Life in Victorian Bristol


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The heart of modern Bristol isn’t medieval or even Georgian, but Victorian. The framework of today’s city was laid down in the nineteenth century, with the system of local government, road and rail layouts, and the siting of the business quarter. The Victorians set up all the institutions we take for granted – the police force, the fire brigade, the post office, telephones, sewerage, lighting, refuse collection, gas and electricity, water. They built the schools, the libraries, swimming baths, their leading citizens put up the money for the city’s art gallery and other institutions. Remove the Victorian contribution, and Bristol would be a backwater. Queen Victoria herself visited the city only twice: once in 1830 as a young princess aged 11, when she visited with her mother the Duchess of Kent, and stayed in a first-floor suite at the Clifton Hotel in The Mall, and again right at the end of her reign, in 1899, when she was 80. Between those two dates, Bristol changed radically, stamped by the new Victorian ethos. What was it like to live in this age of progress and industry, of self-improvement and selective charity? Using extracts from books, letters, journals and newspapers, Life in Victorian Bristol gives the flavour of those years and describes the social and economic systems which made the city function. With the help of faded photographs – the camera made its appearance two years into Victoria’s reign – we know what Victorian Bristol and its inhabitants looked like, we still live in the houses they built, we shop at the firms they founded, drink in the pubs they drank in, drive on the roads they built. As Helen Reid graphically shows, perhaps they weren’t so different from us, after all. 250mm x 210mm 176 pages, profusely illustrated with black & white photographs, prints and archive advertisements ISBN 1 904537 40 5 Hardback