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Bristol’s History at your Fingertips

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Bristol’s History at your Fingertips

Life moves pretty fast these days. Everyone seems concerned about rapid download speeds, 4-foot televisions, sleek laptops and the latest hot gadgets. Do you ever wonder what life was like before all these things took up our time?

What if I mentioned there’s a place within a 30-minute stroll of central Bristol which holds manuscripts, prints, records, video and images on everything from medieval royal charters and 17th-century trading routes to Victorian criminals and iconic Bristol businesses from bygone days?

Electing Bristol’s Mayor in the 15th century.

electing bristol's mayor in 1500

Image courtesy of Bristol Record Office, ref CC/2/7

… Somewhere you could travel back to the Middle Ages, when studious scholars made the first attempts of mapping the city. Or to a time when cranes hauled exotic goods from far-flung corners of the globe, when Bristolians huddled in air-raid shelters as WWII Luftwaffe bombs fell from the skies. A time when the harbour heaved with the hustle and bustle of trade and industry, or when Bristol bounced to reggae and dancehall hits from Jamaica during the annual St Paul’s Festival…

The Bristol Record Office

The Bristol Record Office takes pride of place at the Avon River end of the Chocolate Path — on the western end of Spike Island — and holds treasured memories of all these times and more.

Unloading timber at the City Dock.

uploading timber to bristol dock

Image courtesy of Bristol Record Office, ref 40826/DOC/43

Tucked inside the ‘B’ Bond Warehouse, neighbouring the Create Centre, lie over 10 miles of securely protected shelving holding records of Bristol’s heritage dating back to the Middle Ages — and it’s all open to the public, free of charge.

Ten Centuries of Records

Until 26th August 2016 the Bristol Record Office is holding an exhibition entitled ‘Ten Centuries of Records’, in which a thousand years of Bristol history is brought to life. Fittingly for an organisation with such strong record-keeping traditions, the exhibition showcases the Record Office’s stunning collection, and brings centuries of economic and social change to a brand new audience.

A woman sits in the bomb-damaged ruins of her house.

women bombed out

Image courtesy of Bristol Record Office, ref 41969/1/75

Further reading: https://www.bristolmuseums.org.uk/bristol-record-office/

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Powerboat Racing In Bristol Back In 1982

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20 Bristol Pubs & Clubs That No Longer Exist

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Old Bristol pubs and clubs

Bristol didn’t use to be full of secret underground bars, swanky cocktail joints and hipster cafes, well there were some but not as much. We remember those old bars and clubs you frequented back in the day.

1. Clockwork

This place has now been demolished but used to be found next to the Blue Lagoon. If you wanted a grimy rave this was the place.

2. Panache

You’ll remember this place for the ridiculous light up dance floor. It was closed down in 2011 after the police and council provided over 4,300 pages of evidence against the club that didn’t have the best reputation:

“Footage from council CCTV cameras and Panache staff head cameras revealed door staff grabbing clubbers around the face and violently ejecting them from the premises, groups of bouncers assaulting cowering customers and apparently punching them on the ground, and staff chasing punters down the road.”

3. The Tube

The current location of Redlight. This place used to be owned by Massive Attack and sweat would drip of the ceiling but it was GREAT. There was a night on a Wednesday if you had a moustache (or wore one) you got in for free.

4. Arc Bar

This used to be next door to where The Strawberry Thief currently is. Massively grimy, you’d be offered so many drugs in there that it was like that sketch in Brass eye with the made up drug names.

5. The Junction

Now no. 51 in Stokes Croft, this was a proper bare bones rock club. No locks on the toilets, lots of metal and punk bands and also bloody cheap.

6. Chicago Rock

Less said about this place the better.

7. Fellowship

Now a Tesco on Filton Avenue, this place was a rough as balls pub that served cheddar valley and let you dance on the table.

8. The Level

Level club bristol

DJ Suv with MC at Full Cycle Level nightclub Bristol

Spread across three floors, it was bloody grimy. One of the original hosts of Propaganda, it shut down in 2006 it got turned into flats but it was next to the petrol station on Park Row

9. The Cooler

The Cooler on Park Street you’d find live music and the legendary DJ George doing indie disco during the week. Those that have been there will of course remember Klub Kute.

10. Romeo Browns

The current location of Pata Negra and it was the ultimate early 00’s RnB pretentiousness. Truly awful. Back in 2006 a load of Bristol City players were jailed after brawling outside of here.

11. Dug Out

Up on Park Row, The Dug Out survived until 1986 but is considered the home of Bristol’s music scene

12. The Studio

studio bristol

Formerly located on Frogmore street it saw The Clash, Iggy Pop, U2 and many others play here. It’s even got a facebook group dedicated to it’s memory. Now it’s sadly student flats.

13. Metropolis

Previously Jesters Comedy Club it turned into Metropolis in 2008 before shutting its doors in 2012. Sadly still sitting derelict at the moment on Cheltenham Road.

14. The Croft

the croft

Via Paul Towsnend

A great place in the middle of Stokes Croft. Lasting for 11 years The Croft closed its doors in 2013 but never fear the Crofters Rights rose in its place.

15. Syndicate

syndicate is closing

Now SWX, most of Bristol’s 2000s clubbers would have visited here at least once with over 3.5 million people visits in its life time.

16. The Mandrake

One of Bristol’s longest running clubs, The Mandrake was open for over 40 years until it became Basement 45 in 2009. This photo says it all.

17. The Lokiel

Before Thekla there was Lokiel, the original club on a boat.

18. The Granary

Specialising in Jazz and blues. This was supposedly where Bristol’s Hells Angels frequented. 1968 to 1988. It’s even got a website that memorialises it.

19. Spaghetti Tree

You’d find this old place on Small Street. Legendary for drinking under age back in the day, this quote sums it up:

‘The place where I first got drunk “legally” – Spaghetti Tree, which is now Timbuk2. They’d let you drink at 15 as long as you bought a pizza – BOSH!!’

It has now been replaced by Timbuk2.

20. Oceana

Oh Oceana, the 00s staple for a student. This place is now Pryzm and… is pretty much the same as it was.

Got a favourite Bristol pub or club that we didn’t include? Then tell us below in the comments.

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16 Awesome Old Photos Of Bristol Throughout The Years

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Old Photos of Bristol

1. Bristol Centre before the fountains

2. The Centre from the roof of the old Bristol Omnibus office in the 1960s

3.  In 1911 with the Frome river still running

4. The centre during the Queen’s coronation in 1953

5. Bristol bombed during WW2 in 1940 – Mary Le Port & Bridge Streets

6. King Street in 1946 (way before the proliferation of craft beer pubs)

7. The Albion Dock before the coloured houses

8. St Nicks Market in the 1960s

9. Bristol Docks in the 1960s – The Grove

10. A demolition in Bedminster in 1988

11. Paddle Steamer heading below the Clifton Suspension Bridge

12. The old Bristol tram on Cheltenham Road in 1937

13. Stokes Croft back when the trams still ran

14. Welsh Back in 1931

15. Whiteladies Road in the 1980s

16. Bedminster during the 1968 Bristol floods

With great thanks to shipscompass and Paul Townsend on Flickr for these photos.

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