This flag celebrates the history of printing and literature in the Old City, which witnessed early publications of writers such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey and William Wordsworth. Printing presses were only legalised in London until the early 1700s when it is thought that “The Bristol Post Boy” became the first provincial newspaper outside of London. A terracotta bust of William Shakespeare on the side of the arts and crafts Times and Mirror Newspaper building on St Stephens Street is featured at the top of the flag. The bust sits alongside busts of poets Milton and Tennyson, and reflects the importance of discovery, words, and print to the Old City.
The printed word propelled mass communication and knowledge dissemination. As a medium of power and influence printing enabled the political establishment and intellectuals, as well as the less educated and oppressed, to receive and express ideas.
Printing changed the course of history nationally and locally. Without printing there would have been no bank notes and a reduced opportunity to process the vast profits from the transatlantic traffic in enslaved Africans. The sign of the Old Bank on Corn Street featured in this flag represents this relationship.
But while the printed word and texts changed the course of history, the skills and livelihoods of the people who banged them out receive little accounts in the history books. However, the contributions of William Morris and Johannes Gutenberg to printing, ideas and literature are celebrated in the design of the Edward Everard Building in Broad Street, a must see building and the largest Doulton Carraraware tile facade in the UK.
The bottom image on this flag represents the letterpress collective in Centrespace on St Leonard’s lane, who are keeping printing alive in the Old City. City Animalz, who sell hand screen printed goods in St Nicholas Market today, assisted The Lamplighters to create these flags and contributed the gold foil adorning all the flags in this series. The Lamplighters consulted with City Animalz on foiling advice and their waste products were used to create the foil effects.