WHEN: Monday 4th April until Sunday 1st May 2022
LOCATION: Prior Shop, 23 Philadelphia Street, Quakers Friars, Cabot CIrcus, Bristol BS1 3BZ
Welcome to Old Market, Bristol.
The historical area of Old Market is a thriving district, home to over eighty independent businesses. This exhibition aims to let you into their world, and show you the smiling, hardworking people behind each door.
At the intersection of Old Market Street, West Street and Midland Road sits a hub of a diverse range of shops, services and companies. This exhibition will present sixty three portraits of the business owners and staff inside each building. There is a huge variety of business-owners: printing specialists; tailors; nail bars; hairdressers; restaurants; support hubs; retail shops; bars and pubs; theatres; record shops; cake makers; vintage shops, and so much more.
The area, like the majority of Bristol, is rich with history. In medieval times Old Market was home to vibrant market stalls, which were placed directly outside the castle walls (the remains of which you can still visit today, in Castle Park). It was also the main road to London, which members of the royal family paraded down during their visits. Over the last century it's had vast ebbs and flows of independent business life - from manufacturing to retail - and has always been the go-to area for bespoke, high quality craftsmanship. As far back as the 18th Century it is recorded as being a hub of trade, and a well-established shopping destination for independent businesses.
Old Market Street, West Street and Midland road have been neglected over the years.
When Castle Street was bombed in the war, shops were moved to Broadmead and the Temple Way underpass was constructed. Due to large roundabouts severing it at either end, and a road formation that has turned it into a fast ‘cut through’ route into the City Centre, Old Market became an area to pass through, rather than a place to visit.
This exhibition is to celebrate the resilient and diverse business owners that are keeping Old Market alive today, and will continue to do so in the future.
The project is organised by Beck Prior of Prior Shop and is funded by West of England Combined Authority.
Photography is by Jo Hounsome