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Arts,culture, harbourside & history

Interviews | Features | Events

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Shipshape summer 2011

bristol international classical season 2011-12 thursday 6 october 2011 bournemouth symphony orchestra

sunday 20 november 2011 earth music bristol: bbc national orchestra of wales

A superb season opener featuring the ever-popular Mendelssohn Violin Concerto played by Renaud Capuçon ‘one of today’s outstanding violinists’ (The Guardian)

A brand new festival celebrates the music of the natural world - Britten evokes his beloved seascapes and Elgar’s sumptuous Sea Pictures are sung by the incomparable Hilary Summers

wednesday 19 october 2011 moscow philharmonic orchestra

wednesday 23 november 2011 warsaw philharmonic orchestra

Russian magic with Mussorgsky’s scintillating Pictures and the iconic Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in the trusted hands of the Tchaikovsky Competition prizewinner Nikita Boriso-Glebsky

Fresh from tours to Japan and China, the Warsaw Philharmonic savours fantasy-filled Bruch, patriotic Tchaikovsky, and something closer to home: Panufnik’s lean-limbed Sinfonia

tuesday 10 november 2011 bournemouth symphony orchestra

wednesday 6 june 2012 queens’ diamond jubliee gala concert

The Brahms Violin Concerto, one of the most breathtakingly challenging works in the solo violin repertoire, in counterpoint to his impassioned and fiery Hungarian Dances

Alison Balsom, Natalie Clein and Nicola Benedetti are joined by the soprano Lesley Garrett to perform personally special pieces and arias. A unique and memorable concert

boxoffice +44 (0)117 922 3686


Welcome Being a quarterly magazine, we find it’s best not to mention the weather. Chances are, the heatwave we experienced as we went to press has been followed by the ‘wettest summer since records’ began. Fortunately, given the huge amount of activity on and around the Harbourside – both undercover and exposed to the elements – it would take a deluge of biblical proportions to render this particular season a washout. So grab an organic burger, jump on a ferry boat, soak up some local history and make the most of this summer’s stellar line-up.

Drama Queen page 12

Inside Arts & events 4 Things to see and do this quarter

I ❤ Harbourside 10 JT Group chairman John Pontin OBE

Drama Queen 12 Queen Square’s colourful story

Getting around 16

Pictured clockwise from above: Queen Square; Beeses Tea Rooms; Rob Deering heads up Bristol Brouhaha; Arne Ringner digs out the Glassboat; At-Bristol wins top museum award; Jeffrey Archer’s new book

Harbourside map & ferry guide

There will be Bloodhound 18 The new Bristol-built supersonic car

Glass from the past 20 Iconic floating eatery Glassboat turns 25

Oar inspiring 25 Out and about in a three-man canoe

Harbourside directory 26 The very best of the waterside

Hidden treasures 30 River cruise to a secluded bar and tea rooms Shipshape Magazine Issue 6, summer 2011. Shipshape is published by The Group of Seven. Editorial, design and production: Past issues and galleries: Advertising or directory enquiries: or 0117 904 9414. Want to get involved in future issues of Shipshape magazine? Email us on Disclaimer The information contained in this publication is provided as a general guide only. While every care is taken to ensure that the details are as accurate as possible, we make no warranty or representation, express or implied, about the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this publication. The views or opinions expressed in this publication are strictly those of the authors. The publishers and/ or any of its associated companies or business partners accept no responsibility for damage or loss, howsoever caused, arising directly or indirectly from reliance upon any information obtained from this publication. Shipshape

arts & events


Street Markets Locally-sourced food, arts and books... they’re all here. Bristol’s street market landscape continues to burgeon. The new Harbourside Market (pictured), which launched at the start of May along Watershed’s covered walkway on Bordeaux Quay, now takes place every weekend from 11am-4pm, with stalls selling food, art and craft on Saturdays and books, art, records, plants and cakes on Sundays. Good quality and local sourcing are the Market’s keystones. “Our aim is to give Bristolians easy access to quality locally produced food, and to showcase arts and craft created in and around Bristol,” says manager Bryony Morgan, who also organises arts and craft fairs at Colston Hall. “We also want to reanimate St Augustine’s Reach and its quaysides, presenting it as a gateway to Bristol’s docksides and its many attractions. We want to offer something for everyone: a sensory introduction to Bristol for tourists, a showcase of the brilliant art and food produced in the region, and a much-needed independent, sustainable shopping destination for Bristolians.” Business is also booming across town at the St Nicholas Markets family. St Nick’s daily indoor market

(Mon-Sat 9.30am-5pm) continues to flourish, as do the outdoor regulars, including Bristol Farmers’ Market (Wed 9.30am-2.30pm, Wine St/Corn St), The Nails (Fri-Sat 10am-5pm, Wine St/Corn St: clothes, crafts, records, etc), Slow Food Market (first Sun of the month, 10am-3pm, Corn St) and the award-winning newest addition, Bristol Book Market (first Sun of month, 10am-4pm, Wine St). More: (Harbourside) & (St Nicks)

WALK SOundWALK APP This spring, as part of a pan-European education programme, the everadventurous Watershed led a week of workshops introducing older learners (50-plus) from across Europe to the delights of digital technologies. The learners explored their relationship with water, learned storytelling techniques and used digital tools to capture sounds and images – and, from these skills, each created an audio tour or ‘soundwalk’ around the Harbourside, exploring their own associations with the mix of land and water. These soundwalks were created on a platform devised by local digital innovation company Calvium, based at Watershed’s Pervasive Media Studio. The end result of these sessions was an iPhone app, ‘Reflections at the Waterside’, which captures the European visitors’ stories of water and takes users on a journey around the Harbourside. Download the app now and set off on your waterside wander. Download the app from the App Store at com/iphone/apps-for-iphone, or visit for an online map of the walk. More


Spike Island summer shows Abstraction and contemplation are the key themes at Spike Island, Bristol’s big, adventurous gallery-cum-artists’ community, this summer. A trio of exhibitions from 9 July-4 Sept is led by ‘Structure & Material’, in which Becky Beasley, Claire Barclay and Turner Prize nominee Karla Black all explore how meaning is created through form. Using everything from cosmetics and sugar paper to blackboard paint and brass hinges, the three present pieces that make the familiar and everyday seem unsettling and strange. four

Elsewhere, San Francisco artist Richard T. Walker gives us the delightfully named ‘The Speed and Eagerness of Meaning’ (pictured): a mixed-media show using photography, film, text and music to explore the gaps between our experience of the world and our attempts to express it. Our efforts to belong in and respond to the sublime beauty and immensity of nature, the artist suggests, are ultimately futile – but endearingly so. Finally, in ‘Faded Paper’, Sara MacKillop uses paper reclaimed from a disused notice board to present a work that will slowly

HeAr rOger dALtrey

evolve throughout the exhibition. Partially covered in posters and flyers, the pieces of sugar paper have been bleached by sunlight into ghostly patterns: MacKillop has documented these X-ray-like images as they were when she came across them, and will hang them in Spike’s bright Project Space, where the colours will fade away in the sunlight.

Rock fans rejoice – Roger Daltrey, lead singer of The Who, comes to Colston Hall on Tuesday 12 July to perform the legendary rock opera Tommy from start to finish, along with a variety of Who classics. Originally conceived as a one off gig at the Royal Albert Hall, the Tommy revival was so successful Daltrey decided to take it on the road. Tickets cost £45, £40. More

More: Shipshape


play at-Bristol Families can look forward to some great interactive fun at At-Bristol this summer, as Aardman Animations’ ovine superstar Shaun the Sheep hosts a hilarious farmyard sports day at the centre. Developed jointly by Aardman and SGA Productions and premiered at the Eden Project earlier this year, Championsheeps Live! will feature a range of uproarious all-ages activities. In the Shirley’s Pieathlon event, for example, you’ll race a sheep hopper around a speciallydesigned course, doing your best to avoid the various fruit obstacles in your way. Or try the Farmyard Fling, a wellythrowing contest where you’ll try to knock the vegetable heads off a trio of scarecrows. Visitors can also create clay models of Aardman’s various animated stars, play ‘keepie-uppie’ with the farmer’s prize cabbages around Millennium Square, and much more. Championsheeps Live! will run at At-Bristol from 30 July-31 August, and will cost just £1.50 per person on top of At-Bristol’s standard admission charges. Visitors will be given one hour to complete the farmyard challenges, with bookable sessions available throughout the day, seven days a week. “The Championsheeps is an exciting new venture for us, with Shaun the Sheep encouraging kids and families to have fun and get active in the way only Shaun and his flock can,” says David Sproxton, Aardman’s executive chairman. “As a board member for At Bristol I’m thrilled that the event is being hosted here – and I’m looking forward to seeing it for myself.” MORE




