Recently, we went to Bristol’s Harbourside to investigate how it had been regenerated to attract tourists and to create an area of leisure and education for all.
We arrived by the SS Great Britain and straight away you could see the how proud Bristol was of its history. Brunel Square (next to the SS Great Britain) was where we drew our first field sketch, which included: the river, newly developed apartments, and homes converted from old warehouses (that stored goods from various past trades). Behind us, a large, historic anchor and buoy were displayed, highlighting how vast the vessels that passed through these waters were! After admiring the scenery, groups split up to: ask people for their opinions on Bristol Harbourside and why they have visited today, survey the environment’s condition or count how many people walked through this vicinity… This was repeated throughout the day at each location. Satisfied with the information collected, we left the SS Great Britain (designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and completed in 1845).
Site 2 brought us to M Shed. M Shed is a museum found at Prince’s Wharf and exhibits 3000 artefacts and stories of Bristol’s role in the Slave Trade. The museum kept its external look and its name from when it was a dockside transit shed in the 1950s, when it was given the ‘M Shed’ title. Doing this is just one of many factors that help Bristol’s past remain in the modern world. Outside of M Shed, four electrically powered cargo cranes (built in 1951) can be seen; now offline, they often talk to people down below, educating them on the history! Furthermore, a previous exhibition was run whereby you could text the cranes to discover more information about that area. I think these cranes give the harbour distinct character! Moreover, on the other side of the road to M Shed, once unused cargo containers have been converted into pop up shops and eccentric cafés, proving to be popular! Many people interviewed found this area to be “unique” and “a place everyone should visit!”
Across the harbour, we reached location 3: Pero’s Bridge. This was very interesting as it was filled with history! Similar to M Shed, V Shed had kept its title, but had become a bar and restaurant: Lloyds No.1 Bar. Furthermore, all along that side, other unused, old transit sheds have been transformed into cafés or other similar pleasures. For instance, Za Za Bazaar. One method we used was land use mapping. This involved labelling buildings on our route, by coding them with a single letter, written on a printed map, to indicate whether it was leisure (L), business (B), commercial (C), residential (R) or education (E). This helps us find out what land and buildings are being used for, in a certain areas. Around the harbourside there is a significantly greater number of restaurants and cafés (leisure/ business), which implies that people eat and/ or have a drink more than any other activity in this area. After finishing our final field sketch, stood in front of the Arnolfini (art gallery), we learned about the Lloyd’s Bank Regional Offices that were built in the 1980s, and how it created many jobs and assisted enormously with this economy’s growth (the ‘Multiplier Effect’).
For additional detail on our ‘land use map’, we wandered to Queen Square, which gave us a big insight into different types of businesses here: solicitors, plastic surgery, accountants. Moreover, it revealed the educational services too: EC Bristol English Language School and EF International Language Campus. Overall, Queen Square was very well maintained and attractive with a variety of land uses!
Enroute to Millennium Square, we crossed over the river, by Pero’s Bridge, which had hundreds of padlocks; symbolising a couple’s love for eachother (similar to ‘love locks’ in the USA). Passing the Aquarium, Millennium Square already began to emit its individuality, with @Bristol (We The Curious) placed at the top, observing every happening and event here! Millennium Square was built with ‘Millennium funding’ in the 1990s, and since then it has continued to flourish. Increasing numbers of restaurants in and around Millennium Square, plus events here have caused its popularity to rise, contributing to the city’s vast economy. Millennium Square was my highlight, and seeing how much it had developed since I was here last was incredible! For example, the sustainable energy garden(s) encourages insects and small animals (such as birds) here, whilst providing eco-friendly energy to charge your phone. This suggests that Bristol is trying to develop sustainably, without harming nature; a step in the right direction!
Finally, we have collected information about Bristol’s Harbourside because it holds historical significance, whilst being local. As a result, the areas we live in will have been affected… We investigated how the harbour and the harbourside had been developed over time and if these improvements were worth it. For example, the ‘Floating Harbour’ is a very important feature of Bristol Harbour, but it was only created in 1809. Bristol Harbour is sometimes referred to as the Floating Harbour because of how it tackled the immense problem of the tide (by installing small walls to control the water flow into the harbour) and its previous international significance. Before the improvements, the tide could rise and fall almost 14 metres twice a day. This meant that boats got stranded in the mud, if caught when the tide was out.
Over centuries, the trade, facilities and essential equipment and buildings have been developed and adapted. Much of it still exists. However, in the past few decades, Bristol’s harbourside has been modernised and brought into ‘today’, with aim to attract tourists and educate anyone on its almost forgotten history. This is called ‘regeneration’.
Data isn’t always easy to gather and will not constantly be 100% accurate. This could be as a result of the gloomy weather making the environment look less attractive or keeping count of different people that walk through an area. However it does paint a good picture of how busy places may be at other points of the year and contrasting weather conditions.
I think fieldwork trips are crucial for creating a diverse work environment and giving an interesting perspective of the world around you.
Soon there will be another Year 10 Geography Fieldwork Trip on rivers and I can’t wait to see what it involves and what we will be investigating!
By Lewis Barrett