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Rebuilding Bristol In The 1950s

A Memory of Bristol

When Bristol started rebuilding in the 1950s, it promised itself a shopping centre fitting for the Young Elizabeth age of the new Queen Elizabeth II. The old, much-loved Wine Street, Castle Street, shops had gone up in flames in the first big blitz of November 1940. The new centre, it was decided, would look towards the future.

Fine plans were prepared, creating four roomy, open piazzas on the square-shaped Broadmead area. Cars would be banned and the shops serviced in off-peak hours by lanes behind the piazzas. Pedestrians would rule. It wasn't to be. Traders were horrified at the thought of a centre where motorists wouldn't be allowed to park outside their front door and jeered at the idea of traffic-free pedestrian precincts.

The traders won. The service lanes were widened into main roads with high street frontages, the piazzas shrank to grubby service areas behind the shops and Broadmead was blighted. But those original designers had the last laugh. Today the roads the traders demanded have become pedestrian precincts and Broadmead's biggest attraction is the car-free Galleries shopping mall.

You can still see those shrunken piazzas, an unsightly monument to a short-sighted past.

A memory shared by Paul Townsend , on Dec 5th, 2009.

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