A partnership project initiated through the Old City Traders’ & Business Forum is putting Bristol’s Old City onto the map – bringing its fascinating history to life and putting it into context with today’s bustling independent business community.

A beautifully artist designed map and walking guide of the Old City together with postcards featuring individual businesses will be launched on Monday, 7th April.

The “Walled City” walking guide follows the town walls of Norman Bristol. With the walls no longer visible, their route is little understood or used, and the rich architectural heritage of the Old City often goes unnoticed. The guide explains the history of the area and its buildings and outlines those aspects of the social, religious and, above all, the mercantile life of the city that have greatly influenced the last 900 years of its development – and still set the context of today’s bustling independent business community.

The walking guide is accompanied by a set of postcards that further highlight certain buildings and businesses, to ensure that the increased footfall to the area will benefit the sustainability of its unique business community.

The execution of the project was carried out by a partnership of local stakeholders, each with their individual areas of expertise, using local knowledge and traditional processes. Centrespace was leading on the creative execution, Bristol Civic Society on the historic background and St Stephen’s on the spiritual context. The project was funded by Bristol City Council’s Active Neighbourhood Transport Grant, supported by the University of the West of England (UWE), and coordinated by Destination Bristol.

Alan Morris from Bristol Civic Society and Sally Daniels of Centrespace Gallery spoke warmly of the three-way project partnership: "This has been a happy coming together of different skills, with a common desire to bring out the richness of the Old City to a wider audience."

Nick Hand and Simon Tozer of Centrespace Gallery are proud of the artistic execution of the project: “Our aim with the map was to create an object that is both informative and beautiful, something that people would like to keep after following the walk. We also introduced an element of traditional craft into the project by using traditional letterpress equipment for the postcards. The cards are being printed on a rare Heidelberg press, which until recently was housed in the Industrial Museum (now the M Shed). Letterpress prints have a distinctive tactile quality, and continuing to use this old machinery ensures that the skill and experience needed to operate it will not be lost to future generations.”

This is echoed by Professor Peter Fleming from UWE who praises the project as “an imaginative and exciting way of bringing History into the daily lives of people working in and visiting the oldest part of the fascinating city of Bristol". 

Eva Stuetzenberger from Destination Bristol, Chair of the Old City Traders’ & Business Forum, explains: “This project is truly re-establishing the Old City as Bristol’s birthplace and medieval heart. In my home country Germany we would call it Bristol’s Altstadt – the area where every exploration to this exciting city should start, in order to fully understand its modern day context. The Old City is where Bristol’s trading culture began – and it is the Old City’s trading community that is now bringing it back to life.”

The walking guide and postcards will soon be available at the Tourist Information Centre, the local shops in the Old City, and online under http://www.bristololdcity.co.uk/old-city-heritage-trail

Enjoy your walk! Don’t forget to look up above the shop fronts and enjoy the great variety of sculpture and other decorations in the Old City.