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Beach Waves


What is the People's University of Fishponds?

PUF runs occasional talks and events that are aimed at being accessible, affordable and friendly. We do it because it's fun and interesting - any money we raise is just used to hire the venues and cover expenses.
Since 2016 we've had talks about history, psychology, gardening, orphanages, bats and philosophy. We've built and played unusual musical instruments, recorded a pop song and learnt how to conduct an orchestra. We've heard from young politicians, our own MP, Bristol's poet laureate and perhaps most movingly from refugees and those seeking asylum who live in Fishponds.
All our events are relaxed, there's no surprise audience participation (!), people often come on their own and its not unusual to see people enjoying a cup of tea or glass of wine as they listen.
For most events you will need to book in advance - please check the listing for details.



You can now book for all events at the PUF Ticket Shop by clicking the button below:

Beware of Facebook scams

Please note that tickets are only available from our online ticket shop, by cash on the door (if available) or by arrangement with one of the PUF team.

We have recently seen people trying to sell via our Facebook page, but they are not genuine and do not have tickets to sell. Please do not buy from unknown people on Facebook, you risk losing money and they may be trying to obtain your personal details.

If you have bought tickets but are unable to attend an event, please contact us and we can arrange a refund or exchange for another event.

Summer break

As every good uni student knows, a long summer break is well deserved after the academic year! The PUF team will be meeting soon to plan our Autumn Term and we’ll keep you posted about events. Happy holidays all and thanks for coming along to our events this year.

All events (except otherwise indicated) are at The Nissen Hut, the community hub, run by Friends of Eastville Park. It is easily accessible from the Park Avenue car park (BS5 6QL). Tickets are £5, and sessions will be 7-9pm unless indicated.

PUF and the Repair Cafe

PUF have been busy planning and working with the local community. Since last summer we’ve been helping run the Repair Cafe, which is based at All Saints Church, Grove Road, Fishponds on the 1st Saturday of every month, 10am to midday. The menders have so far tackled everything from zips to record players, tin openers to toys! They’ve also mended computer equipment and there’s always someone with a sewing machine to hem, patch, darn and otherwise rejuvenate your clothes. Come along with anything you want to save & they’ll have a go.

Coming Soon

Coming soon...

The PUF Team are working on the next events. Watch this space!

All events can now be booked through our online ticket shop.

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Coming up in the Autumn...

Sunday 30th June 2024 at 7pm

The Nissen Hut, Eastville Park

£5 per person

Watch this space for future events. You can also sign up to our newsletter to receieve information.

All events are £5 per person unless otherwise stated. Drinks and nibbles may be extra unless indicated.

Getting in touch

To buy tickets, please visit our Ticket Shop.

You can use the form for enquiries. To join our mailing list, please enter your email into the form below.

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07946 845778

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Previous Events

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June 2024

The Hannibal, its captain and all who sailed in her, 1693–1695


In 1693, Captain Thomas Phillips embarked on a voyage from London to Guinea, where he purchased enslaved Africans on behalf of the Royal African Company. The subsequent journey across the Atlantic witnessed a tragic toll, with hundreds of the enslaved captives, and many of the crew, losing their lives before the ship reached the shores of Barbados.Fast forward to 2010, three centuries later, in 2010, Brecon Town Council made a startling decision — to honour Captain Phillips with a plaque, a decision that ignited controversy.


Rosemary Caldicott returned to PUF, analysing the pages of Phillips’s journal to reveal the day-to-day brutality that defined the triangular trade, uncovering the forgotten stories of the victims in this dark chapter in history. She also revealed the compelling story of the campaign to remove the plaque, a campaign that finally bore fruit amid the world-wide ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests that reached the heart of Brecon.

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April 2024

For this event, we were lucky enough to have an elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Association, Mike Robinson, to take us on a history tour of the old Stapleton Prison. We might know some of the hospital’s history as a workhouse and a mental health institution, but Mike focused on the history of the prison for captives from the American War of Independence and the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. We learned where the inmates came from, of some of the conditions and the things they got up to. Mike was assisted by Ian Chard who showed us pictures and even produced an actual musket! Who knows what lurks behind a Fishponds flat door?!