Take a trip to Bristol’s ecozone for an array of activities this season There’s a busy and, frankly, appetising summer ahead at CREATE, the ever-lively ecozone, learning resource and gallery just off the Floating Harbour’s south-western edge. A good-looking exhibitions programme includes ‘Under the Flyover’ (pictured above, 15 June-7 July), a documentary show following Hotwells residents in their quest for green space. Photographs, video, sound, painting and drawing reveal the past, present and future of the Cumberland Piazza, currently a run-down concrete deadzone underneath the Cumberland Basin flyover but, say residents, capable of so much more. During Bristol’s Good Living Week (pictured inset,

see p7 for more), CREATE hosts ‘grow your own’ workshops, food tastings, herbal walks and craft activities – plus Live Local Saturday (Sat 11 June, 10am-5pm), a family discovery day all about the joys of community and local living. At CREATE’s Ecohome garden, you’ll be able to learn about growing food in small and underused spaces: the centre is also part of Bristol’s first ‘arts trail for vegetables’ (see www. for more). And there’ll also be free bike checks to get your wheels in tiptop condition for the following day’s Bristol’s Biggest Bike Ride. More:


The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress The flighty Rose is in America to track down Dr Wheeler, the only witness to a terrible deed from her youth. She requires the help of Washington Harold, a character created in the spirit of A Confederacy of Dunces’ Ignatius J Reilly, who has his own clandestine need to track him down. Beryl Bainbridge’s final novel, which she was on the verge of completing when she died, is more than just a poignant coda to her inimitable writing career; it’s a rough-edged road trip pastiche, wrapped around the historical event of Robert Kennedy’s assassination, which stands comparison with her finest achievements. More: £12.99, available at Foyles, Quakers Friars, Cabot Circus, five

arts & events


Collaboration Synergy can be a beautiful thing – especially, it seems, when it comes in a foaming pint glass. Step forward ‘Collaboration’, the beautiful new ale produced jointly by three Bristol craft brewers. Ashton’s Bristol Beer Factory, Zerodegrees (Colston Street) and Kingswood’s Arbor Ales got together to create the aptly-named ale, a strong golden number made from English malted barley, Belgian yeast, American hops, toasted oats and coriander. You can find the ale on tap at the breweries’ various boozers, such as the Grain Barge, Three Tuns (St George’s Road) and the estimable Zerodegrees. Cheers! More:

Following a refurb at the listed Shakespeare Tavern in Prince Street, steeped in maritime history as Bristol’s longest-serving ale house, owners Greene King plan to reopen in late June. EXPERIENCE

Arnolfini dance season Over the course of its 50-year history, dance has been a consistent forte at Bristol’s world-renowned arts centre Arnolfini. And it takes centre stage once again this summer with a typically eclectic set of performances that present modern dance in just about every form under the sun. You’ll find everything from The Rest is Silence (11 June) in which the splendidly named GETINTHEBACKOFTHEVAN asks: if speech is made up entirely of breath and muscles, then is it essentially a series of dance moves? Later, during Harbour Festival weekend (30 July), Geraldine Pilgrim gives us Handbag (pictured), a 15-minute slice of dancefloor escapism. Said The Guardian: “A witty and wistful performance that, in a few delirious moments, makes the point that no woman needs a man when she has got her handbag in tow.” And you should definitely head down to Danceroom Spectroscopy (7 August), a free, immersive and participatory event for which Arnolfini will be rigged with 3D imaging technology to track and broadcast your every movement. Families in search of some creative interactive fun, meanwhile, should make a beeline for Mash Up! (3 July and 7 Aug), the ’fini’s monthly family-friendly activity days. August’s session includes a chance to insert yourself into a computer game: using cuttingedge robotic technology and movement, you’ll be able to augment your own reality and help create an interactive collective experience. Matrix-tastic!

SEE ARt At thE FolK houSE Tucked away down a corridor off bustling Park Street, the Folk House is one of our very favourite city-centre islands of respite. Its friendly basement café is a frazzled shopper’s treasure trove, made all the more welcoming by the roster of monthly-changing art exhibitions adorning its walls. This summer, we like the look of the solo show by Mike hesketh (1 July-4 August), a Modernist-inspired painter who creates abstracted, emotive responses to classics of European painting, from Abstract Expressionism back to the Old Masters. Make time, too, for Scott Buchanan’s show (pictured above, 5 August-1 September), featuring Expressionist oil paintings of Bristol cityscapes. MORE

DRINK CoCKtAIlS At SPyglASS Welsh Back’s Spyglass Barbecue and Grill is the perfect spot for a sundowner, so grab one of their Cubano burgers and treat yourself to a tall glass of something fruity. Elderflower Collins

2 shots of Larios 12 Gin 3/4 shot of freshly-squeezed lemon juice 3/4 shot of elderflower cordial Soda water 1. Add all ingredients except the soda water into a Boston Shaker 2. Fill with cubed ice, then shake vigorously for 10 seconds 3. Strain over fresh cubed ice in a tall glass 4. Top up with soda, garnish with a physalis on the rim

More: six


arts & events


Summer Festival Guide This summer’s festival calendar is big enough to keep thrill-seekers in town all summer long. Shipshape marks your card Comedy fans should make a beeline for Bristol Comedy Garden (20-24 July: bristolcomedygarden. It’s four evenings of quality stand-up in a lovely big marquee on the lawns of Queen Square featuring slots from Stephen K Amos (pictured below), Milton Jones, Ardal O’Hanlon and Bristol’s top comedy export Russell Howard. (If you can bear to tear yourself away from the Harbourside, Bristol Brouhaha (15-23 July: will see the likes of Mitch Benn, Rob Deering, Richard Herring and ace sketch quintet The Noise Next Door descend on Southville’s Tobacco Factory and Hen & Chicken.) A sharp-looking new arrival on our city’s burgeoning summer festival scene is the World Stage Festival (6-10 July:, a five-day fiesta of global dance, music and theatre at venues including the Colston Hall, Tobacco Factory and Arnolfini. Must-sees include ‘The Light Garden’, which will lead intrepid younger audiences into a cinematic campsite, where they’ll use illuminated switches to control the weather. Make time too for Afro-Brazilian dance troupe Aché Brasil and Washington DC’s African dance and body percussion group Step Afrika!, while New York’s Mayhem Poets (billed as ‘The Simpsons meets Malcolm X at a Notorious B.I.G. concert’) will deliver volleys of virtuoso verse. Elsewhere, the Bristol Festival of Nature makes its annual return (18-19 June, Harbourside: bnhc. with heaps of wildlifeinspired fun and discovery, including a Wildlife Garden complete with pond and bee- and butterfly-luring flowerbeds. You’ll also find a wealth of greenliving inspirations in the Sustainable Living Zone and dozens of local and ethical food, drink and clothing suppliers in the market. Kids, meanwhile, Shipshape

will be kept happy with free storytelling, puppet shows and IMAX screenings of dinosaur-age epic ‘Sea Rex’. This year’s festival forms part of Bristol’s Good Living Week (pictured top right, 10-19 June: goodlivingweek. com), a 10-day programme of activities to inspire more sustainable lifestyles. Highlights include a walking and cycling trail around Bristol’s best food and drink producers, and visits to homes harnessing renewable energy. Alongside the Festival of Nature, you’ll also find the annual return of Bristol’s Biggest Bike Ride (12 June: betterbybike. info/bikeride), a mass cycling event with a choice of five routes setting off from Millennium Square. After a successful debut last year, Grillstock (pictured right, 1-3 July: fires up the barbie again down on the Harbour. The weekend barbie and music festival includes a 20team, US-style BBQ competition as well as local food and drink, live music and performances from The Invisible Circus, Hayseed Dixie, The Martin Harley Band and others. That same weekend St Pauls Carnival (2 July: stpaulscarnival. makes its annual return, with over 1,000 performers on parade, sound systems on every street corner, eye-boggling costumes and food stalls galore. A few days later, the now well-established Pride Bristol (9-17 July: takes over venues around town for a nine-day celebration of Bristol’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. September brings the return of Bristol’s hugely popular Organic Food Festival (3-4 Sept: organicfoodfestival., featuring 150 organic food and drink stalls, chef demos, live music and oodles of well-bred food-to-go. Another festival with a landmark

year is Bristol Harbour Festival (29-31 July:, which celebrates its 40th birthday at venues across the harbour, including the Amphitheatre, Queen Square and the brilliant Dance Village. A week of build-up events will include dragon boat racing and music on the water, while the weekend itself will feature the usual heady mix of live music and dance, continental market, circus area, children’s entertainment and more. Of course, it would be remiss of us not to mention those festivals taking place away from the waterside this season: these include the 33rd Bristol International Balloon Fiesta (1114 Aug: and the 25th Bristol International Festival of Kites & Air Creations (3-4 Sept:, both taking place at the beautiful Ashton Court Estate. And, of course, you shouldn’t miss the wonderful Bristol Shakespeare Festival (to 30 July:, in which theatre companies both local and national present a decent smattering of Bardic performances on some of Bristol’s loveliest lawns. Our pick has to be the brilliant Bath Spa student company Full Tilt, whose devised show ‘Lear 1864: Trail of Tears’ (Ashton Court Gardens, 6-9 and 14-15 July) resets Will’s greatest tragedy to the American Civil War. s seven

