"While popular memory associates the summer of 1940 with debonair young men in Spitfires duelling the Luftwaffe in the sky, there was frantic building activity going on below in preparation for the expected German invasion. Eugene Byrne looks at some of the defence works made in anticipation of the ground war in the west of England".
"John Lyes considers the career of an overlooked Bristol lawyer and finds him to have been a feisty and prolific criminal justice campaigner... Walker was also a regular writer of letters to the local press". Walker protested injustices wherever he could, whether they happened to him or others he saw it as his duty to try and make changes to the system.
"‘Those who have not been within six miles of Bridgwater within the last fortnight have missed one of the most remarkable sights ever witnessed in this country’, remarked the Western Gazette in November 1875. ‘Floods are no new thing in Somersetshire... but never,since the moors were artificially drained, never since railways were introduced, have the floods attained such a height, covered so enormous an area and caused so much loss and misery, as during the last few days". Steve Poole looks at the history of flooding in the West Country and how it has been presented, whilst taking into consideration how it has shaped the physical development of the region.
"Though we have long boasted of having fewer robberies committed here than in any place of equal size, yet it is impossible to be entirely exempted from lawless plunderers’, according to a sober assessment from 1786. Indeed, by the later eighteenth century, there were few places so full of temptations and opportunities as Bath,with all its well-to-do residents and visitors,opulent shops, fine houses and well-stocked gardens. In this article,Trevor Fawcett examines the record of the city’s prosecution society in the constant fight against property crime".
"This article is intended as an exercise in‘reflective practice’ rather than a piece of academic writing. It describes an innovative and successful oral history project at Frome in Somerset, which resulted in the publication of a book called Working Memories, reviewed elsewhere in this edition of Regional Historian.The article covers the background to the project;the choice of sample of 90 people interviewed;the collection of photos and memorabilia; the editing of the interviews; how oral history relates to other forms of history; and some substantive and methodological conclusions that might be drawn from the project".
Mary Hamilton was perhaps the most notorious cross-dresser or ‘female-husband’ of her day. She lived in Somerset, among other places, and was the subject of scandal across the country for her habitual crime of marrying other women. Her story was preserved in the pages of an anonymous pamphlet by a famous contemporary novelist and dramatist. Through the story of Mary Hamilton, Sheila Hannon considers the rights and responsibilities of modern-day novelists and dramatists in their use of historical evidence. To what extent can writers take liberties with historical record in the name of ‘dramatic license’, when much of the ‘historical evidence’ that remains is itself fiction?
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.
'There is a considerable Welsh presence in contemporary Bristol. Welsh accents are often to be heard in the city's streets, and that presence has doubtless grown since the building of the two Severn bridges. This is by no means a modern phenomenon, however, and in this article, Peter Fleming explores the experiences of the Welsh in Bristol during the reign of the Welsh king of England, Henry VII'.
During the late nineteenth century a quiet revolution was going on in the teaching of agriculture. Growing foreign competition along with economic depression in the agricultural sector, and the increasing demands of an urban population for more standard, high quality food products, all contributed to the development of a more scientific approach to farming. Agricultural societies, prominent individuals from the fanning world, and latterly the state, came to see the promotion of better education as a way of helping a struggling agricultural sector. In this article, Janet Tall provides just one example of an educational movement which was sweeping across the country, and the impact it had on rural Somerset.