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PUF Presents: Plan 9 From Outer Space

March 2024

Our occasional series of ‘so bad it’s good’ sci fi B-movies continued with this infamous Ed Wood film. Originally called 'Grave Robbers From Out of Space' and featuring actors reading from scripts on their laps, very fake gravestones and mics lurching into shot, this film is often rated as the very best - or worst! We saw clunky continuity errors, Shakespearian aliens and - just as in Fire Maidens from Outer Space - more fantastic spaceship ladders! Stars include the quite astonishing Vampira and Bela Lugosi - although Lugosi died before production began!

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The Weird And Wonderful History Of Sex

February 2024

PUF chancellor Kate Brooks took us for a ‘romantic’ Valentine’s viewing of early sexual education films and a history of some strange and marvellous theories about sex. We learnt why men shouldn’t drink coffee, women shouldn’t ride bicycles, long forgotten slang words, unusual bread making traditions and some disturbing hidden history. All this plus two quizzes and a saucy song from our music professors!

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No Cure, No Fee, Boarding Excepted: Mason's Madhouses In Old Fishponds

January 2024

Journalist, Fishponds Voice History columnist and Bristol Radical History Group author Mike Jempson revealed some of the fascinating facts his research dug up about the old private madhouse which dominated Fishponds in its day. His talk included some of the institution’s more startling treatments, the sensational public inquiry and the shameful end of the Mason dynasty - the family firm that ran this biggest private asylum outside of London for 120 years. Drawing on museum archives and patient testimonies, this fascinating and meticulously researched talk was full of little known Fishponds facts – including what it meant to be ‘sent to Fishponds’.


Oh Yes It Is!! A History of the Panto

November 2023

Our music profs, Stuart and Pete, got us into the festive spirit as they explored the peculiar history of seasonal pantomimes. From the Roman origins of the word, to 15th century Italy, the British theatre of the 17th century and to the modern day, we learned the development of panto. But this was no stuffy history lecture. From their appearance as Mr Overflow, the villain and Dame Tinky-Winky at the start, we had plenty of jokes, sound effects and a ghost, with a grand finale - the PUF Two Minute Panto, also starring Kate and Mark. Our Chancellor sang a song and the audience joined in with plenty of participation (including some great chicken noises!).


Never Mind the Grawlix!

October 2023

Dr Mark Neath returned to reveal words we didn’t know we didn’t know - and to share some of the strange histories behind the words we do know. In his usual engaging and witty style, Mark revealed how words are borrowed from other languages, derived from names, places and events or simply made up! Stuart and Pete provided a song about a famous word from a Disney film, which it turns out, had a longer history. We were left a little discombobulated but thoroughly gruntled and whelmed, wondering if we would ever eat crushed avocado again!

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Glenside Tree & Wellbeing Walk

September 2023

The hardy souls of PUF braved the rain for a fascinating tour of the Glenside arboretum, planted to comfort the institution's residents. Stella Man (curator of Glenside Museum) was our guide, pointing out the unusual and exotic trees that we never knew were there, telling us their history and exploring the links between certain trees and mental health.

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The Storming of Bristol 1643: Brisol & the Civil War

June 2023

Michael Gorman took us on a whistlestop journey through the civil war and explained the key role that Bristol played. It was a story of battles, sieges and tactical moves, and also of courage, betrayal and appalling suffering in one of the bloodiest chapters in British history. We learned about the personal struggles of two old friends, who found themselves on opposite sides in the Civil War and were compelled to lead armies against each other in the cause of capturing or defending the city of Bristol.

Michael explained why Bristol mattered so much to both sides in the Civil War, the key events and the grave consequences for both comrades.


The Secrets Of Your Store Cupboard

April 2023

Dr Mark Neath took a break from the brain, and explored some fascinating historical facts about well known brands. In a brilliantly entertaining talk, Mark took us on a journey of tragedy, hilarity, Victorian sci fi, prize winning oxen, machine guns, masturbation (!), dodgy scientists, the Ku Klux Klan, Biblical bees and so so much more…we laughed (a LOT). There was a musical interlude from our music profs, with a singalong selection of favourite advert jingles, during which Mark even did the Shake & Vac!

