Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The Bearpit: the heart of Bristol

Why were down at the Croft for the festival, then, apart from emergency deliveries to the massage parlours? To see the bearpit back in full swing again.

In the nineteenth century, the festivals that used to take place in the area were a subject of national scandal. Since then, it's got quieter.
Yet it remembers. Look at the sign on the exit, pointing visitors to the normal highlights of the area: the sex shops and takeaways of the croft, and the St James Barton Car Park. Nobody else would, normally, visit the bearpit.

Yet on the streetfest day, people are out enjoying themselves in the shadow of the old Avon County Council buildings, tweaked to hide their original 1974-era neo-stalinist glory.
Stalls selling clothes, food, alcohol.
People sitting in the sun, enjoying a beer or four.

Even from the three lane roundabout that surrounds this inner city parkland, you can see the smoke of freshly cooked burgers blowing over the road.

If the St James Barton Roundabout is the centre of Bristol, the one roundabout where you have to drive round, the bearpit is the core of the roundabout; the bit of Bristol around which everything rotates. Yet so few people come out to celebrate it. One a year, the city does!


Quercus said...

Tomorrow, from 12:00 to 15:00 - come to the Bear Pit to play Table Tennis!


Mike said...

Not related, but I wanted to share this picture of a stretch limo parked on zigzags outside Colston's Primary School at home time. twitpic.com/58cfyy

I'm hoping you could do a proper post on it. The reg number is CN55 PZS.

Adam said...

The outlines on the wall in the first photo are the remnant silhouette of the signs that used to be there showing cyclists which way to go exiting the Bearpit. That was pre cycling city, when bicycles got banned form using the Bearpit and are now expected to go around the roundabout with the traffic instead.

SteveL said...

@mike: done. Thanks.

SteveL said...

@Adam. Interesting point. I wouldn't cycle that roundabout -cars enter and exit it at speed from what are nearly dual carriageways -it's one of those "near M32" roads that's extra hazardous, as drivers are still in or dreaming of roads with 70mph limits, no red lights and no bicycles. I hope that no troublemakers paint the signs back on.