Saturday, June 24, 2006

Destroy Bristol

Despite not coming close to winning the bid to be 2008's European City Of Culture, Bristol City Council seem to have overlooked this slight inconvenience and decided to remodel the city as it were the hub of al fresco, fashionista activity. A few years ago, the city centre was transformed into a romantic plaza, with water fountains in the summer and German weihnachtsmarkt in the winter. The water fountains have since become a preferred bathing area (and likely urinoir) for local toddlers, whilst continual overnight vandalism of their shed-like stalls sent the Germans elsewhere in search of people who considered mulled wine, rather than a skinful of Fosters, the true spirit of Christmas. The council have now turned their attention to the main shopping area, Broadmead (not to be confused with The 'Mead, which refers to a chav satellite area just north of the city, contrarily named Southmead). The original plan was to gut the old and build anew as the zingily-titled Merchants' Quarter, until locals objected to the new name. Some were uncomfortable with the fact that, historically, a significant proportion of these merchants were slave traders. I suspect the rest were either bemused at the placing of the apostrophe, the name's lack of a 'Mead' suffix (we do love our mead, mind) or just the fact that it involved change. Locals don't like change. Change bad.

Anyway, the first, er, quarter of Broadmead has been demolished, along with an office block, a multi-storey car park and (just for good measure) the main route into Bristol via the motorway. So, if you're approaching the city from a certain direction, you'll either see this:

Or this:

...and you'll probably have plenty of time to see the sights as it'll take about twenty minutes to painfully inch through to a free flowing stretch of highway. See the JCB digger above? A couple of weeks ago, more or less on that spot, builders thought they'd uncovered a German bomb dating from World War II (or the weihnachtsmarkt from a few years ago, depending on who you listen to). Shops and offices within a certain radius were evacuated and traffic was diverted for two days, whilst bomb squad experts investigated. It turned out to be a lump of metal in a lump of concrete...

I wouldn't say I feel at all nostalgic for the old shopping mall. I got my first pair of 501's at Harry Jeans, now nothing more than rubble and dust. But it was bloody great watching the diggers and bulldozers tearing into Argos, Primark and Poundstretcher. I've heard that Harvey Nichols will be opening a store here but, like something on your shoe, the shit will stick in Bristol, undoubtedly. Where else would we buy our England flags, laser pens and hilarious 'Billy Bass' singing fish?

Not wishing to neglect the city centre, the council have found some more work to do there. The former Bristol & West Building Society head office has been gutted and it's neighbouring buildings razed to the ground. In it's stead, we'll see apartments, more offices and perhaps even a hotel. I wonder if the hotel brochure will draw attention to the city centre view of the harbourside, the plaza and, in particular, the portable, weekend urinoirs that are deposited in strategic points at 6.00pm sharp every Friday? Sod what Europe says, Bristol's the City Of Culture every year, in my book.

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Blogger Atom Boy said...


I don't recognise anything. If these were standalone photos I would never have guessed that it was Bristol. How long have I been away?

Mind you, I'd be quite glad to return to Bristol and find that Broadmead was no more. Any chance that someone could make some subtle alterations to the plans so that they accidently demolish that montrosity...what was it called...The Galleries, too? I'm sure nobody would notice if they did!

2:59 am  

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