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How Fishponds Taught The World To Sing

March 2023

Back by popular demand, Stuart Sole and Pete Rowley, our esteemed Professors of Music, gave us a real musical treat in a reprise of their fabulous tribute to local songwriters Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway. You might not know their names but you'll definitely know their songs. This multi media extravaganza included singalong performances and loads of facts, including how Elton John has a Fishponds connection!


Tremors of Discontent: A Life In Print

February 2023

Author and historian Mike Richardson spoke about his recently published book, “Tremors of Discontent: My Life in Print 1970-1988". Mike worked for DRG Flexible Packaging In Filwood Road between 1970-1986, and his talk covered his experiences as a shop steward at a time of  much industrial unrest at the company.

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Film Night Special: Fire Maidens From Outer Space (1956)

February 2023

Frequently labelled ‘the worst film ever made’ by film critics, this cult sci fi is about a group of (pipe-smoking) astronauts visiting an all-female society on what might be Jupiter, but looks more likely to be a park in Elstree. Those not snogging at the back were rolling in the aisles as we marvelled at a film that had no regard for political correctness, scientific accuracy and movie making without a budget! Everyone was a winner in the 'worst moments' bingo.


A History Of Photography

January 2023

Obviously, we have all, at one time, wondered what it would be like to spend a Sunday evening negotiating your way round a WW2 Nissen hut, whilst wearing a giant daisy shaped camera obscura on your head. We know we have. Luckily we had the really rather marvellous Justin Quinnell to how us how! A fabulous, fascinating and fun evening with Justin, a renowned author, artist, community activist and world expert on pinhole and camera obscura photography, who has worked with a number of internationally renowned artists and photographers and with numerous TV shows and films. A real coup for us! We learned about the history of photography, as well as the amazing art curated by pinhole artists.


Looking Into The Light

January 2023

PUF returned to Glenside Museum to see this fascinating exhibition. Museum curator and artist Stella Man introduced Glenside's exhibition Looking To The Light - cutting edge artworks around the museum space, created in response to the museum's displays, exploring experiences and representations of mental health.


The History Of… Christmas Songs

November 2022

Our music profs, Stuart & Pete took us on a quirky musical History Of Christmas Songs from the 4th century to the present day and featured some of our favourite festive tunes. We learned about the stories behind some of our favourite Christmas songs, found out fascinating facts about who King Wenceslas was, how much Noddy Holder earns and what the Twelve Days Of Christmas really cost. We had a good old sing-song to several songs and marvelled at our tasteful fibre optic wonder of a tree too!

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The Cry of the Poor

October 2022

The Cry of the Poor was an ‘open letter’ to Bristol’s Aldermen, published in November 1871, allegedly from ’16 working men’, on behalf of the 10,000 fellow workers of Fishponds, Eastville and their surrounds. Trish, Barbara & Ian from Bristol Radical History Group told us about this fascinating document and how the workers asked for places to swim, libraries for all, clean air and a ‘people’s park’- which gave us Eastville Park. They also set it in the context of the present day, where we are still asking for many of the same things!


Archive Workshop with Historic England

October 2022

A fascinating evening as Michael Gorely from History England gave us a workshop on using their archives and other resources to start finding out about the story of our local area. He used historic maps, aerial photographs, census returns and street directories along with ideas and techniques from the Heritage Schools Programme across the SW of England.

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The History Of… The Tea Break

September 2022

Having a Kitkat and a chat by the staff kettle is not necessarily the worker's right: the tea break is something that was fought for by workers and trade unions fighting for fairer working conditions. Martin Upchurch, Emeritus Professor of International Employment Relations at Middlesex University (who worked for many years as a journalist for a major trade union before becoming an academic at the University of the West of England while living in Fishponds. Unlike the PUF staff, he actually IS a proper professor!!), took us though the rise and fall of the tea break and its subsequent reincarnation in the contemporary workplace. A slimmed down PUFettes (Stuart and Pete) provided the tea break entertainment.


