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24 September 2014
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Behind The Front Line
The riot pulled in police from neighbouring forces. THIS STORY LAST UPDATED:
25 June 2002 1139 BST

"Grosvenor Road is where people go to buy drugs that's how it is now."
The riot pulled in police from neighbouring forces.
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In 1981, St Paul's in Bristol hit the headlines when a police raid triggered the first riots, which subsequently spread across the country.

At the heart of the action was Grosvenor Road, otherwise known as "The Front Line".

In the last of the series, A Sense of Place, Fergus Colville meets the people who make up the community of St Paul's.

Their story takes us back to before the riots, describing a vibrant close-knit community, through to the present day where many of the original inhabitants are being priced out of the area.


Grosvenor Road elicits a polar response from its residents.

"We are really frightened to walk down there day or night," is one man's experience.

"In St Paul's people say hi and hang out with each other, it's a real community" is another's.

Older people remember playing along the road as children, while parents shopped or went to the launderette.

Although there was a feeling of community, the area was also a ghetto where immigrants to the city were housed.

'Dumped together'

"People came in with Windrush and were just dumped together here, so the community grew," an older man recalls.

Then along came the motorway and whole streets were compulsorily purchased and the residents moved to Easton and Fishponds.

The community broke down and the shops disappeared. A green was built which became a meeting place.

"We'd play cricket and people would sell mangoes and sugar cane, but the drug dealers have taken over now."


Some of the people who moved from St Paul's have chosen to return.

"I buy food in the West Indian shop and my girls asked, 'Mum how you know that black man?' and, 'Who are all these black people?' so we came back from Bedminster," a mother explains.

Now St Paul's is changing again.

In the programme it is likened to Brixton which was once a no-go zone and is now an expensive area to try to move into.

Middle class people are buying up the houses and prices have risen dramatically.

With its position next to the city centre, St Paul's has become a piece of prime real estate and that can only mean more changes.

"In St Paul's people say hi and hang out with each other, it's a real community."

Grosvenor Road resident

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Go on a voyage of discovery along the Severn Estuary from Clevedon to Weston, with A Sense of Place.
  A Mind's Eye View
Malcolm Chappell tells us how somebody with no sight sees Bristol.

Do you speak good Brizzle?
A Sense of Place looks at the unique Bristol accent and some of the words we use.

Listen to A Sense of Place on BBC Radio Bristol and the BBC Bristol website:
28 April:
Bristol Derby Passion
5 May: The Bristol English Dictionary
12 May: Blind Bristol
19 May: Pier to Pier
26 May: A Picture of Bath
2 June: The Front Line
:: Talk Bristol
Do you have a view on this story? Why not tell the rest of Bristol on BBC Bristol's very own chat forum, Talk Bristol.

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