A little over 12 years ago, my friend Colin and I found ourselves standing in an overlooked room in the farthest corner of a seemingly forgotten office building in a part of Bristol called Stokes Croft.
I’d been coming to this part of Bristol since I was a 10 year old boy, as my Uncle owned a shop there, and the area had always had a strong reputation for being somewhere that you passed through rather than ended up, but that was very much about to change….
“We’ll take it!”
I remember the excitement at committing to the space that would serve as The Bristol Bike Project’s first official home, into which we could now welcome some of the city’s most marginalised and underprivileged folks to come and fix up bicycles with us to then take away. Concerns around how we were going to pay our first month’s rent were pretty low on the list of priorities, given the enormity of the task of tidying and fixing up this space that lay ahead of us. But, helped by the generosity of Coexist, who gave us a three month rent-free period in return for us sorting out the space, Colin and I cracked on.
And so, it seemed fitting that Colin (with his young son in tow) and myself found ourselves reunited in the space on the final day of clearing out BBP’s home for the last 12 years. Joined by four long-standing volunteers, two of which serendipitously appeared out of the blue, we reminisced about the early days in the space – how grassroots and basic it was, but always with LOTS of bikes, overflowing enthusiasm and endless cups of tea.
Thank you to that once overlooked room, transformed by the enthusiasm of many, for the opportunity it presented us with, and also to the wider Hamilton House community and Coexist….here’s to the memory of all the bicycles that were fixed, negative stereotypes broken down and countless friendships forged.
Come and see us at the new place!
James Lucas, co-founder of The Bristol Bike Project
(p.s. A HUGE thank you to James Perrott & Mike Lowe for overseeing the clearout of the old space and the transformation of the new one)