Our Special Relationship With Dogs

August 2022

Pete, our resident Professor of Music took a break from all things musical to explore the fascinating relationship between dogs and humans. With a mixture of science, psychology and history, he told us how we domesticated dogs from wild wolves, the story of our relationship through the ages and how dogs have evolved and learned to live and communicate with us. We also heard an absorbing presentation from Heather Armstrong, a guide dog owner, of her personal journey and how Guide Dogs have helped. She explained how the dogs are trained, from puppies to being fully qualified, and their remarkable intelligence in being able to guide people.

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A Walking History of Eastville Park

June 2022

Our Chancellor, Kate (with behind the scenes help from Mo & Pam), took us on a fascinating stroll through the ages of Eastville Park, where we discovered makeshift schools, socialist talks, ‘tent cities’, suffraggettes and funfairs. We rounded off with music from the PUFettes and tea & biscuits from Friends of Eastville Park in the Nissen Hut! Lovely afternoon.


With Love From Fishponds

May 2022

Fishponds linked with an Amazonian tribe to help them save part of the increasingly threatened rainforest in Brazil. We will be supporting the Surui people in Rondonia to fund them whilst they reforest vast swathes of illegally-logged rainforest. In a very exciting event, we spoke via Zoom with Chief Almir Surui in Brazil and, in Paris, to Almir's wife Ivaneide Surui and Thomas Pizer (President of the NGO Aquaverde who support indigenous tribes around the world). They told us about illegal logging, their campaigns against it and their hugely ambitious re-planting programme.


We launched our crowdfunding campaign which will support the Surui in their efforts to maintain the rainforest and ultimately help regulate the world’s climate stability. Chief Almir Surui and his people are keen to see this partnership with Fishponds flourish well into the future and PUF aim to support them in whatever way we can, creating the Fishponds Forest along the way!

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The Curious Cabinet

April 2022

The Curious Cabinet opened the doors to PUF for a Curiouser and Curiouser creativity tour. Sadie, a certified Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach showed us around her beautiful creative retreat to peruse her artworks and objects and find out about what happens behind the doors at the Creative Coaching Practice.

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All The Nice Girls…? Not So Troublesome Sailors

February 2022

When we think of sailors in the past, we might think of them as drunken, promiscuous, violent nuisances, almost a feral breed apart, let loose on the streets and inhabitants of port towns. Joe Davey from Bath Spa University suggested that, as far as Bristol is concerned, there is a more nuanced view of the sailors on its streets during the nineteenth century. Whilst they were no angels. Joe explained that when sailors were situated within working-class societal, familial, residential, employment, religious and deviant contexts, it is possible to regard many Bristol sailors as respectable citizens, ones who were aspiring to be a better class of working man.


The History Of… Hellos

November 2021

We might have been back to some sort of normal but it’s still not clear whether we should hug or bump elbows nowadays. Mark Neath gave a fascinating and often witty history of greetings, including the story of the word, “hello” (who knew that the original suggestion for answering the telephone was to say, “Ahoy”!?) and advice on the correct way to shake someone’s hand (there is a mathematical formula!). He expanded into Victorian etiquette and we learned how a lady should use her fan to signal such things as, “I am married”, or “follow me”. Our resident band gave a musical interlude with a medley of Hello songs.


All About Bats!

October 2021

We welcomed Stewart of Avon Bat Group, back by popular demand with some wonderful bat facts! We learned everything from their anatomy, the way they use echo location to their place in history and the media. These furry, fascinating fluttering fellows are very loveable and endlessly amazing. Stewart even brought along a real bat and a samll bat person!

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The History Of… Photography: From Lacock To Leith

September 2021

Most of us know that photography was invented in Lacock. How many are aware that its development continued north of the border in Edinburgh ? Ali Bacon's illustrated talk was a fascinating look at some of the pioneers of photography from the 1840s and about the processes involved. Ali also told us about her most recent novel, 'In the Blink of an Eye' (Linen Press 2018) which was inspired by photographs from the 1840s and the stories behind them.


The Wonder Of Sleep

February 2020

What do we understand about why we sleep and how it actually happens? Dr Mark Neath explored what we’ve thought about sleep and dreams from ancient times, how artists and authors have drawn on its magical properties, and how modern science tries to explains it all, as we become increasingly aware of its importance for our health, wellbeing and for society as a whole. Once again we had some wonderful musical accompaniment and everyone went home to a good night's sleep!


