Avon Stories Podcast #2: The Portishead to Bristol railway

For this Avon Story, I travelled 20 miles outside of Bristol, to find out about the railway line that runs up the Avon Gorge to Pill and the Royal Portbury Dock, and used to continue on to Portishead, on the Bristol Channel.

Dave Chillistone of the Portishead Railway Group told me about how the issues that made the Avon so difficult for shipping in Victorian times resulted in the railway being built, the impact on the town, why it was closed, and why the PRG are campaigning for it to be re-opened.

Dave took me for a walk around the key places we talked about, and you can follow that walk, with photos of where we stopped, on this map – and scroll down for more photos, and lots more information about Portishead, the railway, the PRG and the plans for the railway’s return.

You can download the 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.

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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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