At Stroud in 1897, protesting crowds congregated outside the market hall for three days in an attempt to prevent a public auction of household effects, seized by the authorities in a ‘distraint sale’. These were the belongings of a local family who had refused to let their children be vaccinated against Smallpox as the law required. Distraint sales like this had increasingly become an arena for protest and carnivalesque displays of public outrage and the Stroud riot was no exception. The crowd set fire to heather bushes, acted out pantomimic scenes in fancy dress, and pelted eggs at police constables and auctioneers. They overwhelmed the local police force, as well as the police who had been sent in from neighbouring towns and cities. But why would anybody riot against a vaccination programme set up to combat Smallpox? In this article, Holly John investigates a nineteenth century medical controversy and discovers that despite being the home of Dr Edward Jenner, the ‘Father of immunisation’, the south-west of England was also once home to a fervent anti-vaccination movement.
Constructing a rail ferry across the Severn: 1845-68
The Lower Severn Vale: Trade and Exploration in Tudor Times
"Bristol, the Lower Severn Vale, the Severn Estuary and the Atlantic Ocean are all closely connected by trade. Liz Napier paints a vivid picture of port life in Tudor Bristol and the beginnings of international trade from original records".
Over Court: the life and death of an Elizabethan Manor House
"Wealthy Bristolians have always escaped the pressures of city life for the peace of rural South Gloucestershire. Country estates frequently changed hands as fortunes were made and lost and fashionable mansions were built with the profits of trade, including the Slave Trade. Sarah Hands has traced the story of Over Court from its medieval origins".
Aftermaths of war: Bristol in three civil defence plans, 1939-1967
"Three civil defence exercises covering Bristol – in 1939, the 1950s and 1960s – not only have an eerie fascination for their word-pictures of a city plunged into imaginary wars; the written scenarios also throw light on what concerned the scenario writers. As the likely damage in war became more than the authorities could handle, so the planners’ responses took a sinisterly authoritarian turn"
Tobacco Pipes as Barter Goods on Bristol Slavers
"With the ending of the London monopoly of trade with Africa in 1698, there began a period when Bristol slowly asserted itself as the chief slave trade port of Britain. From a position of only two or three voyages a year, the trade grew to ten voyages annually by 1707, twenty-seven voyages in 1717 and forty-eight voyages in 1725. There are six hundred known slave voyages which departed from Bristol in those three decades up to 1730". Peter Taylor looks at how small shipments of tobacco pipes were taken on around half of voyages as bartering material, and what impact this had on trading from Bristol.
The Norman Lords of Bristol
"The early history of Bristol is obscure. Although archaeological excavation is beginning to shed light on the development of the town, the townsmen left no written records to provide a picture of the political framework, within which the town emerged, nor of how power was mediated in the town". Thompson looks at early records of how Bristol was formed, and what events and factors influenced its early development.
The End of Newgate: Bristol Corporation and the Politics of Nineteenth Century Gaol Reform
The end of Newgate saw the beginning of an arduous struggle between the Bristol Corporation and some of Bristol’s leading citizens. The episode draws attention to the inner workings of contemporary municipal government in Bristol and leaves us with more questions than answers about the nature of the Bristol Corporation. Treading the line between a public and a private organisation, the conduct of the Corporation paints a picture of out-dated paternalism, characterised by wealth, far-reaching influence and self-interest.
‘Race War’: Black American GIs in Bristol and Gloucestershire During World War II
During World War II, American armed forces were stationed at Bristol and throughout the South-West. A considerable number of these soldiers were African American. During this period, the Jim Crow Laws were still being enforced in the southern states of America, and a strict policy of racial segregation was observed within the American military. The experience of African American soldiers was very different in the South-West of England to what it had been in the United States. This article offers a brief insight into contemporary race-relations and the differences between the policies of each nation regarding civil rights and military participation.
Slimbridge and an American Connection
Eric Carpenter looks at the American connections with Slimbridge, relating to the many who travelled to the New World to find their fortune. Using church records and other available pieces of evidence, he looks to establish a background to the migration, as well as ascertain the motivations behind the original emigration of the Bridger's to the New World.