The Iluminating History Of The Lightbulb

December 2019

Historian, pyrotechnical wizard and PUF favourite Dave Williams on the amazing and, yes, illuminating history of the lightbulb! We enjoyed fascinating facts about this world-changing invention, found out how it dramatically changed society - and what people thought of this new-fangled electric light at the time!
The evening was once again made more fantastic by appropriate tunes from our in-house singers and as it was nearly Christmas, a free glass of fizz - no jokes about being 'light@ headed!

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Fishponds Ghost Walk!

October 2019

PUF & Friends of Eastville Park, plus local storytellers and musicians, brought a large intrepid crowd a special, spine tingling, supernatural stroll round Fishponds, ending up at the Cross Hands for food and a singalong! It was a fun family alternative to 'trick or treating' with some spooky surprises and local ‘no, it’s true, honestly!’ legends- hopefully, the first of an annual event!

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The REAL Black Friday

November 2019

Bristol Radical History group author, researcher and co-founder Roger Ball took us through the REAL ‘Black Friday’ i.e. not the end of November shopping spree but the strikes and protests of autumn 1892 in Bristol, starting with the ‘Sweet Girls’ dispute at the Redcliff Confectionery works. A brilliant night of forgotten history - a tale of ‘thousands of working class Bristolians’ marching to the Horsefair with lanterns & song.

We were joined on the night by Red Notes Choir and a Rum Do (our own PUF singers) to hear protest songs - including one written about this event not sung in public for over a century!


Pesticide Free Bristol

August 2019

In August, we moved from Glenside to Eastville park’s iconic Nissen Hut, to host this collaborative event with The Pesticide Safe Bristol Alliance and Friends of Eastville Park.
‘Pesticide Free Fishponds’ is the first in a series of 'whole suburb' public engagement initiatives run by the ‘Pesticide Safe Bristol Alliance’ to end the routine spraying of toxic weed killers in the city's public spaces and gardens.  Glyphosate (the world's best selling weed killer, known as ‘Round Up’) is routinely sprayed in parks, school grounds and verges despite links to cancer- it’s even been found in our food and water. It harms pets and wildlife too :(

We heard from a range of gardening experts and speakers such as gardening journalist Dave Lifton, and #greenkingsdown founder and activist Karen Sillence
We also enjoyed lovely snacks from the Park Friends’ pop up café!


Bristol's Nautical Women

June 2019

An evening of nautical intrigue! Author Rosemary Caldicott told us about her new book in which she investigated the intriguing, often tragic, histories of Bristol's nautical women (some who dressed as men to get to sea). Living in Bristol, we're all quite familiar with images of sailing ships - but the focus is usually on the men who built or worked on them. Rosemary, and our very own Sea Shanty Choir brought to life a forgotten history - women sailors and the women of sailor towns. We also enjoyed a tot of rum.


The Women Who Built Bristol

June 2019

Jane Duffus talked about her fascinating book in which she tells the tale of women who are the unrecognised 'sheroes' of Bristol's history. Helen Pankhurst, great-granddaughter of suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst, says: “Jane Duffus and fellow contributors of The Women Who Built Bristol introduce us to a glorious set of women!

Glenside Museum provided an appropriately historical backdrop to celebrate these amazing women who helped shape our city.


Face To Face - Stories From The Asylum

April 2019

Our understanding of the Victorian lunatic asylum and mental illness in general, is often fed by myth and fiction. What do we know about the lives of those who entered the asylums?  Our guest speaker, Professor Rab Houston told us about the individuals behind the diagnoses and our preconceptions of mental illness through the ages. Fascinating and moving. Rab made a special trip from St Andrews University as part of his talk tour.

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Fishponds Fascinating Facts - Walking Tour

April 2019

In collaboration with Bristol's Walk Fest we stopped off at about 10 destinations hearing fascinating facts at each one. There was a bit of cinematic history, industrial past, war time, football connections, refreshments in an old asylum (yes, that's right) we finished at the pub and even unveiled a 'blue plaque' with a connection to one of the world's most famous musicians.


