Up, up and away…

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From the 11th to the 14th August this year is the annual Bristol Balloon Festival.

The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is Europe’s largest annual meeting of hot air balloons, attracting over 150 Hot Air Balloons from across the globe. The Fiesta truly is a sight that can only be seen in Bristol. Held over four days in August at Ashton Court Estate, the event is completely free with charges made for parking on the event site. Tickets can be purchased here. Alongside the fantastic site of hot air balloons filling the skies, we have a large number of great trade stands, fairground rides and entertainment.

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We went last year and had a really nice time watching the mass ascent of the numerous hot air balloons.

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For me the real highlight of this festival are the mass ascents. You can get really quite close to the balloons as they rise.

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Of course if you aren’t interested in hot air balloons, then there is a bundle of other stuff you can do, from stalls to fairground rides.

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It should be noted that if you don’t like crowds then this probably isn’t the event for you, though you could always go to the early morning ascents.

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I know a lot of people like the night glow on the Thursday night, my previous experience was that the whole thing was incredible, but ruined by the constantly moving crowds, so I now watch it on the telly.

Making the most of my membership

For my birthday I received a membership of the National Trust and we have been visiting a fair few places. The membership gives us free entry (and free parking) to hundreds of places across England and Wales as well as entry to properties in sister organisations such as the National Trust for Scotland.

I have decided to keep track of where we have been and what it would have cost us if we had actually paid to get in.

It’s not a true reflection, as if we had to pay the full entry price, we would probably have spent the entire day there. When we went to Dunster Castle we only spent a couple of hours, and there was so much we didn’t see, we are planning to go again.

King John’s Hunting Lodge
Two adults £5.00
Children go free

Stourhead

Stourhead

Parking £3.00
Family Ticket £39.20

Dunster Castle

Dunster Castle

Parking £2.50
Family Ticket £28.40

Sand Point

Sand Point

Free (no saving)

Tyntesfield

Tynetesfield House

Parking £3.00
Family Ticket £38.65

Brean Down

Brean Down

Parking £3.50

Overall we would have spent £123.25 on tickets and parking, which now exceeds the £111 cost of a family membership. So still nearly nine months left to go. Wonder how much we will save?

Elementary my dear Watson

I have visited Baker Street for work on a quite a few occasions for work, but on my most recent visit I was quite surprised to see Sherlock Holmes looking down on me quite close to the tube station.

Sherlock Holmes

I’ve not noticed him before, most of the time I am trying to avoid the crowds outside Madam Tussauds. Though I think a more realistic Holmes and Watson would be fun. Though a bit of a fan of Sherlock Holmes books, TV and films, I have never bothered to visit 221b Baker Street, in the main as I believe it is not a real address and is in fact a bank!

An afternoon at Tyntesfield

For my birthday I received a membership of the National Trust and we have been visiting a fair few places. The membership gives us free entry (and free parking) to hundreds of places across England and Wales as well as entry to properties in sister organisations such as the National Trust for Scotland.

Tynetesfield House

Tyntesfield is quite local to me and I have been meaning to visit for sometime since the National Trust were given the house and gardens.

Tyntesfield is a Victorian Gothic Revival house and estate close to Wraxall in North Somerset. The house is a Grade I listed building. The background to the house started off when in the 1830s a Georgian mansion was built at that location, this was bought by William Gibbs, whose huge fortune came from importing and selling guano to be used as fertilizer.

Tynetesfield House

The house was significantly expanded, extended and remodelled in the 1860s. The dining room was made bigger, and the upper bedrooms were almost doubled in size and given bays. You can see this quite easily when looking around. A chapel was added in the 1870s and though a crypt was planned, it was never consecrated so it was used as storage.

Tynetesfield Chapel

The Gibbs family owned the house until the death of Richard Gibbs in 2001. Tyntesfield was purchased by the National Trust in 2002, after a fundraising campaign to prevent it being sold to private interests and ensure it would be open to the public.

It certainly is a place you could spend all day, but one of the nice things about National Trust membership is you can pop in for a shorter amount of time and not feel you need to get the full value of the entry fee by spending all day there.

The gardens are beautiful and you can spend a lot of time walking through the grounds and gardens.

Tynetesfield Gardens

The house is really interesting and you can see the way in which the house was remodelled and extended over the years. It certainly is interesting to see how the other half lived back then.

