Avon Stories Podcast #23: Soundwalking with Dan Pope

There are so many ways to explore a place, and one of them is through the sounds you find there.  Dan Pope is an acoustic consultant and musician, who also makes sound-art and runs sound walks, and for this episode, we went walking down the St Philip’s Greenway and the closed Avon path, on a soundwalk.

Between stopping to find out what we could hear, Dan told me about various kinds of soundwalks, and how we can come at them from art, science, politics, ethnography, history, psychogeography, planning, and so many more viewpoints.

We also talked about his work, and what can be done to add positive (and negative!) soundscapes to places.

Dan has a fantastic list of sound resources, for people who want to explore sounds in their area:

  • The Hush City app is a great resource to add sounds you encounter to a global community – you can explore their website and see what they do
  • Cities and Memory is a global sound project, collecting sounds and having sound-artists remix them into sound-art pieces.  For example, their Politics of Protest global sound map.
  • The World Listening Project runs World Listening Day every year, with tons of events, including soundwalks – this year it’s on 18th July
  • The Institute of Acoustics has regional branches across the UK, which run events – find your local branch here.
  • The Bristol Walking Festival doesn’t have specific soundwalks this year, but there are tons of interesting walks to places that you can listen to
  • Apps like Titanium Recorder and the Soundcloud app are great for recording interesting sounds you hear out and about – look them up wherever you get your apps

We also briefly talked about some people working in sounds:

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Two Bristol Festivals in May 2018: Walking, and Radical History

The Bristol Walk Fest is a month-long celebration of walking, with guided walks throughout May 2018, with a range of different themes, including culture, nature, history, sport and lots more.   It covers walking for pleasure and fitness, includes some photo- and art-walks, and has a specific strand aimed at older people, though they have walks suitable for everyone, including children and families.   The full programme of walks is here – some are free, others not, but book early to avoid disappointment!  You can also follow the festival on twitter, and with the #BristolWalkFest hashtag.

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I really like the work of the Bristol Radical History Group, and I can’t wait for their  Bristol Radical History Festival at the M Shed on Sunday 6th May.   They’ll have stalls, talks and walks, and you can find the full programme on their website.  While you’re there, take a look around at their projects and publications, because they do so much good work.

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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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 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 #4: Medieval Bristol part 2 – who were the Bristolians, and how did they live?

This is the second part of a conversation with Dr Peter Fleming, a professor at the University of the West of England, who specialises in Medieval History.

In Part 1, we talked about how Bristol became a superstar city, one of the most important in Western Medieval Europe. This time we talked about the people who lived in the city, from the Icelandic slaves to the Knights Templars, the Jewish communities, how women lived, and more; and how the city responded to the huge events of the era, including Plague and war.

Peter also told me about where the local seats of power were, and what Bristolians did for fun, including plays, sport and how Bristol has always been home to innovative music.

The official map of Medieval Bristol is here, and my map of the city, with photos of how sites we talked about look today, is below – and there are links to the Medieval maps in the post for Part 1 of the podcast.

If you want to know more about Peter Fleming, his UWE staff page is here, including the list of his articles and books he’s written and contributed to.   You can find more articles he’s written here, with links to read them.  And you can also follow Peter on his twitter.

We talked about books Peter has written, including:

  • Discovering Cabot’s Bristol: Life in the Medieval and Tudor Town, with Kieran Costello, which is out of print, but available in libraries and online retailers
  • His illustrated version of The Maire of Bristowe is Kalendar, written by town clerk Robert Ricart between 1480 and 1508, which you can buy from the Bristol Record Society.  Read more about it, with some of the amazing illustrations, on this blog by Peter.
  • Later this year, Peter’s latest book, Time, Space and Power in Fifteenth Century Bristol, will be published by Brill – tell your library to order it!

If you’d like to take a walk around Medieval Bristol, Bristol Old City has a Heritage Trail map with information about things you’ll see along the way, which Peter was involved in producing.  There’s also more information about Bristol’s town walls on Gatehouse.

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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 #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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