Hello and welcome to a Fact Tracks special, if you are here cos you downloaded Dark Impressions the album or Dark Impressions the poem book which can be both found in my store or on bandcamp the link is at the bottom of this page, thanks for being here and checking me out I really do appreciate it. If you didn’t know you can download this year’s Halloween album Dark Impressions for free and you get the free Ebook with it of 12 poems based around the photos me and my mate once took when I was taking pictures for Flickr. To celebrate Halloween as it’s Halloween next month and to go with the album and poem Ebook, I decided to make a blog post to go with it which explains the stories behind the pictures and poems. I have many moody dark photos as our cameras are crap and we were always out in night so I had a collection of photos which I didn’t know what to do with and this is just one of the ways of using the photos up as I feel they are going to waste, anway let’s get on with it shall we.
Ghost Mist is based around Bristol & Bath cycle track but has much history behind it. The cycle track was first a Dramway in the 18th century and pushed coal to the River Avon Bristol’s main river. It was a horse-drawn railway and got its name from the ‘drams’ or carts that carried the coal. Construction work started in 1829, with sections opening between 1830 and 1834, and the line was in use until around 1866. The route of the Dramway was carefully constructed to make maximum use of the slope of the land down to the River Avon, and there are several cuttings and embankments along the route, to give an even, gentle gradient. Coal was loaded into carts and these rolled slowly down the slope, led by horses and controlled by a brakeman or ‘guide’. Horses pulled the empty carts back up the track to the coal mines. After it was shut down around the 1600’s due to the railway boom in Britain it was turned into a railway track but was abandoned for many of years before being turned into a railway track until it closed and got turned into a cycle track. The place is said to be haunted and once had a play and film made about the place called The Ghost Train wrote by Arnold Ridley who I know best of the deaf one from TV comedy Dad’s Army. The night we took the photo of in question which appears to be a face with a hole in its head was a strange one, I’m not much of a believer when it comes to these things but it freaked us both out but more my mate sorry lol. I’m more rational and would say it’s my face catching in the camera and is a cool glitch but my mate would probably say it was the real deal but I’m still a sceptic. The weird thing which I didn’t get in the poem is we were about to take a picture and the batteries go so we put new ones in and we laugh and say what’s going to be on that last picture before it went off as it just held out before breaking down and we turn it back on and he was gone and I was left like WTF where did he go, all I could hear is him panicking which made me laugh even more honestly I thought it was hilarious and I still do. It wasn’t the first time the batteries went off and on the exact spot as I was standing last time too but I was alone that time and nothing special come out. Not only did the batteries stop working we spent 5 minutes finding new ones out of a new batch and they didn’t seem to want to work either, kind of sketchy thinking about it but still I’m not a believer.
Snow Bat is inspired by a snowman me and my mate built when it was knee-deep in snow, okay it wasn’t that bad but it was bad though. It was a normal snowman at first but then we got creative as we do and made a half-bat half snowman, funny enough it was just off the cycle path near Warmly. There’s not a lot to say about this photo except for it took us a couple of hours I think and poor old Patch who was with us, was running around probably trying to keep warm we got some good photos of her and the Snowbat though who by the way we called Radar, I wonder if it flew off it never called for us.
Coal Tunnel is inspired by the Coaling site which is just off the cycle track in Pucklechurch. Brandy Colliery is a 19th-century Colliery (coal mine) and was open till 1914 when it was shut down after swapping hands over a few times. The mine was then used for ventilating and acted as an emergency exit for miners who could have been trapped without this emergency exit, it was then shut down in 1936 where it has been derelict ever since. The dramway which runs alongside the coal mine and goes to Bristol to Bath was used by the mining field to push carts drawn by horse and carts to Bristol and beyond. The site is said to be having a restoration and the last time I went down there which was a couple of years ago now it was having work done on it but what work it was is uncertain.
BLAISE AT TWLIGHT
Blaise Castle Estate in Lawrence Weston, Bristol has like many Bristol areas has a lot of history. It was first occupied around the Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman periods but after the Dissolution of the Monasteries, it was sold off. In 1766 Thomas Farr commissioned Robert Mylne to build the sham castle in Gothic Revival style. After Farr’s bankruptcy, the estate was sold several times until purchased by John Scandrett Harford, who demolished the previous dwelling in 1789 and built the Neoclassical Blaise Castle House. His son, also named John Scandrett Harford, continued with the development of the buildings and estate, which his family occupied until 1926 when it was bought by Bristol City Council. The park was laid out by Humphry Repton in the early 19th century. The estate is now owned by Bristol City Council. The house is run as a museum by the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery and holds a variety of collections. The Picture Room, added in the 1830s, is hung with paintings, mostly of the 19th century. There are selections on display from Bristol Museum’s 10,000 items of historic costume, and of toys from the 18th century to the 1980s. The sham gothic castle (seen in the picture) was also built in 1766 and was said to only cost £3,000 to build and it was inhabited into the 20th century and was elaborately decorated internally.
