I know Bristol or at least I thought I did. I’m not a brave explorer by nature and have become brave exploring this amazing city simply because I understand it’s story so much better than before.
Being in and around this city for 50 years I thought this was a good place to start. A great place to create the first ever Memory Maze in the comfort of ‘my own backyard’. Creating a timeline would be easy, a map of Bristol a doddle, a quick job I thought to kick start this new venture.
Six months later……Bristol is on the map! I have learnt an incredible amount and am amazed at how little I knew. Not a clue. So many creative and inspirational people have hailed from this city. More than a few high profile connections and inventions have been created in this city that speaks its mind for the good of the people. From the town’s support of Henry II to the city’s Queen’s Square riots of 1831 and the Bus Boycott of 1963, just to name a few, the story of this great place demonstrates that people have always campaigned for what they believe is right. We should remember Edmund Burke, member of parliament for Bristol, who forcefully campaigned against the slave trade.
When I think of Aardman animations, the balloon industry, Brunel’s amazing constructions and the aircraft industry these are familiar triumphs to me for which Bristol is and should be proud of. Delve deeper and you will find many more ‘firsts’ within the story of this place. The first electric trams in the UK ran here and I find out that the one and only inventor of the moving picture served his apprenticeship in Bristol on Queens Rd. Sir Humphry Davy ‘invents’ and uses ‘laughing gas’, not to mention the Davy Lamp; the name of Blackbeard is synonymous with the city as is his ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge’ which was built in Bristol (under a different name); and who knew that the very first and the very last shot towers in the world belong to this fabulous city. However, my personal favourite belongs to John Loudon McAdam for his development of a new road surface now used all around the world – tarmac. All of the above invented and developed in Bristol.
There are many silent and thought provoking shapes of the past, some of which you really need to hunt for if you have the exploring spirit. Take the scuplture of the veiled lady, easy to miss in St Nicholas Street or the remaining memory of the Bristol High Cross tucked away in Berkeley Square.
A truly amazing place to document which has led to a jam packed Memory Maze of Bristol, its place in the world and its context within the world.