by Tanja Aminata Bah, MA curator-in-training at M Shed, Social History team
Always wanted to find out more about your local area?
Ever wondered where the Bamboo Club was or where the St Paul’s riots started?
St Paul’s is full of exciting stories waiting to be discovered with this new handy introduction to Black History in the area.
Over the course of the last year, I have been placed with Bristol Culture’s Social History Team at M Shed and Blaise Castle House Museum as part of my MA Curating at UWE Bristol.
My interest in Black History, engagement and innovation through digital media in museum spaces led me to create a story map reimagining, preserving and documenting key Black Bristolian stories as my final project.
The map offers not just stories, which I gathered via a call out for information, but also showcases some unique, not yet published archival imagery of St Paul’s and people in the area.
The map is fully integrated with Google Maps for Android and iPhones and can be used here in your browser.
How to use the map?
The map works best on mobile devices such as Android and iPhones. Simply open this blog post in your browser and click the enlarge icon in the right corner. This will lead you to the Google Maps integration, where you can scroll through the tours and layers of the map on the go.
Walking tours online
I have designed three unique walking tours, giving you insights while you explore the area.
If you enable your GPS signal on your phone the tours will even lead you from stop to stop.
- Only have an hour to spare? Essential St Paul’s is your brief 101 to St. Paul’s African Caribbean history since the 1950s. The hour-long stroll follows a leisurely flat course around the heart of St. Paul’s, Grosvenor road and City Road and offers plenty to see in a short time. If you haven’t got internet on the go you can download and print out a leaflet instead.
Download Essential St Paul’s (PDF)
- If you want to explore for a bit longer you can try out the walk Before The Riots. The walk is flat and will lead you from the Bamboo Club near Portland Square to the Empire Sports Club near St. Agnes, exploring St Paul’s between 1950 and 1980.
- Want it all? The Full Walk will lead you from the Bamboo Club to Ashley Parade on a two hour uphill course. You will learn all about the African Caribbean community in St Paul’s and Montpellier before heading to St Werburghs to learn about two Victorian and Edwardian Black Bristolian families.
St Paul’s vibes
While you are out and about exploring you can listen to a selection of my favourite tracks that remind me of St Paul’s, including many Bristolian artists such as Massive Attack alongside classics of Calypso and Roots Reggae, which enjoyed a popular following in St Paul’s.
Finding out more
Got curious and want to find out more about some stories? Here is a handy list to find out more about Black History in and around St. Paul’s.
- An alternative map of St. Paul’s history, designed and researched by artist Michelle Curtis
- Bristol Archives published a Guide to African Caribbean Sources in Bristol Museums (PDF)
- Unfinished: The Making of Massive Attack (2016, BBC)
- DJ Derek’s Sweet Memory Sounds – BBC (1994, BBC)
- Find out more about some community activists in Bristol in the 1950s such as Princess Campbell and Paul Stephenson.
- Many black Bristolian stories are collected in the Bristol Black Archives Partnership learning resource Black Bristolians: People who made a difference
- Dresser, M. and Fleming, P. (2007) Bristol. Ethnic Minorities and the City 1000 – 2001 (England’s past for Everyone, Bristol). Stroud: Phillimore & Co Ltd.
- Stephenson, P. and Morrison, L. (2011) Memoirs of a Black Englishman. Bristol: Tangent Books.
- Dresser, M. (2013) Black and White on the Buses: The 1963 Colour Bar Dispute in Bristol. London: Bookmarks Publications.
The project would not have been possible without my mentor Catherine Littlejohns, curator of Social History, as well as the kind support of Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, M Shed, Bristol Archives and UWE staff alongside local stakeholders. Thank you!
Tanja Aminata Bah @jakumata is a MA Curating Student at UWE Bristol and is placed as curator- in- training with M Shed and the Social History team. In her studies, she is interested in the crossroads between history, representation and digital developments in the heritage field. She holds a BA in History and African Studies from University of Cologne. Her studies are supported by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. Contact Tanja.