Pyscho Path is based yet again on the Dramway now cycle path and the tunnel is near to Staple Hill in Bristol. Though this bit is reasonably okay to walk down though it has it’s bad times there are some parts like nearer to Bristol town can be quite dangerous. I’ve been nearly stabbed and I got attacked with bottles on the cycle track on two separate occasions and I know many who have been either attacked or mugged whilst being on the cycle track which is why I walk the streets at dark now even in the light it’s quite dodgy for me. The time I was attacked with bottles after that I was admitted into a mental hospital which I was treated for psychosis so I guess I have them to thank them for in a way but at the time I didn’t see it that way and thought people were coming out to get me and I wasn’t happy about it put it like that.
Negative asylum is about once an asylum in Hanham Bristol. Hanham Hall Hospital was built in 1655 as a country house by Richard Jones the son of a Bristol Draper. In Victorian times it belonged to the Whittucks family. Harold burden and his wife Katherine took out a lease on Hanham Hall in 1915, they made many changes turning it from a farm to an institution. The Burden’s established the National Institutions for persons requiring care and control. They also opened the Hospital at Stoke park, also in Bristol]. The N.H.S. bought Hanham Hall in 1954 and later became a residential care home and closed in 2000. The hospital has been turned into an eco-village and I yet haven’t been down to take a look even though it’s been there for years. I never got a chance to fully explore the hospital only around 2001 we got in the administration building and found some disturbing old photos of some of the patients and they didn’t look happy and some looked like they were crying. One of my friends took the photos back home and her mum said she didn’t want them in the house and told her to take them back which she did. I wished I kept them in a way but they were quite horrible and spooky to have in your house.
Orange footsteps is about an abandoned chocolate factory once owned by a company called Elizabeth Shaw and is just off the cycle track in Greenbank, Bristol. Elizabeth Shaw is the trading name of a Bristol-based company that markets chocolate-based confectionery, including the brands Famous Names chocolate liqueurs and Elizabeth Shaw after-dinner mints.
The business was founded in 1881, as H.J. Packer, in Armoury Square, Bristol, but, having outgrown its original premises, moved to a newly built factory in Greenbank, Bristol in 1915. Its fortunes waxed and waned over the next century, being owned by, amongst others, James Goldsmith and James (Lord) Hanson. In 2006, faced with the high costs associated with the 330,000 sq feet building, the company relocated its manufacturing to factories in the UK and in mainland Europe and closed the then 105-year-old factory. In March 2006 Elizabeth Shaw was purchased by Nói Síríus, the largest confectionery manufacturer in Iceland. It was subsequently purchased by a Norwegian company, Imagine Capital. In 2016, Colian, Poland’s largest confectionery manufacturer, acquired Elizabeth Shaw from Imagine Capital. The building was derelict between the years 0f 2007- 2019 where they have just started on building new houses on the site, though it has had many visitors including me and my mate who went there when it was snowing in 2009 it was easy to get into without any trouble but we did have trouble the next day when we went back to take pictures of the exterior and I had a baseball bat swang at me they said they were security but I’m still not sure and still ain’t? I do remember having to climb a big fence to get in which was a laugh to get over it was quite a tall fence but we both manage to get over just about I say just about you should have seen us but it was worth it as we got some good photos and seen the whole site which was pretty big but I still long for an abandoned asylum I love them.
THE UNWANTED CHURCH
The Unwanted Church off Kingswood high street in Bristol called Whitefield’s sometimes Whitfield’s Tabernacle is a former Calvinistic Methodist and Congregational (now United Reformed) church in Kingswood, a town on the eastern edge of Bristol where George Whitefield preached in the open air to coal miners. The name refers to two buildings in which the church met. The congregation originally met in the New Society Room which was built in 1741 for George Whitefield and John Cennick after a separation occurred between them and John Wesley. In 1851 a very large gothic building, designed by Henry Masters, was constructed just west of the original tabernacle. In the late 20th century this building was closed and the United Reformed Church congregation moved back into the original 18th-century building for a few years, before leaving both buildings to join together for worship with another congregation associated with the 18th-century revival, the Moravian Church, in the Moravian building on the other side of the High Street. In 2003 the Tabernacle featured in the BBC’s Restoration series. As of 2007, there were plans for the redevelopment of the three listed buildings on the Tabernacle site, namely the two churches and the 18th century Chapel House. Though it is very close to me I have only visited twice once inside and once outside and the time we went inside it had a lot of pigeons flying around but it was okay if you ain’t scared of birds. The cool thing was that there were passageways that were underneath the floorboards and being curious I got down and seen where it led to, sadly nowhere but blocked doors but it was worth looking I hate to think what I was crawling on though. The abandoned church is still abandoned and has been for many years it’s a grade I building so it’s pretty special and there have been talks of restoring the building which we are all waiting to see well I am anyway.
