Built to Inspire, Transformed for War.
Visit the exhibition from 1 November – 30 November and join us for a talk by Clive Burlton on 8 November, 6.30-8pm.
Ask most Bristolians where or what was the ‘White City’ and you’ll get a blank look. That’s not surprising as the name only lives on nowadays as a series of allotments adjacent to Bedminster Cricket Club. The 30-acre site near Brunel Way, between Ashton Gate and the Cumberland Basin hosted some intriguing episodes in Bristol’s past.
The 1914 Bristol International Exhibition was an extravaganza that was half trade fair – showing off the products and achievements of Britain’s empire and dominions – and half theme park with a roller-coaster ride, daily pageants and even a troupe of lions. Due to run from May to October 1914, it was insolvent from the start. With most of the ideas and money coming from London, Bristol’s ‘cordial’ support wasn’t enough and the declaration of war on 4th August 1914 finished it off prematurely.
It closed for good on 15th August 1914 – symbolically the same day that the Colston Hall opened its doors to local recruits wanting to join Kitchener’s Army. Needing somewhere to house the Bristol volunteer soldiers, the War Office acquired the exhibition site for use as a military barracks. Before they went to war, a succession of locally raised infantry battalions and artillery units were housed in the International Pavilion, Bostock’s Jungle and a replica of Bristol Castle and dug dummy trenches and practised rifle drill in front of the surreal structures.
Clive Burlton’s talk and exhibition tell the story of Bristol’s transition from peacetime to wartime in 1914 through the eyes of the White City site.
The talk and exhibition are free, but donations are welcome.
Spaces for the talk on 8 November are limited. To book a place, please call 0117 9264740 or email Kate Rogers firstname.lastname@example.org.