Join Aisha on a selfie tour of City Hall as she tries to understand what even goes on in the building with the unicorn on top.
Bristol City Hall, the headquarters of Bristol politics, the base for our current mayor Marvin Rees and the work place of over 1,000 employees. you may also know it as the aloof building that sits overlooking the skateboarders on College Green, the grand building with its own stream and gold unicorn on top of it, with its neighbouring buildings Bristol Cathedral and Bristol Central Library, there’s a lot of ‘grand-ness’ going on and quite a bit of mystery too…because what exactly goes on in Bristol City Hall?
This is what I wanted to find out, so I decided to go on a selfie tour around Bristol City Hall to discover what Bristol’s most mysterious building looks like from the inside and what fun things (and people) I can discover.
The Cash Hall (AKA Bristol’s Very Own Gringotts)
Rather similarly to the wizard bank run by elves in the Harry Potter books, Bristol City Council has its own history of having a room filled with stacks and stacks of cash.
There used to be a role in which employers would come into work and simply (or not so simply, as if you lost your place you’d have to start all over again) count cash all day. This was a time before online accountancy was a ting and you can imagine how frustrating it would be if someone just stumbled into you and knocked over your afternoons work of what i can imagine would look like mini mountains of money. All these escapades happened in what is now known as ‘The Cash Hall’.
The Phonebox Booth
Juts like the journalists we see in 1930s movies, City Hall has its own phone box booths that were once used by journalists to frantically call up their editors with the latest news reported from the room next door, the Council Chamber. Apparently fights used to break out between journalists, back in the day, in attempt to be the first to use the phone booths to call the editor’s of their newspaper, to report ‘the latest news’ from the Council Chamber. The Council Chamber was the place for many political decision-making and is still used for the same purpose today.
The Council Chamber
Meetings between Bristol’s different political parties happen right here, amongst some rather cool features, that include a hand painted ceiling that was designed and painted by Bristol artist George Armstrong in the 1950s. He took inspiration from the city, the bowl-like shape of it, its history and its skyline. He wanted to celebrate the link between the city’s past and its status as a trading centre and channel it into a huge painting that looks like it took months and months to finish.
Here I am sitting on the Lord Mayor’s chair in City Chamber and feeling pretty mighty. I also noticed how throughout the building, unicorns are a reoccurring theme. You can find golden unicorns on top of the building, on the corners of the Lord Mayor’s chair as well as being at the centre of Bristol City logo. Apparently, unicorns represent virtue and the city’s motto is ‘Virtute et industry’ – Virtue and Industry”
What’s cool about this space is that the walls are engraved with the names of every single mayor the city has had since 1216. However neither George [Ferguson] or Marvin’s names are on these walls as their positions are different to those of the historic mayors and today’s Lord Mayor; their roles were created out of the Localism Act in 2011.
The Meeting Rooms
The clue is in the name with this one, the meeting rooms are all over Bristol City Hall and are used by members of the council and can be hired out by the public too. Apparently in the past they have been used for morning yoga classes as well as other things. I was able to see the Lord Mayor’s own meeting room, I happened to be there just at the right time to see him busy at work. Apparently (keep this on the down low) but there is a secret door from this room into the Lord Mayor’s very own parlour…oooohhhh.
The Mayor’s Office
Feeling pretty pleased with myself (quite clearly in these photos) I was able to get inside the Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees’s office and have a little poke around…(there was a very large table in the centre of it) and just like the Lord Mayor, I was also able to catch Marvin busy at work and also nab a selfie with him too, lool. Which was a pretty cool way to end my day selfie-touring around City Hall. Be sure to check out the building yourself and see some awesome features yourself, it’s welcome to everyone
It’s all kicking off with opportunity’s for the people of Bristol this week. There are different ways to get involved with Local council and politics. With the chance for young people to get involved in Bristol Youth Council and the celebration of this years European local Democracy week at Bristol City Council (10- 16 October) There’s loads of stuff to get excited about peeps.
Want to find out more about how you can get involved in Bristol politics? Run for Bristol City Youth Council