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Story last updated: 27 Apr 2004 1149 BST Printable version of this page
Relive the riot in Queen Square
Man wearing headphones
by Lisa Rowell
BBC Bristol website reporter
Queen Square will be a hive of activity for three weeks in April and May as it hosts a virtual riot.

Register to take part then grab an iPAQ and a set of headphones to immerse yourself in an audio trip back to 1831 and the Bristol riot.

The riot is brought to life through a set of headphones
You'll hear everything from anecdotes about the riot to facts detailing how citizens came to clash with Dragoon guards in the city centre.

It's all part of a wireless experiment run by Mobile Bristol, a project which is running similar research across the city.

Equipped with a hi-tech backpack, participants roam Queen Square where they set off different audio clips by moving around.

What they hear has been painstakingly researched by writers Liz Crow and Ralph Hoyte, and voiced by a cast of actors.

Ralph Hoyte
Ralph Hoyte co-wrote and produced the interactive play

The result is a trip back to the reign of William IV, complete with Bristolian accents and bawdy language.

So what's it like?

Armed with an iPAQ and headphones, I spent half an hour wandering Queen Square.

It takes a while to get used to the experience.

As you walk from zone to zone, you pick up one of three pieces of audio relating to events happening in and around the square.

There are 34 zones, and with three sound bites for each there are thousands of variations for each riot experience.

Along my way I heard about Brunel's reaction to the riot, a Moonlight Sonata piano interlude, a woman being thrown from a pub window and sexual propositions from newly-freed prisoners.

There are also pockets of carnage around the Georgian square, where thousands of people gathered to voice their discontent.

The iPAQ tracks wireless zones in the square

>> Read about the background to the riot

As the riot escalates, the mayor of Bristol, Charles Pinney, begins to lose his grip of the situation and bloody violence ensues.

If history is not your bag then look at this as an opportunity to find out some fascinating facts about the city and be part of a unique experiment.

Tips for participants:

:: Stay with it - allow a few minutes to get used to the experience.
:: Zones merge so if you walk into one from another, one piece of audio will fade out and be replaced by another.
:: If you hear something you want to stay with, stay put!

1831 Riot! takes place in Queen Square from 15 April to 4 May 2004.
To take part you need to bring proof of address to the riot tent outside Queen Square House.
The event is free and open from 10am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 11am to 4pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Riot 1831 graphic

Riot! 1831 main index
See a full index of stories and information

Use a map to find out what happened

Use a 360-degree tour to see what happened

More about the Queen Square Riot project

Facts about the riot

  audio icon Hear sound bites from the interactive play:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

Realaudio 28/56/256 stereo
Need help listening?
  Mobile Bristol

Riot! - the play

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