I was noodling around the derelict area around Temple Quay in Bristol recently and found this broken window. It looked rather strange to me because I was expecting there to be a space beyond it, not what looked like loft insulation.
I then realised I was looking at a totally closed building, one probably dating from the 1970s that I’d walked past many times on the way to/from work over the past 25 years or so. It seemed really strange that a building younger than I am was going to be knocked down and redeveloped. Rather a waste in fact. I also felt a sense of irony as there are the offices of banks and insurance companies nearby. Temples of greed and plenty, who have probably swallowed up places like this one whole in the name of profit and redevelopment.
Just along from here there were people waiting on the pavement. That seemed strange too because of the derelict buildings and wasteland around them, plus they were standing in a no through road. I wondered if anyone would come and pick them up or perhaps they were lost souls from the empty offices.
I found a planning notice on a lamppost nearby which told me I was standing in Old Bread Street. It reminded me how old this part of Bristol actually is, though it’s getting increasingly harder to tell. WWII devastation initially swept away much of the old buildings around these parts: now the incomplete redevelopment of this riverside area of the 1960s and 1970s is in turn being swept away in the name of progress. The Old Soap Factory in the same road is a portent of things to come: shiny expensive new flats which no-one wants to buy. The sales advertisements hang outside rather like the Knights Templar flags may have done in this area centuries ago.
Just after I took this photo a man started calling after me asking if he could help. There was a portacabin with a security guard nearby, but somehow the nature of this man’s voice said he wasn’t the security guard. Perhaps he was one of the down and outs I’d seen evidence of from the empty cans of cider scattered around the wasteland beyond the blue door. Although it was broad daylight, I shivered and suddenly felt vulnerable in this place. I walked away until I could hear the man’s voice no more.
I didn’t look back.