Pop into the Bristol Tourist Information Centre, next door to Watershed Media Centre, for friendly advice and a great range of gifts and souvenirs

Accommodation bookings

E Shed, 1 Canons Road, BS1 5TX Tel: 0906 711 2191 (calls cost 50p per minute plus network extras) Email:

Opening Hours Open daily 10am–5pm (October–March); 10am–6pm (April–September)

Tickets General advice and information Gifts Souvenirs Books Postcards Maps Travel guides Leaflets Brochures

Push the boat out... Steak Club 30 June Dinner and Big Reds. One for the carnivores! Big Steaks and wines to match. Tickets £40 Bordeaux Night 29 September Taste the best that Bristol’s twin town has to offer! Tickets for tastings are £10 per person and can be redeemed for a £5 discount should you wish to dine in the restaurant after the tasting. (Excludes wine dinners, which are individually priced) Glassboat Welsh Back Bristol BS1 4SB T 0117 929 0704 E

feature arts & events

HEAR THE Big Sing Thanks to primetime TV like ‘The Choir’ and ‘Last Choir Standing’, not to mention the widely-publicised health benefits of a regular warble, choral singing has been very à la mode of late. Community choirs, offering all the pleasures of mass song with none of the pain and grief of sight-reading, are particularly booming. And Bristol has been right at the front of this movement, with local arts and music charity Gathering Voices staging a Festival of Song last October and pushing Bristol’s suit as the UK’s first City of Song. You can hear some of the fruits of this surge of musical energy on Saturday 9 July, when an estimated 1,000 singers from 21 local choirs will assemble at the Lloyds Amphitheatre to sing their hearts out – and raise money for WaterAid, the charity that develops water projects in the developing world. Local choirs including Gasworks Choir, People of Note, Bristol Voices and Riff Raff will join together to belt out a medley of water-themed compositions. It’s the second instalment of The Big Sing, which made its debut in 2009 with 650 singers turning up and tuning in. The 2009 event raised £37,000 for WaterAid: the hope is to raise £50,000 this time around. MORE

nEwS AT-BRiSTol Hearty congrats to At-Bristol, after the hands-on science centre made the Guardian’s top 20 UK family-friendly museums earlier this year. The Guardian Family Friendly Museum Award is Britain’s biggest museum award – and the only one judged by families themselves. “Visitors were impressed with how exciting science can be,” says Dea Birkett, director of Kids in Museums. “Many mentioned the imaginative ways in which even very young children were involved. AtBristol proves that discovering the world is one of the best games you can play.” MORE



Watershed’s Tomato Salad with Mozzarella & Tapenade Toasts “I tend to only eat tomatoes in the summer, because that’s when they’re at their best – bursting with flavour and goodness,” says Watershed chef Oliver Pratt (pictured above). “They don’t taste quite the same any other time of year. There’s an abundance of different shapes and sizes, and they’re also at their cheapest right now. This recipe is simple to make, incredibly satisfying and refreshing – and it can be used as a starter, a lunch or evening side dish, or even something to take to a barbecue.” Ingredients (for tomato salad) 10 ripe red or yellow vine-ripened tomatoes; Salt; Freshly ground pepper; Sugar; Balsamic vinegar; White wine vinegar; Extra virgin olive oil; 2-4 tsp basil leaves

(for mozzarella and tapenade toasts) 4 small hand-rolled mozzarella cheeses; Tapenade (from your local deli – or make yourself with olives, anchovies, capers and olive oil); White baguette; Extra virgin olive oil; Cracked pepper; Basil leaves Tomatoes 1. Cut the tomatoes in halves or wedges – or simply into 1cm slices, depending on shape and size. 2. Spread out in a single layer on a large flat plate and season with salt, pepper and a sprinkle of sugar. 3. Make up your dressing, using a mix of 1/3 vinegar (mix the balsamic and white wine vinegars equally) to 2/3 olive oil. 4. Sprinkle the dressing sparingly. Scatter with torn basil or mint leaves. Toss gently, just to coat the tomatoes.

Toasts 1. Cut the baguette into rings, brush with olive oil and lightly sprinkle with sea salt. Bake in the oven for a few minutes until crisp. 2. Lay fresh mozzarella in slices on each plate. Arrange a helping of tomato salad beside it. Spoon tapenade onto the freshly cooked toasts and pop it decoratively on the side. 3. Drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkling of pepper. Garnish with fresh basil and serve. More: Watershed’s café is open daily from 9.30am (Mon 10.30am, weekends 10am) to 11pm

(Fri-Sat midnight, Sun 10.30pm). Visit cafe_bar.php


ApartHotel A new flagship ‘aparthotel’ brings 72 serviced apartments to the Harbourside this June, with complimentary broadband and onsite parking. Some of the studios (from £70pn) and one-to-three-bed apartments at SACO Broad Quay, all with fully equipped kitchens, have balconies or terraces with Harbourside views, while the three-bed penthouses have private roof terraces. “This is an exciting year to visit Bristol, with Bristol Zoo’s 175th anniversary and the opening of M Shed,” says SACO CEO Lesley Freed. More:



Shipshape talks to John Pontin OBE about his

enduring affection for Bristol’s dockside, its star attractions and suggests some areas for improvement Hello John. Can you tell us a little bit about your involvement with the Harbourside? Fate seems to have organised it so that the harbour has been pivotal throughout my life. My relationship with Bristol’s port area goes back a long way. Born in Southville Place, Bedminster, just before the outbreak of World War II, the industrial harbour was the playground of my childhood. I was fascinated by the large ships bringing bananas, or sand and gravel, into the warehouses and onto the quays on St Augustine’s Reach; little did I know then that I was destined to be associated with some of its significant developments as the cofounder and chairman of JT Group Ltd. The Arnolfini, the Watersheds – extending from the Media Centre to Bordeaux Quay – and Pero’s Bridge are all developments that I am pleased to have been involved with.

development activity under the JT Design Build banner. The empty soot-covered warehouse, erected in 1834, was completely rebuilt inside from the foundations up to the roof. I’m delighted to see it listed in Mike Jenner’s excellent book, ‘Bristol’s 100 Best Buildings’. For decades, the view from my office above the Arnolfini Gallery has been a source of inspiration for me.

Pero’s Bridge in particular has done so much to alter and enhance the way people access the new leisure and commercial areas in the historic heart of our city. My first job as a junior surveyor at 16 with John Knox Bristol Ltd was located next to Ware’s Tannery on Coronation Road – at that time, one of the smelliest places in Bristol! Seven years later, in 1961, when Tim Organ and I set up our new JT Design Build business, we found ourselves only two minutes’ walk from John Knox’s office, with desks overlooking the waterside. Fast-forwarding to 1973, we bought Bush House to create the Arnolfini’s new home. They were very exciting times then and they still are now! Nearly 40 years on, Arnolfini maintains an iconic presence on the dockside, and the playground of my youth has never ceased to absorb much of my time and energy.

Will you be visiting any festivals this summer? Personally, I make a beeline for the Harbourside Organic Food Festival. And then the Festival of Ideas provides a rich programme of lectures featuring many authors launching important books throughout the year. I like the proximity to the Bristol Old Vic on King Street too; theatre is very much alive in this area, and I hope I shall be enjoying some open-air drama with my grandchildren at ‘Treasure Island’ this summer.

Clockwise from main image: John Pontin relaxes at Bordeaux Quay; Bush House, converted by the JT Group, was one of four buildings represented on a series of postage stamps; Pontin is proud of his involvement in the development of Pero’s Bridge; Arnolfini under development.

And is there a special peoplewatching place for you? The quayside around Pero’s Bridge and Millennium Square throngs with an interesting cross-section of people and I like to relax and people-watch from Bordeaux Quay restaurant and brasserie. There’s something very appealing about the quayside atmosphere where the Rivers Frome and Avon meet.

I ❤ Harbour Favourite piece of Harbourside architecture? Bush House is certainly my favourite building in Harbourside and the project that gives me most satisfaction during almost 50 years of building and ten

What things would significantly improve the Harbourside? A dream for me would be to see the creation of a new pedestrian bridge from the ss Great Britain to the west end of the Harbourside. A controversial idea, perhaps, but I believe the dynamic of the whole area would be invigorated – as when Pero’s Bridge was completed, there would be a dramatic effect. Another suggestion would be to light up the Arnolfini building for the evening hours, as it was when the politicians debated their 2010 manifestos there. I remember the extraordinary

illuminated facades beamed out to the world by Sky television, showing just how special Bristol’s Harbourside looked as seen from across the river standing by the cranes at M Shed. Bush House, and the images it projected, were amazing and should be a regular feature – ideally, of course, using renewable energy to power the lights! There’s such a lot of history to share, and it’s probably surprising for the people who mill around the Harbourside now as a leisure activity, to realise that it was a working dock until as late as 1975. I sometimes wonder if small information plaques about their original purposes should be displayed on the buildings. In one sentence, why should people visit the Harbourside? More than anywhere else in Bristol, the Harbourside shows the convergence of our historic industrial past with 21st-century regeneration. Its evolution is ongoing and exciting. s Shipshape


The Harbourside shows the convergence of our historic industrial past with 21st-century regeneration John Pontin





Drama Queen The Shipshape summer investigation

It’s claimed to be the biggest Georgian square in Europe and has had a colourful history, from riots to ring roads, merchants’ dwellings to Massive Attack. Mark Sayers salutes Queen Square



e’re sure that sometime this summer will find you, dear reader, in Queen Square, central Bristol’s loveliest and most peaceful splash of green. But the chances are that, as you loll elegantly across its leafy expanses, chucking a Frisbee or bending an ear to some live jazz, you won’t be reflecting that one of Britain’s bloodiest riots took place almost two centuries ago on those very lawns. But that’s just one aspect of the eventful tale of Queen Square. Nowadays it may be all food markets and open-air theatre: further back in its past, though, the square has seen its fair share of death and destruction.


