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Archive for the ‘Talks’ Category

Inspirational visit from Open Bionics founder

In April 2019 we were delighted to welcome an old friend back to KWMC for an inspiring morning of robotics, technology – and make-up!

Samantha Payne, co-founder of award-winning innovation company Open Bionics, met with students and teachers from Barton Hill Academy and explained how Open Bionics produces cutting-edge 3D-printed bionic arms for people across the UK.

Samantha grew up in Knowle West and was involved with KWMC for several years, as a volunteer and then as a staff member. In 2014 she co-founded Open Bionics, which is based in Bristol.  She has since been named one of Forbes ’30 under 30′, a Bloomberg Business Innovator, and Wired Innovation Fellow, as well as receiving many other awards.

During her return visit to KWMC, Samantha was joined by 13 year old Tilly Lockey, an Open Bionics ambassador and inspirational speaker.  As a baby, Tilly contracted meningococcal septicaemia and underwent an operation to have both of her hands amputated. Tilly shared her story with the students and gave a make-up demonstration to show the dexterity and flexibility of the Hero Arms that Open Bionics designed for her.

Samantha and Tilly’s talk was filmed by production company Hotel Hungaria for Toyota’s ‘Driven’ series, which explores the drive and ambition of innovators. Watch this space for the final film…


Knowle West Heritage Walking Tour

On Wednesday 13th August around 25 people joined us for a heritage walking tour of Knowle West with local historian and lifelong resident Ken Jones. Ken gave a detailed account of Knowle West’s rich history, stretching all the way back to its past as a Roman settlement in the 3rd Century.

The walking tour started with the history of the Knowle West Media Centre site where there used to be a health clinic built in the early days of the NHS in 1952. It was next door to what was colloquially known as the “fever hospital.”

The tour then moved on to Inns Court. Several churches have existed over the years on the site of Holy Cross Church at Inns Court and the current church was built in 1999. Though the building is new, an old bell and font from Temple Church, which was bombed during the Second World War, reside there.

Behind the church at Inns Court Ken showed us where parts of an old manor farmhouse are still visible. The farmhouse was subsequently used as a vicarage and later to house chickens. There was also another farm situated near the current site of the bus depot. In the old farmhouse there was a secret room revealed by a levered shelf in the larder – where it is claimed that Royalists hid from Roundheads during the Civil war in the 1640s.

The tour then visited Filwood Broadway where you can see a series of purpose built buildings from the 1950s, including Filwood Library, Filwood Social Club, and the swimming pool which closed in 2008. The old cinema that was first opened in 1938 is also on Filwood Broadway – some of the seats from which can now be found at the MShed museum.

Ken provided a comprehensive and, at times, surprising journey through the history of the area. He explained that “Knowle West” was invented as a postal address by the Post Office in the 1930s and the area’s official name is Filwood Park. “There’s no such place as Knowle West,” commented Ted, who is the caretaker at Holy Cross Church.

Participants found the walking tour very interesting and were interested in attending similar events in the future to hear more of Ken’s unrivalled local knowledge.

Thanks to Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives for working with us to organise the walk as part of their summer programme.


Mayor’s Question Time comes to KWMC

Bristol’s Mayor, George Ferguson, will be holding a public question time event on Wednesday 8th October at Knowle West Media Centre.

The event is organised by Bristol City Council and is one of a range of ways people can engage with the Mayor outside of formal council meetings.  Potential questions will be collected from attendees on the night and independently chosen to ensure a good spread of issues.  The event will last for about 75 minutes and there’s likely to be time for about 15 to 20 questions.  The event will be independently chaired and the Mayor will not know the questions in advance.

Booking is required for this free event as places are limited.   Book your free place at or call 0117 922 2848.

Doors open at 6pm and the event starts at 7pm.

For more information about using our spaces for your event visit the Hire section.


The Urban Forager – what foraging means to me

Watershed Executive Chef Oliver Pratt talks passionately to Knowle West Media Centre about foraging & cooking with wild ingredients. Oliver hosted Wild Thing, the Food Connections Festival event at Knowle West media Centre.

