Up to Bristol today to meet my son, and we wandered across the Bristol Downs in the sunshine, with people picnicking, strolling, playing games and enjoying being out in the fresh air.
This is what I wrote about meeting friends in Bristol some time ago: no doubt we will wander around from here to there, maybe we will gt a water taxi right into the city, maybe we will just use shanks’s pony… Shanks’s pony… The phrase did not come from a Mr Shanks, it didn’t come from the company now called Armitage Shanks, in fact it just came from the word for a bit of a leg, the shank, the bit between knee and ankle. We still call it a shank in an animal, but not so much i think for people. It’s a Scottish word apparently, but it’s origin was Old English from the German, so I guess it just lingered on in Scotland after it became less used in England… and of course there was a king who was called Longshanks, Edward I …
Back to Bristol… this is what I wrote a little while ago; Bristol has been an important city and port for centuries but in earlier times there had been a problem with tides, that ships would be stuck waiting for the tide to be at the right height in the deep natural harbour… however in 1809 a floating harbour was created – for a while I stupidly misunderstood the term; of course it means a harbour in which ships could float. 80 acres of tidal river was used to create the harbour which enabled ships to remain afloat all the time.
This led to an absolute boom in shipping, trade and commerce for the city; once the Great Western Railway was established thanks to the giant of nineteenth century industrial architecture and engineering, Brunel the city expanded beyond any expectation. This was reflected in the buildings from the time which had a certain style, with Byzantine, Moorish and Venetian style of architectural design of many commercial buildings such as warehouses and factories. The style is very distinctive, described as “robust and simple” and using bricks with bold distinct colours, particularly red, yellow, black and white brick. Sometimes the style included archways and upper floors which had a particular of horizontal or vertical arrangement windows.
Architects and influences of this style included Richard Shackleton Pope, William Venn Gough, Archibald Ponton, and John Addington Symonds . Sir John Summerson may have been the person who named this distinctive Bristolian building style, and it perfectly describes the elegant and handsome buildings s you can still see today.