Blog: Mark Steeds

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Tell us a bit about yourself…

My name is Mark Steeds and I’m a former draughtsman and current publican of some 30 years standing. I’m interested in all aspects of Bristol’s history, especially the city’s literary and maritime past. Reflecting this, I helped found the Long John Silver Trust in 2005, with the aim of trying to interest the city into a literary statue of Long John Silver, another Bristol publican and one of fiction’s great anti-heroes. To further this goal, I helped write The Bristol Treasure Island Trail (with other Trustees in 2007) and co-authored a book with Ken Griffiths entitled Pirates and Privateers out of Bristol in 2010.

Mark is a member of the Bristol Radical History Group

After joining Bristol Radical History Group (BRHG) in 2006, myself and colleagues have campaigned hard to try and balance Bristol’s memorial landscape, still dominated by Colston, Cabot and Brunel. Out of this came BRHGs first pamphlet, Cry Freedom, Cry Seven Stars in 2007 and a major book on Bristol’s role in the slave trade called From Wulfstan to Colston co-authored with Roger Ball in 2020 – published on the very weekend that Colston’s statue got dumped in the docks.

To help rectify old wrongs in the city, I would like to see a long overdue memorial to the victims of enslavement (including indigenous peoples, penal and indentured servants and most importantly of all, enslaved West Africans) and an ‘Abolition Shed’ interpretation centre.

Tell us about your preferred Bristol walking route and why you love it so much.

Mark leads the Bristol Abolition walk as part of Walk Fest

I always start my walks at M Shed and love the city’s historic docks and old city, which, although constantly changing, offer an essential backdrop to the city’s pirate, privateering, smuggling and slaving past.

How long have you been walking there and when did you first discover it?

I’ve been aware of the city’s core since I was a child, and members of my family have worked in most of the city’s industries; tobacco, cotton, shipping, plumbing, engine driving and aircraft!

Who normally accompanies you on your walks?

I started doing them for the Long John Silver Trust and BRHG nearly 20 years ago, and this has evolved into volunteering for regular walks with M Shed.

The Llandoger Trow is full of history

How do you feel when you’re out for a walk? Does it change your state of mind?

Although undemanding, I always feel better after a good stroll; sharing a ‘bottom-up’ view of Bristol’s past always gives me satisfaction and people seem to appreciate it

Have you experienced any health benefits from walking?

Definitely, it takes some of life’s stresses away, and you can lose yourself in your surroundings

Do you have any particular kit you take with you when you’re walking? If so, what do you take and why?

Sensible shoes and a water bottle!

Anything else you’d like to mention?

Amazingly, there’s a lot of cross-over between great literature associated with Bristol (Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels, Treasure Island et al) and the topics covered in my two walks, Bristol Abolition on Tuesday 7th May and Pirates & Prejudice on 28th May, come along and find out!

Mon 20 May 2024
Last Updated
Sat 11 May 2024