As night falls, Bristol comes alive…  The streets become a stage, as invisible lives…
Reveal themselves.

“All the world’s a trade.”

A celebration of the ‘Army of the Night’ — Bristol emerged from the shadows,
in the early hours of 25 October to reveal what goes on in the invisible hours,
while all is apparently quiet…

A photographic competition inviting Bristol’s residents and workers to document their realities within the city walls, took place as the clocks went back and we were catapulted into British Winter Time.  Preceding the hour change, when the clocks went back, and we supposedly gained an hour – this photo-documentary asks:  Just what happened to that extra hour?

For the past three years, the photographic competition ’24 Hours in Bristol’ documented a day in the life of the city – resulting in thousands of images of Bristol submitted by photographers across the UK, Europe and beyond.  This year, the concept was developed into the ‘Magic Hour’ to coincide with the hour change, when the clocks went back an hour in October.  The competition aimed to celebrate the invisible army of night workers who keep Bristol going while the rest of us are sleeping.

The winner of the competition was HR manager Helen Sheppard from Frenchay for her photograph of a lighting technician high up in a cherry-picker, installing the Christmas lights on The Horsefair.

“The competition was quite an eye opener. Walking around at night taking photographs, I noticed just how many people are up working in the early hours of the morning. We don’t realise how lucky we are having all these fantastic people protecting us at night, particularly the emergency services. Everyone we met around the city was so friendly and helpful.”  Helen says.

Coming in at second and third place were husband and wife team Martin and Debbie Walker from Wellington, Somerset.  Martin’s photograph of a Bristol Council cleaner sweeping up rubbish from the empty streets of Bristol at 5.30am won the second prize and Debbie’s image of a Bristol Ambulance crew posing in front of their vehicle at 4.30am won the third prize.  Sarah Khoury also picked up a prize for her photo of one of the Thekla nightclub’s security team.

Thomas Page entered his photograph titled ‘Police Rush’ which gained the attention of judges.  Talking with Tom about his photo, he explained:

“On the night of the exhibition, it was very busy with some people celebrating Halloween early, and there were a colossal amount of police around, with sirens constantly going and many police vans rushing around on various missions around the city. The ‘Police Rush’ picture is my absolute favourite of all four photographs that I entered. I thought it captured the whole atmosphere of the evening really well.”

Mike Porter, Managing Director of ’24 Hours in Our City’ said:

“Bristol is rapidly becoming a true 24-hour city, however keeping the city going needs a huge number of people prepared to work all hours to transport us, entertain us, feed us, support, protect and keep us safe. The judges were looking for photographs that capture the spirit of night-time workers in Bristol and we were delighted to receive so many excellent entries.  It was a privilege meeting some of the night workers who featured in the photographs.”

An exhibition showcasing a selection of the images, will be held at the Harbourside Arts Centre, opening on  Wednesday 2 December and running until 11 December, between 1pm – 6pm (closed Sun – Tues).

Our special feature on ‘The Magic Hour’ is currently available in December’s issue of the magazine.