An impressive Georgian square, reputedly the largest of its type in Europe, Queen Square occupies 2.4 hectares of lawns and wide gravel paths, with a statue as its centrepiece and a perimeter of mature plane trees. As well as a valued urban green lung, it’s also a much-used corridor between many of Bristol’s major business, cultural and entertainment destinations. And over the past decade, since a successful regeneration project that removed the road carving through its centre, Queen Square has become a busy outdoor venue, hosting twelve

everything from gigs and outdoor cinema to business exhibitions and open-air theatre. But things were not always thus. A little bit of history, then: and here we lean heavily on the excellent ‘Bristol’s 100 Best Buildings’ by architect and historian Mike Jenner. In 1699, soon after the building of nearby King Street for the city’s growing merchant class, Bristol’s Corporation set out to construct more merchants’ houses on the promontory between the rivers Avon and Frome – an area known as the Town Marsh, then outside the city walls. After the eccentric ensemble of King Street, the Corporation wanted something more in keeping with the new fashion for Classical uniformity, or what would become the Georgian style. This

uniformity was more or less observed by Queen Square’s various private builders: the houses all share certain features (timber sashes; roughly level parapets and roof lines), but within that, as with much Bristolian architecture down the centuries, there’s plenty of individuality. Queen Square was finished in 1727, England’s first residential square outside London, and was named in honour of Queen Anne, who had reigned from 1702-1707 during the project’s infancy. A few years later in 1733 came the square’s centrepiece, Michael Rysbrack’s equestrian figure of King William III (1689-1702), now reckoned the finest equestrian monument in northern Europe (and, indeed, a grade-I listed building). And it remained Bristol’s best address for several decades, housing most of the city’s more prominent families as well as the Lord Mayor’s Mansion House. Being merchants’ residences, most of the houses had substantial outhouses in their gardens: some of these had their occupants’ business frontages on the roads at the back. Famous early residents included Woodes Rogers (1679-1732), an English sea captain (and first Governor of the Bahamas) whose vessel rescued the marooned Alexander Selkirk, the boat that inspired Daniel Defoe’s ‘Robinson Crusoe’. Shipshape



Far left: Bristol City & Marine Ambulance Corps, April 1905. Bottom: Photograph of sheep grazing on Queen Square, showing the statue of William III (photograph by Fred Little). Centre: Aerial view of the city centre around the city docks, incuding Queen Square (photograph credited to A. W. Hobart, Croydon). Shipshape



As Mike Jenner explains, the square brought about a revolution in Bristol housing. “Before this, everybody except those living in King Street lived in the city’s narrow, crowded streets where freely roaming pigs were still employed to recycle the stinking filth. All but a tiny handful of the grandest houses were timber-framed, narrow and cramped. “But Queen Square brought about the most profound revolution ever to occur in Bristol’s housing. The broad brick facades, the sash windows, the grass and the trees at last made Bristolians recognise that – if they could afford it – they too could live like the more comfortably off in London and Paris. From then onwards there was a constant migration away from the old city within the walls. The thousand or so years of timber house-building in Bristol had finished.”



Troubled times lay ahead, though. Much of the square’s north (King Street) and west (Prince Street) facades were destroyed in the bloody Bristol Riots of 1831, which took place after the House of Lords rejected plans to give Britain’s fast-growing industrial towns – Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham, Bradford and Leeds – greater representation in the House of Commons. The previous year, only 6,000 of Bristol’s 104,000 population had been able to vote. Bristol’s local magistrate, Sir Charles Wetherell, was a strong opponent of the reforms: visiting the town on 29 October 1831, Wetherell threatened to imprison those demonstrating, and an angry mob of some 500 young men chased him to the Mansion House in Queen Square. Wetherell escaped in disguise, but the mayor and officials were besieged. Riots continued for three days, with properties across town destroyed – including the Mansion and much of the Old City Gaol on Cumberland Road. Work on the Clifton Suspension Bridge was halted and Brunel himself was sworn in as a special constable. The Dragoons led a charge with drawn swords through the mob in Queen Square, killing hundreds. The mob dispersed. Some 100 rioters were tried in January 1832, and four men were


“Queen Square brought about the most profound revolution ever to occur in Bristol’s housing” Mike Jenner, architect and historian

hanged despite a petition of 10,000 Bristolian signatures being presented to King William IV. Reforms to the electoral system did arrive in 1832, but they had come at great cost. The Riots were a factor in the fall of Queen Square’s social position: a bigger one was the building of the prestigious new Georgian suburb at Clifton, where the most prosperous merchants began to head during the 1830s and 1840s. By the latter decade the square, as is often the case with the recent past (think 1960s architecture today), was no longer fashionable. The period from the mid 1800s to the late 1900s was a relative nadir for the square, with many houses demolished to make way for (often relatively undistinguished) warehouses and offices. By the 1960s the square’s only remaining residents were a few caretakers living on top floors. Another low point in Queen Square’s history came almost exactly a century after the Riots, when the north-west and south-east corners were demolished to make way for the new Inner Ring Road connecting Redcliffe Way with the Centre.

As a 2009 appraisal of the area puts it, this “cut Queen Square in two, completely compromising the sense of enclosure and destroying its quiet ambience”. By the 1980s Avon County Council had recognised that the dual carriageway was a “massive intrusion” on the Square, and a 1990 City Centre Draft Local Plan made plans to “put things right”. In 1992 the dual carriageway was closed to through traffic (except buses) for an initial six-month trial period – and never reopened. RENOVATION AND RESTORATION

Happier times lay ahead. From 1999-2002, a Heritage Lottery Grant project transformed the square into its present state. Stewart Harding was, at the time, managing the Urban Parks Programme, the Heritage Lottery Fund’s first grant scheme for public parks. “My role was to work closely with the case officer and HLF trustees to refine the scheme and land the grant. Being two triangles of green space either side of a dual carriageway, Queen Square didn’t quite fit the HLF’s definition of a public park. But the council had made a good case for it, closing the road to all through traffic except buses. What clinched it was my suggestion that it was a chance to correct a planning disaster from the 1930s – this appealed to Lord Rothschild’s [chairman of HLF trustees] desire to leave things to posterity, and he pushed the grant through. It was touch-and-go, though. “The square’s historic importance and surrounding architecture undoubtedly helped, as did the chance to turn the statue round to its original position [Rysbrack’s statue had been turned around in 1936 to make way for the new road]. But it was the oddness of having a dual carriageway through the middle that made it unique – this was originally seen as its big problem, but the chance to remove it eventually became the crucial factor in getting the grant.” The scheme has been, says Harding, a great success – and a worthwhile use of Lottery money. “It was unusable as a public space when the traffic thundered through it, and fit only for car parking. Restoration changed all that, and it


All SquAre Queen Square events this summer Pétanque League

left: Photograph of a large crowd gathered to hear a speech in queen Square circa 1920.

became an oasis of calm in the city, as well as a great event space. My only change would have been to rebuild a house on the south-eastern [Redcliffe Bridge] corner, once again closing the square from the city centre and increasing its tranquillity and sense of discovery.” Queen Square’s future as a green space and events venue is now assured, with a Management Plan in place to determine its maintenance and use. “The square is now an ideal event venue – ambient, open, a natural contained space, relatively sheltered with an amazing backdrop,” says Eric Dougall, Estate Services Officer for Bristol City Council, which manages the square in consultation with local residents’ association, the Queen Square Association. The modern square can comfortably hold up to 8,000 for events. Its largest crowd, though, was for the 2003 concert by local heroes Massive Attack. Support came from Goldfrapp, The Streets and others, and some 20,000 trooped into the square for the all-day event. Over the past few years Queen Square has hosted open-air theatre (like Bristol Shakespeare Festival), headline Harbour Festival concerts, bike events, charity fundraisers, big-screen Test cricket and World Cup football, as well as openair cinema screenings. This July it will host the first Bristol Comedy Garden, a four-day openair stand-up comedy festival [see panel, right].


