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The Rife Team

This is an article about a bridge in Bristol (not the famous one)

Credit: Steve Daniels

Credit: Steve Daniels

Jon’s Bristol is under threat, or he’s just weirdly sentimental about a bridge: you decide.

I will admit straight away that if I’d accidentally clicked on an article about a bridge (because, let me assure you, it would definitely have been an accidental click) then I wouldn’t hesitate to move on to something else – probably a really satisfying list of cat gifs or reasons why I should adore Jennifer Lawrence.

However, there’s a bridge in Bristol that I have come to realise – in retrospect – actually means something to be. Sad, no?

I’m an art graduate of UWE, which means I’ve spent a lot of time walking through the south of the city and along the river. I could go into depth about the variety of objects/things/bits of art that I have been seen dragging along behind me – most notably a bag of soil so heavy that it led to a three month knee injury – but that would distract from the point of this article: Ashton Avenue Bridge

Credit: stopbrt2.org.uk

Credit: stopbrt2.org.uk

I’ll guess that most of us won’t even know where I’m talking about, mainly because I had no idea the bridge even had a name until I researched for this piece. Until then my friends and I had affectionately called it something that unfortunately wouldn’t pass the Rife editor’s screening, but I will reveal that it stemmed from the unfortunate amount of dog feces we often had to dodge while on it.

Regardless, it appears that this bridge is part of a grand plan for a new bus route from the city centre all the way through south Bristol, which doesn’t sound too bad on paper, right? It does, however, mean that Ashton Avenue Bridge has to change in several aspects; firstly, vehicles are currently not allowed on the bridge – it’s purely for pedestrians, cyclists and the odd horse (and because of that it’s really, really nice). Secondly, to cope with the weight of a bus, the bridge needs to be strengthened; this means some significant changes, and will – I imagine – affect how the bridge looks quite a lot. Which leads me onto, funnily enough, the overall aesthetic of Ashton Avenue Bridge:

Over grown, pot holed and graffiti ridden are all phrases you’d find hard to argue against when describing the structure. It bears the scars of decades of usage, first as a railway track and now as a cycle path, with every surface covered in spray paint (including the tarmac itself).

Credit: Stephen Wickham

Credit: Stephen Wickham

And that, right there, is exactly what makes the bridge so charming. It might not be some quaint little hump-back over a gently meandering brook in the countryside, nor does it have the grandeur of Brunel’s slightly larger effort just down the gorge, but it has that elusive quality that people spend entire property TV shows searching for: character. Lol.

That character, however, has also meant that the bridge is now on the Heritage Under Threat list, which indicates that it will need some pretty serious work at some point in the future to avoid it collapsing and cutting off the entire of south Bristol (perhaps I’m embellishing a little there but it would inconvenience a lot of people – let alone anybody actually using the bridge at the time of downfall.)

I spent some time researching the official plans for the bus route and it was like wading through phlegm – off-putting and super boring, to the point where I just gave up and looked at the aforementioned list of cat gifs instead. Indicative of my generation, perhaps – or merely my age – I remain unsure as to the most recent changes to the route proposals because I just don’t understand the jargon nor can I pin point the latest developments.

As a young person (early twenties) should I even be bothered about a piece of architecture? Are the people protesting the plans simply afraid of change? The more I read into my own decision to tackle this issue the more I begin to realise that I regard Bristol as my home, even though i’ve only lived here on and off for the last four years.

And it would appear that there’s some things about my new home I don’t want to change; I do, however, recognise that change is necessary, in some form.

* Adopts Chandler Bing voice *: could this conclusion be any vaguer?

Quite a few people in Bristol are against the plans; have a look at their website to see a breakdown of everything that’s going on, and you can also find them on Facebook and Twitter. There’s even an organised protest on the 10th August at 10:30am if you fancied joining in with action (see the latest post in this thread.)

Are you also in love with a piece of architecture? Perhaps a pelican-crossing or a bollard? I’d like to hear your thoughts on this because I clearly haven’t worked out what I think about the issue. Talk to us on Facebook or tweet us @Rifemag and share your opinion, or if there’s a similar thing happening where you live.

Author’s note: here is a list of really satisfying cat gifs and here is why you should adore Jennifer Lawrence