Pride In Bristol
32 St Nicholas Street was home to The Radnor Hotel which was the first known gay bar in Bristol, maybe as far back as the 1930s or 40s. The proprietors then were Gracie and Jim Broadhurst, depicted as drawings from original photos at the bottom of the flag. It was later taken over by their daughter, Joan Weenegar and her husband, Gerald.
‘The Radnor’ had a dual life. By day it was frequented by stockbrokers and market traders but by night the atmosphere completely changed and the LGBTQ+ community were welcomed “behind the curtain.” Oral tradition passed to the current owner at Mr Wolfs, reports colourful parties where all members of the queer community were welcomed throughout the building, in rooms which could be rented by the night. A section of the building currently in use as The Radnor Rooms reflects the proud history of the building.
The next image from the bottom is a cyanotype print of an original pencil drawing held at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery of Peggy Hancock by the artist Malcom Ashman. Peggy Hancock ‘ruled the bar’ as a barmaid for a period of about 20 years. The bar was frequented by many gay performers who visited Bristol including both Danny La Rue and Dirk Bogart. It was later called The Porcupine where it is believed it continued as a queer friendly bar and is depicted as such in one of Beryl Cook’s paintings. In 1967, when homosexuality was decriminalised, The Radnor Hotel was able to come out of the closet.
Unfortunately by the mid-1970s The Radnor became a focus for hate crime and The Elephant a couple of doors up became the popular night spot for the LGBTQ+ community. The third image from the bottom shows the beautiful elephant carved in stone which can be seen at the front of the building. The Elephant was affectionately known as “The Ellie” amongst the LGBTQ+ community and is also depicted in a Beryl Cook painting in Bristol Museum & Art Gallery’s collection.
1.Artist: Malcolm Ashman/ Collections of Bristol Culture & Creative Industries