“Although I didn’t know it back then I have been a forager all my life. It all started as a kid, walking in the woods, exploring, asking questions and looking at the vast array of plant life around me. Only being allowed to pick the things my parents said were safe to eat I was learning that food originated from the wild. As I got older so the outdoors became a challenge, often seeing how long we could live out in the woods and whether it was possible to survive off the land alone. The answer to that question was quite simply: No. With our limited knowledge and skills it was in fact exceptionally hard if not possible at all.

25 years on and I have a more holistic approach, picking up facts and information along the way from a range of sources has led me to one conclusion. Foraging is a primeval instinct deeply rooted in all of us, it has gone hand in hand with our evolutionary progression and mental development where we survived as a species by being able to identify and catalog the subtle differences in plants; their shape, texture, taste and smell and that by using and developing all of our senses to define what was edible and what was not. These days there is no need to forage for survival, food is farmed, packaged and even delivered to our door and the ancient art of being a hunter-gatherer is slowly being lost.

Or is it?

I now live in the city but wherever I go I find myself identifying a whole range of plants all fit for eating. Bay trees, rosemary, thyme, wild parsley, valerian, lavender, wild cabbage, mustard, horseradish, rosehip, hawthorn and elder to mention but a few and I realise that although the landscape has changed my ancient instincts have not: I am a modern day hunter-gather; I am an urban forager.

When asked what is it I enjoy about foraging then my answer comes from observing other people whilst on a wild camping trip to the Wye valley. Their fun and joy at immersing themselves in nature, the excitement as they discover a bounty of food that is edible; identifying it, picking it and taking it back to the camp to cook. It goes right back to our basic self, our basic being where we were connected to the land for survival and by doing that, by tapping into all our senses and using them it feels good.

If foraging helps us stay connected to the land, appreciate it more and as a result help preserve it then that is a great thing. ”



Foraging Chef Oliver Pratt


Radio 4’s Any Questions? comes to Knowle West

On Friday 2nd May Knowle West Media Centre had the honour of hosting the national broadcast of BBC Radio 4’s flagship political panel programme Any Questions?

Over 120 people packed into the KWMC studio to hear the panel, chaired by Jonathan Dimbleby, debate five questions that were posed by the audience.  The questions touched on topical issues including violence in schools, rent control and the increasing use of foodbanks across the UK.

An outside broadcast space was set up outside the building for those who weren’t able to get tickets, with strawbale seating, a speaker system and a big screen television showing a live feed from the debate. Local businesses Spicer’s Catering and Zoomoffee provided delicious refreshments.

Any Questions? was broadcast live from KWMC on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio Bristol and the panelists were:

  • Farming Minister George Eustice MP
  • Media Executive Kelvin Mackenzie
  • Food writer and poverty campaigner Jack Monroe
  • Shadow Transport Secretary Mary Creagh MP


‘Understanding what young people really want’

“Young people want to make content not just consume it. The arts are about doing”.

In the latest Digital R&D journal our director Carolyn Hassan discusses why arts organisations should consult with young people – and how this can yield a better understand what they’re interested in and how we can best support them. Eleanor Turney investigates the questions: ‘do arts organisations know what young people want?’ and ‘can they compete technologically?’. Read the full article here.

Common Purpose Bristol Quest Day & Challenge Day

During the Autumn months, KWMC hosted two events for Common Purpose: a Quest Day and Challenge Day.

A group visited us as part of the Common Purpose West of England Meridian 2013 senior leaders course and were set a challenge to solve that linked to our forthcoming Lost & Found project. One of the participants commented: “It was an imaginative and effective way of introducing us to the project they are working on and to the area. Very experiential.”

In September, participants from across the UK attended the Common Purpose Quest Day, which you can find out about on their website.  One of our visitors commented: “It was great to hear about all the really inspiring and innovative things [KWMC are] doing, and how focused they are on meeting the needs of the community.”

Contact Us

Knowle West Media Centre
Leinster Avenue
Knowle West
+44 (0) 117 903 0444

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