People / My Bristol Favourites

My Bristol Favourites: David Innes-Wilkin

By martin booth, Saturday Jun 13, 2020

David Innes-Wilkin is an architect who has won awards both for buildings and for travel writing.

Innes Wilkin, the architecture practice that David founded in Southville with his son, James, recently won an award which recognised exceptional church projects for their reordering of St Andrew’s Church in Avonmouth as part of a community social hub.

Here are David’s top-five Bristol favourites:

UWE Bristol graduate shows

Emma Pottage was the graduate winner of the 2019 Innes Wilkin Art Prize – photo by David Innes-Wilkin

UWE Bristol have their end-of-year and graduate shows each summer. It’s exciting to see optimism and creativity at the exhibitions of the Arnolifini, and at their Bower Ashton and Spike Island sites. Sadly, not this year with the lockdown. However, our practice will still give a prize to the author of the artwork we like best for possible use in a building – as we have done for 20 years. We like big abstracts like this winner by Emma Pottage in 2019!”

Machines at Underfall Yard

Since the creation of the Floating Harbour in 1809, Underfall Yard has been crucial to its operation and maintenance – photo by David Innes-Wilkin

“The pumps at Underfall Yard often run for us all to watch. The tremendous feats of engineering are fascinating, and these were powered by the accumulator tower next door. Then they in turn fed hydraulic water power to other dock machines all hidden in pipes below the paving. My father was apprenticed 100 years ago into a dockside engineering works just like this one and I always go for another look on Bristol Doors Open Days. I love the smell of the oil and to see the huge pulleys which are working when the volunteers power them up. What an achievement to have restored these buildings and to show us their heritage.”

The Somerset crown on St Stephen’s Church

Built in 1470, the tower of St Stephen’s pre-dates the current church – photo: St Stephen’s Church

“It defies gravity. Such a beautiful delicate tracery of stone is a marvel of craftsmanship and reaches into the sky creating a lacework of light. On Doors Open Days, the Stephen’s Church tower can be climbed, and we can see the steel strengthening that has stitched it together with tender loving care. Like many Bristol churches, this is not only a beacon of beauty; it is also a marker of another social hub at which people from all stages in their lives can find goodness.”

Stationery World

Stationery World is a family-run shop that was established in 1985 – photo by David Innes-Wilkin

Stationery World on Park Street is my favourite shop in Bristol. It is packed full of every kind of pen and every style of notebook. To pick one off the shelf is to hold a blank volume of writing and drawing yet to be fulfilled, time travel devices to explore the world? For years I have collected the plain paged types and kept travel notes with my own drawings. During lockdown they have delivered stuff to our home.”

Brandon Hill

Brandon Hill is named after the chapel dedicated to St Brendan which once stood on its summit – photo by David Innes-Wilkin

“Brandon Hill has been enjoyed by the citizens of Bristol for more than 500 years. Some special things about it are a witness to history. From there we watch the Balloon Fiesta mass ascents – even better if the wind is in our direction. More than 30,000 people watched the arrival of the SS Great Britain. We always take friends visiting up the Cabot Tower, built in 1897 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the pioneering voyage of John Cabot. The Avon Wildlife Trust adds to the good things about the park with their conservation and information boards. For many age groups, however, never mind the history, just sitting on the slopes in the sun is great.”

Main photo: David Innes-Wilkin

Read more: 15 things you probably didn’t know about Brandon Hill

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