Looking ahead

“Queen Square is a splendid example of a historic square restored to its former glory,” concludes Marti Burgess from the Queen Square Association. “The key to its uniquely welcoming atmosphere is that all aspects of the space have been considered carefully. Everything contributes – from the shade given by the mature trees to the glorious architecture and the peace from the much-reduced traffic flow. “But it is not as well known as it could be, either by Bristolians or visitors. It is a little hidden away – which is great, if you’re one of those in the know, but it could be enjoyed by so many more.” He cites Bryant Park in Manhattan, believed to be the most denselyused urban park in the world, as an example – its features include a carousel, open-air library with literary events, café, sandwich kiosks and Wi-Fi network. “Picnic blankets, hampers with friends and family on a balmy evening, open-air film screenings… we need more businesses to pledge support to make events like this happen.” s For info on the Queen Square Association visit Bristol’s 100 Best Buildings by Mike Jenner and Stephen Morris is available from at £16.95.

Pétanque is a form of boules that originated in Provence and is now popular in England. This league is run by the Queen Square Association, with 50 teams from local businesses taking part during June lunchtime and evenings, and finals held on Thur 23 June from 5.30pm. CeLebrating SanCtuary

Live music and free activities to celebrate cultural diversity and raise awareness of refugee issues. Featuring Dennis Rollins and the Bristol Reggae Orchestra, plus song, drum and art workshops, poetry, talks and a children’s area. Sun 19 June, 1.30-7pm, free. Ffi: tribe3/?page_id=1230 briStoL Comedy garden

Impressive debut for this four-day comedy festival, staged inside a big top in the square. Performers include Russell Howard, Ardal O’Hanlon, Stephen K Amos, Shappi Khorsandi, Sean Hughes and Bristol’s very own Mark Olver. Wed 20-Sat 23 July, 7.30pm (doors 6pm), £18.50/£24 premium seating. Ffi: www. briStoL harbour FeStivaL (above) 40th anniversary of the legendary Harbourside weekend, this year featuring an extra week (23-29 July) of warm-up events, including dragon boat races, strolling entertainment, music on boats and more. Queen Square will once again host the biggest music stage (jazz, reggae, soul, funk and world in flavour) and the Harbour Fest’s brilliant continental market. Fri 29-Sun 31 July, Ffi: FreewheeLin CyCLe CarnivaL

A cycle procession will set off from and return to Queen Square, where a celebration will take place during the afternoon, involving a small pedal-powered stage, cycle entertainment, a small bar, cycle-food traders and workshops. Sat 17 Sept. Free. Ffi: http://bristolcyclefestival. com/freewheelin-carnival/


harbourside map & ferry guide

getting around the harbourside if you’re not familiar with the area (or even if you’re just looking for a little inspiration), our map will help you plan your trip and move around the harbourside with ease. use it to find where you are in relation to some of the area’s best-loved landmarks, identify which ferry stops are the most convenient for your journey and locate some of this season’s most exciting events

sightseeing City Sightseeing Bristol runs open-top bus tours of the city, from the historic harbourside up to Bristol Zoo in Clifton and beyond. running from February to the end of October, the tours last for an hour and a quarter but you can hop on and off as you please. Harbourside stops can be found at the CreAte Centre, Baltic Wharf, Brunel’s ss Great Britain, At-Bristol, Prince Street and Bristol Bridge More

M Shed’s launch weekend takes place on 17-19 July ( with performance, storytelling, walks and boat trips yours for the taking. Part of Bristol Harbour Festival’s 40th anniversary celebrations, Water Week (25-29 July) features a wealth of activities, including ferry boat wildlife tours, children’s workshops, waterskiing demos, film screenings, sailing trails, paper boat racing and more. Finally, Bristol Gig Club invites you to the Underfall Yard Barbecue (29 July, 5-8pm, £3) for a tug-of-war, sea shanties and plenty of flame-grilled food. Proceeds go to Bristol Gig Club.

brunel’s ss Great britain – world-famous

Capricorn Quay l Mardyke l

l Pump House (for Suspension Bridge)


l Grain Barge

Brunel’s ss Great Britain (for Spike Island) l

l Marina

at-bristol – interactive science centre

Marina l

Mille (for Brist

croSS harbour ferry

Jacks Brasserie l

l Nova Scotia (for CreAte Centre, Lockside and tobacco Factory)

l The Cottage

l Olive Shed

Hotwells Route Temple Meads Route Sightseeing – see panel Spike Island – creative hub and great café sixteen


harbourside map & ferry guide


Go by boat! Both the Bristol Ferry Boat Company’s RED and bluE services run daily throughout the summer. RED departures commence from 10.30am at the city centre and bluE departures start from 10.10am at Temple Meads. Bristol Ferry Boat ferries are like a bus (a waterbus even), so use them to jump on and get to your favourite attraction, cafe, restaurant, pub or workplace, or simply to enjoy a circular tour taking in the great sights and sounds of this amazing historic harbour. There’s lots to see: swans, geese, a whole array of unusual boats of varying shapes and sizes, St Mary Redcliffe’s spire, Cabot Tower, stunning views towards Ashton Court and Clifton – a vista feast, in fact! See also their entry on page 26. For full details and timetable visit: Castle Park (for Cabot Circus, Broadmead) l

Foyles – great bookshop

bristol bridge (for St Nicholas Market) l

Glassboat – fantastic views

City Centre (for Colston Hall, Cathedral, Park St and main bus routes) l

Glassboat l

‘Only Time Will Tell’ (£18.99, is the latest from local lad Jeffrey Archer (raised just down the road in sunny Weston-super-Mare) and is the first in a planned quintet, ‘The Clifton Chronicles’, a multi-generational family saga that will follow a Bristol family through the 20th century. ‘Floating Harbour’ (£10, is a collection of poems by Tony D’Arpino, a New Jersey-born poet and author now resident in Bristol. The 60 poems document life around our fair city and are accompanied by some lovely photos by local snapper Stephen Morris. Paul Hatch’s ‘Evocative Tales’ (£7.50, dieselpublishing. provides a fascinating study of Bristol’s folk history. Hatch delves into lesser-known local curiosities like the mysterious Veiled Lady of St Nicholas Street. You’ll also find biographies of some colourful Bristolians, including the Mediaeval apothecary Rebecca Berjew, whose love potion inspired the folk song ‘Scarborough Fair’. More of Bristol’s historical byways are trodden in ‘Bristol Lives’ (£12.99 + £1.30 p&p from Maurice Fells, 28 Windsor Court, Bristol BS8 4LJ), the latest title from Hotwells-based historian and author Maurice Fells. “It documents the lives of nearly 200 people – and two animals – who made their mark on Bristol,” Fells tells us. “They come from all walks of life: artists and musicians, pioneering doctors, sportsmen and women, explorers, inventors, even a criminal or two.”

St Nicholas Market – spectacular

Temple bridge l l l Redcliff backs Welsh back (for Old Vic and Renato’s)

Temple Quay (for Temple Meads train station) l

l Spyglass

l Watershed bristol Visitor Information Centre

l The Apple

River Grille l l Shore bordeaux Quay l

Spyglass – bristol’s barbecue boat Watershed – media and arts centre

l Architecture Centre

Millennium Square (for At-Bristol and Bristol Aquarium) l

l Arnolfini

l Thekla Mud Dock l

l Myristica

Severnshed l l Riverstation Arnolfini – arts centre

l Prince Street (for The Louisiana)

sserie l

l M Shed

l bathurst basin The Ostrich l

e Shed

M Shed – opening 17 June Shipshape

The Ostrich – arguably bristol’s best alfresco pint

Look out for the autumn issue of Shipshape - available across the Harbourside from 5 September five


Clockwise from this pic: the Eurofighter jet engine that will power the car; the full sized show car in all its glory; close-up of the jet engine; Holly Papadopoulos and Tony Parraman make some new dollies for the show car ahead of a promotional event; the BLOODHOUND technical centre where the car will be put together

There will b Bloo Shipshape takes a look at the Bristol-built supercar

set to shatter the land speed record

Progress continues at, er, breakneck speed on the Bloodhound SSC, a Bristol-built supersonic car aiming to shatter the current land speed record. The pencil-shaped jet- and rocketfuelled car, being built at the University of the West of England and on the Harbourside next to the ss Great Britain, aims to reach around 1,000 miles per hour, well above the current 763 mph record. The 6.5 tonne car will be powered by a Eurofighter jet engine positioned above a 400kg rocket: the plan is to have it ready for UK runway trials in 2012, and for a world record attempt late next year or early in 2013. Bristol was chosen as the build site from a pool of cities across the UK, in large part thanks to its two universities and world-renowned aerospace engineering companies. It’s not just about building an eyewateringly fast car, though: the project also aims to inspire young people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and maths. Thousands of schools have downloaded the diagrams and, unusually for a pioneering eighteen

engineering project, the whole construction process is being made public. “If you had a spare jet, rocket and F1 engine you could, in theory, use these drawings to build your own Bloodhound at home,” reflects Mark Chapman, Bloodhound chief engineer. “But much as we enjoy a good race, we wouldn’t recommend it. Things get pretty hairy when you travel faster than a bullet!” s More:



l be oodhound Shipshape



Glass from the past Glassboat restaurant celebrates its first quarter century this year. Mark Sayers delves into the archives of Bristol’s dockside dining institution It wasn’t meant to be a restaurant, and I probably wasn’t meant to be a restaurateur either...” Some of the very best things in life occur through accident and happenstance, and that’s undoubtedly the case with Glassboat, Bristol’s world-famous floating restaurant on Welsh Back. The restaurant has been serving up outstanding food in one of Bristol’s prettiest waterside locations for a quarter of a century now. But, as owner Arne Ringner recalls, the original plan was for something very different. Arne had arrived in Britain from his native Sweden to study botany before working as a researcher at the ‘Long Ashton Cider Institute’ (or Long Ashton Research Station, an agricultural/horticultural research centre just outside Bristol). After that came a stint managing Taunton Cider’s orchards and launching the Bristol-based pressure group Save Our Scrumpy. Then, in 1984, Arne had his big idea: a floating botanical garden on Bristol’s docks. The Yew Mead

