Dr Richard Stone: Bristol’s historic harbour and the development of trade

Date 21.09.16

Time 6.45 - 8.15pm

Location Garden (via Boat from Arnolfini)


Dr Richard Stone, Teaching Fellow in Early Modern History, University of Bristol leads a tour of Ballast Seed Garden.


The river Avon as a harbour has had a pivotal role in the development of Bristol, as a strategically important city. Using the ‘Port Books’ as his starting point, a fantastically detailed set of customs records which record every consignment of goods either entering or leaving the country, Dr Richard Stone will explain how the development of the harbour in medieval times led to Bristol’s trade and influence developing to rival any port in England.

Bristol was also crucial in the development of the American trade, particularly in the early years, as the colonies in the West Indies and Southern United States grew from early settlements into agricultural centres providing raw materials for an industrialising Britain.

An economic and maritime historian, he will conjour up a picture of the original homes of the plants that form the Ballast Seed Garden and the routes that brought them back to our city.

Meet at Arnolfini Box Office


Boat tours are £8/£6 concessions and depart from Arnolfini, unless otherwise stated. Please book by calling Arnolfini box office on 0117 917 2300 or visit All tours will be accompanied by a volunteer from the University of Bristol Botanic Garden who will be able to interpret the plants and provide information on the Ballast Seed Garden.

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A Seeds of Change: Floating Ballast Seed Garden brochure is available from Arnolfini.

Seeds of Change: A Floating Ballast Seed Garden:

Located on Bristol’s historic harbour, just below Castle Park, the The Ballast Seed Garden was created by Maria Thereza Alves in June 2012. Constructed from a disused grain barge, the garden is populated with a variety of non-native plants, creating a living history of the city’s trade and maritime past.


Steven Claydon’s work brings together objects recalling historical artefacts, cultural ephemera and geological samples, skillfully mixing different cultures and periods of history. Merging reality with fiction, and appearing at once meaningful and useless, Claydon’s works oscillate between an idea of truth and fantasy, seeming to offer a fragmented image of a future civilisation’s past. He will talk about his practice and new commission in Bristol.