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.
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.
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.
Drunkenness was perceived to be a growing social problem in the late nineteenth century. To treat drunkards, or so-called ‘inebriates’, a new Inebriates Act was passed in 1898. The Act required those classed as inebriates to undergo rehabilitation and treatment at specialised homes. Most research on the treatment of drunkenness has primarily focused on treating and controlling the working class and women. Hutton's article reveals new research on the treatment of men from the upper social ranks, using Abbotswood House in Gloucestershire as a case study. The article investigates the methods of treating inebriates and their effectiveness, as well as the daily lives of patients.
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.
The water springs of Boiling Wells and the Quay Pipe provided Bristol with access to safe, clean drinking water. The Quay Pipe route required difficult engineering to extend and maintain. However, the pipe and its conduit house became a cultural and social icon of Bristol, symbolising care and social unity. In this article, Adrian Kerton focuses on the history of the Quay Pipe and its social significance to Bristol, and tackles some of the confusion surrounding the source for the Quay Pipe.
In April 1837, Charles Bartlett was executed at Gloucester Gaol for the murder of his mother-in-law. His execution was widely reported and became a subject of controversy. Not only had Bartlett theatrically declared his innocence from the gallows, but the behaviour of officers in charge of the spectacle drew comment. Abolitionists and opponents of public executions were appalled by the disorderly conduct of the hangman, the sheriff and the governor. In this article, Steve Poole explores how the death of Charles Bartlett led to heated debate over the reform of capital punishment.
"Elmington Manor Farm is the best-documented farm in the Lower Severn Vale Levels, which is why James Powell chose as his topic 'The Estate Management of Elmington Manor Farm and environs 1066-1950'". From sources in "public archives, planning departments, libraries and museums" Powell looks at the earliest records of the farm, and how it survived to be surveyed by the "Second World War Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries".