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Bedminster, Bristol

Bedminster is a district of Bristol, England. It lies on the south side of the city, and was in Somerset until 1831. It is also the name of a council ward, which includes the central part of the district and some other areas.

The eastern part of Bedminster is known as Windmill Hill. To the south of Bedminster is high ground known as Bedminster Down, now generally considered a separate suburb.

Looking across Bedminster Bridge Roundabout


Bedminster was once a small town in Somerset. The town's origins seem to be Roman, centred around the present East Street and West Street. Finds here have been interpreted as an enclosed rural farmstead, dating between the 2nd and 4th centuries, but with possible Iron Age origins. The river Malago, which runs through Bedminster to join the Avon, was an early Christian place for baptisms mdash; the old word for which, beydd may be the origin of Bedminsterrsquo;s name. Substantial Roman remains have also been found at Bedminster Down, including plaster, tesserae hence mosaic floors, sandstone roof tiles, coins and pottery, hence the site is thought to be a Roman Villa occupied by the Romano-British.

By the late Anglo-Saxon period Bedminster was a manor held by King Edward the Confessor in the 11th century, and in the Domesday Book of 1086 was still in royal hands. The Royal Manor of Bedminster comprised all the land south of the Avon, from the Avon Gorge to Brislington, and in the Domesday Book had 25 villeins, 3 slaves and 27 smallholders. In 1154 it was given to the Lords of Berkeley, who kept it for 300 years. In 1605 it was purchased by the Smyth family of Ashton Court who remained theLords of the Manor until the 19th century.

The parish of Bedminster was part of the hundred of Hartcliffe.

The London Inn, a landmark pub, is at the junction of Cannon Street, East Street and British Road

In 1644, during the English Civil War, Bedminster was sacked by Prince Rupert. When John Wesley preached there in the 1760s, it was a sprawling, decayed market town, with orchards next to brickworks, ropewalks and the beginnings of a mining industry.

Open cast coal mining had been done on a small scale since the 1670s, but in 1748 the first shafts were sunk by Sir Jarrit Smyth at South Liberty Lane. By the end of the century there were eighteen coal-pits operating in the Bedminster and Ashton Vale coalfield.

Between 1804 and 1809 the New Cut was excavated through the northern part of the parish from Temple Meads to Hotwells, providing a new course for the River Avon, enabling the original course to be held at a constant level so that shipping could stay afloat in Bristol Harbour, now known as the Floating Harbour. In addition to removing the tides, the new cut also helped with reducing silting in the harbour. It is now the boundary between Bedminster and the City centre.

In 1840 the shipbuilder Acramans, Morgan and Co began opened the Bedminster Yard on the New Cut, to build a number of steam ships including two large vessels for the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, the 2,000 tonne Avon and Severn in 1842. In 1862 John Payne Ltd took over the yard, then known as the Vauxhall Yard, and continued to build coastal cargo ships, and small craft such as tugs. They closed in 1925, and the site was taken over by Bristol Metal Welding and Spraying Company, who are still in business there today.

A nocturnal view along East Street

The population of Bedminster increased rapidly, from 3,000 in 1801 to 78,000 in 1884, mostly as a result of the coalfield and industries such as smelting, tanneries, glue-works, paint and glass factories. In the 1880s two major employers moved there - E. S. amp; A. Robinson paper bag manufacturers and W.D. amp; H.O. Wills cigarette and cigar makers. The population overflowed to Windmill Hill, Totterdown, Southville, the Chessels and Bedminster Down. During this time, churches, public houses, shops and businesses were built, some of which still survive.

In World War II, Bedminster was one of several areas of Bristol that were heavily bombed during the Bristol Blitz. Post-war town planning relocated most of the heavy industry to the rural areas to the south of the parish, and new estates grew up in Withywood, Hartcliffe and Highridge.

Information from Wikipedia

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