To house this arcadia, Arne and associate Magnus Macdonald had found themselves the ideal craft. Built in 1924, the barge Yew Mead had hauled twenty

Pictured clockwise from this pic: Yew Mead on the Tidal Grid by the Cumberland Basin. This was for a survey and bottom painting; Yew mead under tow. This is its journey to Bristol being towed by Fred Larkham’s rather eccentric ‘Glevum’; A younger and slimmer Magnus and Arne; Glassboat entering Welsh Back for the first time. The steel sheets were the old molasses tanks in Avonmouth; Arne digging her out; Yew Mead as Arne and Magnus first saw her.

timber up the Bristol Channel for decades: now, after a hard life, it had started to break up in Severn Estuary mud at Newnham, Gloucestershire. “There was a great abundance of redundant boats, ships and barges 30 years ago,” Arne recalls. “Lightships were decommissioned by the dozen and the old barges that used to ply the Bristol Channel were rusting in clusters along the Severn.” The process of getting the boat back from Newnham to Bristol was the duo’s first challenge. “It was a rusty old barge, semi-submerged into the mud, and had to be dug out by hand, got afloat and then towed down the Severn, up the Avon and into Bristol Harbour.” There were also tricky negotiations with planners, harbour officials and river folk. “The Harbourmaster and others were very sceptical – ‘What is that? It’s dirty, rusty, full of mud, we don’t want it here.’ It was a bit of an uphill struggle.” More battles were to come. Bristol’s planners didn’t like Arne’s idea for a floating botanical garden, but told him he could set up a floating café instead. “All administrators like to have a

box to tick, and there was no box saying ‘floating botanical garden’. However, they did have a box for ‘floating café’, so they went for that.” In those days, Arne explains, the planners had quite different aspirations for Bristol’s docks. “The docks were still seen as a bit of an innercity nuisance. They tried to pressurise me into taking up a site at Crew’s Hole in east Bristol, where the tar works had closed down and a new Avon Wildlife Park was planned. But that area has remained a complete dead zone, whereas the docks have become hugely important.” Arne dug his heels in for a spot he’d found on the empty Welsh Back, near Bristol Bridge. “The site was too good not to develop. There was quite a tug-of-war: the council said they didn’t want any ‘floating failures’ defacing the quaysides.” continued on page twenty three ➝ Shipshape



Quay players The Harbourside’s other iconic boats ss Great Britain

Brunel’s great transatlantic steamer was by far the largest vessel afloat when launched in 1843. It later mouldered in a Falkland Islands creek for decades before being brought back to its original Bristol dry dock in 1970. the Matthew

The beautiful wooden ship moored near the ss GB is a full-size replica of the vessel in which John Cabot sailed from Bristol to Newfoundland in 1497. Grain BarGe

Built in 1936, the floating bar on Hotwell Road started life as an engineless barge towing barley and wheat from Bristol to Cardiff. Now moored opposite its original berth next to the ss Great Britain, it’s run by the Bristol Beer Factory as a bar, restaurant and music venue. the apple

Converted Dutch barge, reconditioned at Underfall Yard further down the Harbour, and now a much-loved bar specialising in ciders and perries. spyGlass

Mediterranean barbeque restaurant located on a converted barge on Welsh Back. tower Belle

Built in 1920 to service a military shipyard, the Tower Belle was then a London tour ferry before arriving in Bristol in the 70s. It’s now part of the Bristol Packet fleet, running trips through the Gorge and along the docks – and it’s also a popular party boat. John seBastian liGhtship

Now moored in Bathurst Basin and acting as an occasional music and performance venue, the John Sebastian was a working lightship between 1886 and 1954. pyronaut

Built in 1934, Bristol Harbour’s former fire boat had a busy World War II as the Bristol Blitz damaged and destroyed countless warehouses, factories, shops and homes. She’s now moored outside new museum for Bristol the M Shed alongside the Mayflower and John King. John KinG

Tug boat built in Bristol in 1935 to tow ships to and from Bristol and the Channel. Her last job in that capacity was to tow the returning ss Great Britain into her dry dock in 1970. Now used for pleasure trips. Mayflower

Steam tug celebrating her 150th birthday this year. The Mayflower is the oldest Bristol-built ship afloat and is believed to be the oldest surviving tug in the world. Starting out pulling boats on the Sharpness Canal, Severn and Bristol Channel, the Mayflower later towed sailing ships through dangerous stretches of the River Severn to Portishead and back.


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“Sydney, Stockholm, Paris’s floating cafes by the Seine: other cities have a great culture of floating restaurants and Bristol, we thought, should have one of the best.”


So, as it turns out, the iconic floating restaurant was more compromise than inspiration. Undeterred, Arne and Magnus set about building, on a limited budget, the best possible floating venue. “Sydney, Stockholm, Paris’s floating cafes by the Seine: other cities have a great culture of floating restaurants and Bristol, we thought, should have one of the best.” After spending £500 securing the barge and towing it home, their remaining budget was £850. Almost all of that went to architects Atkins and Walters, who produced the necessary drawings for planning approval, leaving £50 for the boat’s furnishings. With this budget in mind (and wanting to give the boat some character), Arne and Magnus set out to furnish the boat using antique fixtures and fittings salvaged from other buildings. And they had chosen a good time. “The 1980s saw a golden age of demolition to make way for a ‘new era’, and we found everything for our floating restaurant among the remains of once golden buildings. There were cheap, excellent building materials to be had in exchange for vague promises of a meal for the crane driver and his missus once the restaurant was finished.” Glassboat’s glass and walnut floors came from the recently defunct Courage Brewery on Temple Back, the solid marble bar from the old St Nicholas Fish Market and the portholes from a cross-channel ferry. Other fittings came from a former police station, Avonmouth flour mills and the former Western Daily Press offices in Silver Street. The Royal Hotel on College Green provided mahogany and Burmese teak for the doors, while the joists came from local firm Mardon, Son & Hall. “They had made all the cardboard for the cigarettes and chocolate industry in Bristol, but by 1984 the great industrial complex was reduced to rubble and we were able to scavenge great long steel joists, like a game of pick-a-stick.”

Arne Ringner


Glassboat opened in 1986, and boom times soon followed on board. “The late 1980s was the heyday for the financial services industry, and stockbrokers and accountants moved in droves from London to cheaper, more attractive Bristol, where they kept up their tradition of long lunches. Glassboat was awash with pinstripe and backslapping.” Then came the floodlighting of Bristol Bridge in 1990 (inspired by a City Council study trip to Beijing), further enhancing the boat’s evening atmosphere. Soon after, the idea was, er, floated of a Glass Hotel moored next door. “The idea of a floating hotel was great – but it didn’t happen because Welsh Back was becoming increasingly fashionable and other boats were wanting to occupy the space.” In more recent times, Glassboat underwent a thorough restoration including a revamped interior and a modern glass extension added to the stern. As you’d expect, given its unique character, Glassboat has seen more than its fair share of colourful evenings. “[Australian airline] Qantas brought a large group of crew members and wives for Christmas dinner every year when their planes were serviced at Filton. And the night we had the American Space Shuttle

crew in for a ‘bonding’ session with the Hubble telescope repair crew from BAE, the bar ran dry.” Then there was the visit of Marmaduke Hussey, a former BBC chairman and war hero, who unhitched his prosthetic leg during a boozy fundraising dinner and had to be helped onshore at the end of the night. “Marmaduke phoned in the morning, but could not convince Annette, the cleaning lady, that he had lost his leg the night before. His chauffeur had to return to the boat and retrieve the leg from the general detritus.” Now, after 25 years’ service, the boat is well worn in – and a key early chapter in Bristol’s Harbourside success story. No other Bristol establishment has stayed under the same ownership for as long, while under present chef Kevin King the food is, says Arne, “better than ever. Changing dining fashions and the new national restaurant chains have taken their toll on the local restaurant community, but the Glassboat is sailing high on the waves.” s

Pictured clockwise from above: Early menus; Refloating in the Dry Dock after getting her new bottom; Glassboat returning to her berth with new hull and extended dining area; the Glassboat now; The original fitting out. The shipwright is the late and much-lamented Terry Gill who was largely responsible for the quality of the work. Shipshape

twenty three

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Discovering the Floating Harbour by canoe opens up a wealth of possibilities for the nosy explorer, as Tom Burnett found As absurd as it may now sound, for a time in the early 70s there were plans to fill in part of the harbour – from Baltic Wharf (the Cottage pub) to where the Lloyds Amphitheatre now stands – in order to make new road plans easier to complete. The 80 acres of tidal river that the Floating Harbour impounded from 1809 would have lost one of its most significant sections of open water. Thankfully, a combination of local opposition and a lack of money meant the harbour remained intact.

