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Newfoundland Road, Bristol, 1972. | by Fray Bentos
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Newfoundland Road, Bristol, 1972.

"If these old walls could speak, they'd tell some tales", my father muttered as he looked down from the top deck of the bus. The no. 18 ...Downend (Trident) - Clifton... was the bus service we used to travel into the centre of Bristol, and its route took us along Newfoundland Road. On another occasion, as the bus had pulled up at a stop, my mother's gaze had come to rest on an upstairs window and she had looked in and seen a man removing his vest. "Well really!" she had exclaimed, in a tone half amused and half affronted. Our family's position on the socio-economic ladder was hardly exalted, but I could tell that we were a little better off than the people who lived here. In fact "Newfoundland Road" was a fixture in our family discourse, invoked whenever an image of "commonness", raffishness or uncouthness was required. "Don't lean out of the bedroom windows", my mother told me and my sister on one occasion, "it makes the place look like Newfoundland Road". We all need someone to look down on. Even rapists feel superior to child molesters.

To me, this inner city Victorian working class district (Georgian in places, as you got to the far end and approached the centre of the city) seemed ...and still seems... preferable to the ghastly tower blocks that replaced it. In those days, the late 1950s, it was beginning to be infiltrated by immigrants from India, Pakistan and the West Indies. This population has largely moved on and is being replaced by a wave of young people from eastern Europe.

Although it is not all that evident in the photo, the fronts of the houses on the left, which were older than most of the street, leaned backwards noticeably. They looked unsafe but had always been like that ...during my lifetime anyway. The area suffered badly when a non-motorway extension of the M32 was driven towards the centre of Bristol. The left side had gone by 1975. The photograph was taken on Wednesday 19th January 1972.


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Taken on May 27, 2008