Know Your Greenbank

Know Your Greenbank: The Hidden Past(s) of Greenbank Cemetery is a collaboration between Know Your Bristol and The Deep End, a heritage group of local residents who are currently restoring the chapel at the Greenbank Cemetery to its former glory. Once their long-term work is completed, the chapel will provide an off-grid community hub, skill-share centre and exhibition space for the local community of the Greenbank area (

Know Your Greenbank aims to offer local residents a window into the hidden past(s) of their neighbourhood through a focus on one central site of the area: the cemetery. When the burial ground was opened in 1871, Greenbank was nothing more than a short row of new houses surrounded by open land. In the almost 150 years afterwards, the area has witnessed fundamental changes. What was a close-knit and clearly defined community of craftsmen and local factory workers at the beginning of the twentieth century has now turned into a highly diverse neighbourhood that forms part of the city of Bristol. However, much of this history remains invisible to someone walking the streets of Greenbank today. Shops and businesses have come and gone, its school was demolished, and even the ruin of its once famous chocolate factory will soon disappear. Throughout all these years, the cemetery has provided a fixed point on the map – but it has not remained the same space either. It allows us to glimpse into the past of the neighbourhood because it was never just a burial ground, but whatever the local residents made it to be: a place of spirituality, a place to spend one’s freetime or a meeting place of the community. The project will ask how the different inhabitants of the neighbourhood have used, understood and experienced the cemetery throughout the years in order to offer a window into the changing nature of the local community.

Know Your Greenbank will record an oral history of life in and around the cemetery, which will then be shared with the local community through the new Map Your Bristol website ( With the cemetery as a starting point, the project thereby aims to further encourage local residents to explore the hidden pasts of their area. The material gathered in the course of the project will also be presented at the spring launch of the Greenbank Chapel in March 2015 – an event that will provide an opportunity for all local residents to hear, share and exchange stories about the history of their neighbourhood.