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".

Elmington Manor Farm: 1584-1911

"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".

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'.

The Bristol General Election of 1830

The General Election which followed the death of King George IV in June 1830 is generally remembered in Bristol as a contest between the two Whig candidates over slavery. There were, however, two other candidates. One of them scored the greatest political triumph of his career; the other mustered barely two dozen votes. John Stevens tells the story of these Bristol electorates and their political campaigns.

Alum. One of Bristol’s Forgotten Industries

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.

Sea Change and C. Claxton: an evolving Bristolian, 1800-1850

In this article, Geoff Mead illustrates the interesting overlap between old and new worlds that characterised the early nineteenth century through the story of Captain Christopher Claxton. His story exemplifies the dynamic tensions, changes and continuities of the period. His activities sometimes literally bridged old and new worlds. Yet this 'Age of Reform' also increasingly challenged his political and social perceptions. This interpretation of Claxton's long life and work in early steam navigation and in iron-bridge building illustrates well how at the cusp of technological advance changes in culture follow.

The Spanish source of the name of The Malago, Bedminster

Richard Coates addresses another place-name mystery of Bristol, putting forward a number of persuasive possibilities. This article explores the exotic-sounding name of the polluted three-and-a-half-mile stream which joins the Bristol Avon from the south in Bedminster.

The Transition of Taunton from ‘wicked town’ to ‘peaceable borough’

In the years after 1600 Taunton was marked by a heady mixture of radical Puritanism and the volatile wool trade. Together these pitched Taunton into the centre of the Civil War in the area and, on two occasions in the second half of the seventeenth century, into open rebellion against the government. William Gibson follows Taunton’s transition from a centre of rebellion to peaceable borough in the eighteenth century.

‘It is past the art of man to find us out’: anti-Catholicism and the ‘Bristol Firemen’ in 1730

‘Shortly after midnight on 3rd October 1730, a series of brilliant 'fire balls' or hand-made grenades were seen arching through the air on St Augustine's Back, Bristol, and over the back wall of George Packer's large and opulent mansion house. There was 'a noise like the report of several guns', followed by quickly spreading flames. Within minutes, the merchant's home was ablaze, his household in full flight, and it was only a favourable wind that prevented the flames spreading to nearby warehouses and the dense flotilla of wooden ships crowding the adjacent quay.’ In this article, Steve Poole uncovers a story of organised extortion by arson at Bristol, and the ethnic and religious prejudices which it exposed.

A Brush with the Ancien Regime: French Courtiers at Bath in 1787

In the eighteenth century, the Spa town of Bath was bustling with gentry who came to buy luxury goods and specialist services; but until the 1780s, very few of these visitors had been French. In this article, Trevor Fawcett follows the story of the French Courtiers at Bath in 1787, and their connection to a scandal involving Mary Antoinette on the eve of the French Revolution.