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New project underway to explore the local history and culture of Bristol

Forest Avenue, Hillfields Park, from an undated postcard

Forest Avenue, Hillfields Park, from an undated postcard

Press release issued: 23 March 2012

Members of the community are being sought to share their treasured memories of Bristol’s heritage through a hands-on history project which will explore some of the city’s best-loved and most intriguing places. Bristol Zoo, Arnos Vale Cemetery, Kings Weston, South Bristol and Hillfields housing estate will be examined as part of the Know Your Bristol project, run by the University of Bristol in partnership with Bristol City Council and local community organisations.

Bristol Zoo, Arnos Vale Cemetery, Kings Weston, South Bristol and Hillfields housing estate will be examined as part of the Know Your Bristol project, run by the University of Bristol in partnership with Bristol City Council and local community organisations.

A series of six free public events will enable members of the public to explore the local history and culture through the eyes of the community, ultimately contributing to the Know Your Place interactive online resource run by the Council which will allow people to explore their neighbourhoods through interactive maps, images and historic data.

The first event, entitled Know Your Hillfields, is on Saturday [24 March] and people are invited to share their stories of the inter-war housing estate through objects such as films, family photographs and historic artifacts.

Hillfields, which is situated in east Bristol on the outskirts of Fishponds, contains some of the earliest council housing in the city, built in 1919 and initially based on the concept of 'Homes for Heroes' which came about after the First World War and resulted in the first big surge of council housing.

Peter Insole, Archaeological Officer, at Bristol City Council said: “Hillfields was a top-down approach that promoted the relocation of whole communities and dispersed them across the city and within each individual estate. I hope that as we gather more data we can start to explore the real impact this unprecedented period of pre-World War II house building had on the community.”

Know Your Hillfields takes place between 11am and 1pm and from 2pm to 4pm in Hillfields Library. It is organised by the University of Bristol in conjunction with Bristol City Council and the Greater Fishponds Neighbourhood Partnership.

Future Know Your Bristol events include:

  • Know Your Zoo on Saturday, 12 May: Add to the treasure trove of material that documents the zoo’s heritage by bringing along your memories and memorabilia.
  • Know Your Arnos Vale on Saturday, 19 May: The remains of a significant proportion of the city’s residents from 1837 into the early 20th Century are contained here. Members of the public are asked to contribute any information to the cemetery’s archive.
  • Know Your Kings Weston, date to be confirmed: Kings Weston House, built in 1709, is a focal point of what’s now a large area with a thriving community. Find out more about the house, the local area and how people relate to it.
  • Know Your South Bristol on Saturday, 23 June: This event will focus on the heritage value of film, video and photography as documentary evidence of the rapidly changing landscape of South Bristol over the past 150 years.
  • Know Your Bristol on Saturday, 30 June: The last in the series celebrates the heritage of the entire city. Residents can bring in objects which have a particular meaning to them, from photo albums to bicycles, tea cups, season tickets or children’s books.

Professor Robert Bickers, from the University’s Department of History, said: “Working with the Know Your Place team at Bristol City Council is really exciting. We've got students working on this too, as well as researchers, and it's a fantastic opportunity for us all to learn more about the rich history of the city we live and work in.”

Kate Miller, Academic Liaison Officer in the University’s Centre for Public Engagement, said: “People in Bristol have a wealth of information about their local area, from their own memories to family memorabilia such as photos and objects.  By sharing their stories, we hope to gain a greater understanding of the city and build connections between the University and local communities throughout Bristol.”

Know Your Bristol is part of the Inside Arts programme of public events and has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of the Connected Communities Programme.

For further information, please contact the Centre for Public Engagement on 0117 3318321 or email cpe-info@bristol.ac.uk