Last year I spent some time with the Bristol Wood Recycling Project (BWRP), after they had just received their eviction notice from their landlord, Bristol Council, to vacate the premises in 6 months. They had known this time was coming, in fact for 13 years the BWRP had been using a piece of land ear marked for development. On several occassions the land had been bought - subject to planning permission - only for the deals to fall through, but this time in 2017 it was different. The buyer, a local university wanted to develop on the land.
The piece of land was once home to a cattle market, though in recent times it had been the home of Parcel Force’s sorting office, in the South West. Abandoned for almost 20 years the building had been once described as an ‘entrance to a warzone’ by former Prime Minister, David Cameron. The site had been leased to Ben Moss and Bristol Wood Recycling Project to begin trading in the early 2002.
For 14 years Bristol Wood recycling Project had been utilising the space for the collection and repurposing of wood from construction yards around the Bristol and Bath area. With heavy involvement from a range of volunteers, the wood is de-nailed, cleaned and repurposed for sale to the community of Bristol. This involement helps reduce wood going into landfill, as well as supplying local trades and households with quality, affordable wood. Furthermore the project build their own, bespoke furniture to Bristol households and businesses, teaching the volunteers new skills in their workshop.
In 2017, having heard of the project’s eviction I began visiting the yard and quickly noticed the community around the project, including the support stucture for volunteers, the enjoyment the project gave visitors and also the skills it enabled people to learn through the enjoyment of such a space.. With the news that this community hub may be lost due to the lack of funds the project had, I began a portrait project, photographing the staff, volunteers and customers at the yard in the hope of advertising the importance of the project to the wider community and helping the project gain the recognition it deserves.