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Bristol Blue Walks, The Hidden Rivers of Bristol Project

The Environment Agency currently maintains the underground rivers and culverts of Bristol. These underground “hidden” rivers were installed over a wide range in time, some, in Saxon times, to bring water down from Brandon Hill to the city during a siege, some, as flood defence planning after 1968 floods left people rowing across town. The culverts are enormous fetes of engineering. A huge amount of labour was required to dig tunnels of such width and length to take water to or from the city in this way.

Do you know where these culverts are? Would you like to know that water was flowing under your feet while you walked through town? Would you prefer to take a boat to Cabot Circus if the city flooded as it did in 1968 or do you like the bus?

The story of the Hidden Rivers of Bristol can be told through the history, culture, engineering, environmental or artistic themes, but its one worth telling.

Aims of the Project

To connect the people of Bristol to the river network that runs beneath their feet. Through drawing attention to the water around us, visible and invisible, we hope to tell the water story in a modern urban setting. Help people to connect with water and make changes in the way they interact with it.

We hope by educating people about rivers, we will help in creating Hydrocitizens or River Champions in communities.

The more we look after our rivers, the better our environment, health and community.

Key Objectives

  • Engage the citizens of Bristol about their underground rivers.
  • Tell the story of why they were dug, how they are maintained, and the pressures on them.
  • Put markers in the parks, pavements and roads of Bristol, marking the underground river network.
  • Install interpretive boards with QR codes explaining what these markers are, the history of the culverts, and how they link with life in Bristol.
  • Provide guided walks along the routes of Bristol’s underground rivers.

The Water Action Group needs your help!

Do you know about the culverts and rivers that flow underneath Bristol? Were you there at the opening of the North Storm Inteceptor underneath Ikea? Do you know the history of the moats and culverts that brought water to Bristol Castle? Would you like to uncover the rivers in your community?

We want to tell the story of the Hidden Rivers of Bristol. If you think you could help in telling this story please get in touch with Leila.wakeham@environment-agency.gov.uk

Opportunities, Water
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