Knowle West residents feature in new audio documentary

A new audio broadcast just released features life in Knowle West – and some of its residents who are putting it on the map…

The New Wild West which premiered on BBC 6 Music today (16 November) is a ten-minute experimental audio documentary produced by local artist and poet Tom Stockley (TS Idiot).

It uses interviews, field recordings and spoken word alongside electronic music “to tell the forgotten history of Knowle West and, ultimately, paint a picture of a community fighting for positive change”.

Residents featured include musician Makala Cheung and boxing coach Skemer Winters as well as author Ed Trewavas who wrote the hard-hitting novel Shawnie – which is based in the area.

There are also mentions of some of the young people who have made their mark – including British Kickboxing champion Micky Moon, world champion in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Frankie Rose Horsman and Cosmo Browne who represented Great Britain in the Futsal World Cup last year.

Makala Cheung performing under stage name Kala Chng at this year’s online Knowle West Fest.

Tom says he started the project a year ago but it was put on hold due to lockdown – and growing up on a council estate himself, the subject was close to his heart.

He explains: “When I moved to Bristol in 2018, I already knew about the work going on at Filwood Community Centre so I moved as close as I could, just near Broadwalk Shopping Centre. I felt massively welcomed and inspired by the people in Knowle West, and what they were doing to build their community…

“The longer I lived in Bristol, I started to hear more negative ideas of what people thought Knowle West was like – I know first hand that some areas can have difficulties, but I also knew that this was only painting a tiny part of the picture. It didn’t match up to the community that I’d become a part of, and the projects I was involved with.

“I wanted to prove people wrong, to give a platform to voices who had seen the true side of Knowle West and had seen the power of a community working together to make a positive future – despite various struggles, prejudice from others and often little help from those in power…”

Image of Knowle West by Lewis Campbell.

Tom says with the current pandemic and lockdown – he feels the project now has even more relevance.

He adds: “I think communities like Knowle West are underappreciated, and can teach us a lot about resilience, compassion and how we rebuild ourselves in the face of adversity.”

Tom has been joined on the project by Bristol musicians Georgina Biggin (GINS) and George Thornton (JOY/Quit Your Job Records) to produce the collage of voices, music and sounds that make up the audio documentary.

He hopes in the future to present the piece to a live audience in Knowle West, as well as sharing it with Bristol institutions such as Knowle West Media Centre and Bristol Museum – so it “can be owned by the community as a whole”.

The New Wild West is available to listen now via the BBC ( Introducing Arts with Gemma Cairney) for the next month:

For more information about the project visit: