Bristol: Old Photos And Film

Categorised as Bristol
Bristol local history; vintage film and old photos of Bristol

Bristol is a city in the South West of England. In the past, it has been part of Gloucestershire, Somerset, and Avon but in 1996 it reverted to its historic position of being in the county of Bristol.

A Quick Summary About The City

What does Bristol mean? In 1000AD a bridge across the River Avon lead to the Olde English name Brycgstow, meaning place at the bridge.

The Hatchett Inn on Frogmore Street was constructed in 1606 and underwent a lot of alteration before its Grade II listing. The name is thought to come from the axes once used by woodsmen in nearby Clifton Woods.

The city’s major maritime trading port lead to a dark period of slave trading until slavery in England became illegal in 1833. The Port of Bristol continued to be a major source of trade and employment until the docks closed in 1975.

The Luftwaffe air raids of World War II caused death and destruction on a massive scale. The Dutch House was one of many historic buildings lost forever. The new few decades saw rebuilding programmes on a vast scale.

Bristol is famous for the Clifton suspension bridge which has become a symbol of the city, the thriving music and artistic communities, and the nationally celebrated political street artist Banksy. The harbourside is a visitor attraction, boasting a modern development filled with restaurants, bars, shops, and hotels.

More than forty thousand full-time students attend the city’s educational institutions, which include the University of Bristol, the University of the West of England and the Bristol Old Vic Theatre school.

Photos of Old Bristol

A video showing photos of the city through the years.


Take a step back in time with this video of original photos.

UWE Project of Bristol In Old Photos

A video showing old photos of the city. Made as part of a project for UWE (University of the West of England).

“BRISTOL ……OLD PHOTOGRAPHS” by YouTube channel aifammafiaaifam.

Bristol’s Henleaze Swimming Club

A documentary about the history and activities of members of Henleaze Swimming Club Bristol.

“Henleaze Lake Bristol” by REDCLIFFE BRISTOL.

The City In The 1920s

Haig In Bristol April 1920

When Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig officially visited Bristol on 19 April 1920, it was shortly after the Great War ended. Despite the rain, spectators and dignitaries came out to greet him. Also there were many petitioners, men who fought for their country so recently yet now found themselves unemployed and in desperate poverty.

Jisc Inform – Lord Haig at Bristol, 19 April, 1920: Jisc

On 19 April 1920, the famous Field Marshall Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig, visited Bristol.

In the late 1870s, young Douglas attended Clifton College, which was known at the time for its educational focus on science. The college also had a less elitist culture when compared to other boarding schools of the time.

After leaving Clifton College, Douglas toured the United States with his brother, having lost both their parents by this time. Then he attended Brasenose College at the University of Oxford, to read Political Economy, Ancient History and French Literature. From there, he headed into the army, where he later found himself a key figure during the Great War.

Haig’s 1920 Visit to Bristol

When Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig  arrived in Bristol on 19 April 1920, it was just one year and five months since the end of the Great War. Officials, spectators and petitioners turned out in large numbers to see him.

“Earl Haig visited Bristol in the middle of April. On arrival at Temple
Meads he received a petition from unemployed ex-soldiers and then went
to the Council House to receive the freedom of the city. Later in the day
the University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.”

John Lyes, Bristol 1920-1926 Pamphlet, Bristol Branch of the Historical Association, 2003

Events In The Vintage Footage

The footage opens with Haig travelling in a horse drawn carriage procession. He sits in the back of the first open top carriage.

Ex-soldiers stand to attention, some proudly displaying the medals they recently won in the terrible battles of the Great War. They may be wearing civilian clothes, but Haig rapidly walks along the line as though performing a formal inspection.

He doesn’t speak to them and never smiles, but that seems to be the expectation as the men stand resolutely to attention.

Next he’s driven in the carriage past spectators who wait under black umbrellas. it’s clearly raining. Then, having stepped out of the stationery carriage, Haig helps two women and the Mayor in all his finery descend the carriage steps.

He now walks along large groups of men, occasionally stopping to talk to some of them. It’s sobering to think those men we see on screen were fighting in the trenches and other battle fields, and came home to poverty and unemployment.

Gaumont Graphic Newsreel

This vintage newsreel is from the Gaumont Graphic collection. The silent cinema newsreel service launched in 1910 but ceased production in 1934, giving way to the production of the company’s sound newsreel, Gaumont British News.

Vintage Film Of Bristol In The 1920s

“Bristol In The 1920s” by YouTube channel AztecWest2008

Watch some very rare moving pictures of Bristol (UK) filmed 80 years ago.

It’s a long disappeared world in which old cars, buses, lorries, and motorcycles share the roads with trams and a surprising number of horses and carts. A charabanc and even a hand-pulled cart are glimpsed.

Policemen direct traffic, while women exhibit the ‘flapper’ look and men wear hats or caps.

Locations include the Centre, Corn Street, Bristol Bridge, Park Street, The Docks, Bedminster Bridge, Redcliff Hill, and Ashton Swing Bridge.

1927 – Princess Mary In Bristol & The Portway

This vintage footage shows two separate items.

In the first segment, 30 year old Princess Mary officially visits the new Dockland Club in Bristol. It’s 1927, several years before her niece became Queen Elizabeth II.

Next, we see the new Portway road. One of the first roads designed with motor vehicle traffic in mind, it’s admired for its beautiful and interesting surroundings.

Princess Mary and a Bristol Road, 1920’s – Film 31924: HuntleyFilmArchives.

Princess Mary Visits Bristol’s New Dockland Club 1927

Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood (25 April 1897 – 28 March 1965) was the only daughter of Queen Mary and King George V, and the aunt of Queen Elizabeth II. Notably, in 1914 she backed a public fund, called the Princess Mary Gift Fund Box, which sent an embossed brass box containing tobacco and chocolates to men serving their country in the Great War.

Here in Bristol in 1927 she arrives in a black horse-drawn carriage, next to the Mayor, who wears the cloak and three-cornered hat of office. 

In the next moment she’s holding a bouquet of flowers, presumably presented on her arrival. She and the Mayor stand at the centre of a well dressed group of people praying. Then they go inside.

Suddenly the royal visitor leads a procession of dignitaries through the small gap in a huge crowd of children. They all wear scout and brownies uniforms. 

The Portway Wonder-Road

In the second item, there’s a few shots of the road in Bristol now known as the Portway. It’s near the famous suspension bridge.

The title cards read:

“The Road: a Bristol-Avonmouth Study….One of the most striking (but almost unnoticed) revolutions in Britain since the war has been the growth of new wonder-roads – …This great low-level road is one of the new traffic arteries which will make our country fit for modern wheels to turn in.” 

We see a van and several cars travel down a very wide road. Today it’s known as the Portway, and is part of the A4. It runs under Brunel’s Suspension Bridge, and out from the docks to Avonmouth. 

Busy Waterways

Then the camera looks over the water. A steam cargo tug boat is towing a pair of cargo hulls.  A pedestrian watches from the road, and there’s a high hill of trees on the bank behind it. 

“Hewn through rocky cliffs and in face of many problems few roads combine the charm of river and winding gorge as this Bristol and Avonmouth one does -” says the next title card.

Next shot is of an attractive house. It’s next to a small metal bridge crossing the river, with acres of lush bushy trees behind. 

Suddenly the scene jumps to a large white ship proceeding along the river. Rocky cliff faces and greenery flank the valley. A man sits watching the passing boat.

The 1920s Portway From Above

Next the Portway road is seen from the heights of the bridge above. This makes moving vehicles look tiny as they drive along. The road splits into two, the main leg continuing around the cliff beside the river. Meanwhile, the other branch leads uphill and around the trees, emerging at the top of the hill in Clifton, in an area today known as the Downs. 

Bristol Historical Pageant 1924

In May and June 1924, a cast of thousands turned out in beautiful period costumes for 22 performances of the Bristol Historical Pageant.

“Pageant of Queen Elizabeth 1920s – Film 1941” from YouTube Channel HuntleyFilmArchives

The footage above shows one short episode of the Bristol historical pageant that took place on a grand scale in Ashton Court in 1924, before its three day transfer to London. It was part of a dramatic revival that swept across Britain at the time.

Historical Pageantry In Britain

In 1905, historical pageantry began as the brainchild of the English dramatist, composer and translator Louis Napoleon Parker. 

“Formerly a music teacher at Sherborne School in Dorset, he was invited back in 1905 by a former pupil to put on a play commemorating the 1,200th anniversary of the town’s founding by St Aldhelm.”

