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Unbuilt Bristol: The City That Might Have Been 1750-2050

by Eugene Byrne

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Eugene Byrne is a local author whose fiction books are well worth checking out ([Thigmoo] & [Things unborn] and the book he co-wrote with Kim Newman [Back in the USSA]) he’s also a journalist and a historian who has written a few GN about Darwin and Bristol. In this, his latest book, he has excelled by creating one of the best guides to the “may have been” there is out there. The built environment in Bristol has a long history and Byrne explores the period between 1750-2050 to find the buildings, monuments and other structures that have been proposed for Bristol that didn’t get built. From the amazing bridge on the cover – imagine if that had been built! To statues that failed to be placed on the fountains outside the council offices to a Victorian plan to place the main railway station in the heart of Bristol (instead we have two on the outskirts). Some of these stories are surprising, some are quirky, others are just plain odd and the book is both informative and entertaining. I highly recommend this book regardless of whether you’re familiar with Bristol or not as it shows that the built environment is shaped just as much by what isn’t built as it is by what is and includes some really interesting history.

Overall – Great resource and very entertaining history ( )
  psutto | Dec 30, 2013 |
Byrne is as always an engaging and fascinating writer in any genre. Here he turns to two of his passions, history and Bristol, and presents a look at what might have been, the places that were nearly built, the areas that were nearly destroyed. Admittedly this books could be seen to have a niche market, it does help to know Bristol (UK) a bit and visualise the lovely dock with the historic boats nestling alongside restaurants, bars and museums against the potential horror of duel carriageways riding roughshod over everything. Then again anyone interested in their environment may find something here, the trends (trams and trains, concrete bladerunneresque walkways and high rises, madcap bridges and monuments to a forgotten war). The fights are intriguing and the background of history and its economic impact hovers all around. Inspiration for our cities and towns can be found in the exciting “just for fun” plans drawn up, especially for the millennium: city farms and canals, the giant face of Brunel carved into the cliffs or a to scale replica of our solar system. The breath of ideas is a delight.

It’s all good, if this type of thing interests you I highly recommend it. It’s a pity that Unbuilt Bristol city walks were a one off too otherwise I would recommend that. Every city should have one. ( )
  clfisha | Dec 30, 2013 |
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