We are very pleased to say after several years of planning the Grand Opening of the Bristol Treasure Island Trail took place on 19 September 2015.
Opening ceremony of the Bristol Treasure Island Trail by the
Lord Mayor of Bristol – 19th September 2015 (Viewing on a PC is best).
The Trail is explained below … each part of the trail is shown by a Blackspot …
To see more of the water Bristol Ferry Boats run a scheduled waterbus service in Bristol harbour every day except Christmas day. For ferry fares and a timetable see: www.bristolferry.com
Bristol Ferry Boats stop number is the nearest to the beginning of the Long John Silver Trust Trail at Black Spot
For an enjoyable time out around the harbourside you could catch the ferry to stop to join the Long John Silver Trust Trail nearby.
Black Spot A) Merchant Venturer’s Almshouses, King Street: – ‘The Treasure Map’
This is the actual place where a pirate treasure map was introduced into literature by William Williams in his 1815 book The Journal of Llewellin Penrose – Seaman. First ‘acquired’ by Edgar Allan Poe in the Gold Bug the idea was then ‘borrowed’ by Robert Louis Stevenson for Treasure Island in 1883.
Built in 1699, the Almhouses gave accommodation to many former sailors in order for them to see out their days. Williams was born in Bristol and led a life of adventure, one of the first people to spend a lot of time with Native Americans and then Moskito Indians in the Caribbean, he was given refuge here at the end of his life.
The Reverend Eagles managed to get him a berth on his return to Bristol and he lived for a further two years, bequeathing the Reverend his journal in gratitude. Eagles thought it so good that he got it published.
Black Spot B) Llandoger Trow, King Street: – ‘The Black Spot’
The book Treasure Island starts at the Admiral Benbow Inn (named after a former Bristol privateer) where young Jim Hawkins helped his Mum run the pub on the North Devon coast. Here Jim inadvertently ends up with the troublesome treasure map that he obtains from old sea salt Billy Bones, who was staying there. Bones dies of shock after getting the ‘Black Spot’ (pirate curse) from a maimed buccaneer, Blind Pew, who was frantically searching for the map.
The Llandoger, perhaps Bristol’s most iconic inn, was originally built in 1664 and initially run by an old Bristol sea captain – also named Hawkins… the wooden framed structure is surely emblematic of RLS’s Admiral Benbow.
Black Spot C) Welsh Back: – ‘The Captain’s Papers’
Treasure Island comes to Bristol where Jim’s allies, Squire Trelawney and Dr Livesey, take the treasure map with plans to get a ship to track down the riches. The Hispaniola is secured for this and the ship is fitted out and victualled. The only thing they need now is a crew …
Bristol’s most successful privateer, Woodes Rogers (from Queen Square), did the very same thing in 1708, acquiring the Duke and Dutchess in order to take prizes during the Spanish War of Succession. He came home with both of his original ships, most of his crew, a Spanish Treasure Ship and maroon Alexander Selkirk (the prototype for Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and Stevenson’s Ben Gunn).
Black Spot D) The Hole in the Wall, The Grove: – ‘At the Sign of the Spy-Glass’
When seeking a crew, Squire Trelawney comes across Bristol pub landlord Long John Silver at his inn the Spy-Glass on the quayside. Trelawney can’t believe his luck, Silver offers himself as Sea Cook on the forthcoming cruise and even extra crew members if he needs them. Jim is worried, could this be the one legged seaman Billy Bones had warned him about?
Many a sailor in Bristol was wary of the Press Gang, or, even worse, the slave traders. To counter this the Hole-in-the-Wall is the only pub in the country to boast a spy hole feature (which allowed a lookout to warn his mates). Just like the Spy-Glass in the book, this pub has entrances on separate streets.
Silver can be seen here in Mervyn Peake’s excellent illustration with his famous parrot, Cap’n Flint. “Pieces of eight, pieces of eight.”
Black Spot E) Redcliffe Wharf: – ‘What I Heard in the Apple Barrel’
After an argument between Captain Smollett and the Squire – over Silver’s role in hiring the crew and gossip around town about treasure – they get underway. Before long disaster strikes and 1st mate Arrow is mysteriously lost overboard. Soon after Jim is stranded in the apple barrel where he overhears that Silver and his shipmates are pirates, intent on having the treasure for themselves.
Imagine Bristol’s quaysides of old, bow to stern full of ships and goods for and from all over the orld ool stofis and soap for te ontinent port, sherry and wine on return; arms, manillas and batteryware for the Guinea Coast, slaves to the America’s, rum, sugar, cocoa and tobacco back. Exotic dress and strange accents. Barrels, bales and bounty, the smell of tar and of the sea.
Black Spot F) Redcliffe Caves: – ‘The Man of the Island’
Eventually the actual Treasure Island is spotted and battle lines are drawn between the Squire’s men and Silver’s. Just as the first boat gets ashore, not long after landing, Jim bumps into the man of the island, Ben Gunn, a maroon and one of Silver’s former shipmates. Ben shows Jim a stockade where his friends can fend off the pirates. Ultimately, its Gunn’s cave that keeps the treasure out of the pirates’ hands.
Redciffe Caves were primarily excavated for their red sandstone, a key ingredient for Bristol’s burgeoning glass industry. Later they were used to house French, Spanish and Dutch prisoners of war and latterly goods from all over the Empire; palm oil and elephants teeth among the more luxurious.
Black Spot G) Israel Hands, the Ostrich
The seventh location is the ‘Ostrich’ public house further along Redcliffe Wharf. Redcliffe was the birthplace of Edward Teach, later the vicious pirate Blackbeard. Israel Hands was a real person, serving off the shores of the America’s with Blackbeard who famously blasted Israel in the leg prior to his demise. After avoiding the hangman’s noose he went over to the Welsh pirate Black Bart Roberts after the Bristol slave ship that he was on was captured. Hands is believed to have met a grisly end in Cape Corso Castle after losing an arm fighting for Roberts off of the African Coast.
Black Spot H) Merchant’s Landing: – ‘The Fall of the Chieftain’
We would like to think that our Trail’s end will bring even more visitors to the exciting treasures within the Museum of Bristol ‘MShed’.
This section of Bristol’s port was used continuously for shipbuilding right up until Victorian times when Brunel utilised Wapping Wharf to build the Great Western. Various types of craft were built here; including the Snows and Guineamen used in the African and America’s Trade and was pivotal in the development of Bristol’s Floating Harbour.
Bristol Ferry Boats – Bristol Harbour – Scheduled waterbus service every day except Christmas day.
Ferry stop (Prince Street Bridge) is just metres away from the end of the trail at Black Spot
For ferry fares and a timetable see: www.bristolferry.com