Opening Arts Workshop, Saturday 16th June 11-5, Glenfrome School

You are warmly invited to the first arts workshop of the Multi-Story Water project. There will be a mixture of artist-led indoor and outdoor sessions to encourage and explore creative approaches to the stories and spaces of the River Frome. It will include a guided activity trail along unusual spaces of the river as it flows from Eastville Park to IKEA, and the opportunity to make and launch your own miniature story boat from natural materials.

Everyone is welcome, no matter what your level of skill or experience in making or moving, painting, performing or playing! Join us for the full day, or just the indoor morning session if you are curious and want to find out more. Please remember to bring waterproofs, suitable footwear and clothes you feel comfortable to move and explore in.

Attendance is FREE with lunch and refreshments provided

Please RSVP by 12th June to Jess Allen, Arts Facilitator  [email protected] | 07949 474155 letting us know  the number of adults and children attending and any specific dietary and/or access requirements. Please note that children under 14 are very welcome, but will need to be accompanied by an adult.


Spotted at the end of the gardens in Cottrell Road that back on to the river (with sightings also being reported from the nearby allotments) are these three Canada geese and their nine offspring….

With thanks to Chrissy and Justin for sharing this beautiful photo.

(If anyone has more photos of the goslings or the river in general that they’d like to share for uploading here, please do email us.)

Multi-Story Maps and Minutes – Write-Up of the First Community Stakeholder Event 23rd May

The first community stakeholder meeting of the Multi-Story Water project fell on a beautiful summers’ evening last week and it was great to see an equally warm enthusiasm for the river and its sites, sights and stories.

This meeting – which brought together members of the community with the project team and representatives from the Environment Agency and Bristol City Council amongst others – was designed to get preliminary input on a series of events and activities throughout the summer connected with water.  The project will explore how people in the area around the Frome live with the river, and we will be led by local people as to the kinds of events and places residents would enjoy.

We are sharing the outputs of this first event so that it inspires local residents to think about their own ideas for events, venues, stories and groups to involve over the summer to make a series of activities that you would like to be part of.  We want your thoughts, so please let us know – by leaving a comment or sending us an email – if you have any other suggestions or if you would like to be part of anything mentioned!

1. Maps
After the introductions to the team and project, the first task of the evening was to ‘pin the tale on the map’ – annotating a giant map of the river as it flows from Eastville Park to the sluices at IKEA – with the answers to five different prompts:

  1. What makes you happy about the river?
  2. Where do you like to be by/on/in the river,
  3. Where do you notice or look our for changes in the river water? (e.g. low water, cleanliness, flooding)
  4. Where are the places you’d like to make or see performances or events that celebrate the river and its stories?
  5. …And a final ‘freestyle’, adding in any dreams, thoughts, wishes and desires for the river, the community and its future too.

As you can see, the map was too big for us to photograph in just one image to display properly here…


and still be able to read the brilliant annotations, a few of which you can see below…

So, currently the results from this mapping exercise are all being captured electronically through notes and linking the annotations to an electronic illustration of the river, though ways of also linking the results with an online map are also being investigated. But in the meantime, these maps will also be coming along to as many future events as possible to capture as many different community perspectives on the river – so there will plenty more chances to add your own tale to the map. Watch this space!

2. Groups
Next had a group carousel exercise, where we asked a series of other questions. The first was around groups in the community -who are the local groups and who could or should be involved in this project? The suggestions were:

Environment groups

  • Bristol Permaculture Group
  • Snuff Mills Action Group
  • Stapleton Conservation Society
  • Friends of the River Frome
  • Eastville Park Action Group

Faith groups

  • M32/Napier Rd Mosque, Eastville Mosque

Sports and activity groups

  • “Wheelers” (in-line skaters etc)


  • Easton Cowboys/Girls (football and netball)
  • Glenfrome School

Other groups

  • Eastville Club (in car park of IKEA)
  • RSA Concrete and Flowers project
  • Easton Energy Group
  • Neighbourhood Watch
  • Cameo – Women’s Group
  • Bristol Radical History Group

3. Venues
Then we asked, what are the local spaces and places that might be good for arts activities, performances, walks, meetings and parties?

Very local spaces – indoor

  • Glenfrome School (Summer Fair 30 June 12-4)
  • New Friends Hall, Purdown
  • Stapleton Church Hall
  • Merchants Arms Pub - including the cellars for scary arts events!

