"The phrase 'builders of Victorian Bristol' can be approached at different levels. It can refer to all those who contributed to the growth of the city in the widest sense, embracing its physical, economic, social, political and cultural development in the period 1837-1901". Peter Malpass investigates some important names and how they made a different to Bristol in the Victorian era.
With the continuing redevelopment of large areas of central Bristol, many of our former industrial buildings vanished almost daily. In this article, Julian Lea-Jones gives an account of one such local industry, the Temple Back Alum works that closed in the 1980s. Alum (the common name for Aluminium Sulphate) is an essential but unnoticeable product widely used by many industries.
The Reformation of English towns has provided an attractive field of research for scholars in recent decades, yet Bath’s Tudor experience has been persistently overlooked. In the late sixteenth century two events disturbed the religious and social equilibrium of the city: the attempted amalgamation of the inner-city parishes, and an inquisition into alleged concealed lands. These events had profound immediate and long-term social, political and religious repercussions. In this article, Emma Corker highlights the significance of these events, which have often been overlooked by those interested in Reformation history.
In 2007, local author John Payne published his own account of 'the rise and fall of a Bath company', a personal history of the city's engineering firm, Stothert and Pitt. We reviewed the book in RH18 and invited John to reflect upon the process of writing 'industrial history' or 'business history' as 'community history'. For, as he suggests here, there would seem a world of difference between most academic accounts of commercial change, and the sort of approaches taken to the subject by people for whom working for the firm had been formative. What is the relative value, he wonders, of personal histories of the workplace?
A great fire at Crediton in 1743 tore through the West Town. The thatched roofs and timber frames caught like tinder, and onlookers watched the ‘impending conflagration’ as it devastated the area. The map of Crediton held by the Devon Record Office provides an insight to what the town would have looked like before the terrible fire. The recovery of a missing part of the map has provided detailed information about eighteenth century Crediton and has sparked new research. Simon Dixon, John Heal, Philip Planel and Nick Hastead use the map to reconstruct this old market town and explore its trade and industry.
Frank Smith looks at the impact of the interwar recession on the port transport industry in Bristol, as well as looking at comparisons with the two major ports in London and Liverpool. The article follows the fluctuation of unemployment and industrial relations in the aftermath of the conflict, as well as looking at the way the city accommodated the various changes.
Between the First and Second World Wars coal mining was still being carried out within the city boundaries of Bristol, and it was not until the early 1960's that the last mine in adjoining South Gloucestershire finally closed. John Penny reveals the extraordinary act of bravery during the final years of working at Speedwell Colliery, which at the time touched the hearts of thousands of local people.
Five hundred years ago, Bristol was the second or third largest town in England ( only London, York, and possibly Norwich outstripped it in wealth and population), but was finding it difficult to maintain this position in the face of increasingly difficult economic conditions. Bristol shared in the problems besetting many of its rivals: population growth was held back by recurrent epidemics, with the result that levels of trade and demand for manufactured goods remained low, while the shortage of tenants meant that houses fell empty and soon decayed; the increasing competition from rural clothiers hit the urban textile industry, and the town's elite showed growing reluctance to volunteer for burdensome and costly civic office. Peter Fleming offers an insight to life in Bristol in the last decade of the fifteenth century.
During the eighteenth-century, Britain was the hub of the international market in iron. Although the British Isles could boast a well-established domestic iron industry, native ironmasters were unable to meet the rapidly growing demand for iron in the major metalworking districts of the Midlands and the north. As a result, large quantities of bar iron had to be imported from the Baltic to meet the shortfall. Much of this iron, destined for the West Midlands, was shipped through Bristol. In this article, Chris Evans looks at Bristol’s iron trade through the business records of Graffin Prankard, a Bristol merchant who played an important role in this commerce in the first half of the eighteenth century.