“I’ve been at the university for 14 years and during that time I’ve been involved in lots of projects that cross the boundary between the university and industry. My role is to oversee the TQEC Research and Innovation programme and the Quantum Technologies Innovation Centre (QTIC). “
Mustafa Rampuri, Research and Innovation Programme manager for Temple Quarter talks about how QTIC will unlock new opportunities. #bristolface
Aidan Shilson-Thomas is one of our students who is capturing the rich history of the Temple Quarter site. Read his findings about how a 200-year old visitors book revealed the secrets of Bristol’s imperial past.
As part of the team tasked with researching the History of the site where the University’s Temple Campus will be built, our brief sometimes seemed overwhelming: ‘Find out about the people who lived and worked there’. Sounds simple enough?
The land around Bristol’s enterprise quarter has been farmed, worshipped on, industrialised, deindustrialised, developed and levelled time and again for over 1000 years. The campus will be a major development, but from a historical perspective it’s just another blip on Bristol’s map.
With such rich history we were faced with a true mountain of source material. The archival records ran to hundreds of ‘items’, and some of these were hundreds of pages long! It’s no surprise, therefore, that we sometimes chanced on the unexpected. When you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, or even exactly what you’re looking at(!), the smallest detail can take you on a trip through the archives.
On the same land where part of the new campus will be built, 400 men, women, and children worked for John Hare & Co. in the 18th and 19th centuries, producing stunning decorative floorcloths that were sold around the world. A visitor’s log from the 1800s shows that people visited from as far away as Barbados, Cuba and New York.
Reading through the log, I had expected to see some international visitors. But an entry which took us all by surprise was for three signatures which had been marked as being from the sons of the King of Ashantee. What on earth were three African princes doing in a carpet factory in Bristol?
We learned that they weren’t there voluntarily. These princes were hostages to the British government after a treaty with the Ashantees broke down. Whilst in Britain, it was claimed that they had ‘greatly profited by care and attention bestowed upon their education; they [then] engaged in a tour through England to inspect the different manufactories…previous to their return to their native country.’
In light of this we re-examined another entry from an ‘Edward George Jenkinson, in service to the New Zealand government.’ Some digging revealed that Jenkinson was a translator who served the governor of New Zealand, and that he had brought 11 high-ranking Maoris to England in 1863 to teach them about British industry. This was, reported the Scotsman, so that they could ‘obtain such general information respecting the greatness and power of England as may prove a benefit to themselves and to their several tribes on their return…’
The Maori’s were also introduced to Christian leaders and visited the home of John Wesley. The Ashantee princes had received a similar treatment, and the papers reporting on their tour claimed that they had become ‘sincere and true converts’ to Christianity.
From these signatures we discovered a different history of the site to the one we’d been looking for. As a key manufacturing site, an exemplar of British industry and enterprise, John Hare & Co. became a means to carrying out the ‘civilising mission’. It was part of a process of religious and social indoctrination that was meant to acculturate not only the Ashantee princes and the Maori leaders, but also, eventually, the people who they ruled in Britain’s empire.
The history of the site of the new campus can give us a sense of perspective. The campus will be the next chapter in the site’s history, not the first. It was an ‘enterprise zone’ long before we decided to call it one! It also gives us fresh insights into the city that we all live and work in. Bristol has an intimate, complicated and problematic association with Empire. Our site’s history newly reveals one of the many ways that this was forged and reinforced.
Nicola Key is the Head of Programme delivery for the Temple Quarter Campus taking over the reins from Neil Bradshaw. She oversees the whole range of activities that are required to design, build and operate the new campus. We caught up with Nicola to see what attracted her to working for Temple Quarter and what she thinks of the project and the wider university.
I was excited to work for the Temple Quarter Programme as I really enjoy roles where I can create a large impact on society. I see the campus as vital for the ongoing expansion of the University. I’ve lived in Bristol since 1996 and have seen significant levels of urban regeneration within the city centre over the last 20 years. I’ve always been mystified as to why the area around Temple Meads station contains so many derelict buildings and looks so shabby. When I found out about the new campus project I was thrilled that finally the arrival at Temple Meads station would be revitalised.
Being new to the university, my view is that it’s thought of within Bristol as a bit of an ivory tower. There are some incredible people here from over the world as well as lots of inspiring people from the UK. The buildings are not particularly accessible and are generally considered closed to the people of Bristol. I see Temple Quarter changing that, it’s going to be much more of an open site, more collaborative and will involve many more organisations and people from around the city. The campus will allow more people to visit, members of the public will be able to visit socially and for training. It will be a step change in the way that the university has been seen to be operating and takes it back to its original roots where it once set out to be a civic university. I think it has lost some of that along the way and so the new campus will really help us to create an environment where we have open doors to a wider audience.
The space inside the buildings will be about collaboration and knowledge sharing between different groups of people, between students on different courses across different schools and faculties or between businesses and community organisations. This will mean a change in the way that we teach. Students will have the opportunity to sit on projects working alongside businesses throughout their academic course rather than having to spend a year away, so it will provide a much more integrated and enriching study experience for our students. Having been a student on a thin sandwich business studies course in the 1980’s, I spent term time both in and out of the university, however the experience in the business was completely disconnected from the learning. The Temple Quarter Campus is a great opportunity to integrate project work with learning and it’s a completely different approach that I can see will be a huge benefit to our students.
We are keen to collaborate with people from across different areas of the university to get some ideas about how we want the campus to work so please do get in touch with the team if you would like to be a part of this exciting new project.
I started at the university in July 2018 and my favourite thing about working her so far has been the people. I have been welcomed with open arms and had a fantastic reception, it’s been amazing.