LUNA WOODY WOLF
Luna Woody Wolf is based around a photo I took that is in Hanham Woods in Hanham, Bristol with my dog. The photo ain’t photoshopped and came out this way as I looked it up and it’s to do with it being a cheap camera and the shutter speed of the camera but it took some good photos of it. The place where the picture was taken when not overgrown you can get some really good shots of forests and looks like from another country as they are tall like rainforest trees but it looks like out of a horror movie. Hanham woods just doesn’t just end in Hanham and goes all the way to main Bristol to Bath and has a canal river and locks along the way too with many acres of woods which isn’t that expansive only at parts but still room for camping or woody activities.
STAIRS OF DESPAIR
Stairs Of Despair is based around once an asylum but now it’s a drug and rehabilitation centre. Blackberry Hospital in Fishponds Bristol was first opened as a prison in 1779, many of its buildings and the co-located Glenside campus of the University of the West of England (UWE) are Grade II listed. From 1948 until 2005 the site was also a geriatric hospital, for many of those years being the major geriatric hospital in South West England. In 2009, 21 acres of the site, incorporating the oldest buildings, was sold to the UK Government’s Homes and Communities Agency and is proposed to be redeveloped as part of a wider regeneration project. During the American Revolutionary War, the prisons were built and were developed to house Dutch and Spanish prisoners of war who had been landed at Bristol Docks. After George III recognised the 13 United States of America as free and independent in 1783, the prisoners were sent home. The site formally adopted the title ‘Stapleton Prison’, but was underutilised in civilian use, and was again expanded from 1793 after the commencement of the Napoleonic Wars. A third prison building was completed in 1804, used most recently as nurses’ accommodation. After the Treaty of Paris of 1814, the prisoners were again repatriated. Writing in London Labour and the London Poor, published in 1862, Henry Mayhew recounted a letter sent by the secretary of the Bristol Society for the Suppression of Vice in 1808. It was then used as a naval store and then a school for naval boys, after a cholera outbreak in 1834 led to overcrowding of Bristol’s first workhouse at St Peter’s Hospital, the Bristol Corporation of the Poor rented the old prison. After purchasing the site in 1837, they began to make alterations, adding to the walls separating the different sections of the site. In 1861, they demolished many of the oldest prison buildings and built the main structure of what later become Blackberry Hill Hospital. On the 1880 Ordnance Survey map, it is shown as the Bristol Union Workhouse. At the start of the First World War, the site was turned over to become Stapleton Institution for the Maintenance and Workshop Training of Certified Mental Defectives. The facility housed and then trained those assessed as mentally defective in domestic and industrial crafts so that they could be deployed in the war effort. After the end of hostilities, these housing and post-assessment training activities continued. After the Second World War, the National Health Service Act 1946 turned the informal retention activity into a full mental health facility, under the title Stapleton Hospital. Records show that on take over by the NHS, the facility was caring for 837 patients: 350 under the Mental Treatment Act 1930; 152 mentally handicapped; 80 social misfits. Even after the takeover, the previous regime stayed in place, with patients assessed as capable enough working for their keep in the hospital’s kitchens, bakery and for local farms. However, in 1948 it became Stapleton Hospital for Geriatric Illness, the site is still a mental institute and also holds people with drug and alcohol problems and I’m still waiting for it to become fully abandoned for exploring purposes.
Frozen web was based around this photo which was taken at Southy Park in Bristol Kingswood. It was minus that night and I was out late around 2 in the morning taking photos for Flickr as I hate going out in the day time and at rush hour times and plus I like to get dark shots which are best taken at night. I used to go out a lot at night before the eventful night where I was attacked on the cycle track now I like to stay in but when with my mate. I will have to go out and take more photos I’m also looking for a better camera a proper digital camera not those canned ones.
Last Stop is about a disused Railway station that is in Mangotsfield, Bristol that is part of the now cycle track and once a Dramway and then a railway station. Mangotsfield railway station was a railway station on the Midland Railway route between Bristol and Birmingham, 5.1 miles (8.2 km) north-east of Bristol Temple Meads and 82 miles (132 km) from Birmingham New Street, serving what is now the Bristol suburb of Mangotsfield. The station was opened in 1845 by the Bristol and Gloucester Railway but had very little in the way of passenger amenities. The station was resited in 1869 to serve the new Mangotsfield and Bath Branch Line and became an important junction station with extensive facilities and six platforms. Passenger footfall, however, failed to match the station’s size, though at its peak eight staff were employed. The station closed in 1966 when services to Bath ended as part of the Beeching cuts, and the line through the station closed in 1969. The railway became a cycle path in the 1980s and is a popular resting point on the route as several of the station’s walls and platforms are still in situ, there have been a number of collisions, derailments and fatal accidents at Mangotsfield. I can’t remember much on the night I took this picture but I was told we went and built Radar our bat snowman or Snowbat not so far from the picture. The station is on the way to Bath on the cycle track and still has a platform there with suitcases stuck on the floor as art I think it’s meant to be.