My Bristol: The tour
by Dave Harvey
More than 800 pictures have been sent in to to help with our interactive guided tour. We asked Bristolians to show us their city – the good the bad and the ugly.
Why? Because the city council has a new chief exec, and she’s from Yorkshire.
Jan Ormondroyd has now seen them all. And then we took her to meet the Bristolians who have taken the pictures, and see their city first hand.
First Stop: The Past
Does Bristol look after its history? Not this bit of it. Taken in the heart of the city by "ships compass", one of many contributors to My Bristol who thinks Bristol's past is neglected.
I took Jan Ormondroyd to Castle Park, to meet Martyn and Scott.
"This is our castle – you can actually see the old arrow slits and everything," explains Martyn, standing in front of a low wall covered in graffiti and moss.
Martyn and Scott are ordinary Bristolians with a passion for their city's history. They show Jan where the old city walls would have been. Where Dolphin St once ran, and where St Peter's Hospital was founded (yep, right next to St Peter's Church in the middle of the Park).
They walk over to the biggest ruins, the old keep. There were once 80 foot walls here, today the ruins boast just an aging sign.
"If you're a visitor, the first impression you get is of a faded picture of what the castle would have looked like – it's just been left to fester."
"So you think there's an issue here with how we can conserve this area and improve it," says Jan. "Both for Bristolians now and generations in the future."
Jan listens. She's clearly a good listener. The park is earmarked for development, and she won't commit to an immediate medieval makeover, but then Martyn hadn't really expected that. But round the corner they find something that needs sorting now.
The ancient church of St Mary-le-Port. Shut off behind railings, and looking unloved.
"Even though we've got railing here, it's still covered in graffiti," Martyn shows her, "Can't we just clean it off – people are looking at this."
Again, she's understanding. And it turns out cleaning graffiti of an ancient wall is no mean feat. Special kit, approved contractors - history is wrapped in red tape.
Our unconventional tour of the city continues. The church's ancient crypt is being squatted. And round the corner…
"This used to be a pretty little garden for people to sit in," continues Martyn. "But as you can see we've got a double mattress here. It's the city centre! Come on!"
We're overlooking Bristol Bridge, right in the centre of the city. Strictly speaking, this is private land, not council property, which explains why the mattress hasn't been picked up. Next to it is an old litter bin, lying on its back but still full of litter.
The lads would like the ruined Castle which once lay at the heart of Bristol to be celebrated, preserved, explained to visitors. Achieving that will take a while, but if you want to see how Jan is getting on, take a walk through the park and see if the mattress is still there.
last updated: 11/04/2008 at 09:38