Very local spaces – outdoor

  • Environment Agency Eastville Depot – maybe have an open day?
  • The site by the sub-station opposeite the Hungry Horse (Merchants Arms) pub
  • Under the M32
  • Allotments – would be interesting – for walks, birdwatching, arts events
  • Glenfrome School outdoor classroom

Residents gardens

  • Bridge Farm (need to ask)
  • Miki’s Garden
  • Lin’s Garden
  • Wendy’s Garden

Slightly out of the project area

  • IKEA Café?  They have a community worker
  • Transition Easton, Grofun, Eastside Roots
  • Colston’s School (funding from Merchant Venturers?)
  • Purdown Detachments – Army Cadets
  • Frome Valley Walkway
  • Stapleton Village Hall

Faith spaces

  • Mosque
  • Sikh Temple

4. Events
Next we asked what do you like doing – dance, walks, boating, art, making things…?

Get togethers

  • Cottrell Road Street Party – haven’t had one for ages and they are memorable! Used to put notes round to people and then come round and visit to see in what way they could participate – make food, make bunting, put up bunting, do dressing up etc
  • Street Coffee Mornings during the day

Environment related

  • Like to find about water quality and diversity of life in the Frome – how do we get maximum diversity in the river?  Could include the Water Framework Directive
  • Workshop on pest control
  • Transition Eastville
  • History of the Frome – natural history, migratory trout, fossils etc.
  • Guided trails by local experts
  • Geocaching trails along the river – with GPS?  (could link to GreenMapping)
  • GreenMapping the river

Arts/creative/physical activities

  • Art project using all the trash collected by the Environment Agency at the Easville Depot
  • Singing – old songs – for older people to teach younger people and vice versa – could be pre M32 – et 1950s theme.
  • Open air Open mic – retro/jazz/acoustic/
  • Yoga/Tai Chi in tranquil spots
  • Dragon boat racing!
  • Recreating a boating party on the lake – bring a boat Wrap the M32 pillars with IKEA fabric (IKEA has a community liaison officer)


5. Stories

And finally, we asked where are the stories? Do you have any? Who might? Can you suggest books or materials that might be of use?


  • M-shed – extant oral histories – a starting point
  • Eastville library, Muller Road – photos, stories, pre/post M32, Stapleton Gasworks
  • Is there a history of Eastville?  Yes – a book.
  • Glenside Hospital Museum

 Other sources of stories

  • Heath House Priory Hospital
  • Glenfrome Primary Schools is the thread in this community  – it is celebrating 60th Jubilee this year!
  • Bishops Palace (Colston’s School)
  • Sikh Temple, Stapleton Road
  • Bridge Farm
  • Individuals  – who was flooded?  Especially in 1968
  • Facebook site for Eastville in the 1900s

Water stories about…

  • Boiling Wells St Werburghs spring used as a supply of fresh water to ships in the harbour
  • Pack Bridge
  • Wickham Court  – Roundheads and Cavaliers stopped before the truce where Robert the royalist walked out of Bristol with no arms drawn
  • Canoe explorations!
  • Friends of the Frome
  • Loss of the Frome Valley Walkway
  • Stories of ley lines

Other stories – wider than water

  • 13 Arches gone, M32 came!
  • The story of the stolen lampposts (1890s lampposts were taken to Cotham!)  and St Werburghs gas lamp
  • Eastville Market
  • Football Ground
    • Football Club – Purdown Predators?
    • Fairground in winter and Rovers Ground
    • Rovers Supporters Club
    • Eastville Stadium (Rovers) dog track. The underpass from Stapleton Rd was built to serve the football ground and dog track.
    • Cottrell Road street parties
  • Wesley’s speech at Baptist Mill

This is a really great starting point to help us carry the project forward together – in terms of both the gathering of stories and narratives and the arts and creative work that we hope will now start to unfold. So, a huge thank you to everyone who came and shared ideas and energy at this meeting. Please do leave any thoughts or additional suggestions as comments to this blog posting or email . We look forward to seeing you again and meeting more of you at the next project event which will be our first arts day on Saturday 16th June at Glenfrome School – more details to follow in the next blog!

Eastville Multi-Story Water introductory meeting for stakeholders – 23 May 2012 (evening 7.30-9.15) at Glen Frome School, Eastville

We would like to invite you to an introductory meeting about the Multi-Story Water Eastville project, and find out how you would like to see the project work in the Eastville area. Initially we are talking to “stakeholders” – that is people who belong to an organisation or group which is active or working in the area. Individual residents are also very welcome. The other half of the project is in Shipley, near Bradford where a similar section of water has been chosen.

At this meeting, further details will be provided about the project; there will be plenty of opportunities for discussion. There will be people from the organisations active in the project – for example, UWE, the University of Bristol’s Cabot Institute, Streets Alive, as well as regulatory and responsible bodies like Bristol City Council and the Environment Agency.

What are the positives and negatives about living by the river Frome? The main aim of the meeting is to listen to what the local active groups feel would be appropriate for the area. We want to find out what is already going on, and what the hopes and fears are of the groups in the area. Ideally we would then come up with activities which enhance what is already going on – taking some ideas to the next stage and leaving behind a legacy of visible change.

Meeting details:
Where: Glenfrome Road (
When: 7.30 – 9.15 pm Wednesday 23 May 2012.
Who: People from groups active in the Eastville area bordering the river who are interested in the river Frome
Refreshments will be served.

The workshop will be run in a participatory way to get the most out of the short time we have together.

