Category: Bridges and Rivers

Victoria Gardens and the flood aftermath

This morning there were balloons in the air and I missed it!  The best I could do was this solitary balloon about to be attacked by a large bird. 

Later I went for a walk, hoping to find a suitable spot to launch my Pretoria Castle from, and did some looking to see whether the flood waters had subsided. This is the view from King John Bridge towards the Avon Locks and the Healings Mill in the background on the right.

and downstream on Shakespear’s Avon Way

Last weekend while photographing the flood it struck me that I had never done a photo essay about the Victoria Gardens. I was unable to do so at the time because of the flood waters, but this morning went walkies in that area to see whether the water had resided and how things looked in the area.

By today the water level had dropped dramatically and the gardens and mill were once more accessible. It was also possible to cross the river at the bridge by the mill. This is what it looks like from the bridge looking across to the mill.

and upstream towards town.

and downstream from the bridge. This high pond is really a sluice gate and somewhere I have an information sheet about it and seem to recall it is called a “Fish Belly Sluice”. Naturally I cannot find it at this moment to confirm what I remember. The garden is the tree-ed area on the left.

There are three entrances to the gardens, the one being from the area at the mill as in the first image, and the other two are in Gloucester Road. 

The Victoria Pleasure Gardens were created by public subscription to celebrate the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897. They were popular with the Edwardians and in 1910 a bandstand was installed which was in regular use till the 1950’s. The gardens were badly affected by the 2007 floods in the town and as can be seen winter flooding can inundate it. The garden is now taken care of as a result of collaboration between local councils and a volunteer group, “Friends of the Victoria Pleasure Gardens”.  The arches in Gloucester Road are signposted as having been erected to celebrate the diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in June 2012 as well as Queen Victoria in 1897.

And to think that a week ago all of this was under water. 

On my way home I popped into the very famous Abbey Tea Rooms in Church Street. I have been wanting to go in there in ages but have never done so. It is a riot of nostalgia and all things eclectic and to be honest I think you would spend hours just looking around and still never seeing everything. .

My mother would have blown a blood vessel had she seen all of that, and then would have thrown it all away in a frenzy of cleaning. Fortunately the people there are much more far sighted than she is.

I can also recommend the food, and I may have to return because I have so much more to look at, but there is so little time and space.

And that was my day. Tewkesbury is busy hanging out the banners for the upcoming Medieval Festival in July, so soon I shall be posting some of those. But till then this sneak peak will have to suffice.

DRW © 2019. Created 22/06/2019


Let’s play Poohsticks

This morning, while riding on the cycle track on my way home I encountered a man and his toddler on the cycle path. “We’ve been playing Poohsticks” he said. 

It was a lightbulb moment.  Now Poohsticks is a very famous game invented by A. A. Milne for his son Christopher Robin Milne, and the game first came to prominence when it was described in the author’s book The House at Pooh Corner.  We more or less have a perfect spot in which to play it, so it was just a matter of time before Miss Emily was roped in for a quick game. 

Dressed to the nines, with her new red purse, felt hat and wellies we headed for the Carrant Brook. 

“Why are we going to the river?” she asked. “Are we there yet?”

I first took her down to the bank and tried to explain the rules. She sat on the tree branch and tried to listen attentively. She had already waylaid a passing twig that she wanted to hurl into the river. “Not yet Miss Emily.”

She eyed another tree branch that was in the river and claimed it as her own “I win!” she exclaimed.

“Nope, not quite Miss Emily, that is overdoing it.”

“Oh Pooh”

We walked a bit further “What about this cool brick?”

“Nope, it will sink like a stone. Enough speculating, lets go stand on the bridge and we can see whose stick gets to the finishing line at the narrow gap downstream first”

We walked up to the bridge and Miss Emily tried to look over the railing, “this railing is too high, maybe if we get that brick I can stand on it?”

“Forget that brick Miss Emily, you can look between the rails. Now get your stick ready!”

Miss Emily pushed her stick through the railings until she was holding it over the water “I am ready!” she shouted excitedly.

“Me too. When I say three let them go and whoever gets to the narrowing first wins. 1, 2…………. 2,5………… 2,6…………  3!” 

The sticks tumbled down into the water to meet their fate. “I’m winning!” she cried.

“No wait, I could be loosing. Which is my stick? I am all confused.”

“That’s always a problem when you play Poohsticks unless you mark your stick properly.”

“That sounds complimacated and way too much work.” She said thoughtfully. “After all this is not the Olympiciamiam Games.”

“You mean the Olympic Games?” 

“Yes, them too. Just imagine winning a gold medal and lots of ice cream in the Olympiciamiam Games as well as in the Olympic Games!”

“I knew it would come down to ice cream again.”

“Let’s have another round.” she grabbed a stick from the pile “Ready when you are!”

And so we played Poohsticks from the bridge.

“That was fun!” Miss Emily said, “I think I am going to enter the Olympiciamiam Games when I grow up.”

“Don’t grow up Miss Emily, it’s a trap!”

“It is?”

“Most definitely, just think, had I not had you I would not have been able to play Poohsticks.”

“That’s true. I don’t think adults play enough games once they grow up.”

“I agree. Come, let’s go get some ice cream, what flavour would you like?”

And so we headed off home via the ice cream shop, Miss Emily had learnt something new, and I had ended up with muddy boots and many pics. The brief sunshine had felt invigorating and we were both ready for the weekend. “it will soon be a new year Miss Emily, how long have you been with me?”

She thought for awhile, “Since September 2016.”

“Time passes very quickly these days”

“Uhu, so we better play games more often then.”

“Good idea Miss Emily, a very good idea.”

The final score? Miss Emily won by 3 sticks and 1 ice cream.

DRW © 2018-2019. Created 29/12/2018


Back to Bristol (2)

I was now in the area around the cathedral, and while there was no sculpture to photograph there were a few other places of interest. The building below is labelled “Central Library”, with the former Abbott’s Gatehouse tacked onto the left hand side. The statue with it’s back to us is of Rajah Rammohun Roy, who died  of meningitis  on 27 September 1833 in Bristol.

I first encountered his name when I visited Arnos Vale way back in 2014, as his original tomb is still in the cemetery, although he is no longer buried there. From what I have read he was an enlightened scholar and philosopher and greatly respected. The statue was unveiled in 1997 and sculpted by Niranjan Pradhan

The choir school is also close to the cathedral and it is a fine building in it’s own right although I did not manage to get a decent photograph of it due to the sun position. I did however get a nice image of the cathedral which I was not able to get last time due to the closures of this area.

My next destination was Millennium Square. I had only picked up one sculpture last time (Oceans 1: Deep Blue) but there were 2 others in the area. The first I must have stood next to and missed, but it is more likely because the area was so crowded. 

(21) A Grand Tribute. Designed by Nick Park (Millennium Square)

A fellow hunter also showed me where to find the next one too…

(20) The Wallace Collection. Painted by Rachel Bennett (Anchor Road)

I had completed this area now and decided to head back to where the Cenotaph was and see what I could find there, I was not confident of much success as that area was densely populated with buildings and shops so it would have been quite difficult to find anything. Still, I did have one destination in mind for there so off I went.

Actually my first real discovery was not a sculpture, but the façade of a doorway worthy of any Victorian cemetery. It was simply magnificent.

There were some very beautiful buildings around me, but the streets were narrow and I got distracted again. It was not the smell of pizza though, but the alleyway that had been created by construction.

Lo and behold.. I found a church close to it, hemmed in on all sides, with a tiny garden/possible former churchyard. Unfortunately it was closed, but by the looks of it was still an active church. Called St Stephens, it was just one of the many churches that are in the city, and it looks like it has been here for a very long time.

The smell around here was bad though so I headed towards a collectables market, pausing to grab another sculpture.

(16) Fangs McGraw. Painted by Ruth Broadway (Stanfords, Corn Str)

The market was fascinating, and there were a few items that make me ooh and aaah, but I did not buy anything and was frankly at somewhat of a loss as to where to head next. I went into another doorway which was one large market and it really reminded me a lot of South Africa. In fact there was even a South African shop! and I came out of a random doorway and found myself in a area that seemed familiar.

I had been here before…. but from the other side, and it was close to Castle Park which I wanted to explore too. I had a new destination! Full steam ahead.

While doing my reading following last months trip I had wanted to investigate the spire that seemingly hid behind a derelict building. Indeed the buildings were derelict but I had to walk all around them to find what was left of the church, and there was almost nothing. You could not even see the spire for all the trees.

The ruins were meaningless without being able to connect them to that ancient building, and I was not going to learn much new at all.

