock off a reasonable chunk of the roads I had left to walk around the University at the north-eastern extremity of my mile on this nice sunny walk. As well as being impressed by the number of big townhouses now occupied by various departments, I took some time on my way there to check out a war memorial, and some time on the way back to do a little extra wandering of Berkeley Square.
What's Egypt got to do with South Africa, you ask? It's the badge of the Gloucester Regiment.
The Glosters were the only regiment in the British Army to wear a cap badge on both the front and the back of their caps, and it's unsurprising that it references Egypt. At the Battle of Alexandria in 1801:
The front and rear ranks of the 28th were simultaneously engaged, whereby the soldiers received the order "Front rank stay as you are, rear rank about turn" and in commemoration the regiment later adopted a second cap badge, the 'Back Number,' worn at the back of their head-dress.
The Glosters were later merged with a couple of other regiments, but their successors, the Rifles, still wear the back badge.
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.
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.
I'm not sure it would go well in my living room, but if this lamp takes your fancy, it's in the window of Relics furniture shop on St George's Road.
In which our intrepid hero levels up.
Most of Bristol's bridges have the coat of arms on them. Not quite sure what's going on with the snake.
21 Nov 2020
A trip up the hill to get my winter flu jab. I'm not sure I really needed it this year, what with avoiding Covid—I haven't had so much as a sniffle in more than a year—but seeing as they offered... Instead of the doctor's surgery on Pembroke Road, they'd taken over Christ Church, presumably to give more room and ventilation for the necessary social distancing at the moment. As usual, it was their typically efficient operation, and I was in and out in about three minutes.
On the way there and back I snapped as much as I could, but I wanted to be home in time for the first online Times Crossword Championship. As it turned out, I needn't have bothered, as the technology at the Times couldn't keep up with the demand from competitors, and their system just collapsed under the weight of page-views. They tried again the day after, and it collapsed just as badly. Maybe next year...
This wander is split into two parts, as I turned my tech off to go into Christ Church for my jab. The walk home can be found over here.