I really liked the library, which was a huge space, probably could fit most people’s houses in there! Sad that though full of books, some had never been opened or read, true some were reference books and you might not have needed to read all of it, but often these libraries were purchased more for show than a thirst for reading.

Tynetesfield Library

We had a nice cup of tea and scone in the cow barn to finish the day off.

Bristol Harbourside in the 1990s Part Six

Back in the 1990s when I was teaching at a college in Bristol, I use to undertake regular field trips to the Bristol Harbourside as part of a unit on urban regeneration. There was at the time to much happening down there after years of inaction that it was an ideal place to demonstrate the impact of investment and change of use. Bristol had been an important port for hundreds of years, this all came to a halt in the 1970s and regeneration plans were developed. Not much happened for twenty years, but in the last twenty years we have seen major regeneration of the area, massive building of offices, business, residential and entertainment, as well as visitor attractions such as at-Bristol (where incidentally I worked for a while when it opened).

During one of those field trips, I took my SLR camera with me, and digging around a box in the garage I found the prints, which I have since scanned in. This is the final post on these images, you can find part one, part two, part threepart four and part five.

Before the advent of North Sea gas most towns and cities had gasworks that turned coal into gas which was then used for heating and cooking. Down in the harbourside were the Bristol Gasworks. Back in the 1990s these were no longher used for making gas and were in a state of decay, but they were still used for storing North Sea gas. Since then the gas storage has been removed. The buildings were listed and due to the contamination on the site it took many years before they could be used for something else.

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You can see from this 2005 image that not much had changed in the preceding ten years to the gasworks building, but around it there was a lot of building and regeneration.

Old Gas Works

On the other side of the harbour this view is now dramatically different as a range of houses and apartments have been built.

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Even in the 1990s we already had a fair bit of development already done.

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A view up the harbour looking towards the SS Great Britain on the right.

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At this point the SS Great Britain had been back in Bristol for twenty years and was looking splendid. She didn’t have the fake water glass thingy representing water as she does now, but she was in pretty good condition and the team restoring her had done an excellent job.

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One aspect of the harbour which doesn’t change is the need for dredging.

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If you were here today you could turn around and walk over Pero’s Bridge, back then  you needed to walk around. Over on the left is the Watershed.

Bristol Harbourside

Overall it was interesting to see what had changed in the last twenty years and also what hadn’t.

Time travelling by train

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At Bristol Temple Meads I did wonder if I had travelled back in time to 1976, as there was a British Rail blue and yellow engine on the platform. My train yesterday morning included a very different engine, this was a GWR High Speed Train painted in the original colours when the train entered service forty years ago in 2016.

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This was painted up specially for an event in May to celebrate forty years of the HST. I thought it was nice that only was it painted up in the original colours, but is currently being used to pull trains. It’s a pity that they couldn’t paint a whole train in the original colours.

Bristol Harbourside in the 1990s Part Five

Back in the 1990s when I was teaching at a college in Bristol, I use to undertake regular field trips to the Bristol Harbourside as part of a unit on urban regeneration. There was at the time to much happening down there after years of inaction that it was an ideal place to demonstrate the impact of investment and change of use. Bristol had been an important port for hundreds of years, this all came to a halt in the 1970s and regeneration plans were developed. Not much happened for twenty years, but in the last twenty years we have seen major regeneration of the area, massive building of offices, business, residential and entertainment, as well as visitor attractions such as at-Bristol (where incidentally I worked for a while when it opened).

During one of those field trips, I took my SLR camera with me, and digging around a box in the garage I found the prints, which I have since scanned in. This is the fifth post on these images, you can find part one, part two, part three and part four.

Prince Street Bridge was originally a two way bridge when this photograph was taken. At some point in the last ten years I think, half was pedestrianised. Currently it is closed to all traffic.

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One of the earliest developments in the Bristol harbourside was the Lloyds bank development which was built and opened in the 1980s. Here is the view of the amphitheatre which is often used for events.

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Then the next lot of photographs are taken from the ferry, which still steams around the harbour.

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The MV Balmoral  is moored up next to the sadly missed Industrial Museum (the M Shed is no replacement)

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Slightly different view of the previous shot.

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The Arnolfini is just out of shot to the left in the final photograph of Prince Street Bridge.

