Bristol, England, Looks Back and Ahead

Martin Booth.
Martin Booth.

I had lunch with Martin Booth, the editor of the Bristol news, arts and lifestyle magazine B/247 today at a fish and chips joint called Salt and Malt.  Nice simple food, well done and gluten-free batter.

I asked him what a few of the topics were that people are talking about in the city.  He said that one has to do with a prominent citizen who has many things named after him.

Bristol, on the western side of England, is a city with a dilemma on its hands. Like so many US cities, there are statues, named buildings, and institutions named after men who when looking backward, were not good men.

One of them who made his fortune in the slave trade here in Bristol was Edward Colston. Today his name has been taken off some things, and at a local primary school, the name was decidedly NOT changed.  People feel strongly about this, as they do in the US when it comes to monuments to Confederate generals.

Bristol has a large museum, located on three stories in the M-Shed, on Princes Wharf,  that goes back to when Bristol was a great shipper of sugar and other products. This building was once a storage shed for the second busiest shipping port in England.

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The past was indeed glorious for Bristol, its location made it an important city.  The M-Shed tells it all, with floors for Bristol Places, Bristol People and general history going back to stone age time.

The city is dominated by the Avon River.  So many people get around using the ferries that ply the river, I was told that the traffic can be very bad here in Bristol.  The ferries go up as far as they can before the locks.  Just beyond the locks is the magnificent Cliffton Bridge, but more about that later.

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Cargo, an ever-expanding collection of shipping containers where businesses take root in Bristol, England.

Cargo is a  recent addition and has brought all sorts of cool and different businesses to Bristol. It’s a collection of shipping containers that have been creatively repurposed as small businesses.  It’s a corrugated metal shopping center on two levels.

Among the shops, a fish and chip shop, bike maker, cider seller, pies, noodles and many other food purveyors, a butcher….it goes on and on.   Friday night there was a gathering to celebrate the opening of the second set of 17 containers, with a bonfire, cheap beer, and snacks.

There was a good energy in the hipster-aged crowd, people were decidedly happy to be in Bristol and I would be too if I could patronize these cool little shops every day.  A custom butcher and breadmaker next to the wine store would be pretty sweet!