4 July 2013

Post 10) A Juxtaposition of Regency

     This Project is really all about celebrating the huge collection of watercolours, drawings and oil paintings held within the museums, galleries and institutions of Bristol and bringing them back to life. In particular, I want to translate every facet of the 1500 Braikenridge Collection topographical images held within the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery into a living virtual gameworld of 200 years ago; The washerwomen, children with hoops, sailors, gentlemen on horseback, glass workers, sugar refiners, potterers, shopkeepers and Redcoats, everything brought back to life, the sights and sounds, but not of course, the smells!

This is St Mary Redcliffe from the Mud Dock at the Prince Street ferry in June 1805, just before Trafalgar, by James Pellor Malcolm, from the 1814 book Excursions in the counties of Kent, Gloucester, Hereford, Monmouth, and Somerset, in the years 1802, 1803, and 1805. This was drawn whilst the navvies were digging and blasting their way through the fields of Bedminster for a new tidal channel for the river Avon from Rownham Meadows to St Annes; The "New Cut" The power of 3D virtual modelling can give you any state of tide, so if one wanted to see the floating harbour drained and the Frome being cleared of accumilated mud in 1827, that would be possible. Here, we see the old tidal Avon before it became forever at high tide.The Red Triassic sandstone of wooded Addercliffe slopes straight into the river with no quay wall. Redcliffe Parade East isnt yet built and three great glass cones are visible on Redcliffe Backs, Temple Gate and Prewett Street, along with the Spireless Church and shot tower. A ship is being built in the Wapping East dockyards, then still owned by Sydenham Teast and great Indiamen unload their cargoes on the Grove. Prince Street lifting bridge with toll houses replaced the ferry in 1809, the present iron swing bridge dating from 1878.

This is a celebration of the Regency Era City that had not long began to shed its medieval cloak and evolve through the Stuart and Georgian "Early Modern" era into the future Victorian age of Warehousing, great public buildings and Railways (The second Industrial Revolution of the 1840s and beyond)

We are at a crossroads in time, where casement windows, wattle and daub and pargetting hang on besides red brick, Bath, Portland and Dundry Stone and uniform tall sash windows. Bringing those lovely old watercolours, drawings and oils back to virtual reality and walking those cobbled streets will fuse together topographical, architectural and social history like never before. The signwriting above the shops in the watercolours belonged to real people and by recreating Bristol, building by building, street by street, everything will be tied together using the Mathews Trade Directories, where over 6500 names are listed. Not just pretty old pictures, this was all real and will be brought back to life for all to enjoy.


Plumley issued his prospectus for his great map of the city in 1813, but Ashmead was the one to finish it in 1828, after his death and so we have a map that took many years to survey and produce, for it is a work of art in itself. See it on the Bristol Know Your Place Website, link above. I have my own paper copy from the Library which has a numbered key to all the 100+ public buildings numbered within.

     So, the Plumley / Ashmead map took a long time to produce, which means that come its completion in a city which was evolving daily, there must be a lot of new buildings that missed being surveyed and vice versa, a lot of buildings that were gone by 1828 but existed and were drawn in at the start of the survey.

     Likewise, I'm setting a tentative date of 1825 for the context of this City model, based on the sheer great percentage of the watercolours drawn 1824-1826 out of the total of around some 2-3000 preserved across the city today and based on the final coming together of the Ashmead map.

     Just like the map I am going to juxtapose buildings that were demolished at the begining of the 1820s, with those that were not built until the end of the 1820s, because of their importance to the topography and because I can!

     So you have examples like the Old Hotwell House, jutting out into the Avon under St Vincents Rock; Newgate Gaol at the crossroads of Narrow Wine Street, Little Peter Street, Castle Green and Castle Mill Street; The old (1704) Council house with the church and truncated tower of St Ewens on the corner of Broad Street and Corn Street, all gone by 1825, rubbing virtual shoulders with Acramans Warehouse on Narrow Quay, His Ironworks on the feeder, and Churches such as Holy Trinity, Hotwells and St Phillips and St Pauls and Zion Chapel, Coronation Road, All not built until 1828-1830.

     Taking in a wider spectrum, this is a celebration about Regency era Bristol, and some special buildings are worthy of incusion from the wider era of George 4th as Prince Regent and King, 1811-1830 and indeed, the second half of the Georgian era, 1775-1837.

     I am pleased to have had 2000 hits on this site since 28th April, and mention on Bristol Culture and the new Bristol Games Hub websites.

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