Samuel Loxton's 1914 illustration of Jone's Buildings, a court off of Hotwells Road, is shown in the 'Our House' display in the Life Gallery, along with the story of Frank, who lived in Hotwells in the 1900s with 9 siblings.

Williams & Anderson Wood Carvers were based in Hotwells, and a selection of their tools and products is on display in the People Gallery.

Hotwells is a neighbourhood in Central Bristol. It is situated between Clifton and the Floating Harbour. It was named for the geo thermic wells that rise in the area. These wells provided the water for the Hotwells Spa which was popular in the 18th century.

"The return of the ss Great Britain from the Falklands in 1970 wasn't just a catalyst for the regeneration of the Floating Harbour but of a whole area that had become very run-down. The 1950s and 60s proved a period of feverish 'Do It Yourself' activity as people bought big Georgian houses here for ridiculous prices and did them up.

"Fit people still use the historic Zig-Zag path down the side of the gorge to Hotwells, but it was once possible to travel down on the Clifton Rocks Railway, a funicular railway within a tunnel. "Supported by the Avon Gorge hotel, this fascinating, but hidden away place, is slowly being rediscovered and opened up to the public on special occasions.

"The spectacular gorge has changed a lot since socialites and the sick visited the Hotwell Spa in the 18th century to take the waters. Did those visitors, I wonder, realise that many of the boats which passed by the attractive riverside location were involved in the slave trade?

"By the turn of the century the spa had had its day, with the wealthy visitors leaving behind many consumptive people (those with TB) seeking help from a new breed of scientists attracted to the Hotwell.

"But people like Humphry Davy – although celebrating the discovery of laughing gas (nitrous oxide) with their poet friends – couldn't help them much.

"Unfortunately, the beautiful, wooded gorge became scarred by quarrying, and then more rock faces were blasted away to widen the river for bigger ships.

"The harbour was radically changed between 1804 and 1809 when William Jessop had the vision to re-route the river Avon via a 'New Cut' through Bedminster.

"Lock-gates were installed on the old river course to ensure that the level of water remained constant.

"Now, in this new 'Float', boats were no longer left stranded on the mud and rocks at low tide.

"The Underfall Yard, with its unique Victorian maritime workshops, remains relatively unchanged, and the pleasure steamer Balmoral serves as a reminder of the Campbell's White Funnel Fleet which once used the harbour as its base.

"Although the area has architectural riches galore, it's important for us to remember that while some people lived in style in grand houses, others survived in abject poverty in sickening hovels off the Hotwell Road.

"The two biggest changes to happen to Hotwells were firstly, when the shipping moved down river to Avonmouth, and secondly, when a large area of housing was demolished for the creation of the Cumberland Basin flyover in the early 1960s"

~ Sue Stops

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