The Bristol Pound was launched with much fanfare on Corn Street soon after midday yesterday, with Bristol’s Lord Mayor, a gaggle of traders, a throng of media, and massed mayoral candidates, councillors and MPs. The aim was to have the launch as the sun was at its highest in the firmament, a rare literal example of blue sky thinking.
I wanted the notes to remain unsullied in my wallet, but I also wanted to use them, to contribute to this project that some have called harebrained, others inspired.
Whatever your feeling, the Bristol Pound has already caught the public imagination, with thousands of pounds worth of notes in circulation hours after being released.
St Nic’s and Corn Street were buzzing in the evening when traders stayed open late, with live music in the Glass Arcade from musicians including Lori Campbell and circus from the zany Le Navet Bete (right).
There are more than 300 independent businesses signed up to receive the Bristol Pound. See the full list here, from 180 Degrees C, a cake company in Fishponds, to Zara’s Chocolates, an artisan chocolatier based in Bedminster.
Lorena Camacho from Koolmami in St Nic’s Market is one of the traders in the scheme, which accepts payment both by the Bristol Pound notes and also by text message.
“For us, it’s good to help the local economy,” said Lorna, as her baby slept soundly beside her behind the shop counter. “It’s great that the money will be kept in Bristol, and we can pay our rent and business rates with it too.
“It’s an added incentive for people to buy from us, to buy locally and to support independent traders. It’s a great scheme, something new, and we’re very happy to be involved with it.”
Somebody else very happy with the scheme is Phil West, a freelance designer and artist whose black stylised silhouettes on a green and white background are featured on the front of the £1 note which Lorena is holding in the photograph below.
“The design just seemed to evolve to how it looks now,” Phil said. “The theme of the competition was environment, urban wildlife, recycling and architecture hence all the icons in the design, although it was quite hard trying to find icons to spell out Bristol.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing people use the the note that I designed. It’s a great way of getting my art seen by lots of people. The diversity and different styles of design is also very refreshing.”