Outcomes of the project could be:
• Street parties – have already been suggested by some neighbours
• Community arts projects – a textile project has already been suggested by neighbours.
• Water stories/ oral history collected from the neighbourhood and lodged with MShed to preserve social and environmental history for future.
• Arts related workshops and events – we have an arts facilitator ready to hear your ideas.
• Water related workshops and events – if required scientists from the Cabot Institute, Bristol University, University of the West of England, and Environment Agency could help with this
• Workshops focusing on local history and geography around the Frome – drawing on local knowledge
• A weekend of activities in September 2012 to mark the culmination of activities

We do hope you will be able to join us at this introductory workshop. To help with numbers for refreshments, please could you email [email protected] (project admin support) if you know you are able to come to the meeting.

Yours sincerely

The Eastville Multi-Story Water project team

Niagara Falls on the Frome

If anyone spotted a short girl in a red anorak geeking out with a phone camera at the EA suice gates on Tuesday afternoon, that will have been me (Jess, the arts facilitator on the project). I thought I’d take advantage of the sun bravely venturing  out, to make another tour of the ‘hood, seeking out the sites (and sights) along the river and under the motorway where nature meets concrete meets people meets water – and lots of it.

My original plan was to drift upstream, trying to capture objects, sights and sounds from a new angle than the way we might view them in the everyday; a lens through which to look at these places differently – and especially as spaces we could use to take and make ‘art’ and tell stories, whether that will be through singing, dancing, walking, knitting, acting, juggling, spoon-playing, skating, drawing, beatboxing….whatever the talents, interests and desires of the multi-skilled folks of the ‘ville may be. Like Alice’s rabbithole, I was looking for a way to fall into Wonderland, Eastville-style.

But I got far more than I bargained for at the sluice gates – which were open to allow the river to by-pass the city (so I’ve learned!) – and there was high drama as the Frome raced and frothed furiously through, creating a fine mist of spray. Like a stereotypical tourist, I just couldn’t stop filming, whilst grinning and exclaiming excitedly to passers-by ‘It’s just like Niagara Falls!’. From Eastville to geeksville…


Walk this Way! This Sunday (April 22)

Eastville and Frome Walk This Sunday!

Hello everybody.   We’ve come across something you may be interested in this Sunday.  Its not specifically related to the Multi-Story Water project, but is incredibly good timing for people to walk the area and the Frome and begin thinking about what improvements might be made to the area’s sometimes wonderful and sometimes ugly water resources and features.   Below is the blurb.   Alison, from our team will be going on the walk so you’ll meet her there if you go.   Please let Geoff Haslam of the RSA know if you’d like to come on [email protected]

M32 – Connecting Communities

The M32 has two distinguishing features; it is the shortest motorway in the UK, and it reaches further into the city than any other.

When it was designed and constructed it was clearly intended to bring economic benefit to the city. It is assumed that it continues to do this, but at some cost to the communities through which is passes.

One of the RSA’s guiding themes is “connecting communities”. The local (south west) group decided some months ago to investigate the potential to ‘re‐connect’ the adjacent communities, if indeed this is what they want. At a meeting some months ago a few volunteers offered to take this idea forward. The next M32 event is planned for Sunday 22 April.

We will meet in the middle of the Eastville roundabout (between Tesco and Eastville Park) at 10:00am.

The walk will involve the length of the space under and beside the motorway from the Merchants Arms to River Street. The aim will be to make creative suggestions for improvements. I expect to finish by 12:30pm at the latest.

Please do let me know if you plan to join us. I attach some background information and look forward to meeting you on the 22nd at 10:00am prompt.

Please contact Geoff Haslam for more information and to register your intention to attend – [email protected]

Eastville’s Sluice Gates

Meet Melvin Wood, the man from the Environment Agency…

Melvin is one of the EA’s technical specialists, and he knows all about the Eastville sluice gates and the heavy concrete engineering that the River Frome is subjected to as it flows up to them. Melvin’s enthusiasm for concrete (a substance which – let’s face it – many of us find pretty ugly!) comes from years of training and experience, but it’s also quite infectious!

As Melvin explains it, the river has to be “canalised” in the way it is, with sheet metal piling, concrete struts, and the rest of it, in order that the river’s flow up to the sluices is orderly and controlled. This means that the Frome can safely be channelled underground at this point, to flow in culverts toward the city centre, where it connects with the Floating Harbour and the Avon. Also at the Eastville sluices is the mouth of a giant Interceptor Tunnel (it’s just below the little red-brown hut in this picture), which in flood conditions will siphon off excess water and send it rushing off down five miles of piping to the Avon Gorge: that way the underground culverts don’t get flooded (that would cause chaos at street level, with water coming up through the ground!). So basically this engineering in Eastville is vital to the safety and smooth functioning of the rest of the city. And we don’t just need to take Melvin’s word for this: Jeff Neal, one of the hydrologists we’ve met from Bristol University’s Geographical Sciences department, confirms these details. Cities are basically big, man-made machines, and they need big structures to operate smoothly.

The thing is, of course, that however important and cleverly designed this all is, it’s not particularly pleasant to live with. It’s hardly surprising if people living in this area feel a “disconnect” from the river, given the way it is fenced off in the run-up to the sluices (and flows underneath a motorway – another of the city’s key arteries…).

How could all this be made a bit less grim and offputting, we might ask ourselves? Could some creative interventions help us look differently at it?