Local Heroes #51 - Owner Ben of the Old Bookshop

On Bristol’s North Street, just south of the river, lies The Old Bookshop. A pub, a legend. We meet the owner, Ben, and when we arrive, it’s as if he was rehearsing for a performance.

Published by Morgane on 27/09/2016

"I used to live in Chepstow, South Wales, and it wasn’t far to come for a night out in Bristol. I loved it, it’s got a great vibe. I was in the building industry, fitting a lot of kitchens and bathrooms – a very different job. A lot of our work was in Bristol, so I’ve been coming here ten years before moving. There was nothing to keep me in South Wales so I made the move, and didn’t know anyone here – but it’s the best thing I’ve done.

When we first opened the pub, it was just the one half, so it’s developed since; the bit we’re in now used to be a beauty salon. My father and I have done everything here ourselves: every tile, the bar, the kitchen, the toilets.

We’ve always had a big yard space from our last home, so we collected stuff over the years. The RNLI poster is an original. My dad’s got a vintage lifeboat, two actually, both restored – this is one of the 1940s posters."

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"There’s a model ship in the corner which my great grandad built. He built ten in his lifetime, some are in museums. And we’ve got the time machine, with a whisky still. It’s built from engine parts, and stuff we’ve cobbled together.

The last two years we’ve been doing pop-up restaurants at the pub, so every month the food changed, with a different chef. We’re going back to a permanent chef now, but not stopping the popups… they are moving to a secret new location!"

"We do a little side promotion as well, so we have people come from other venues in Bristol and put on shows. We’ve always kept the same format: good food, good drink and live music. We’re not the biggest place, so I can’t pay people as much as I’d like, but a few years ago we introduced cocktails and we offer a nice experience to bands coming – I always try and give them as many free drinks as I can.

My listening tastes are quite broad, but if it’s Nick Cave or Prince, I’m sold. I take the sound very seriously, and when we have someone in, it’s about making them feel at home. Because I’ve done that, I get a lot of people contacting me now. It just evolved naturally."

theoldbookshop.co.uk

Citinerary Bristol Old Bookshop Citinerary Bristol Old Bookshop Citinerary Bristol Old Bookshop

Citinerary Bristol Old Bookshop

Interview with Ben and all imagery & film to the courtesy of  Morgane Bigault & Ed Thomas.

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