Remember when a road split Bristol's Queen Square in two
A SERIES of events have been organised to celebrate the 20th anniversary on Thursday of the closure of a road which split Bristol's Queen Square in two.
The ugly stretch of dual carriageway which was first built in the 1930s was initially closed for a trial period after a storm of protests.
The closure, which was made permanent 18 months later, was the first major step in transforming the historic Georgian square into one of the finest in Europe.
The road ran diagonally across the square and looped either side of a statue of William III riding a horse which was moved as part of the multi-million pound regeneration project.
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Former Avon County Councillor Dave Johnson, who was joint spokesperson on planning and transport when the closure decision was made in 1992, said: "Closing the road through Queen Square was a real struggle.
"It took a lot of determination to get the council to change its transport policy – to consider the needs of people and their environment and not just car drivers.
"Queen Square was one of the first results of this change and the results are there for all to see.
"The square is now one of the main assets of the city. Before, it was just the left over space around a dual carriageway. It's a great shame the impetus for change was lost when the county council was abolished in 1996.
"I am pleased the Living Heart for Bristol is looking for new opportunities to improve the environment of our much battered and bruised – but still wonderful – city."
Living Heart for Bristol is a partnership of nine pressure groups and organisations in the city which is campaigning for the removal of through traffic in the city centre and more open space.
Living Heart spokesman Steve Melia said: "Twenty years ago, many people said the councils were mad to close a dual carriageway through the city centre.
"They said the economy around Queen Square would suffer. Today it is one of the most desirable business locations in the city.
"Who would argue for a dual carriageway through Queen Square today?
"There are several lessons here for councillors and the business community and the new mayor, whoever he or she may be.
"Queen Square shows how removing through traffic can create new public space and improve access for everyone. If we want to build a better city for all, that process, started 20 years ago, must continue."
The pressure group has organised:
â Old newspaper reports and links to other historical information which now available online at www.livingheart.org.uk
â A bike ride starting and finishing in Queen Square, run jointly by the CTC and Bristol Cycling Campaign on June 9.
â A display of photographs, old and new, which will be put in an empty shop during Big Green Week (June 9–17)