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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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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Avon Stories Podcast #16: Exploring the New Cut, and finding out about its Friends

Back in August, Roy Gallop, one of the founders of the Friends of the Avon New Cut, took me for a walk along the Cut, down the Chocolate Path and back along Coronation Road, and told me all about this man-made river route – the huge trench that takes the tidal river Avon through the city of Bristol.

The Cut was built to enable the river route to be turned into the fixed-height Floating Harbour, to try to keep Bristol as one of the most important ports in the UK.  Now, the Cut is an urban nature reserve, a green corridor that’s home to a wide range of flora and fauna, and the Friends of the Avon New Cut (FRANC) have worked to celebrate and protect it.

Map used with kind permission of the Friends of the Avon New Cut

But this is a sad podcast for me too, because it reminds me what we’ve lost.  Roy and I spoke about how the Cut has been neglected, and left to gradually collapse, and since we took our walk, the whole of the Chocolate Path has been closed for the foreseeable future, due to erosion.  It’s so depressing that this fantastic car-free route has been lost to the city, but I’m very glad we recorded this while we could.

Please do check out the FRANC website, and join them on their walks and talks, events and litter picking days.  You can also buy the book about the Cut that Roy published and download their walking guides.  And of course, follow them on facebook.

You can also explore the New Cut throughout history, with maps of Bristol before and after it was built, and photos and drawings and much more, on the Know Your Place website.  You can find out more about KYP in this podcast and post.

Here’s the route of our walk – and I’ll add photos to this post tomorrow, too.

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You can download this podcast directly from the Avon Stories Soundcloud, and sign up for all the future podcasts via the Avon Stories RSS and subscribe on iTunes or Soundcloud to make sure you hear all the future stories.  You can also follow the project on twitter and instagram, for regular photos of the rivers and water in Bristol.

Avon Stories #3 – Bristol and the Medieval Avon, part 1 – the City and the Rivers

This is the first of a two-part podcast where I met with Dr Peter Fleming of the University of the West of England, who told me all about Bristol in Medieval times, and how the River Avon and the River Frome were integral in making it one of the most important cities of the time in England and Western Europe.

In Part 1, we talk about the physical city and the infrastructure, how the geography made Bristol so important, as well as how people lived, who had the power, and what the city would have looked (and smelled) like.

Part 2 looks at how Bristol survived some of the big sweeping events of the time, with more about who lived and worked in the city, including the Knights Templars, the Jewish communities, women in Bristol, and Icelandic slaves.  We also talked about what Bristolians did for fun, including music, plays, sport and drinking.  Listen to that one here.

Of course, I have maps to give you an idea of what things looked like, with lots more links below.  First, my own map, with my rough approximations of where the city walls were, as well as the path of the River Frome as it runs through Bristol.  All errors are my own!

UPDATE!  There’s also the official Bristol City Council map of the Medieval city, overlaid on top of modern-day streets

I’ve also added photos of what the places look like now, and you can also find these in my flickr albums of walking the Frome line, walking the inside of the Medieval Wall, and what’s left of the Bristol Castle.

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Avon Stories podcast #1: Know Your Place, with Pete Insole

One of the things I’ll be doing through my Avon Stories project is to interview as many people as I can, about all kinds of different aspects of the River Avon in Bristol, from historians, to experts on different places along the river; to artists making work based on or inspired by it, to people who work on and around the river, whether directly, or just because that’s where they’re based.

And where better to start, than with Pete Insole, who runs the Know Your Place website for Bristol City Council?

Pete is a Historic Environments Officer, and Know Your Place is an incredible repository of information about the city.  It has maps dating back to the early eighteenth century, that you can overlay on top of each other, and on top of present-day maps and aerial photography, to get a feeling of how it has changed, but that’s just the beginning.  You can access layers of paintings, drawings, photographs and information from Bristol’s museums, archives and the Council’s departments, and see exactly where those photos are taken.  Or maybe you want to see where bombs hit the City in World World Two, or hear stories form Bristolians about how different parts of the city have changed.  And finally, on the Community Layer, anyone can add their own photos to the map, whether of the past or the present, enabling people to add their own stories to the City’s records.

Pete told me all about how and why Know Your Place was developed, how it has expanded across the whole of South West England, and how it helps us understand some of the key aspects of the city’s history, including, of course, the River Avon.

Listen here, or download it from Soundcloud, and you can sign up to the Avon Stories RSS and subscribe on iTunes, to make sure you hear all the future stories.

If you want to explore Bristol through Know Your Place, start here.  And if you want to see what else it contains for the wider West of England, the Know Your Place West website is here, with all sorts of excellent tutorials that will help everyone.  There’s also the Know Your Place West twitter to follow for regular information, tips and new updates to the website.

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