Do you have memories of the Sorting Office or Cattle Market sites?

The Royal Mail sorting office is due to be demolished in the New Year, together with the rest of the Cattle Market site, to make way for the University of Bristol’s new Temple Quarter campus.

The area has an interesting history.

John Hare & Co – the oldest company in Britain to manufacture floor cloths – was established in 1782 and based on Arena Island. The site employed around 400 people in the mid-19th century, producing 4,000-5,000 square yards of cloth every week, and exporting carpets and floor cloths to five continents. Student accommodation is due to be built on the ‘island’ as part of a mixed-use development, now that Mayor Marvin Rees has rejected the site for Bristol’s arena in favour of YTL’s Filton proposal. 

Bristol’s Cattle Market was originally based in the city centre but moved to the Temple Quarter site in 1830 and was operational until the 1960s. Cattle, pigs and horses were sent as far afield as Ireland and Canada.

The Royal Mail sorting office, next to Temple Meads railway station, was formally opened in 1938 by the then Mayor of Bristol. By 1952/3 the office received around 75,000 items of mail each week. From 1966 to 1972 a new administration block was opened, and coding desks were added later in the 1970s. But in 1977 the Royal Mail moved its sorting office to Filton.

Three artists have been appointed to document changes to the area through poetry and art. Vanessa Kissule, Bristol’s City Poet, is looking for memories and stories of people who lived or worked at the Sorting Office and Cattle Market site, or who partied there when it was abandoned and turned into an underground music venue.

If you have a memory or story to tell, you can either visit the Temple Quarter website , email or telephone 0117 428 2322. If you leave a message, one of the artists will get back to you.