Tuesday 6 January 2009

Sunset on the Hotwells Wheel Park

As well as new words, we want to introduce a new simile: "as grim as Hotwells". Once, Hotwells was a bathing resort, with a cliff railway from Clifton. No more. The 1960 flyovers and one-way system made it an unpleasant place to live, but its real downfall came with the A4 portway road in 1930s. That or the discovery in the late 19th century that Cholera was spread by water, and that bathing downstream of a UK city was unwise. (Incidentally, that A4 portway is a disused railway; there used to be a Clifton Hotwells station at the bottom. As we know that the West of England Partnership likes taking disused railways for dedicated Bus Rapid Transit, perhaps we should point them at the Portway, our gateway to Avonmouth)

Returning to Hotwells, why the grimness? From the time spent as a resident there in 1989-1991:
  1. The flyover and one-way system dominates the area; permanent noise, dirt and roads to wait to cross.
  2. The sole food establishment for locals was a takeway staffed by someone who would hear voices in his head and accuse you of saying things
  3. The main retail outlet was -and is- Marcruss Army Surplus.
  4. There were many pubs, each with a flaw. You had to decide whether it was trouble from the Motorbikers, the Bristol City supporters, the pool players, the Jazz fans or the folk music people in their woolly jumpers that you wanted to deal with.
  5. The sole children's facilities were three rusting bouncy things tucked away in the square of houses trapped by the one-way system.
It's a bit more gentrified now and the Massage Parlour delivers an ATM. Otherwise, the primary bit of civilisation you could reach without cycling up Cliftonwood was Bedminster, though now Southville is so civilised it has its own parking problems page. And while Bedminster may be the high-street of the southern city, but when the little bridge swings, you get to spend 15 minutes sitting on your bike with a rucksack and two panniers full of ASDA-purchased food, hoping the ice-cream doesn't melt.

Yet today, while returning through the area, the low winter sun makes the area seem pleasant, the sun making the concrete as golden as the sandstone of Clifton, highlighting the elegant design and thought that went into the bridge

It also raises ideas in our minds: how could you make Hotwells a destination? There is already the Lockside cafe -very kid friendly- and the waterfront, but there is also a wasteland of bouldered off parking; the bounders there to prevent the traveller community setting up home there again. The new Connect2 bike path will come through here, and the A4 portway bike lane (a commuter route more than a recreational route) ends in a cyclists dismount sign.

This could be a really nice place to stick in a BMX/Skateboard park. You could even consider some football basketball areas under the flyover, so you can have fun in the rain.

This is an idea worth exploring. The land is disused parking space between and under flyovers -only reachable on foot/bike. It appears to have no strategic value, and, as downstream from the inner lock gates, is part of the flood plain for the city. Not for housing then. (there are some photos of Hotwells underwater awaiting scanning posting). It would also provide a wheelpark for Central Bristol other than the Bedminster one, which isn't very appealing or popular. This one would integrate with the River Avon and harbour routes, and give people a reason to visit Hotwells.


SP said...

'Let's make xxxxx a destination' is a choice of words that were applied to Easton not so long ago by Ted Fowler at the Council, to the understandable derision of Bristol Blogger.

Big-up to Hotwells I say. I loves it me.

SteveL said...

I helped compose that letter. Remember never to take anything I write at face value.

ramtops said...

The massage parlour shut ages ago, and its ATM with it, but you can get cash at the one at the garage, on the rare occasions it's working.

SP said...

Ahh crap, have I fallen foul of the "guess which bit is sarcasm" game?

[sarcasm]Perhaps you need a special html tag for serious bits[/sarcasm]

Anonymous said...

@SP: No, you didn't fall for it. St Marks road is actually worth visiting -Thali Cafe, the pub, sweet mart. Its just hard to get to from the otherside of the M32 without you worrying about cars or who is going to tax you on the quieter crossing.

Leon said...

Been thinking about a bike/skate park or extreme sports park under the flyover for a while now.
Some of the locals want to turn it into a car park!
Trouble is th local young people are no trouble at all and therefore there's no dosh available to fund activities- it could be done by motivated grown up youths in their 30's and 40's.
Also the bike and pedestrian routes from the harbour don't join up.
Anyway good to know others are thinking along the same lines

Anonymous said...

It was a car park once, but then a traveller group moved in; once they were evicted the council blocked up access. Same for Main Area up the gorge.

If you are interested, email bristol.traffic at gmail.com and we can start by talking to Body English