Sunday, 29 September 2013

A Voyage Around Brunel and Bristol's Floating Harbour

The weather forecast had been grim - heavy rain for Saturday afternoon - but as it turned out, it turned out nice - warmish, definitely dry, rather grey admittedly, but a beautiful soft grey, the sort that makes you think of the end of the world (but in a good way).  The inaugural event of Bristol Poetry Festival 2013, the intrepid IsamBards' celebration of Brunel, was all set.

Having discovered that Temple Meads Station - that masterpiece of Brunel-designed architecture - was even noisier than we had envisaged, we beat a retreat to Temple Quay rather sooner than we had planned, there to finish our railway poems before embarking on the water-borne part of our voyage.  

Mal dressed for the occasion 

Then we were off on a quick detour under the first of Brunel's bridges over the Avon before executing a nifty turn in the allotted space and heading off on the first leg of our journey, to the SS Great Britain. 

Passing St Peter's on Castle Green, bombed during the Bristol Blitz and now a memorial to Bristol's civilian dead.   

Dru just before she gave me an impromptu physics lesson on 'How concrete barges float' 

Brunel's Severn Shed, now a restaurant, previously a storage facility for the luggage of SS Great Britain passengers.

Now another restaurant, The River Station was formerly the HQ of the Port of Bristol Police. 

The familiar landmark of Redcliffe Parade.

Thekla ... 

... with her very early Banksy. (An even earlier one was painted over by the Harbour Master who failed to appreciate the fine line between vandalism and art.)

Proof that the Press Gang is still operational in Bristol. 

A fishing boat from Fowey moored near the Lloyds Bank HQ.

The replica of Cabot's Matthew heading for SS Great Britain.

Two iconic ships

At the SS Great Britain, we stopped alongside its bows and poeticised, which seemed to go down well ... at least, none of our listeners took advantage of the drowning option.






Then it was on to the Underfall Yard, a historic boatyard dating from the early 19th century, with improvements by Brunel in the 1830s.  
The name Underfall comes from the series of sluices Brunel designed to keep the harbour as silt-free as possible.  

The Matthew seemed to be following a similar route to us.  

At the Yard we disembarked for more poetry.  

So good to see it still being used for its original purpose also. 



A short distance on, and our last poetry stop of the day, at the lock, considerably enlarged and improved by Brunel so that his SS Great Britain could pass through.  Looming above it - as if you didn't know - is that other iconic emblem of Brunel's Bristol, the Clifton Suspension Bridge. 


Colin Brown of Poetry Can with two IsamBards, Stewart Carswell and Pameli Benham 

IsamBard David Johnson

Returning below Clifton Wood ... 

... and past the SS Great Britain again. 

Passing Cabot Tower

Approaching St Augustine's Reach, with the Arnolfini, far right  

The spire of St Mary Redcliffe and Prince Street Bridge

Pero's Bridge 

The Reach

Very pleased to be from Bristol on a day like this. 

The Little Giant ... 






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