The coronavirus pandemic exposed many underlying fault-lines in society. One was that between different generations, surfacing most prominently in disputes about mass gatherings and the right to use public spaces. But what happened at Abbots Pool in rural North Somerset was part of a deeper history of contested access.
The right to trial by jury has been traditionally acknowledged as a pillar of the English legal system. Under the principle of ‘twelve good men and true’, juries had been trusted for centuries with the responsibility of dispensing justice impartially and according to evidence. Defendants had the right to be tried ‘by their peers’, but juries had always been composed entirely of men. In 1919, reforms in the law allowed women to take their seats as jurors in a criminal trial for the first time. The trial took place here in Bristol in 1920, and not everyone was entirely happy about it.
After 20 years of research, the Filton Community History Group closed in 2018. Some notable contributions included the BAC 100 (Bristol Aeroplane Company) oral history project, the Millennium Schools Project, and the ‘Inspiring Women’ exhibition for South Gloucestershire Council. All these successful projects have connected the local community of Filton to their rich and proud history. Jane Tozer, Treasurer of Filton Community History Group looks back on the group's achievements.
In the aftermath of the Great War, Prime Minister David Lloyd George urged for the need to make Britain ‘a country fit for heroes to live in,’ where ex-servicemen could enjoy improved living conditions. In July 1919, the Housing and Town Planning Act received royal assent. Despite having initial doubts about the idea of building new homes through the Great War, Bristol City Council purchased 700 acres of land in late 1918 to build high quality housing estates. On the centenary of the Act’s passing, Peter Malpass’ article examines its impact on town planning in Bristol and explains why the Act should be celebrated.
Despite having little commemoration, the 1918-19 Spanish Flu pandemic was one of Bristol's most devastating disasters. On November 11, 1918, Ellen Way died by jumping from a window during a delirium caused by influenza. At least another 1500 people would die from influenza in Bristol. Eugene Byrne’s article considers the impact of the flu on everyday life in Bristol, and explores the role and response of Dr D. S Davies in preventing the spread of Spanish Flu.
Welsh steam coal was in high demand among steamship companies in England. Well-connected train transport was essential to meet this demand, which consequently led to the construction of the Severn Tunnel. Thomas Andrew Walker oversaw the project and expanded the site at Sudbrook (1880-1886, Wales) into a village with basic provisions for the navvies. However, navvy villages in New Passage in Gloucestershire were tainted by disease and unsanitary living conditions. Mead’s article investigates the problems the navvy settlements faced and their impact on New Passage and Bristol.
William Gilbert was a Romantic poet best known for writing ‘The Hurricane’ in 1795. The motivations behind writing the visionary poem can be traced back to Gilbert’s time in an asylum in Hanham, South Gloucestershire. John Henderson, son of the asylum proprietor Richard Henderson, introduced Gilbert to the study of astrology and provided care. Paul Cheshire's article provides an insight into Gilbert’s life in Bristol and his time in the asylum.
Dr. Johnathan Harlow, Professor Johnathan Barry and Dr Michael Whitfield have been investigating what is believed to be a leg iron, on display at the Yale Center for British Art. The iron is engraved with the words ‘Deverall, Cornstreet Bristoll, 1733’. This article explores the provenance of the leg iron to shed light on the activities of the Deverall family, and the presence of enslaved Africans in Bristol.
William Canynges (1402-1474) was one of Bristol's wealthiest merchants in the 15th Century, controlling nearly a quarter of shipping at the port of Bristol. Canynges invested a significant amount of his wealth in St Mary Redcliffe Church. He also formed a strong bond with John Carpenter, Bishop of Worcester, who assisted Canynges to prepare him for death. In this article, Burgess investigates William Canynges' spiritual investments in the closing years of his life and their broader social and political implications.