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Walking Tour William Friese-Greene and Bristol Cinemas

Film 2021
Plaque to William Friese-Greene

Begins at Victoria Rooms  |  £8.50 / £5

Join film-maker and journalist Peter Domankiewicz for a guided tour through the city centre, following in the footsteps of pioneers in photography and motion pictures, and visiting the ghosts of lost picture palaces as well as thriving cinemas and film locations of today.

The tour begins on Queen’s Road by the site of one of William Friese-Greene’s early photographic studios (which is adjacent to the Victoria Rooms, once home of the Clifton Cinema) and ends in Broadmead with the story of the now demolished Tivoli, where the first public screening of motion pictures in Bristol took place in 1896.

Along the way you’ll hear of entrepreneurs and innovators; technological breakthroughs and set-backs; collaborations and rivalries. You’ll pass plaques marking the studio where Friese-Greene undertook his apprenticeship and the street where he was born; buildings that have been repurposed for new uses once their glory days as cinemas were over; a park constructed over former cinemas demolished or damaged by enemy bombing during the Second World War; Watershed and Arnolfini; the home of the Bristol Film Office; a cathedral used for location shooting in period dramas; a statue honouring Bristol-born Archibald Leach (better known as Hollywood star Cary Grant); the scene of a long-unsolved murder of a cinema manager; and much more.

The walk will start at the advertised time outside Victoria Rooms by the fountain located at the top of Queen’s Road (88 Queen’s Rd, Clifton, Bristol BS8 1SA.) It will last approximately 75 minutes ending at Marks and Spencer in Broadmead and covering a distance of approximately three miles, most of which will be on level pavements.

The walk will carry on come rain or shine, so please bring the appropriate clothing you need to make the tour comfortable. We aim to make the tour as accessible as possible, and there will not be any stairs or high kerbs on the route. If you have any access requirements please contact us. We ask that everyone observes social distancing throughout the walk. If you have any symptoms of Covid-19, are self-isolating or have been contacted in accordance with the track and trace system, please do not participate in the walk (and we will refund you if you have already booked).

This event is part of Bristol Ideas’ #BristolFilm2021, in collaboration with Cinema Rediscovered and South West Silents.

It is presented as part of Opening Up the Magic Box, a heritage element of Film 2021 which marks the centenary of the death of Bristol-born film pioneer William Friese-Greene and the 125th anniversary of the first public cinema screening in Bristol, which took place at the Tivoli on 8 June 1896, as well as celebrating Bristol – a UNESCO City of Film since 2017.

UPDATE: Please note that due to unexpected circumstances, this event will now be led by Andrew Kelly, director of Bristol Ideas, film historian, and director of Film 2021, and Melanie Kelly, who is currently editing the Film 2021 publication that includes a Bristol cinema and Friese-Greene walk, which has been devised with the invaluable assistance of Peter Domankiewicz.

This event is supported by

Peter Domankiewicz

Peter Domankiewicz is a director and writer for feature films and television. He became fascinated by the Friese-Greene story whilst living in Bristol in the 1990s and has undertaken the most substantial research on Friese-Greene to date. He writes about William Friese-Greene on his blog William Friese-Greene and Me. Follow him on Twitter @Domankiewicz

IMAGE CREDIT: JUSTYNA SANKO

Booking Information

Booking is managed by Watershed’s Box Office. Book online or call 0117 927 5100. Tickets are £8.50 full / £5.00 concessions / £5.00 under 24s, refugees and asylum seekers. Concessions apply to Full Time Students, Job Seekers Allowance and Employment Support Allowance, 60+ who have retired, Equity and BECTU members and disabled people.

Photograph of plaque to William Friese-Greene credit: Bhagesh Sachania Photography

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