Speedwell – the former mining community with one of Bristol’s friendliest pubs

Sandwiched between Fishponds and St George, Speedwell is an area many people overlook on the way to one of its more ‘up-and-coming’ neighbours. Partly because, at first glance, it seems to lack a defined center with no apparent main street.

But walking around Speedwell and talking to those who live and work there, you quickly discover a friendly, unpretentious and relaxed neighborhood where residents, new and old, are at the heart of the community. In the 19th century, Speedwell was home to several small collieries, and while evidence of its industrial past is now fairly well hidden, there are still some clues.

The area is a patchwork of different architectural styles, but among the new and interwar housing, the dominant Strachan and Henshaw tower, and industrial units, there are still a few rows of old miners’ cabins. Perhaps the most obvious reminder of Speedwell’s past is the Wakkum, a Greene King pub and the pinnacle of the area run by Damion and Laura Pike for the past 12 years.

Read more: Man’s ‘disbelief’ after the great Speedwell fire completely destroys the business

Consistently reviewed as one of Bristol’s friendliest pubs, it was initially called the Beaufort Arms but was known as Beatem and Wackem, a name derived from miners’ wives who used to come into the pub to “beat and wackem” their husbands. .

Speaking about the area, Damion said: “I think it’s probably misunderstood a bit. It might have had a bit of a name in the past, but it’s a very family oriented place now. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have stayed 12 years and bought our kids here.

(Image: Maria Piedra)

As managers of a well-loved venue, Damion and Laura try to cultivate a welcoming atmosphere, whether people are there with their families or just want to have a drink alone. He said: “We always tell our staff that we want to try to get people’s backgrounds. We try to get to know everyone on a personal level.


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