Avon Stories Podcast #22: Tom Brothwell’s Bristol History Podcast

As you can guess, from the fact I make podcasts, I really love the medium, and one of the ones I enjoy is the Bristol History Podcast.

This has been created by Tom Brothwell, and he interviews different historians and authors to cover a wide range of different subjects that he’s interested in, and wants to find out more about.   We sat down to talk about why he started, his approaches to history, and lots more, including some of the history about the River Avon.

Some of the Bristol History Podcasts we talked about include:

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You can find the full lists of the Bristol History Podcast episodes on Soundcloud, and you can sign up to the podcast to get all the episodes as they’re released, on iTunes.  There’s also a facebook group for the podcast, and if you’d like to send Tom any suggestions for future episodes, you can contact him at BristolHistoryPodcast [at] gmail [dot] com.

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March Frome commuting

Back in March, I was temping in Eastville, with one of those annoying commutes that had lot of options, all of them with something irritating about them.  But one of the routes intersected with the River Frome in a place I’ve never been to.  When walking the Frome, I’ve always got to the end of Eastville Park and then turned down under the M32, rather than the curve of Glenfrome/Heath Road, and while there’s not much to see of it, it’s still really interesting.

First, the view from the bridge on Muller Road, looking north:

The Frome, Eastville

You don’t get to see much more, walking up Heath Road, until on Glenfrome Road, the houses stop, and there’s a fence you can put your camera through, and see the river curve.  Looking south:

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Dreich Holga photos

It’s a dreich, dull April – I laughed, because double-checking the spelling of dreich, the Oxford Dictionary example of how to use it is ‘a cold, dreich early April day’.  I still haven’t replaced my broken film cameras, but on Saturday, I took one of Vik’s Holgas – a plastic-lensed, medium-format, very basic camera, with 160iso film, because we didn’t have any 400.  And I’m really enjoying the results.  First, some shots from Ashton Avenue Bridge, with the outflow from Colliter’s Brook into the Avon, and across the river, Ashton Brook (a historic County boundary).

Avon mud

Where Ashton Brook meets the Avon

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Where are the rivers and streams in Bristol?

Yesterday I wanted to find out more about the Cranbrook, a little stream that’s only above ground for a couple of hundred metres in Redland, before I blogged about exploring it.  I couldn’t find out much about it, though in a comment on flickr, iyers told me it once flooded the Arches area of Gloucester Road.

But in failing to find the information I wanted, I found something better:  The Big Blue Map of Bristol from Bristol City Council, with the waters marked above and below ground as rivers (though I assume they aren’t showing the ones, like the Cranbrook, might join the sewer system. I love this map, it’s so useful!  You know I’m going to be pouring over this, with my OS maps next to me, and planning more walks…

Redland springs – and some thoughts on owning rivers

I’m getting really interested in the beginnings of rivers, and especially springs.  I’ve never really thought about them until recently, but when I did, I imagined them as something like the Source of the Malago, rather than the oozing of water that was the other Dundry stream source that I saw with Tracy when we were exploring the beginning of the Malago (and more!) back in February.

I’ve been doing a lot of pouring over my OS maps, looking at the sources of rivers, and looking for Bristol waterways, and last month I went walking through Redland, to see if I could find the Cranbrook, the little stream that starts out at Redland Green and disappears underground.

These aren’t great photos – I’ve broken my film cameras, so was playing with my friend Cee’s camera, and some are mobile shots – but they’re like it looked, if that makes sense.

The beginning of the Redland secret stream

Redland secret stream

Unfortunately, the stream itself is behind huge spiky fences, running along the bottom of the Redland Green Allotments, and although the snow had only melted the week before, it seemed pretty dry.  But walking along the fence, looking to see if I could take some photos, I found a spring.

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A few photos of the Avon at Lacock

Back in March, I went to Lacock, in Wiltshire, to record a podcast with artist, film-maker, curator and educator Shawn Sobers.  It wasn’t the cleverest day to go, as it was snowing on and off, with weather warnings, so it was cold and muddy, but I really enjoyed the day.

We went to Lacock because Lacock Abbey was the home of William Henry Fox Talbot, one of the pioneers of photography, and I know Shawn from when he was my professor on my Photography degree at the University of the West of England.  I’m embarrassed how long it took me to realise that Fox Talbot’s work was taking place on the banks of the Avon, but it felt like the right place to walk and talk about the various strands of Shawn’s work.

You can listen to that podcast here, and I have a couple of photos below.  It was a bad day for taking pictures (too cold, for one!), but also, I’ve been finding it hard to take good photos while I’m podcasting, and I need to work out why that is – maybe because podcasting is all about focusing on the conversation, while photography is about being open to the world?  But for what it’s worth, a few of my Lacock Avon shots:

The Avon, at Lacock bridge

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