Monday, 7 September 2009

Discovering Bristol's Harbourside: A Guide Book for Time-Travellers

The transformation of Bristol’s ancient harbour into the modern Harbourside - the latest chapter in a long and eventful story – is almost complete.

'Discovering Harbourside' tells this story, more a guide book for time-travellers than a conventional history. Starting with a re-enactment of John Cabot’s return to Bristol from Newfoundland in 1497, it brings Bristol’s port to life in new and entertaining ways, encouraging readers to look at the city around them and imagine moments, scenes and characters from the city’s past.

With one eye on the present and the other on the past, we walk and cycle around the Floating Harbour and down the Avon, looking for clues and retelling stories – some familiar and others new. Did Bristol fishermen discover America before Columbus? What was life at sea like in the age of exploration? How did Llandoger Trow get its name?

Pirates loom large, with an account of Blackbeard’s startling career and violent last battle, and so do more respectable sea captains, from Sir Woodes Rogers to Captain SG Smith, hero of the Atlantic convoys of World War II. There are disasters and triumphs, from the wreck of the Demerara to the return of the ss Great Britain.

'Discovering Harbourside' is both action-packed and thought-provoking. Bristol will never seem quite the same again. Due for publication, January 2010, by Redcliffe Press. Photographs by Stephen Morris.

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