The Road Project at FRONT ROOM 2019

If you’re interested in the impact of the demolitions of the 1960s and 1970s on Totterdown, you’re invited to come along to a series of events hosted by the Road Project as part of the Front Room Arts Trail, Friday 15th-Sunday 17th November.

In the late 1960s an Inner City Ring Road was proposed which was to cut through Bristol from the M32. In Totterdown, 500 homes and businesses were reduced to rubble, and 5000 people displaced ready for the road. In the end it was never built.

The Road Project, Bristol-based Calling the Shots and community arts organisation Wyldwood Arts will be presenting a series of short plays by playwright Mike Akers, directed by Rachel Adams. The performances will take place in three different houses in Firfield Street and Stanley Hill, featuring voices from the community, exploring the continuing impact of the car on residents of Totterdown from three different eras, including the days of demolition. Using atmospheric and intimate locations and small audiences, the plays will be designed to work on a very human level. Limited space so booking recommended – Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th November, 11am-5pm.

Jeremy Routledge from Calling the Shots and The Road Project says: “This is an exciting development for The Road Project, and Calling the Shots are delighted to be engaging and supporting local organisation’s involvement. We are so pleased to be working with local florist and art business Floriography, the young people’s 138 Arts Collective, Hillcrest Primary School, Knowle and Totterdown Local History Society and local churches to research and develop the project. The mix of people and ideas has resulted in an amazing expression of Totterdown’s history and future.”

Rachel Adams from Wyldwood says: “I am thrilled that Wyldwood are involved in developing a new performance for The Road project, and delighted that we will be presenting the first performances at the Totterdown Arts Trail. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the lives of a community segregated by the unrealised Ring Road plans. The three site-specific monologues written by Mike Akers, will offer an insight into the lives of local people who are only now realising the full impact of what happened over 50 years ago. It’s a real privilege to be working with the community to help tell this story.”

The Road Project and local primary Hillcrest School will also be presenting The Three Streets Open Museum. This was a very popular event at Totterdown Great Get Together in June 2019. Throughout the weekend, the three small, interlinked streets of Firfield, Frederick and Parliament (just off the Wells Road) will be festooned with all manner of artwork, historical information and photos – all revealing the stories and ghosts of past residents, some tragic, some funny, some amazing and some truly gruesome. Much of the work was created by students from Hillcrest and supported by teacher and local resident Wendy Bonner with invaluable input from the Knowle and Totterdown Local History Society. No booking required.

 John O’Connor, local resident and researcher at the Road Project, says“The staggering amount of history contained in this small thoroughfare of just 50 houses has completely taken us by surprise. By bringing to life the ghosts of past residents and, by following their vapour trails, we have been able to gain remarkable insights to the ordinary, extraordinary and downright shocking.”

Nearby, on Zone A, a piece of land reserved for community use after the city council cleared over 500 houses and shops from the once thriving community, John O’Connor from the Road Project will give a talk on the life and times of the most notorious resident of the ‘Three Streets’ – Victorian mass murderer, Amelia Dyer. In the late 19th century, Dyer was responsible for 400 infant deaths, many in this area of Bristol. Not for the faint hearted, Zone A, Wells Road, Saturday, 16th November – free but booking advised.

As if all that wasn’t enough, there’ll be a fascinating community art workshop located at Amba House, the former Thali Restaurant, on William Street. Artist Catherine Knight will be running a FREE drop-in workshop based on a series of old historical photographs of Totterdown from The Road Project archive. Amba House – old Thali, Sunday 17th November 12-6pm.

Catherine Knight says “Come and take part in a large-scale communal drawing using projected images from The Road Project. During the day we will create a multi-layered collaborative drawing. Drop in and make your mark! All ages welcome…”

To stay up-to-date with project news, to book events and for ways to get involved, search for ‘Totterdown Road Project’ on Facebook and Twitter or

email . Check out the Front Room Art Trail website for all the news about the weekend.