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Bristol Chronicles 1980s | by brizzle born and bred
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Bristol Chronicles 1980s

1980 - Rioting breaks out in St Paul’s following a police raid on the Black and White cafe in Grosvenor Road. It is the first of the inner city riots of the early Eighties.


1982 - The Watershed, Britain’s first ‘media centre’, opens across the water from the Arnolfini.To this day nobody in Bristol is quite sure what makes two cinemas, a bar and a gallery a ‘media centre’.


1982 - Bristol City FC goes bust and is reformed as Bristol City (1982). Eight of the club’s highest earners from the Division One days agree to tear up their contracts so the club can survive. They become known as the Ashton Gate Eight.


1983 - The Wild Bunch, later to become Massive Attack, become resident Wednesday night DJs at the Dug Out club on Park Row.


Making the front pages this August week in 1983 were plans for a £30 million two storey shopping mall beneath the city's historic Castle Park. Conceived by Sir John Hartnell of estate agents Hartnell, Taylor and Cook, and built by Sir Alfred McAlpine, it would run from Broadweir to the River Avon


Any old castle remains, the developer's said, would to carefully preserved. History was not kind to this brave plan - within a few years we had The Galleries instead.


Bristol's - or should I say Avon's - social services were having a big shake up in 1983.


The Post recorded angry scenes at Meadow Sweet Old People's Home in Fishponds as 200 residents and their relatives were told that it's closure was likely.


And the future of the controversial Crescent School for Girls in Downend - the subject of a police investigation into prostitution - was also in doubt.


In the event both closed.


On the industrial front it was looking more and more likely that the long established Avonmouth ship repairers, Jefferies, would go to the wall.


The receivers, who were looking for a new buyer, had been called in following losses of around £1.8 million.


The Post reported that two ship owners had already diverted vessels to other yards.


Out at Winterbourne Richard Pearce was asking permission to turn the village's 13th century tithe barn at Court Farm into a restaurant.


"It has a unique roof and it looks like a church inside and we would want to make the most of that feature" he told the Post.


"There would be a restaurant on the ground floor and a dance floor on a new first floor - the barn could be used for wedding receptions" he added.


The historic barn, now in the hands of trustees, has since been fully renovated for community use.


The future of the Portishead railway line is still under debate but in 1983 it looked very likely that the track line into the town would be lost to industrial development.


But John Crockford-Hawley, a Weston councillor and in those days Woodspring district's planning chairman, appealed for a reprieve.


He said, quite rightly, that all options should be left open and nothing done to prejudice the future use of the line.


With the passing of the years we tend to forget just how good a sportsman Ian Botham was.


In 1983 the cricketer reached yet another peak in his glittering career by taking Somerset to the Nat West Trophy final virtually single handed,


With half of his side out for 52 he then hauled them from defeat to victory over Middlesex at Lords with an undefeated 96 before a crowd of 20,000.


"An important innings like that is one you remember for the rest of your life" he told the Post.


1986 - The Dug Out closes following a campaign by police that culminates with police solicitor Richard Crowley telling the city council’s Public Protection Committee that the club is like a ‘Fagin’s kitchen’.


1986 - On April 26, Bristol Rovers play their last ever game at their spiritual home, Eastville. it’s a 1-1 draw with Chesterfield.


This was the week in September 1986 when the country’s first soap opera queen, Pat Phoenix, pictured, died of lung cancer at the age of 62.


As Elsie Tanner the actress had appeared on Coronation Street for some 22 years.


Locally, Bristol was beginning to feel the backlash from Operation Delivery, in which 600 men from the Avon and Somerset police force had gone into St Paul’s to make a series of arrests for drug offences.


This had led to an outbreak of stone throwing, cars set on fire, a smash and grad raid on a local store and a mugging.


To make matters worse the Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Popperwell was taken off to hospital after a suspected heart attack.


And Tom Turvey, the police authority chairman, was asked to stand down after objecting to a Labour party statement about the police raid.


He said that there were differences between his view of the events in St Paul’s and those contained in the statement which demanded a full, independent public inquiry into Operation Delivery.


There were angry scenes at a Police Liaison Committee over the fact that the police did not consult community leaders before the raid and that it had been provocative and heavy handed.


And Avon County councillor Roger Berry described the extent and duration of the raid as "totally unacceptable."


It was an unhappy day for the police who were, this very week, staging a parade on College Green to celebrate 150 years of city policing.


Some 45 retired police officers joined 140 police officers for the event which was attended by Bristol’s Lord Mayor, Joan Jones and the Lord Lieutenant of Avon, Sir John Wills.


In other news it was announced that the 100 year old Bristol Club, one of the country’s most prestigious men’s clubs, was to be sold for £300,000.


The last chairman of the club - and the man who ended up buying it - was well known businessman Ian Stevens.


In the 1960s the club had 750 members - and a waiting list - but by 1986 this had dwindled to a mere 80.


In Weston the first patient’s were moved into the town’s new 37 acre hospital at Uphill from the Victorian General Hospital in The Boulevard and the Royal Hospital.


On the sports front 27 year old Rovers centre back trialist Geoff Twentyman was on the verge of being offered a two year contract with the team after three impressive performances.


"The offer in on the table and Geoff is considering it" manager Bobby Gould told the Post.


" He’s done well on the field and is the type of character that I want in the squad."


A late recruit to League football Twentyman had been released by Preston North End after three seasons at Deepdale.


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Taken on October 17, 2009