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Where is Bristol city centre? Locals debate location

View looking out over Bristol's harbour towards Bedminster
The debate over Bristol's city centre has raged for years

A subject that has been hotly debated for many years is where is Bristol's city centre - is it the historic centre where the High Cross was or St Augustine's Parade?

Or perhaps it is one of the newer parts such as Broadmead or the new Cabot Circus shopping centre.

Here, two local experts look at where the centre is and how it has changed over the centuries.

Maurice Fells, local writer

A good question. Are you talking about the geographic centre of Bristol or the shopping centre?

If you want a very brief history - in ancient days the centre of the city was at the junction of the four roads of High Street, Wine Street, Broad Street and Corn Street where there was the medieval High Cross. It was there for over 500 years.

As Bristol grew and developed from its original 13 acres what became then known as the city centre - and especially after World War II - St Augustine's Parade became known as the Tramway Centre because most of the trams started and finished there. That was known for years and years as the centre of Bristol.

An official guide published by the council from 1950 says "stand at the centre of Bristol in St Augustine's Parade".

Some people say the centre is Cabot Circus - while that is the shopping centre. And let's not forget the original shopping centre, before it was bombed, was Wine Street and High Street. Other people talk about the centre being Millennium Square.

But does Bristol really have a focal point? Bristol doesn't really have a place where you can say you will meet.

John Frenkel, Bristol Civic Society

The centre has become fractured. The central area of Bristol has become split apart by road schemes over the last 50 or 60 years and some very intrusive development which has really separated, for example, Old Market from the rest of the city and chipped off the Tramway Centre from Cabot Circus.

The city looked at this in 2006 and came up with an area plan and this divides up the city between the commercial area of Broadmead, harbourside and Temple and it wanted to link up these three areas.

This is partially done by successfully linking the harbourside to the centre and there's the Millennium mile going up to the Temple quarter but this is still work in progress.

The Civic Society is very concerned about a particular area which is the west of Cabot Circus where there's a lot of 1970s and 1980s office blocks where there's a huge amount of empty space.

Maurice and John were talking to BBC Radio Bristol's Steve Le Fevre.




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