Bristol's Pauper Children

October 2018

Impoverished children were a common sight in Victorian Bristol. The lucky ones were fed, clothed, educated and taught skills by church and charitable organisations, workhouses, reformatories and industrial schools.

However, these institutions struggled to cope with sheer numbers and emigration to Canada, for an apparent healthier and more wholesome life, was seen as a solution for some. Bristol children were first sent to Canada in 1870 and after years of painstaking research, Shirley Hodgson has identified 1,500 of them.


Glenside Museum & Talk

October 2018

An exclusive event for PUF as we were granted access to a private tour of the fascinating museum based in the old Psychiatric Hospital at Glenside, Stapleton. We saw some fascinating exhibits and enjoyed a short informative talk from the museum’s curator, artist Stella Man. Thought provoking and moving.


Zoe Thompson: Strong Woman

September 2018

No. 2 UK's Strongest Woman, Zoe Thompson has been on quite a journey and triumphed to become as she says, 'something stronger and more powerful'. Times of adversity can build an inner strength and that's certainly what Strongwoman competitor Zoe did. Zoe talked through her journey, from the catalyst for change and how she faced adversity and challenges - inspiring, encouraging and honest.


All About Bees

July 2018

Local Bee expert Alyson Hurst shared with us some fun facts about our furry friends, the bees. Along with the fun we also learnt how important bees our to our future and what we can do to help our gardens be more friendly.


The Art of Animation

June 2018

Emma Windsor is an animator, filmmaker and artist. Her independent films have been shown at international film festivals including: Bristol Encounters Short Film & Animation Festival, Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film and the Glastonbury Music Festival. In this talk, Emma told us about her influences - from Disney's pink elephant scene in Dumbo, through to darker and even more surreal films - all featuring the creative use of animation to make us question what's real and what's possible. She can be found at the Puppet Place.


Professor Rowley's Miscellany Of Musical Madness

May 2018

Our esteemed Head of Music, 'Professor' Pete Rowley took us on an amazing journey through the world of some of the most curious and eccentric musical instruments ever invented. We saw music making from a completely different perspective, from the wacky to the surreal, the strange to the bizarre, from the middle ages to the future. Pete brought along several instruments for us to try - including a clarinet made from a carrot, a trumpet made from a bit of plastic pipe, a musical pencil and, for those of you who remember the classic Star Trek music - a theremin.


The City Gardener

April 2018

Horticultural journalist and gardening expert Tim Barton (‘The City Gardener’/ ‘Aimless Gardening’) talked to PUF about growing vegetables for a year round harvest. He covered successional sowing, creating environments that will extend growing seasons, what to grow and how and then how to store stuff so that you can eat when there's little growing. A talk full of top tips and hints - with lots of us inspired by how much can be achieved with a little bit of imagination and DIY.


The Road to Muller's Orphanage

February 2018

PUF founder, Kate Brooks presented a mesmerising tale about six orphaned children who were heading for the workhouse, the youngest only a matter of weeks old, but were taken instead to George Muller's Orphanage, Bristol. We heard original letters from neighbours concerned for the children and from George Muller himself. The packed audience learnt about life in the Orphanage, and found out what personal connection the six children had to Fishponds and to Kate.


Feeding Bristol

January 2018

What can we do about food poverty in our city?

Speakers : Andy Street, CEO Fareshare/ Feeding Bristol; Darren Gillett, Fit & Fed; Sara Venn, Incredible Edible; Alison Findlay, Poverty is Pants; Anna Keen, Cabinet Member for Education, Bristol; Richard Pollard, Fishponds Foodbank & MP Kerry McCarthy.

Our first event of 2018 and it was great to find out what's happening & how we can get involved.


How To ... Conduct an Orchestra!

December 2017

In the third of our 'How to...' series, we welcomed back Choral Master Tom (History of Singing) Watkins. He showed us the basics of conducting an orchestra so we could all impress our friends and family at Christmas! It turns out, of course, that conducting an orchestra isn't as easy as it looks - just try 'drawing' the shape of a square with one hand whilst drawing the shape of a triangle in the other - and you'll soon appreciate some of the coordination required.


