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Bristol's last bomb site. | by Fray Bentos
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Bristol's last bomb site.

Bomb sites always had a characteristic type of wooden fencing. As can be seen from the varying colours of the timber in this photo it was renewed from time to time as it deteriorated. This was the last surviving bomb site in central Bristol, at the northeast corner of Bristol Bridge. Rubble was cleared from bomb sites down to the cellar level of the former buildings. Across the bridge and to the right, the streets of Bristol's pre-war shopping area were left raised up as though on causeways. Often the sites, considered unsightly, were screened from the public gaze by advertisement hoardings ..."M&B, it's Marvellous Beer". In time, as here, the cleared areas were turned over to car parking.

This unearthly post-war cityscape made a powerful impression on me as a boy, as did my mother's accounts, always related in a special hushed tone of voice, of wartime air raids. Of our neighbour, Mrs Bailey, shouting across to my grandmother as she stood on the doorstep innocently watching the black aeroplanes flying over the house, "get inside, they're Germans". Of my grandfather springing up from the armchair and instinctively shielding his face as a bomb whistled close by. Of the red sky on the night Castle Street "went up". Exploring the ruins I found coffin-shaped brick-lined graves close to the wall of St Peter's Church and a pencilled graffito on the plastered wall of a cellar, dated 1921. Overhead, where walls were left standing, could be seen the fireplaces of upstairs rooms, and tattered strips of pre-war wallpaper.

St Nicholas, on the far side of the bridge, lost the roof of its nave during the bombing and its walls are still scarred with pock-marks from bomb fragments. This photograph was taken on Thursday 9th April 1981. The site was finally rebuilt during the 90s. A few more bomb sites survived on the slopes above Hotwell Road but I think even these have now disappeared.

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Uploaded on September 18, 2006