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Bristol Harbourside in the 1990s Part Four

Back in the 1990s when I was teaching at a college in Bristol, I use to undertake regular field trips to the Bristol Harbourside as part of a unit on urban regeneration. There was at the time to much happening down there after years of inaction that it was an ideal place to demonstrate the impact of investment and change of use. Bristol had been an important port for hundreds of years, this all came to a halt in the 1970s and regeneration plans were developed. Not much happened for twenty years, but in the last twenty years we have seen major regeneration of the area, massive building of offices, business, residential and entertainment, as well as visitor attractions such as at-Bristol (where incidentally I worked for a while when it opened). Even today there is still ongoing development.

During one of those field trips, I took my SLR camera with me, and digging around a box in the garage I found the prints, which I have since scanned in. This is the fourth post on these images, you can find part one here, part two here and part three here.

One part of the harbourside which is still around today are the many different pleasure craft moored there. Back when Bristol was a working port you would find ships and working boats, by the 1990s and today there are boats which are used for pleasure.

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The numbers multiply when it comes to regatta time.

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One of the earliest developments in the Bristol harbourside was the Lloyds bank development which was built and opened in the 1980s.

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I remember when Lloyds merged with the TSB there was some fear that the head office would move from Bristol, in the end this did not happen.

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There are still many signs of when Bristol was a working port.

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Trenchard Street, Bristol, circa 1970s

We have been going through some old papers recently and we found the following photographs of Trenchard Street and Lodge Street in Bristol. I have taken screen grabs from Google Street View of a more recent view.

This is the view looking down Trenchard Street towards the corner with Lodge Street. The buildings seem to be rather dilapidated with boarded up doors and windows. The render is peeling off the walls. Only the modern streetlamp and double yellow lines betray that this is quite a modern photograph.

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More recently the buildings seem to have been refurbished, new doors, new windows, more glass, though sadly still some graffiti.

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This is the view in the other direction says a similar story, the peeling render looks even worse from this view.

Trenchard Street Bristol

Today the view shows a cleaner, tidier look. There is new pavement, but we still have double yellow lines!

Trenchard Street Bristol

Similar to the Trenchard Street images, this view of Lodge Street has the buildings with peeling render, boarded up and bricked up doors and windows. In the foreground is a sign to Garage Parking and a Hertz Rent A Car dealership. There is a Ford Granada which betrays the age of the image (as do the flairs).

Lodge Street Bristol

When I saw this photograph of Lodge Street I had no idea where this was in Bristol. It became obvious that part of the reason is the trees which now block that view.

Lodge Street Bristol

I do like comparing old and new and it’s interesting to see what has changed and what hasn’t.

Bristol Harbourside in the 1990s Part Three

Back in the 1990s when I was teaching at a college in Bristol, I use to undertake regular field trips to the Bristol Harbourside as part of a unit on urban regeneration. There was at the time to much happening down there after years of inaction that it was an ideal place to demonstrate the impact of investment and change of use. Bristol had been an important port for hundreds of years, this all came to a halt in the 1970s and regeneration plans were developed. Not much happened for twenty years, but in the last twenty years we have seen major regeneration of the area, massive building of offices, business, residential and entertainment, as well as visitor attractions such as at-Bristol (where incidentally I worked for a while when it opened). Even today there is still ongoing development with recently new flats going up at Wapping Wharf.

During one of those field trips, I took my SLR camera with me, and digging around a box in the garage I found the prints, which I have since scanned in. This is the third post on these images, you can find part one here, and part two here.

One of the earlier developments was down by Poole’s Wharf, this was during development of that area.

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Since this image was taken (well it was nearly twenty years ago) a bridge has been built across this part of the harbourside.

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Prince Street Bridge was open both ways to traffic back then, it was certainly dicing with death as you walked across  with cars streaming through, whilst pedestrians walked along a very narrow pavement on the swinging bridge.  It then went down to one side for cars and one for pedestrians, made it a lot safer, but you had the mind all the bikes. At the moment it is closed to traffic in both directions.

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The bridge was put in place in 1809 by the Bristol Dock Company on the site of the ancient Gib ferry owned by the Dean and Chapter of Bristol Cathedral.  is operated by water hydraulic power.

This view from just up from the Arnolfini, is not too much different today, well apart from Pero’s Bridge which connected the two sides of the dock. In the distance you can see what was the Industrial Museum.

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The Old Gas Works had been derelict for many years and was a challenging area for development, mainly as the buildings were listed and also the ground was contaminated. It took many years after other development was undertaken before we saw this area get developed.

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I do have some more pictures and will post them another time.