Storytelling Festival Event

November 2017

Bristol's Story Cafe came to the People's University of Fishponds!

On a cold winter’s night, we enjoyed local folk tales, magical realism and entertaining stories from local professional Storytellers Paula Brown (founder of Bristol Storytelling Festival) and Martin Jefferd,  who shared their favourite tales along with a fascinating insight into the history of storytelling, what stories do to our brains, and the enduring power of the spoken word. Thought provoking, funny, moving - this was a lovely event helped by the candlelight and the mulled cider!

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October 2017

Bat experts (i.e. chiropterologists - who knew!) Kiri and Stew from Fishponds' very own bat hospital Avon Bat Care brought their passion and knowledge - together with some very special patients - to PUF. We heard some fascinating facts about our night-time neighbours! These interesting & surprising creatures are much misunderstood and need our help to survive. The audience, young and old, particularly enjoyed meeting one of the bats - called Dave!


Journey To Justice Month

October 2017

A collaboration with Journey to Justice and Borderlands, celebrating human rights and Bristol's rich cultural diversity.     

A packed audience heard excerpts from the Borderlands anthology of writing & art, read by Bristol refugee authors. Supporting them were: Dr Madge Dresser, Dr Edson Burton, performer, historian and storyteller, ‘Bristol’s Poet Laureate’ Miles Chambers from Ujima radio and the Right Honourable Lord Mayor of Bristol, Councillor Lesley Alexander.


Fun Palace!

October 2017

In collaboration with Bristol Libraries, the People’s University of Fishponds hosted an Open Mic ‘short talks’ night, where anyone with an urge to share their ideas, passions, hobbies and interests was invited to do a 10 minute talk to a friendly audience of curious neighbours keen to listen, learn and laugh!

Lightbulbs, pin-hole cameras and the joy of beans all featured!


How To ... Record A Pop Song!

September 2017

Pete Rowley, who runs one of Bristol’s longest established recording studios - and who wowed us last term with Fishponds’ connections to famous pop musicians and writers- came back by request to demonstrate how to record a pop song.
In his entertaining and hands on style, he talked us through the history of technology in recording over the last 40 years or so, giving an insight into some of the techniques. Then, with the help of our willing audience members, he wrote and recorded a simple pop song on the evening, all about Fishponds of course! You can hear the song on our Facebook page.


This is what a politician looks like: personal tales of political action

June 2017

Deputy Mayor, Estella Tincknell, spoke with us about how she became active politically and why she believes politics should engage and empower us all. It was an interesting, insightful and very personal account of what it means to be Deputy Mayor.

We also were lucky enough to have Fishponds teenager Hannah Hier. Hannah is East Bristol’s representative on the Bristol City Youth Council: she also talked about how she got involved, what she stands for and what she hopes to achieve. Young women like Hannah mean there’s a lot to be hopeful about!

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How To ... Manage Change

May 2017

Launching our new "how to' series - Dr Mark Neath explored one of the most useful life skills of all - how to manage the impact of change. Life is all about change of course and many changes will be for the best - at the same time we also know that change can generate strong emotions and unusual behaviours.

In this talk Mark shared the classic psychological idea of a 'change curve' much beloved by consultants such as himself but often not appreciated as a practical way to manage change - whether that be a new boss, new house, new career, parenthood or as Mark has recently experienced - the family decision to get a dog!


How Fishponds Taught The World To Sing!

April 2017

In perfect harmony...  Stuart Sole and Pete Rowley (now 'Professors of Music' at PUF) gave us a real musical treat in this fabulous tribute to local songwriters Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway. Not everybody knew their names but we all knew their songs. Plus, who knew that Elton John spent the night at Parnall Road! One of the highlights of the term.

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This Is Exile

March 2017

A very special event in collaboration with Save The Children and the Bristol Radical Film Festival. This was a free screening of the award winning 'extraordinary...intimate...beautiful' short documentary This is Exile.

The film, currently touring Bristol, tells refugee children’s stories in their own words, a moving, uncompromising and thought provoking experience.
Dr Steve Presence, Research Fellow at UWE and co-founder of the Bristol Radical Film Festival, talked about the power of film to shape cultural and political change, and chaired an informal discussion after the film.

