Wander through our city’s musical heartland with the architects of the Bristol sound and hear eyewitness accounts of legendary venues as part of an ambitious multimedia project and walking tour series from the Bearpit Improvement Group. A new project, which combines new information panels in the Bearpit with a fully-featured website which includes story maps with audio tours, shows how people have been coming and going in the St James Barton area for hundreds of years.
The information panels are now on display at the ramp by the Premier Inn, and the website and story maps are live online and ready to be explored.
On June 6th 2015 everyone is invited to the Bearpit to see the panels and join guided walking groups to follow the routes of the story maps.
The story maps at bearpitheritage.org.uk include a Musical Journey in which musicians and promoters who helped to build the ‘Bristol Sound’, including Clement McLarty of the For The People pirate radio station and DJ Derek, talk about how West Indian music grew roots in the city.
In a second tour, entitled Local Memories, visitors can discover trams on Cumberland Street and pre-welfare poverty on Philadelphia Street, recall the birth of Broadmead, remember the Bristol Bus Boycott and celebrate Mickleburgh, the longest-running family business on Stokes Croft.
The project was brought together by the Myers-Insole Local Learning Community Interest Company, commissioned by the volunteer-led Bearpit Improvement Group with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Bristol City Council, among others.
In the Musical Journey, DJ Derek describes cutting his teeth at the Star and Garter before going on to perform at pioneering clubs including the Bamboo, the Turntable and the Blue Lagoon.
He also describes the important role The Criterion – which is still open on Ashley Road – had to play in breaking down social barriers in a city once rife with racism. He said: “In those days the generation of people who came over from Jamaica weren’t welcome into any of the pubs or clubs in Bristol. There were notices up: ‘no Irish, no dogs, no blacks’.
“A white guy I knew took over the Criterion and actually welcomed the Jamaican crowd into the pub – and they brought their own DJs in.
“That’s how I first heard this music which I’d been dying to hear. I became part of the furniture.”
The Local Memories tour include stories from local residents about how the area developed after the 1930s and reexamine the Bristol Bus Boycott through interviews with current-day representatives of First Bus. The Heritage Panels in the Bearpit, which have been produced with help from students and community historians, cover nearly 1,000 years of history – including medieval archaeology, the development of St Pauls through the 18th and 19th centuries, and memories of the Bristol Blitz in 1940.
Find out a lot more at the launch event on June 6th 2015:
- 11:30am — tour of the panels in the Bearpit
- 12:30pm — Local Memories guided neighbourhood walk from 1930s Cumberland Street to post-war Broadmead
- 2:00pm — Musical Journey guided neighbourhood walk from the 1960s music scene to the Bristol Sound of the 1990s.
That the story maps and website will remain live online for everyone to enjoy at any time they like.