Tom Hulme, ‘A nation of town criers’: civic publicity and historical pageantry in inter-war Britain, Urban History, 2017

The small towns of Edwardian Britain quickly embraced the movement, creating their own local events. Large casts of volunteers re-enacted scenes of local history in spacious outdoor settings, drawing in substantial audiences. Britain had caught a ‘pageant fever,’ as the press called it. 

Towards the end of the 1920s, there was a revival of the historical pageantry displays. This time, though, large industrial towns and cities were at the forefront of the movement, starting with Manchester and Bristol.

History Of The Empire

“Belcher, when persuading representatives from Bristol, appealed to the city’s sense of imperial identity, and explained that Bristol, more than any other city, could represent the history of the empire. Civic figures, eager to ‘advertise the city’, happily agreed. The pageant which resulted had over 3,000 performers and was produced by the famous pageant-master Frank Lascelles, who was also responsible for the massive Pageant of Empire at the Exhibition. Performed at Ashton Court in Bristol for two weeks (extended from one following poor weather), to crowds of around 3,000–4,000 each time, Bristol’s pageant was then transplanted to Wembley….In the end, the pageant was optimistically described as a ‘spectacular success’ locally, but, when added to the cost of the Week at Civic Hall, it entailed a deficit of £10,000. Despite this loss, pageants from this point onwards became much more common in cities, at first as part of the new local Civic Weeks”

Tom Hulme, ‘A nation of town criers’: civic publicity and historical pageantry in inter-war Britain, Urban History, 2017

The Bristol Historical Pageant Performances

22 performances took place at Ashton Court between 26 May and 21 June 1924. Three performances on the opening weekend were cancelled due to rain. Several more during the run abruptly ended because of downpours.

When performances at Bristol finished, the cast then transferred to Wembley in London for three days of performances. Unfortunately, historical pageants are rooted in their local community. Poor audiences in London caused a financial loss.

A Crowd Pleaser In Bristol

Historical events of the pageant ranged from the Re-Signing of Magna Charta, AD 1216, in Episode I, to the The Burke Election of AD 1774 in Episode VII. There was also a lot of music, with eleven composers credited for the event.

Redress Of The Past

You can find out more about the organisers, ticket prices and other points of interest about this 1924 Bristol event on the website for Redress of the Past.

It’s a major Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project examining historical pageants in twentieth-century Britain.

The Footage of the Bristol Historical Pageant

A very large cast dances in groups spread across the field of Ashton Court. 

Next, we see Queen Elizabeth and her Tudor court receive Sir Walter Raleigh. Three women do a charade about a basket of linen clothing. Next, several men bring on a big desk for Queen Elizabeth to sign a document, then carry it off again.

Three men step forward in turn, and kneel in front of the Queen. She taps their shoulders with a sword.

Next, the queen mounts a horse sidesaddle, which is quite an achievement in the clothing she wears. She then leads the procession of actors, which is just breathtaking in scale.

Every costume is a work of art in its own right, and there are literally hundreds of them.

The Court Jester fully embraces his role in every scene – usually stealing the limelight!

The City In The 1930s

Bristol’s Docks In The 1930s

In the 1930s, the City Docks, Portishead Docks and Avonmouth Docks had an extensive economic reach across South West England. This short film brought together the maritime history, 1930s aerial footage, and simple but effective illustrations when special effects were in their infancy.

“Bristol, 1930’s — Film 32026” from YouTube Channel HuntleyFilmArchives

Mixing together history, aerial footage, and dynamic illustrations, this 1930s short film was created to raise awareness about the importance and economic reach of the Bristol Docks.

This 1930s film from the Huntley Film Archives is both silent and in black and white. However, the images are quite clear, if a little darkened by the (necessary) watermark. 

 Starting at the port, which holds a wide range of ships, there’s a slow scan across the waters.

History Of The Bristol Docks

The title card tells us the Port of Bristol has a history of over 2,000 years.

“It was the terminal place for Phoenician traders, and later, the Navigators of Ancient Rome” adds the next title card. 

“John Cabot sailed in 1497 with Bristol sailors, in the Matthew under Letters Patent from Henry VII. On June 24th of the same year he discovered and landed in America”.