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100 Fishponds Road: Life & Death In A Victorian Workhouse

March 2017

In 2012 some radical historians poring over old maps came across a disused burial ground at Rosemary Green close to the site of Eastville Workhouse at 100 Fishponds Rd. Their research revealed that more than 4,000 men, women and children, inmates of Eastville Workhouse, were interred in unmarked graves in Rosemary Green from 1851-1895.


In a packed Kingfisher Cafe we learnt what life was like in the workhouse like, who the inmates were, how they were treated and what happened to them after they passed away.  If you missed this sell-out event you can buy copies of the booklet here.

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Why Do People Sing?

February 2017

Professional singer, choral conductor and organist Tom Watkins took our minds off the lashing February rain with a joyful and stimulating talk about the history and function of singing. It was great to see lots of new faces in the audience - and even better that you were so prepared to ask questions and join in with Tom's songs and exercises. We learnt about the many benefits of singing, the role of choirs in forging community identities and explored some of the evolutionary reasons why human beings have always sung. Many of the audience went home to enjoy a Gin & Tonic - for reasons that only they will appreciate!

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Beginners Guide To Philosophy

February 2017

Dr Alex Malpass once again made us think things we'd never thought before. His aim was to make us feel Philosophical Vertigo - an uneasy feeling brought on by by realising that the things we 'know' to be 'true' might not be as straightforward as we thought. We questioned the idea of love, whether objects exist, what makes something a person and what the differences are between truths, lies and bullshit. How very topical.


Your Amazing Brain!

January 2017

Dr Mark Neath took us on a whirlwind tour of the amazing human brain. After an introduction to the major parts of the brain we heard about how it uses shortcuts to make sense of the world; the continual struggle between logic and emotions; the similarities between male and female brains and the incredible network of connections and networks that makes teenagers and adults who we are.

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The Maltreated And The Miscontents

November 2016

We typically associate cotton mills with the North of England, but in this talk, historian and author Mike Richardson told us about the Barton Hill Cotton Works here in Bristol. Working in dangerous conditions and suffering ill-health and unrelenting management, the women and children who worked here deserve to be remembered. We heard about their acts of protest and sabotage and how they came together to make a stand.

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Slaughter No Remedy: The Life And Times Of Walter Ayles

November 2016

Colin Thomas, three times BAFTA winner told the fascinating tale of Walter Ayles. Walter spoke up against WW1 and was imprisoned as a conscientious objector. After the war he was re-elected as a North Bristol Labour councillor.

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Stranger Stories

October 2016

An evening of speakers, supper and songs - all in aid of the Bristol Refugee Centre and Fishponds Foodbank. Live gypsy swing music from the Sweet Spokes. We hear so much about refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers in the media but this evening gave a voice to people now living in Bristol whose lives started far away. We learnt about their histories and the people they've left behind - but also about the practical reality of claiming asylum and the resilience you develop living with an uncertain status.

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Bristol And The Icelandic Slave Trade

July 2016

We thought we knew about Bristol’s slave trading history and its connections with sugar, Africa and the Caribbean Islands... but Bristol’s trading goes back to the 1000s, and includes some surprising places. Professor Peter Fleming told us about Bristol’s little-known history of forced labour and kidnap in the 1400s and how Bristol Merchants, around the time of John Cabot’s travels, were involved in the kidnapping and forced slavery of children and youths from Iceland and beyond...

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What Is Philosophy?

June 2016

Philosophy is about questioning things. What is knowledge? How should we live? What is reality? What is the self? Is love real? Is there any meaning to life? Is it time for a beer? In this introduction to the subject, Dr Alex Malpass took us on a tour of a subject that has everything as its subject matter. Inevitably, we left with more questions than answers - but that was the point!

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Women And The City

May 2016

In this event, UWE Professor Madge Dresser told us all about the women who've shaped our city over the past 600 years. Many of the caring values which underpin contemporary community action in Fishponds today are the same values which over hundreds of years have propelled Bristol women to venture into public life – women who, for centuries, have fought to make this city a better place. If you missed the event but want to know more you can read her new book: Women and the City: Bristol 1373 - 2000.

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