If you look around in Portishead carefully, you will find constant links to the past, whether it is the Old Lockgate in the Marina, the old bridge for the Weston, Clevedon & Portishead Railway, the old sea wall by the Old Mill pub, or the old railway line behind Sainsbury’s. These are reminders of Portishead’s Past, of what it used to be.
Some of you will know I have a passion for local history, and Portishead is full of it. I love to explore the past, buying books and old maps to understand how the town has evolved over time. I administer the Portishead Past online community, which has given me a wealth of knowledge of Portishead’s enriched industrial history and I delight in sharing them with everyone. But not everything can be discovered online.
Regrettably, much of Portishead’s past has been swept away by deindustrialisation and through modern developments, with the loss of many jobs, businesses and services, the old railway stations, the power stations and old factories like the Mustad's Nail Factory and Albright & Wilson. These ghosts of Portishead are now confined to photographs and stories. I do not think that is enough.
While we can’t bring back the past, we can preserve the history for the future. A partnership of residents, the town and district Council, and local history groups like the Gordano Civic Society, have the potential to add mix Portishead’s Past and Present by adding more information boards and plaques around Portishead, developing Portishead’s Heritage Centre in the Folk Hall, and by working together to restore local landmarks like the Old Lock Gates, and the Old Railway Bridge so that they enhance and build up Portishead’s unique identity.
I would like to safeguard, rather than erase, Portishead’s Past as we develop its future.
Understanding how our town has evolved helps us find the right track for its future. It unlocks clues to how Portishead can regenerate, and how we can make Portishead a vibrant place to live, work, and enjoy for generations to come.
It is important that we give Portishead the infrastructure it needs to thrive into the next decade, whether in leisure, jobs, transport, and affordable housing, whilst meeting the continuous needs of local residents.
The proposed Wyndham Way Study Area is designed to reunite the high street, marina, and railway. It’s essential however that future development enhances existing development - that it enhances the town and high street rather than takes away from it. This is a landmark project and has the potential to really improve the town if developers take a collaborative approach that connects our town, tackles inequalities, and adds to Portishead’s unique local identity rather than taking away from it.
As your Councillor, I will ensure that we make the most of Portishead’s Past whilst we look ahead to the future.