Avon Stories podcast 12: Abona and the Romans in Bristol

Bristol isn’t a city famous for links with the Romans, like Bath, York, Gloucester or London, but the Romans were here for around three hundred years, and built a port on the Avon, Portus Abonae, which became the town of Abona, which is now Sea Mills.

In this podcast, Gail Boyle, the Senior Curator for Archeology at Bristol Museums, told me about Abona, the other Roman sites in the city, and what we know about who the Romans in Bristol were, where they came from, and why they were here.

She told me about the Roman remains in Sea Mills and the Kingsweston Roman Villa, and how a lot of what we know is thanks to teenage archeology enthusiasts in the 1950s, and how local teenagers were involved in the recent interpretation of the site.  She also told me what we can visit today, and I’ve included links below, and photos of what they look like.

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Avon Stories podcast 11: How Bristol nearly lost the Harbour, and other Planning stories

One of the main features of Bristol is the Floating Harbour that meanders through the city, lined with boats, from tatty barges to three-masted sailing boats, right up to floating nightclubs and restaurants.  But did you know that in the late 1960s there was a plan to close the Harbour to navigation, and build giant roads over it? And that a City Docks Act was passed in Parliament to make it possible, and it was only the global recession of the 1970s that prevented it?

Richard Holden worked in the Planning Department at Bristol City Council for 36 years, and he told me all about that, what would have happened if the road plan had happened, and more of the stories about the Harbour, including how the M Shed cranes were saved.

We also talked about the good, the bad and the ugly in Planning, how some of the developments came about, and how the best Planning work is essentially invisible.  He also told me about the current threats to the Harbour – nothing as extreme as a giant road, but developments that really do risk destroying some of the wonderful things that are emblematic of the city.  Scroll down for what everything can do to try to prevent these, and other, threats.

Richard sent me some photos of what parts of the Harbour looked like before redevelopment, and I’ve put them on this map, under the red icons, along with pictures I took about places we talked about, which you can also see in this flickr album.

Of course, you can find all kinds of other photos of the Harbour in the past on the Know Your Place website, and there’s more about that in my first Avon Stories podcast.

If you want to help shape the future of Bristol’s infrastructure and planning, there are things you can do:

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Avon Stories Podcast 10: An art-walk with Richard White

I met Richard White when I went on one of his Sweet Waters walks along the Avon, exploring the legacies of the Transatlantic slave trade.  That day we walked from Keynsham into Bristol, along the Feeder Canal for the final part, so I invited him to come and podcast with me on a walk along the River Avon.

We walked down the St Philips Greenway, from Bristol Temple Meads station to the Black Castle pub, via a closed path and the weir that stops the Avon being tidal, and had all kinds of experiences along the way, including strange gas on the River, and meeting a kayaker in a deflating canoe.  We talked about his Sweet Waters project, what the Black Castle represents, how Richard uses walking and social media in his art practice, and what we saw as we went.

You can see the photos we took on the map of our route (mine are blue, Richard’s are red)

And my album, with some more photos is on flickr.

 

The film of the weird gas release is here – I reported it to the Environment Agency, who investigated and said it wasn’t pollution, but it was something that shouldn’t have happened, and they’re making sure it doesn’t happen again.

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Avon Stories #9: Protecting our rivers with the Bristol Avon Rivers Trust

My Avon Stories project is based around the river and the waters in Bristol, and while I’ve been looking at how the river impacted on the history of Bristol, and how people use and are inspired by the river, I’m also very interested in the water itself – and in this podcast, I set out to find out more

I talked to Claire Hutchinson, a Project Officer with the Bristol Avon Rivers Trust (BART), a community-based charity that works to protect and improve the rivers and streams.  Claire told me about how healthy the water is, the challenges and issues facing the rivers, including the different forms of pollution, and what BART, and we, can do to protect our environment.

The BART catchment area covers the Avon and all the tributaries that feed into it:

You can find out more about BART’s work on their website, including their projects, and the ones we talked about:

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Avon Stories #8: Edson Burton’s creative life

Dr Edson Burton is a man with many strings to his bow: historian, poet, playwright, performer, storyteller and programmer/curator, just as the start.

I talked to him about his work, how he got into writing in the first place, running poetry and story-telling workshops, events he curates, and much more.  And we finished the conversation by Bristol Harbour, where he read one of his poems.

One of the projects he talked about included Afrometropolis, transforming the Arnolfini into a new Black city for the night, that he curated as part of the Come the Revolution collective.

Edson’s latest play, Deacon, will be on BBC Radio 4 on Friday 28th July 2017 at 2:15pm, and you can listen to it here on the day, and afterwards, if you missed it.

Find out more about Edson’s work at the Watershed Pervasive Media Studio, where he has a residency, and at the Trinity Centre, where he’s a project coordinator.  There’s information about his ongoing project, The Last Blues Song of a Lost Afronaut, at his Afrofuturist Theatre facebook and on the Watershed page and video:

Of course you can also follow Edson on his twitter and personal facebook.  Big thanks to him for his time, and for providing the photo, taken by Claudio Ahlers.

You can download this podcast directly from the Avon Stories Soundcloud, and sign up to the Avon Stories RSS and subscribe on iTunes, to make sure you hear all the future stories.  Make sure you’re also following on twitter and instagram, for regular photos of the river.

Avon Stories #7: Weird Bristol, Harbour murders and ghost stories

In this week’s podcast, I sat by the river with Charlie Revelle-Smith, author of Bristol-based murder mysteries, as he told me about some of the famous historical murders around the Bristol Harbour, and what they reveal about the city, as well as some of the ghost stories.

He also told me about his Weird Bristol twitter, which shares fantastic factoids about the city.  Some that we talked about included:

Charlie has also written some walking tours for Visit Bristol – Grave Encounters, his guide to cemeteries in the city, and his Dark Bristol city centre walking tour for Hallowe’en.

You can find out more about Charlie’s books on his website, and on his Amazon Author page.

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You can download this podcast directly from the Avon Stories Soundcloud, and sign up to the Avon Stories RSS and subscribe on iTunes, to make sure you hear all the future stories.  Make sure you’re also following on twitter and instagram, for regular photos of the river.

Avon Stories #6 – RB Boatbuilding and the Bristol Channel Pilot Cutters

This one’s a shorter podcast than usual, just 9 minutes long.  It’s an interview with John Raymond-Barker, who runs RB Boatbuilding in Underfall Yard at the end of the Floating Harbour.   He’s one of the last links to Bristol’s long tradition of boat building, and he specialises in making Bristol Channel Pilot Cutters, a type of boat that evolved in Bristol and Cardiff, to deal with the unique and treacherous conditions of the Bristol Channel, while racing to get as much lucrative piloting business as possible.

John told me more about the boats, and his work, and I hope you enjoy it.  If you want to know more about RB Boatbuilding, visit his website, which includes a page about the Pilot Cutters – and there’s lots of information about the Underfall Yard, where he’s based.

I got to scramble around a Pilot Cutter while it’s being built, and you can see those photos here (click on the picture to access the slideshow)

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