Wooden sculptures, including a bench to mark Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, are located on part of the Crow Lane Open Space overlooking the shops.  Despite its deprivation and crime problems, the area is very green with open spaces and trees.Wooden sculptures, including a bench to mark Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, are located on part of the Crow Lane Open Space overlooking the shops.  Despite its deprivation and crime problems, the area is very green with open spaces and trees.
Wooden sculptures, including a bench to mark Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, are located on part of the Crow Lane Open Space overlooking the shops. Despite its deprivation and crime problems, the area is very green with open spaces and trees.

In pictures: Life in the ‘green’ suburb of Bristol that was once a countryside village

‘The place has changed so much - but we’re all still here, right?’

Walking into the traditional-looking Old Crow pub in Henbury, there was one topic on the lips of the five 60-something regulars sat around a large table near the bar.

“The prices went up yesterday,” said one, sipping his pint of nectar lager. “The Natch has gone up 10p, it’s now £3.10,” said another. The friendly lady behind the bar smiled, and said: “They’ve not been happy about it.”

And so the national rise in pub prices was the hot topic as we started our visit of a city suburb which until 70 years ago was a rural village on the outskirts of Bristol.

It’s hard to imagine, what with the high-rise tower blocks, busy roads and industrial works, but this once-village five miles from the city centre was a retreat for wealthy Bristolians looking for a rural escape from the city’s pollution.

What accelerated the change was the Blitz and the subsequent demand for new housing, resulting in large farms in Crow Lane and Station Road being purchased for huge housing estates.

The new homes saw a boom in the village population, and soon it was within Bristol’s boundary with new roads, schools, shops and designated open spaces for use by the public.

The fast-paced developments haven’t all led to good news. Henbury is among the most deprived areas of the city - although there is wealth in surrounding areas like Brentry, Blaise and, further afrield, Charlton Mead.

And in the Henbury and Brentry ward, almost half of people feel antisocial behaviour is a problem locally, while 36% of people are claiming unemployment benefits.

But despite the issues, we discovered a welcoming community right from our start at the Old Crow, where, apart from the small increase in prices, loyal regulars were obviously well looked after. The busy line of shops on Crow Lane were doing good business and Crow Lane open space was being enjoyed by dog walkers, families and skateboarders.

What do you like about Henbury, we asked the people sitting in the pub. Retired bricklayer Robin Redford, aged 69, said: “It’s the best housing estate in all of Bristol, I’ve always lived here and it’s a place where everyone knows everyone. We all look out for each other.”

Christopher Smith, also aged 69, agreed. “The place has changed so much”, he said, “but we’re all still here, right?”

Here are 20 pictures showing life in Henbury:

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