No better way of travelling to Bristol than via ‘God’s Wonderful Railway ‘ – stopping off for coffee in the arches under the Temple Meads ramp and near the old Midland Railway HQ.
Then a sun-lit walk – with the odd gusty wind – down to see the Paula Rego exhibition at the Arnolfini.
At last, it seems, Bristol’s International Centre for the Contemporary Arts, is back in business – delivering a quality show.
It was a good day for taking shots of the floating harbor and how could l miss those majestic Bath-built Stothert and Pitt cranes that now form part of this city’s industrial past.
Signing on for a ‘ behind the scenes ‘ tour at M Shed – the old Industrial Museum – we chanced upon another less obvious Bath connection.
Only four percent of the collection is on show to the public and one object – currently ‘in storage’ has had more than enough recent public exposure.
The paint-splattered statue of Edward Colston – spectacularly removed from its city-centre plinth and dumped in the Floating Harbour. Now it’s in limbo, while curators wait to hear what the city has decided for its permanent fate.
For me – it should be on show – as part of the museum’s excellent display installation which explains and debates Bristol’s role in the infamous slave trade.
But then, around the corner, a sedan chair which our guide explains was possibly the oldest in a regional collection. It was used in Georgian Bath and is of high quality.
He told us the faded French-styled illustrations on its sides showed up better through the lens of a smartphone. I have to agree!
My favourite piece of history, stored away in this vast warehouse, is a ‘sleeper’ horse-drawn coach that would have been used by the Duke of Beaufort on an overnight trip from Badminton House to London, if called to vote in the House of Lords.
There is space inside for his lordship to lie prone and sleep – if that was possible with such mud and stone-rutted roads.
The carriage was badly damaged during the Bristol blitz. One hopes – somewhere down the line – it can be restored.
The ‘behind the scenes’ tours happen most days at 11.30 and are FREE.