If you’ve been on Twitter recently, you might have noticed its name change to X. Unfortunately for Elon Musk, once we Bristolians have got a name stuck in our heads it is difficult to shift. Whether it’s the right one or not! My dad still calls them Opal Fruits, while my mom still calls it a Marathon bar. Some of these are old names we can’t shake, while others are just nicknames or bad geography. But there are plenty of places in Bristol we call by the ‘wrong’ name.
1. We The Curious
Referred to as: @Bristol
We The Curious has been closed since April 2022, when a fire sadly broke out on the roof. It won’t reopen until 2024 at the earliest, but when it does, could it change its name back? Maybe it’s because the last time we visited we were still a child, but, like many other Bristolians, it will always be @Bristol to us.
Having opened in 2000 (as a successor to Exploratory Hands-on Science Centre) @Bristol, or just At-Bristol, felt new and modern as we stepped into the Age of the Internet. Surviving the Millenium bug had us all quite excited about the future. Of course, it does sound a little dated now. So in 2017, it rebranded as We The Curious – which doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.
2. Bristol Beacon
Referred to as: Colston Hall
A controversial topic, we know, but we can’t overlook the fact that many still call it Colston Hall. Opened in 1867 as a concert hall for classical music and theatre, it’s since held everything from wrestling matches to rock music festivals over the years. The hall was named after the merchant Edward Colston, but following protests of his links to the Atlantic slave trade – where his statue was toppled into Bristol Harbour – it was renamed Bristol Beacon. It has been closed since 2018, however, but will soon reopen after five years of refurbishments. So we’re excited to see how the new Bristol Beacon compares.
3. Bristol Airport
Referred to as: Lulsgate Airport
Bristol Airport has had many names over the years, so we wouldn’t hold it against you if you call it the wrong name. Built on the site of a former RAF airfield, known as RAF Lulsgate Bottom, Lulsgate Airport opened in 1957 to replace Bristol’s other municipal airport, Whitchurch Airport. It wasn’t until 1997 that it became Bristol International Airport, then in 2010, it dropped the ‘International’ and became simply known as Bristol Airport. But we’re all still flying out from Lulsgate, right?
4. Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire
Referred to as: Avon
You’re on holiday, writing out postcards to send your folks, friends and grandparents. What county are you putting in the address? If it’s not Avon then you’re not a true Bristolian. The former county wasn’t actually around as long as we like to believe. Created in 1974 it was fractured into four by 1996: Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.
But there are plenty of reasons it’s not gone anywhere from brains. Many systems and websites still list Avon in their databases – right at the top of the list of counties! While plenty of private organisations, such as the Avon Wildlife Trust, and public bodies like Avon Fire and Rescue Service, hang on to the name. Whether you’re in Bath, Weston-super-Mare, Yate or Bristol, we’re all from Avon.
5. Durdham Down
Referred to as: Clifton Down
Many of us can’t get our heads around this one. You might call it Clifton Down, maybe Clifton Downs, or just The Downs. But nobody calls it Durdham Down. See there’s Clifton Down, which is everything south of Stoke Road, and then there’s Durdham Down, everything north of it. Together they make The Downs, get it?
Obviously, the name Clifton Down makes sense. It’s in Clifton. But what or where is Durdham? We had to dig deep to find this, but it seems Durdham Down was once part of the common of Henbury Manor used by the villagers of Westbury-on-Trym and Redland. ‘Indeed, the name Durdham Down may be a corruption of “Redland-down”, for Red land in the Middle Ages was called “Theriddelond” or “Thyrdland”, while Durdham Down appears as “Thyrdam-doune”, “Trydlandowne” and “Thirdlandoune alias Durdan-down”.’ Strangely, Google Maps calls it Durdham Downs, so now we’re just more confused.
6. Cheltenham Road
Referred to as: Gloucester Road
It’s easy to think that everything along the A38 is called Gloucester Road; the legendary street, with one of the longest stretches of independent businesses in the UK. But a small part of it is actually called Cheltenham Road. You’re calling it the wrong name if it’s between Stokes Croft and the Arches. Which includes places like The Pipe & Slippers, Koocha Mezze Bar and Rice & Things.
7. St James Barton roundabout
Refesred to as: The Bearpit
St James Barton roundabout takes its name from the closeby church. But everyone knows it as The Bearpit. It’s never been a bear pit, though it does feel like one at times. There’s evidence that a medieval fair used to be held in the area featuring bears, but the most believable rumour is that street cleaners gave it its nickname. They thought the layout resembled sunken bear pits seen at zoos.
8. St Augustine’s Parade
Referred to as: The Fountains
Some might also call it the ‘wrong name’, The Centre, but we just say: ‘Meet you by the Fountains’. Augustinian Canons were black-robed monks from the nearby Bristol Cathedral, who lived under the monastic rule of St Augustine. Today the area is far more lively and full of flowing fountains. Say what you see, you know?