Oar inspiring Although Bristol was closed as a commercial harbour in 1975, you can’t help but be struck by how busy the waterway still is. The ferries, sailing dinghies, rowing boats, houseboats, visiting sailing ships, not to mention the majestic Matthew and other historic vessels, make this one of the most well-used stretches of urban water in Britain. So it was after many an hour spent sitting on the Harbourside that I set my heart on joining this watery playground, and, in a Bristol version of the Ferrari-buying male’s midlife crisis, bought myself a second-hand, three-man canoe. ‘Big Green’, as she has become known, has provided my family and friends with hours of fun, exploring the harbour’s many nooks and crannies that you miss when restricted to land or a craft that’s travelling from A to B. Big Green’s trips tend to be from A to P, via G and a pint or two. For starters, there’s the huge empty expanse of Cumberland Basin, yours to go round in Shipshape

circles or drift with a picnic. Stopping by the massive new lock that joins the Floating Harbour to the Avon and the Severn estuary beyond, you can gaze up at the Suspension Bridge and Clifton’s elegant terraces. The houseboats at Bristol Marina give you the chance to go alongside some friendly locals, and seeing the ss Great Britain tower above you from the water gives you a real sense of the importance of this ship when constructed in this very dock in the 1840s. The many bridges you pass under offer nesting places for pigeons, as well as engravings marking high water marks and echoes to excite any younger passengers you may be carrying. Paddling up towards St Augustine’s Reach and under Pero’s Bridge, dedicated to an enslaved African boy brought to Bristol as a servant in the 1740s, you can imagine the scene as countless sailing ships made Bristol the kingdom’s second city for a time. After Prince Street Bridge you find yourself in a quieter stretch of water – the Inner Harbour – with plenty of time to wave at those relaxing at the Riverstation or Severnshed. Pulling up next to Thekla, you share the water with Banksy’s Grim Reaper, still silently paddling after many years.

The permanent houseboats and floating bars and restaurants moored down Welsh Back face some of Bristol’s few remaining waterfront warehouses, now either flats or offices, and passing under Bristol Bridge, the original of which is the reason a settlement was built here a thousand years ago, the new development of Finzel’s Reach opens up on your right. Note the giant fig tree, defying gravity on the harbour wall beneath Castle Park. You can also see the windows to the cellars of the terrace of shops that Hitler’s Luftwaffe obliterated in 1940. Slightly further along, you can make out the Castle Ditch, remains of the moat that once surrounded Bristol Castle. From this point, the advantage of exploring by canoe really comes into its own. Few venture this far; the river is virtually empty save the odd barge, peaty smoke rising from their woodburners. Then you’re in the cool darkness beneath Temple Meads station, only disturbed by the occasional rumble of trains overhead. Not far from here, you can join the Feeder Canal and keep going through locks all the way to Bath, or you can slowly drift back to the city centre. If you’d like to explore the harbour by canoe, a good starting point is to have a go with one of the city’s clubs. Contact, or for more. s twenty five

shipshape directory

16 Narrow Quay, BS1 4QA Tel: 0117 917 2300/01, Opening times: Exhibition Spaces: Tue-Sun 11am-6pm & Bank Holidays; Bookshop: Tue 11am-6pm, Wed-Sat 11am-8pm, Sun 11am-7pm; Café Bar: Daily from 10am


Anchor Road, Harbourside, BS1 5DB 0845 345 1235, Opening hours: weekends and holidays 10am-6pm; weekdays during term-time 10am-5pm. Open every day except 24-26 December

BrIstol FErry BoAt CompAny

For full details visit: For a map of the service – complete with ferry stops – and more information, turn to pages 16 & 17.

BrIstol pACKEt

Call or visit our website for more details 0117 9268157 Take a guided Floating Harbour Tour with the Bristol Packet. Great way to see Bristol and learn its history. Every weekend and daily throughout school holidays.

twenty six

Based at the heart of Bristol’s Harbourside, in a fantastic waterside location, Arnolfini is one of Europe’s leading centres for the contemporary arts. Arnolfini features a regularly changing programme, presenting visual art, live art and performance, dance, music, cinema, poetry and literature events and a busy education programme of tours and talks. Arnolfini boasts one of the best arts bookshops in the country and a stylish, lively café bar featuring an Italian-inspired and children’s menu. Free admission to the building, exhibitions and café bar.

there is so much to discover in At-Bristol - one of the country’s biggest and most exciting interactive science centres! With over 300 hands-on exhibits, live science shows and a planetarium, you can become an animator for the day, walk through a tornado and take a trip to the stars! At-Bristol’s latest groundbreaking exhibition All About Us launches march 2011. With over 50 new state-of-the-art exhibits all about the human brain and body, it’s a celebration of yoU! take a look at your own veins and even listen to music through your head-bones to discover just how amazing you really are!

pIC: CoUrtEnAypHotoGrApHIC.Co.UK

ArnolFInI CEntrE For ContEmporAry Arts

Daily services travel between temple meads and City Centre (calling at Cabot Circus) as well as Hotwells and City Centre on their distinctive yellow and blue boats. 2011 public trips include: Gorgeous Gorge, Up the Cut, Wildlife with local expert Ed Drewitt and Beeses tea Gardens for tea. their private charters are very popular for all your events, with birthdays and booze cruises proving top of the list and nEW for 2011, Karaoke Afloat. Quote ‘shipshape magazine summer 2011 edition’ and receive a 10% discount off any of their three-hour charters.

Bristol packet Boats established in 1973 to take passenger around Bristol’s Floating Harbour and trips up and down the Avon. two of our boats redshank and tower Belle are fully restored and registered national Historic ships. We provide day trips to Bath, Avon Gorge cruises under the suspension Bridge, through the gorge to the Bristol Channel, tea trips upstream towards Keynsham, tours of dockside pubs and evening river cruises. All our boats can be chartered for tailor-made private parties with live bands, DJs, buffet food and bars at pub prices. Boats can be viewed at Wapping Wharf. Shipshape


shipshape directory

Great Western Dockyard, BS1 6TY 0117 926 0680, Opening times: from 10am Last ticket sales one hour before closing (4.30pm to March 27; 5.30pm March 28 to October 30). Open every day except December 24 and 25, plus second Monday in January

COlSTOn Hall

Colston Street, BS1 5AR 0117 922 3686, Opening hours: Box Office: Mon–Sat 10am6pm; H Bar café: Mon-Fri 8am-11pm, Sat 9am-10pm, Sun 10am-9pm; H Bar Bistro: Daily 11.30am-3pm and 5-11pm


Information Hotline 09067 112191

FOyleS BOOkSHOP 6 Quakers Friars, Philadelphia St, Cabot Circus, BS1 3BU 0117 376 3975 Opening Hours: Mon- Sat 10am-8pm, Sunday 11am-5pm


Descend under the glass ‘sea’ and step back in time in the Dockyard Museum! Sea, hear, touch and smell what life was like for Victorian passengers on board Brunel’s ss Great Britain. There’s plenty to do to keep everyone entertained at this multi-award-winning attraction. In 2011 Brunel’s ss Great Britain celebrates the good, the bad and the yucky of Victorian dining with events ranging from ‘Gruesome greens’ storytelling to ‘Mrs Beeton Bakes’ cookery demonstrations. Tickets provide free unlimited return visits for one year. Go to


Brunel’S ss GreaT BrITaIn

Colston Hall is Bristol’s premier live music venue hosting a varied and regular programme of rock and pop, classical, leftfield and comedy events. In the past year Snow Patrol, london Symphony Orchestra and Grace Jones have all played at the Hall. In 2009, Colston Hall’s new foyer building was opened to the public. Built with £20 million from Bristol City Council and the arts Council, the new foyer has improved the customer experience of visiting the Hall with audiences now able to enjoy its new café bar, restaurant and interval bars in light and spacious surroundings.

Hop on one of their bright red City Sightseeing buses with their 24 hour ticket (or 3-Day ticket) and let them show you the sights of this fascinating city, which is full of vitality and variety. Operating daily every 30, 45 or 90 minutes their guides will regale you with stories from pirates and princes to paupers and show you great churches, cathedrals and museums and the exciting Harbourside, the jewel of which is Brunel’s ss Great Britain. Ticket holders can receive a variety of discounts from Harbourside attractions and eateries including entry to at-Bristol and Coffee Beach on Broad Quay.

