Community Capitalism and the Governance of Victorian Bristol

"The phrase ‘community capitalism’ was coined by Charles Harvey and John Press: Before 1914, there existed in Bristol a close knit business community with a commitment to the economic well-being of the city. The leaders of this community– men like Sir George White, Albert Fry, Christopher Thomas and Joseph Wethered – formed an economic elite with powerful social and political connections. They jointly promoted many companies, held many directorships,and controlled a large number of major enterprises. This was not so much family capitalism as community capitalism".

Crewing the Bristol Slave Trade: the Bristol Ships’ Muster Rolls, 1790-1795

In this article, Mike Breward looks at the use of Muster rolls on ships, noting what their purpose was and why they are so important. "Muster Rolls, listing ship's crews by name together with their service details, became a legal requirement on ship owners by an Act of Parliament in 1747. Their original purpose was to record monies paid into the 'hospital fund', a levy from seamen's wages for a relief fund for the injured and the provision of payments to widows and families of deceased sailors".

Palm Oil and Elephant Tusks: The Merchant Kings of Bristol

'Over the years of the slave trade Bristol's merchants learned the best combination of 'sortings' to facilitate their business in the West Indies. It was an eclectic, international collection of trade goods containing, for instance Maldive cowries, Manchester cottons, Birmingham guns, Swedish iron bars, Bristol copper and glassware, West Indian rum, Virginian tobacco and South Gloucestershire felt hats. The goods were used as customs duties and homage for the coastal kings, 'dash' payments for African middlemen, and barter for slaves'.

‘Far below her former station’: Jessop, Brunel and Bristol’s Floating Harbour

The opening of the Floating Harbour on 1 May 1809 was followed by an open-air feast for 1,000 of the workers who had laboured for five years to create the world's largest area of impounded water for shipping. Unfortunately, this happy event soon degenerated into an unseemly drunken brawl apparently involving groups of English and Irish labourers, resulting in numerous arrests and personal injuries. In a sense the working class were simply standing in for rival factions among the city's elite, who were taking a breather after half a century of argument about how to modernise the ancient port of Bristol, and who would soon be at it again, once the consequences of the new harbour began to emerge. Peter Maplass retells the story of ingenious civil engineering, crediting William Jessop, and reframing Brunel’s contribution.

Pictures in Focus: the Bristol Guildhall

After the original Bristol Guildhall, which played host to the Law Courts, was pulled down by Bristol Town Council in 1841, Trevor Pearce considers the style, setting and decoration of the new building designed by City Surveyor R. S. Pope in a historical context. In addition, Pearce considers the aspects of the building in terms of being an expression of Bristolian identity.