Barb Drummond

Beyond Bristol History

The People's Park

"What we want is a place near at hand, where we can feel the grass under our feet, or sit with our wives on a summer's eve and watch our children play." - The Cry of the Poor

Parks serve an important role in providing sport and recreational facilities; they also have a far more subtle role in providing a safe environment for people to interract with their neighbours. In the 19th century many English cities were given public parks by wealthy local benefactors. Bristol had none of these, and Bedminster had the added disadvantage of a negligent lord of the manor. The city had fine open spaces on The Downs and Brandon Hill, but they were too far from where most of the working people lived. The area was home to families crowded into small terrace houses, their children needed space to play, workers needed to escape from the polluted factories and landowners wanted to make money.

This is the story of how and why this popular park was founded and includes maps to show how it has changed over time.

"We are very pleased to see that someone has at last compiled an interesting and authoritative history of this much-loved green space"        

Andrew Campbell, Chair, Victoria Park Action Group,

£1 from every copy sold will be given to VPAG.

On sale : ask for it in any bookshop

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ISBN NO. 978-0-9551010-6-9

The book was reviewed in the Bristol Evening Post on Tuesday 15 April.  

Click here to view Evening Post Review

The wildlife area near the corner of Nutgrove Ave/Hill Ave was a wonderful place in summer, with lots of small birds and other wildlife, and an impressive collection of wild roses and other scented plants. Unfortunately the parks department in their eminent wisdom thought it was not quite working, so without notice, or prpper consultation, contractors demolished all but the surrounding ring of trees. As this was the only part of the park which was genuinely of the people in the modern sense, this is a tragedy and a warning of how the council plans to proceed with other so-called improvements. Of particular interest is the 'natural  play area' for which they have obtained specific funding. It will be near the railway line, home to a large and healthy population of rats. This seems an ideal chance for them to move further into the park. So what happened to all the money earmarked for leisure by the sell off of the Whitchurch airport site?