Everyone's heard of Blackbeard, THE MOST notorious Pirate in history - BUT did you know he was born and raised in Bristol?
This November marks the 300th anniversary of Blackbeard’s death – alternatively known as Edward Teach or Edward Thatch, due to a mis-spelling in historical records.
The recently launched walking tour around Bristol harbourside and the surrounding areas is presented by local theatrical company Show of Strength. ‘Blood, Booze and Buccaneers’, aims to shed some light on the life of Blackbeard and his relationship with the City.
Actor and guide, Gerard Cook, takes to the helm on this walking tour. He makes a quintessential pirate with his shoulder-length blonde hair, eyeliner and outfit.
With your Pirate Guide and his fellow companion Ted the Parrot keeping him in check ‘probably’, they will tell you captivating stories of all things swashbuckle. Unravelling the history and mystery surrounding the legendary Blackbeard, your adventure begins here….
Where it all began...
The tour starts at your first pub, The Golden Guinea, on Guinea Street. The word Guinea, is synonymous with Bristol’s maritime history, as well as the name of the Gold coin. It takes its name from the Guinea Coast in Africa. Coincidently the street was being built around 300 years ago, and it’s ‘probably’ (que Ted) where Edward Teach grew up.
Sat in the pub cellar with your twenty-or-so fellow Shipmates, you’re given a dramatic and detailed account of Edward Teach’s early life and how he started off in the Navy before finding his way to Captain a Pirate ship. You’ll be told loads interesting facts from new revelations recently uncovered in Jamaica. Lots of them are ‘probably’ true.
Your Pirate Guide has an endless supply of jokes, all worthy of Christmas Cracker status. You will learn early on into the Tour that anything can be made into a Pirate joke quite simply by adding an ‘Arrrggghhh’ into it.
Get ready for it; What is a pirates’ favourite choice of music? Can anyone guess?? Arrrggghhh n’ B.
The tour then heads off past Redcliff Caves and through Bristol’s Old Dockside. We make plenty of stops along the way. Pointed out, are more landmarks which played an important part in Blackbeard’s past and then on to your next port of call and second drinking establishment of the evening.
The Hole in the Wall is named after a tiny spy hole along the Dockside wall of this pub and is where the next part of the story takes place. The pub is at a perfect vantage point, next to the docks to see the comings and goings of activity outside. It enabled the 18th century sailors and smugglers to keep watchful eye for customs men and press gangs.
The Hole in the Wall was prime recruitment territory for the Navy. Sometimes, after a heavy night of drinking, men would wake up finding themselves on a ship at sea having signed up to the Navy.
Your Pirate guide will also tell you of how Robert Louis Stevenson sat in this very spot, influenced by Bristol and her maritime history and wrote his book ‘Treasure Island’. The pub that Long John Silver frequented was called ‘The Spyglass Tavern’ was ‘probably’ influenced by The Hole in the Wall.
A bit of time to finish our drinks and off we go again, heading in the direction of Queens Square, named after Queen Anne.
You will stop at one of the houses donning a Blue Plaque. Privateer Woodes Rogers lived in this house. In 1707-1711, Rogers circumnavigated the globe, it was during this voyage that he rescued Alexander Selkirk. This became the inspiration for Daniel Dafoe’s book Robinson Crusoe.
And so the plot thickens.
The walking tour continues, and we head to The Llandoger Trow. Its’s named after the small Welsh village of Llandogo, and the Trows, which is a type of cargo carry boat that were built there.
It was here that Daniel Defoe met with Alexander Selkirk, who recounted his experiences of living on an uninhabited island for four years until his rescue by Woodes Rogers. This became Defoe’s inspiration for Robinson Crusoe.
The walking tour then moves onto the pretty pink little Almshouses on Kings Street. At the time of Pirates, the Treasure Map didn’t exist. This was a much later invention and a fictional object created by William Williams, he lived at the Almshouses and first wrote about Treasure Maps in his 1815 book ‘The Journal of Llewellyn Penrose’.
And on to a cut-throat ending
The Blood, Booze and Buccaneers walking tour finishes up at The Famous Royal Navy Volunteer which is the fourth and final stop. More swashbuckling stories end up with the tale of Blackbeard’s final battle and death of Edward Teach, with 5 bullets and several swords slashes he died in battle. He was decapitated and his body thrown overboard, no one knows of the whereabouts of his head – some say it was made into a silver drinking goblet ‘probably’ – I guess some mysteries we will never know the answer to.
A walking tour with a difference! Captivating, informative and downright fun!
If you enjoyed reading this post, or know someone who would, then please share.