The Changing Face of Bristol

Photographic Archive of Southmead Bristol BS10

Southmead is a northern suburb and council ward of Bristol, in the southwest of England. The town of Filton (in South Gloucestershire), and the Bristol suburbs of Monks Park, Horfield, Henleaze and Westbury on Trym lie on its boundaries.

The first stage of the building of Southmead commenced in 1931, when 1,500 houses were built by the Bristol Corporation partly to take families cleared from the slums of central Bristol and partly to address the housing shortage of the time. A further 1,100 house were built after the second world war.

Ever since then Southmead has been referred to in terms of the "pre-war" estate and the "post-war" estate, with the former to the south and the latter to the north of Greystoke Avenue.

Greystoke Avenue is the main axis and is the location of most of the public and retail services for both parts of the estate. The "pre-war" estate has never been able to shake off its reputation as the "worst" part of Southmead and, as is so often the case, this has been self-fulfilling. The "post-war" development is visibly in a better condition and this is also reflected in fewer social and crime problems.

The hospital opened in 1902 as a 64 bed workhouse for poor sick people. By 1911 there were 520 beds. During World War I, the facilities were used as an army hospital. The facilities reverted back to a workhouse in the early 1920s and were then greatly extended to accommodate all the sick poor. In 1924, the Southmead Infirmary was built and was later renamed Southmead Hospital. The hospital has been greatly expanded and now covers 60 acres.

In 2005 another expansion was planned which will include moving some services from Frenchay Hospital to the Southmead site. This will result in Frenchay Hospital being downgraded to a Community Hospital. The project should be finished in 2013. Full approval for the project was given by the NHS South West board in January 2009.

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