Independent booksellers Foyles have settled into their new home in Quakers Friars, Cabot Circus - their first and only shop outside london. Foyles offers the widest possible range of books, so whether you’re looking for the latest bestseller or something a little more unusual, their expert, local staff will be able to help. This summer they’ll expand onto a second floor, where you’ll find more to read plus a cosy events and exhibition space. Visit their website for more information or pop in and give them your thoughts. twenty seven

shipshape directory

GLASSBOAT Welsh Back, BS1 4SB 0117 929 0704, Opening hours: lunch: Tues-Fri 12-2.30pm; dinner: Mon-Sat 5.30-10.30pm; Sunday brunch: 10am-4pm Shipshape Offer: 2 for 1 on all main courses

Available before Mon-Fri (customers must book and mention ‘shipshape offer’ to qualify); max 6 persons; not available in conjunction with any other offers Plus: Early bird deal (5.30pm-7pm)


Oakfield Place, BS8 2BJ 0117 933 9530, Opening hours: restaurant: 12-3pm and 6.3010pm; spa: 7am-10pm; poolside bar: all day


When in Bristol check website for mooring location 0117 927 6868,


Lower Guinea Street, Redcliffe, BS1 6TJ 0117 927 3774, Opening hours: daily 12-11pm. Food served: Mon-Sat 12-3pm & 5-9pm, Sun lunch 12-5pm

twenty eight

With beautiful views of Bristol Bridge and beyond, the Glassboat continues to be a destination for foodies. Whether it’s a gathering of friends for a post-theatre meal, lunch or a romantic meal for two, the Glassboat has become a stalwart of Bristol’s culture. The Mediterranean-influenced menu is prepared using locally sourced produce, with salads delivered daily from Glassboat’s very own kitchen garden. The menus change seasonally, although you can always expect creative combinations of the best ingredients and the wine list at the boat is selected entirely from the best wineries in europe.

Offer 2-4-1

On main cOurses

A 21st century spa, restaurant and alfresco pool housed in beautifully renovated 19th century surroundings. The Lido originally opened its doors in 1850 and remained in business for over 100 years before falling into disrepair in 1990. The Glassboat Company saved the building from developers (who wanted to turn the site into flats) and restored the buildings to their former glory, reopening in November 2008. Find a heated, low-chlorine infinity pool, sauna and steam room, restaurant and poolside bar, and luxurious spa.

A magnificent replica of a Tudor merchant ship that recreated the Atlantic crossing by explorer John Cabot. He was searching for a sailing route to Asia but ended up “discovering” Newfoundland. Get the best views of Bristol harbour from the deck on one of their regular public cruises – fish and chip suppers on board are extremely popular – or you can venture down the scenic Avon Gorge under the Clifton Suspension Bridge. There are also offshore sailing opportunities and the ship is available for private hire – check website for sailing programme.

Serving the Harbourside with great ale, great food and great company since 1793 (ish), traditional pub the Ostrich Inn is now firmly back on everyone’s map. They’re spending lots of money on the outside area: look forward to an outside bar, new furniture and real ale festivals. You’ll find the world-famous ‘Ostrich Cave’ situated in the pub - can you spot their oldest regular? They’re owned by Marston’s, so expect good, cheap Midlands prices – “No recession problems here!” – with real ales £2.85-£2.95, lager £2.75-£3.20 and cider £2.80-£2.85. Monday is half-price steak night; quiz and curry on Wednesdays. Shipshape

shipshape directory

133 Cumberland Road, Bristol BS1 6UX 0117 929 2266, Galleries open 11am-5pm Tuesday to Sunday Café open Monday to Friday 8.30am-5pm, Saturday and Sunday 11am-5pm

SPygLaSS Welsh Back, BS1 4SB 0117 927 7050, Spyglass has a non-reservation policy for groups of less than 8. To book a table for a group of 8 or more please contact or 0117 927 7050 Opening hours: daily 11am-11pm Shipshape offer: Light Lunch Offer

Main meal and a soft drink Only £5.50. Choose from a menu of 4 dishes. Available Mon- Fri

St NICHOLaS MarKet Corn Street, BS1 1JQ Email: Tel: 0117 922 4014. Opening hours: Mon-Sat 9.30am-5pm and first Sun of the month 11am-5pm.


1 Canons Road, BS1 5TX 0117 927 5100,,, Cafe/bar opening hours: Mon 10.30am11pm, Tues-Thurs 9.30am-11pm, Sat 10ammidnight, Sun 10am-10.30pm


Spike Island is a centre for the production and exhibition of art and design based in an 80,000 square foot former Brooke Bond tea packing factory. Our year-round public programme features free exhibitions by local, national and international artists, as well as regular talks, events and activities for all. Spike Café is open seven days a week, serving hot and cold drinks, snacks and homemade meals in a relaxed setting overlooking the river. Spike Island is also a busy working building, home to a range of artists, designers, students, creative businesses and other arts organisations.

Situated on the idyllic waterfront setting of Welsh Back, Bristol’s only seasonal restaurant offers an affordable, lively Mediterranean-style dining experience. Split between a lovingly converted barge and the quayside, this is uncomplicated alfresco dining. With an assortment of meat and fresh fish from the grill, loads of vegetarian options and rustic salads from our own kitchen garden, you’ll be hard-pushed to find fresher, tastier food. and, if the British weather doesn’t live up to expectations, with plenty of heaters and a stunning waterside setting, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you were on your holidays in the Mediterranean!



Offer Light Lunch £5.50

Spectacular market found in the heart of the Old City. Such is the variety on offer from these local independents, you can drop in for some lunch, get your shoes fixed, grab a bag of sweets, buy clothes, browse for vinyl and more. If you like your food local and direct from the producers, don’t miss the perennially popular Farmers’ Market every Wednesday on Corn Street and Wine Street (9.30am-2.30pm); literature lovers, meanwhile, should find plenty to inspire them at the award-winning Book Market on the first Sunday of every month (10am-4pm).

Watershed is the perfect social space on Bristol’s historic Harbourside, showing the best independent films from across the world. With three cinemas to choose from and a welcoming, relaxed café/bar enjoying unique waterside views, it’s the ideal place to meet friends, enjoy a meal and watch a film. Come and try their Plot to Plate organic menu showcasing the tastes of the South West, or tempt yourself to a drink before or after a film. For detailed film and events listings, visit or head to for an online gallery and creative content. twenty nine

hidden treasures

The birds & the Beeses No excuses, grab a seat next to Shipshape and enjoy the city from an altogether different perspective

OK, you’ve heard of it. Maybe a friend or someone you know has even been there on a lazy afternoon for a cuppa and a slice of cake. But probably not you. Beese’s Tea Rooms – and the big, soft armchair of a trip that takes you there – is that rare treat: something of a hidden treasure yet easily within reach. Every week an array of boats cruise up the Avon from all over the Harbourside, gliding through parts of Bristol both populous and deserted on their way to this secluded destination. We start our trip in the hustle and bustle of the Harbourside, heading out past Bristol Bridge, through the chaos of Cabot Circus before snaking through the glass monoliths of Temple Quay. Grey concrete quickly turns to leafy banks and pedestrians are outnumbered by ducks as you wend your way along the Feeder Road towards Netham Lock. Beyond, the high banks, solitary fishermen and expansive river feel a million miles from the nearby commuter hub Temple Meads.

And, suddenly, there it is: tucked neatly at the riverside, a cluster of picnic benches and a modest cafe. Nothing much to look at, maybe, but once nestled by the bank, glass of wine or cup of coffee in hand, this undervalued Bristol institution makes a lot of sense for those in need of a little reflection and a modest weekend adventure. Beeses Riverside Bar & Tea Gardens, Wyndham Crescent, Bristol BS4 4SX. 0117 977 7412;;

getting there Take your pick from these river cruises to Beese’s Tea Gardens Bristol Packet

Cruise through the Floating Harbour up the Feeder Canal and on to the picturesque Avon while enjoying amusing and historical commentary along the way. One-hour stop for homemade teas before return cruise. Every Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday (Easter to mid-September). Also every Friday during school holidays. Departs Wapping Wharf 2.45pm (returns 6.30pm), Bristol Packet Pontoon Watershed 3pm (6.15pm) and Bristol Bridge 3.20pm (6pm). Visit: Bristol Ferry Boats

Take a leisurely one-hour cruise up the river to Beese’s where you’ll have an hour to enjoy your cream tea (included in the ticket price) before returning home. Private trips are also available. Arrange your cruise with Bristol Ferries before contacting Beese’s about what you’d like to eat on arrival (some sample menus can be found here: Trips take place on 19 June, 3 July, 17 July, 24 July, 7 August, 14 August, 21 August and 28 August, departs Welsh Back 2pm (returns 5pm). Visit:



summer is back on the menu! Great food, speedy service and brilliant value Kids and Parties welcome

Spyglass Barbecue & Grill Welsh Back Bristol BS1 4SB Tel 0117 927 7050

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Shipshape 6 - Summer 2011  

Celebrating the very best of Bristol's historic harbourside.

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