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.
20th Century Flicks were an established video rental shop up in Clifton, conveniently next to the University of Bristol Student Union, when I moved to Hotwells in 1999. They moved to Christmas Steps a few years back, and are still, amazingly, in business.
I'd guess they survive by having an immense stock of films (20,000 available for hire), great expertise, and a high-density local student population.
06 May 2021
I'm meant to be taking a little break from this project, but in my Victoria Square researches after my last walk I noticed a curiosity I wanted to investigate. The community layer on Know Your Place has a single photograph captioned, "The remains of an 'underpass' in Victoria Square".
Looking back through the maps, I could see that there really did used to be an underpass across what used to be Birdcage Walk. I can only guess that it was there to join the two halves of the square's private garden that used to be separated by tall railings that were taken away during WWII. Maybe it was a landscaping curiosity, maybe it was just to save them having to un-lock and re-lock two gates and risk mixing with the hoi polloi on the public path in the middle...
Anyway. Intrigued, I popped up to Clifton Village this lunchtime for a post-voting coffee, and on the way examined the remains of the underpass—still there, but only if you know what you're looking for, I'd say—and also visited a tiny little road with a cottage and a townhouse I'd never seen before, just off Clifton Hill, and got distracted by wandering the little garden with the war memorial in St Andrew's churchyard just because the gate happened to be open.
EDIT: Aha! Found this snippet when I was researching something completely different, of course. From the ever-helpful CHIS website:
When there were railings all round the garden and down the central path, in order that the children could play together in either garden there was a tunnel for them to go through. This was filled in during the 1970s but almost at the south east end of the path if one looks over the low wall the top of the arches can still be seen.
At some point, the local polling station stopped being at Holy Trinity and moved here.
Speaking of elections, one of the four elections happening today is the Bristol mayoral election; current enumbent Marvin Rees, an Evangelical of some variety, met church leaders here on the first day of his first term: “We prayed, and we invited the spirit of God into the city."
31 Jul 2021
At the end of July I went to have a look around some of the private gardens opened up by the annual Green Squares and Secret Gardens event. Sadly it was compressed into a single day this year, for various Covid-related reasons, it seems, so I didn't get to poke around too many places. I went to:
And snapped a few things in between, too. It was a lovely day—a bit too hot, if anything—and it was interesting to get into a few places I'd only ever seen from the outside, especially The Paragon and Cornwallis gardens, which are the least visible to passing strangers of all of them.