Old and new pictures guide readers through city's changes
Anew picture book by Bristol's former Fine Arts Librarian, Anthony Beeson, contains many rare photos, paintings and drawings, some seen in public for the first time.
Anthony has decided, very wisely, to publish his book in a "then and now" format, with each old image mirrored by a contemporary one, and directing the reader on a series of walks.
I say wisely, because the city has changed so much, especially since the Bristol Blitzes and then throughout the 1960s. Without up-to-date photos it would be extremely difficult to put many lost buildings into context.
Anthony says that the images he has selected for his book are a personal choice. "Most come from the superb collection held in the Bristol Central Reference Library's local collection, but others are from my own collection and other, private collections" he explains.
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"Many are previously unpublished, with the earliest capturing something of the old city that was then fast disappearing."
Walk one starts, as perhaps it should, at Bristol Bridge, near to where the city was founded 1,000 years ago, taking the reader up to Old Market and then, very briefly, to Barton Hill.
The second walk takes us around the Old City, as it is now labelled by the council, through to St James (The Horsefair) and Stokes Croft/Cheltenham Road.
Walk three is through Nelson Street, Christmas Steps and the Colston Street area to St Michael's Hill.
Our fourth stroll with Anthony starts at Temple Meads before looping back to Bristol Bridge, Welsh Back, The Centre and so to King Street.
Starting off at St Augustine's Reach in the Harbour, the fifth walk guides our footsteps through College Green to Park Street.
Then it's then up Queen's Road to Blackboy Hill and on to The Downs, ending up at The Observatory.
Anthony's final, fascinating walk is along the Hotwell Road, past The Mardyke and, 180 illustrations later, on to the Portway.
To appreciate Anthony's book properly requires some prior knowledge of Bristol's history, but I'm sure that will not put off its many potential readers.
Sometimes it's good to be challenged and the pictures, as they say, often speak for themselves.
"The last century has seen the greatest change in Bristol than in any century preceding it," says Anthony.
"The layout of a large part of the central area has, for the most part, changed, as have the city's traditional industries."
The transformation of Bristol's Floating Harbour from industrial to leisure use, which, with some reservations, wins the author's vote, is a case in point.
Central Bristol Through Time by Anthony Beeson is published by Amberley and costs £14.99.