Older generation Bristolians might well recall the Cloakroom Cafe's more humble origins -
as purpose built public convenience!
Built in 1904 the restroom existed at a time when the surrounding Park Row area was an elegant, thriving Victorian destination.
Park Row was home to the Prince’s Theatre which opened in 1876 & to the Coliseum, which was built in the early 19th century & housed various entertainments. The Coliseum also later became Bristol’s first cinema in 1912.
Our neighbouring historic landmarks, Bristols Victorian era Coliseum & Prince's theater.
Cloakroom Café now resides in what is known as Tyndall’s park conservation area & is considered a building of historical & architectural interest. A lasting example of civic pride in an affluent bygone era of Bristol’s history.
The building is now considered a rarity as most public conveniences of this era in Britain have been recently demolished, being deemed as commercially unviable spaces for the modern age.
Cloakroom Café as it exists today is a testament to considerate renovation & modern commercial ingenuity. This once restroom has not only been restored, keeping many of the defining features of its era, but also transported into the modern age – turning a part of Bristol’s past into its present & giving life back to this historical corner of the city.
Images © peter simon bailey 2020
Bristol based artist Alex Lucas's iconic 'Uncertain World' mural graces our view opposite The Cloakroom's entrance.
Painted in 2015 to coincide with nearby Cabot Institute's uncertain world research, Alex's work symbolises the last period in Earth's history when carbon levels were as high as they are today.
Thirty yards from The Cloakroom's front door - perched upon the Coliseum's historic entrance - sits a statue in memory of the countries most recognisable little dog & his owner.
'Nipper' belonged to 19th century designer Mark Barrard who was most notably employed as scenic designer for the nearby Prince's Theatre.
The image of Nipper we are most familiar with is known as 'His masters voice' & was originally a painting by English artist & brother of Mark, Francis Barrard.
Francis captured the particular curiosity Nipper had upon hearing his owner Mark's voice played through a gramophone.
The image of Nipper leaning his head & lifting his ears to the sound of his master was appropriated in 1901 by The Gramophone Company record label for use as their logo.
The logo & Nipper's image live on today in every high street in Britain as part of the HMV (His Masters Voice) music retail brand.