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Outdoor Exhibition reveals fascinating history of the Clifton and Durdham Downs in Bristol

Nov 10

The Downs 150th anniversary celebrations continue

An outdoor exhibition of 34 beautifully illustrated, all-weather panels, depicting the fascinating history of Bristol’s famous Downs, was revealed on Wednesday, November 2, 2011. The specially commissioned panels form part of celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of the Downs Act of 1861.

The exhibition panels will be hung on the railings of the reservoir and water tower giving visitors a visual history of the Downs and the dramatic changes since the Downs Act. Each panel features a wealth of reproduced images, including: photographs, maps, illustrations, superb paintings and postcards.

Horse races, cricket, donkey rides, trams, bi-planes, goats and even a Bristol diamond are just a few of the historical gems that appear on the panels to tell the story of The Downs and the role it has played in the life of local people for hundreds of years.

The stunning exhibition is thanks to generous funding from the Heritage Lottery with support from the Friends of the Downs and Avon Gorge (FODAG), Avon Gorge and Downs Wildlife Project, Merchant Venturers and The Downs Committee.

Francis Greenacre, historian and member of The Downs Committee, says: "The 150th anniversary is certainly worth celebrating.

"The Downs are one of the most dramatic and beautiful landscapes in Britain. And thanks to the Downs Act of 1861 we can all enjoy this magnificent open parkland with its wealth of wildlife, natural species, fascinating history and wonderful opportunities for recreation and relaxation.

"The informative exhibition panels will give anyone with an interest in The Downs an insight into this very special and treasured part of our city."

Nerys Watts, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South West, added: "We want to get people excited about the history on their doorstep. The Downs have a wealth of stories to tell about their past and this funding will help bring it to life for everyone."

The exhibition panels will be in place for the next 12 months and will support two new historical trails around The Downs. Free trail maps will be available at the end of the month from Bristol’s museums and libraries and also online. Seven of the 34 panels will be site specific and will be positioned at key points around The Downs.

Other 150th anniversary events include:

Saturday, November 26 Postcard promenade on the Downs (Walk)
Step back in time with Francis Greenacre. On this captivating walk we’ll discover how the Downs have changed through time. Using postcards and photos we’ll compare the current views with those from days gone by. From 10.30am to 12.30pm, cost £4. Book with the Avon Gorge & Downs Wildlife Project on tel. 0117 903 0609.

You can find out more about the Downs at

First published on 31st October 2011 on Bristol City Council's website at:

For follow up media enquiries on this press release please call the Bristol City Council Press Office on 0117 922 2650

Exhibition Panel