The decline and closure of the City Docks prompted huge, decades-long debate about what to do with the area
This year, the Lloyds building and amphitheatre on Harbourside will be 30 years old, while We The Curious will be celebrating its 20th birthday.
These two developments, the first completed in 1990, and the second in 2000, formed quite tidy bookends to the transformation of Canons Marsh during the 1990s.
What had once been a working area busy with dockside facilities, warehousing and a rail yard had, by the 1970s, become derelict – though far from disused.
Much of what is now covered by Millennium Square and the surrounding bars, restaurants and flats was a car park filled each day with Cortinas, Allegros, Metros, Sierras and Fiestas.
The story of the transformation is not simple. Nor does it all neatly fit into the 1990s.
The decline and closure of the City Docks had prompted huge, decades-long debate about what to do with the entire area.
Once covering over or filling in the floating harbour had been ruled out, the arguments came down to whether leisure should get priority in the redevelopment, or whether the lion’s share of this vacant real estate should be for commercial and business interests. In the end, of course, it was a bit of both.
The Canons Marsh redevelopment got properly under way on May 29, 1988, with the spectacular explosions which demolished the old tobacco warehousing to make way for the Lloyds building.
But while the builders were at work at Lloyds, there was still plenty of heated discussion about what, exactly, would be built on the rest of Canons Marsh, particularly when developers Crest Nicholson put forward their initial proposals.
In the end, the story of Canons Marsh would not just be about what was built, but of the things that were not.
We’ve raided the Post archives for a quick, and very incomplete, look at Canons Marsh as it was in the late 20th century, but will be returning to the story in later editions of the Bristol Times this year.