Chairman of the Barton Hill History Group
and co-author of this book and website
Like other shopping streets throughout Britain, the story of shopping on East Bristol's Church Road, is one of constant change, constant evolution, constant reinvention and constant new opportunities. During the 1890s Church Road began to look a little more like the Church Road of modern times. The steady construction of new streets in Redfield and St George which started at the end of the 19th Century fuelled the retail expansion of Church Road. Since that time hundreds of shopkeepers, traders and businesses on Church Road have served the people of Redfield, St George, Barton Hill and Whitehall.
Experiencing booms and recessions, the shops of Church Road have mirrored the changes in British life over the past 120 years. Some shops made an initial impact only to melt away rapidly. Others remained on Church Road for many years, serving different generations. Each has a story to tell, each represents a snapshot in time.
Our aim in producing this book is to present a flavour of some of the shops of Church Road over the years. They all in their own way represent a certain point in history. If you remember them, or went in them, then they also represent a point in your personal history. Things come and go but Church Road remains at the heart of shopping in East Bristol and long may it continue to do so.
Scope. This book is a result of detailed historical research, supported by recollections from local people. We have tried to achieve a fair balance. So what's missing? You tell us, or, better still write it down and send it to us.
Dates. Obtaining precise dates of when a certain shop opened or closed is extremely difficult. In an ever changing picture, shops tend to come and go 'while you are doing other things'. If you have a special reason to recall when a certain shop opened or closed and can add precise dates, we would be grateful if you would contact us.
Pictures of Church Road in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s are extremely rare. Again, if you have photos of any of the shops on Church Road, it would be great if you could share them with us.
Shop fronts have constantly changed, reflecting new businesses and modern thinking. New signage, doors and windows can totally transform the look of a shop. Shopping is such a familiar and everyday experience that we tend not to notice the architecture of the shop front or the interior layout. Memory can produce a hazy picture but Ah, those were the days!
In February 1964 an article about Church Road appeared in the Bristol Evening Post. The piece was headed up: "Individual and Friendly - and that's the way they hope to keep it!" The article went on to say that "complete modernisation may not yet have come to Church Road, but more important to local shoppers is the variety of shops and the friendliness of the retailers which has earned for it the name of Bristol's golden mile of friendship". (Sorry, we can't find the article on their web site to link to it.)
What shops on Church Road do you remember and why?