First Base partners with Visit Bristol to celebrate Old Market’s diverse heritage and history

From the medieval tales of the Stag and Hounds public house to the former abode of Britain’s most prolific serial killer, Bristol’s ancient Old Market is home to an eclectic mix of historical landmarks and stories, many unknown to the everyday Bristolian.

Now, a new partnership hopes to bring some of this little-known history to life with a series of alternative walking tours which will take people on a fascinating journey of discovery over the course of a couple of hours.

First Base is developing the Grade-II listed Soapworks building at the former Gardiner Haskins site, has teamed up with Visit Bristol to create an exciting walking route which encourages people to really get under the skin of Old Market’s abundant history.

Launching on 1st April 2020 to coincide with National Walking Day, the walking tours will begin outside the Bristol Marriott Hotel City Centre – where the entrance to Bristol Castle once stood – and end in the haunted canteen at Gardiner Haskins, where it’s believed a hungry poltergeist lives!

Lucinda Mitchell, project director at First Base, said: “With so many historic landmarks in Old Market including the Soapworks building, we wanted to share the place we now call home with the everyone in the city. We know that celebrating Old Market’s heritage is really important to local people and our partnership with Visit Bristol is the perfect way to do this.”

So far, landmarks along the route include a former pie-poudre court (an occasional court set up during times of market to quickly deal with disputes that arose), the 18th century birthplace of Sir Thomas Lawrence, the leading British portrait painter for the royal family and a former Church of England church handed over to the Bristol Caribbean Community Enterprise Group to create a centre for youth, community and arts activities.

John Hirst, chief executive of Destination Bristol, added: “Old Market is a hive of activity and has historical gems galore. We’re passionate about imparting our knowledge of the city and Old Market is no exception. With so much to learn about the area I want to encourage residents and visitors alike to get their walking shoes on and start exploring!”

The tours will also run on Wednesday 22nd April and Wednesday 13th May, the latter of which will take place during Bristol’s hugely popular, annual walking festival, Bristol Walk Fest.

First Base and Visit Bristol are asking local residents to share their knowledge of the area or any of Old Market’s hidden gems on social media using the hashtag #oldmarketgems.

To sign-up to the event, please click here

First Base is proposing to transform the Soapworks site with a landmark mixed-use development that will celebrate Bristol’s industrial past and creative future. The new development will comprise of approximately 150 new homes – including affordable housing – an aparthotel, commercial office and retail space, a vibrant food and drink offer and green, open spaces for the public to enjoy.