I turned my bows towards the other ruin in what is known as Castle Park. St Peter’s Church was a victim of the bombing in 24–25 November 1940 and was left as a memorial to those who perished in the bombing of the city. 

It is strange to see these gardens surrounded by the skeletal remains of these churches, they do make for very effective memorials, but unfortunately this one was also closed off.  A proper memorial is affixed to the wall of the church. I will cover the memorial properly at allatsea.  

The park is a large one and one end of it had some very interesting structures so I headed in that direction because there were some more sculptures on my map close by. 

Castle Park got its name because once a there was a castle here. The first record of it was from 1088, and it was probably a “motte and bailey” design.

The castle structures were mostly demolished in the 1650’s and redeveloped more in line with what a city of the time looked like. Houses sprung up and associated industry flourished, but the Blitz flattened this area too. Castle Park was developed during the 1970’s and there may still be foundations dating back to the castle underneath the grass. It is a pretty space, but an awkward one too.

Just past the park was a large shopping precinct which is not my favourite place to be in. I was starting to tire though and I needed to consider getting home. I could not find the one sculpture so headed for a grouping of three in that dreaded mass of shoppers and browsers. The first was found easily.

(37) Fromage McGraw. Designed by Peter Lord. (Quakers Friars)

I bumped into another group of hunters, and believe me there were a lot of people out there hunting these sculptures down, not to mention hordes trying to photograph themselves/their kids with them. The hunters told me where there were 3 more, and off I went. The first was at the House of Fraser, which I found by following the paw prints. It is probably one of my favourites too.

(40) Tropi-Canis. Designed by Maria Burns (House of Fraser)

And the next one was in the movie house foyer.

(39) Boss. Designed by Wes Anderson (Showcase Cinema de Lux)

That was as far as I was prepared to go. If I left immediately i could get the 12.47 train, and given my reduced speed I would just make it if I left now! I knew more or less which direction to go in, so headed back the way I came, pausing to pick up the last sculpture that I would get. It was also in a Marriott Hotel (which I had not found initially) and had a Minion theme.

(41) One in a minion. Designed by Illumination (Bristol Marriott City Centre)

I kind of liked that one, definitely shows promise  😉 

And then I was off…. 

It was not too far to the station, but there were many distractions along the way. Including:

Another church (Pip N Jay Church)

This odd lookout tower and friendly lamppost ( have no idea…)

And some awesome street art

I was now at the Avon again, and needed to cross it but do not know yet which bridge this was. But the view of the ruins of St Peter’s  was a good one. I had to crop the image tightly though because of the structure on the left which was very close to the church and which I did not want to include.

Had I followed the footpath at this point I would have come out at the Temple Bridge, but because I was on a tight schedule I was not prepared to risk possible detours or clocked off paths.

This huge building below fascinated me, the only markings I could see on it read:  “Courage  Accounting Centre”. Some kind of temple to bean counters? Actually it turns out that the building was once the Tramway Generating Station, built in the late 1890’s by William Curtis Green, the station delivered power for the Bristol trams until the bridge was bombed in April 1940 and the power cables cut. This proved to be the end of Bristol trams and the building was later taken over by the Courage Brewery. It is a grade II listed building and is part of the development going on around this area. 

I recognised a spire in the distance and I just had to go confirm what I had read at the time “The other peculiarity about the building is that the tower leans by roughly 1,6 metres from the vertical, and the top was built so as to correct the lean, but it ended up looking somewhat odd as the lean increased. “

The station was close, although the same roadworks that had bedevilled my trip last month were still in full swing and I battled to cross the street, fortunately I made it to the station in time, arriving as my train did, although it was at a totally different platform that I had used before. But I didn’t care. I was just glad to be on my way home because I was flat. 

It had been a very interesting morning, and I enjoyed “the hunt” and seeing more of this city. Bristol is big, and there is a lot to see in it, although the odds of ever seeing it all are nil. The context of a lot of the places has changed from when they were first in use, and of course demographics alter everything. The once grubby harbour area is now prime real estate, and the glorious buildings in the city centre have become supermarkets or banks. Listed status does mean that many buildings are stuck in time with nobody able to do anything to them. Urban decay is real, and Bristol is not immune, but it has retained a lot of history, and frankly that’s the part I enjoy.

When will I see Bristol again? I was planning for December, but those plans are now in the balance. I will have to wait till October before I can decide.

DRW © 2018 – 2019. Created 05/08/2018