In reality, North America was, of course, ‘discovered’ by the indigenous population about 15,000 years ago. And both the Vikings and Welsh may have ventured across the Atlantic hundreds of years before John Cabot. In 1492 Christopher Columbus landed in the West Indies, Cuba and the Dominican Republic, though not mainland America. 

When the Venetian captain John Cabot dropped anchor at Cape Bonavista, Newfoundland, on June 24 in 1497, he and his English crew stayed on land long enough to pick up some fresh water. They also discovered the tools, nets and remains of a fire left by native people, who remained out of sight. He then headed back to present the new land to Henry VII who had commissioned the voyage, and received a £10 reward.

The next title card tells us “John Washington, ancestor of George, sailed from Bristol to America”.

The Economic Reach Of The 1930s Bristol Docks

“BUT…Bristol does not live in the past…her distributing and collecting area extends over a radius of more than 100 miles..with a population of over 12 millions, or one fourth of the population of Great Britain”, says the title card.

To back up this astonishing claim, we see a map plot the numerous counties focused on the city. It goes as far as Birmingham, with the two cities reached by railway, canal and road. London is then added, with the information card that Avonmouth to London is 120 miles or 2 hours.

A Plan Of Bristol’s Docks In The 1930s

A title card announcing “Plan showing the position of all the Docks within the Port” is followed by a rudimentary illustration of the shape of the docks. City Docks, Portishead Docks and then Avonmouth Docks are each plotted in turn.

“Bristol’s modern ocean docks at the mouth of the River Avon” appears over the image of a small plane. Next, we see the film recorded from the plane as it flies over the docks. Lots of ships can be seen.

“From Avonmouth seven miles up the River Avon are the Bristol City Docks”.

Now we see the small plane taking off. Next, footage from the plane shows a ship sailing down the river. The riverside is open countryside, but a couple of shots along there’s smoke, and traffic, and a lighthouse-type structure, before open waters.

Bristol’s Motto

Finally, we see the Clifton Suspension Bridge. The message on screen says 

“Bristol’s Motto: 

Pride in the Past

Provision for the Present

Preparation for the Future”

And then the film ends with a lovely shot of the river, a hillside of buildings and the Clifton Suspension Bridge in the background.

Bristol Celebrates The Silver Jubilee 1935

In 1935 the city and its residents threw themselves into the celebrations for King George V’s Silver Jubilee.

“Bristol Jubilee Celebrations, 1930’s – Film 32082” from YouTube channel HuntleyFilmArchives

The Silver Jubilee 1935 saw Bristol bedecked in flags and hosting a military parade near the Cathedral.

The Silver Jubilee of King George V

Despite being third in line to the throne when he was born during Queen Victoria’s reign, on 6 May 1910 King George V became King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India. 

25 years later, in 1935, the people of Bristol held magnificent Silver Jubilee celebrations.

Less than a year later, on 20 January 1936 King George V died.  The next few months were turbulent as Edward accepted and then rejected the crown in favour of Wallace Simpson.

Bristol Celebrates The Silver Jubilee 1935

The opening scenes, showing flags draped across the streets of Bristol and decorations running along the buildings, are impressive. The park flowerbeds, and impressive street plant pots outside the Kings Cinema, are all stuffed with vibrant blooms.

It’s very charming to see the traffic and pedestrians going about their daily lives with this special backdrop.

The title card tells us that the Jubilee Carnival took place on the Downs. Unfortunately, the event isn’t included in this footage.

However, the film does show us the military parade, held outside Bristol Cathedral.

We see the military parade on a wet day, when pavements shone with puddles. The crowds are already waiting as the city’s dignitaries arrive to stand in their allocated places. 

Charles Theodore Budgett, 1935 Mayor of Bristol

The Mayor is clearly identified in his robes and hat. Charles Theodore Budgett was a director at his family firm, the leading grocer H. H. & S. Budgett. I believe at one point he lived at 7 The Paragon, Clifton, and is probably the Charles T Budgett who died in Bristol in March 1947.

A man with the same name married in Barton Regis in Gloucestershire in December 1897. But there’s also another marriage of a Charles T Budgett to Ethel F Parr in December 1926, this time at Long Ashton in Somerset.

Budgetts began as a small shop in 1820, remained in the family for 140 years, sold Scribbans-Kemp in 1961 and disappeared in 1977.

1937 Coronation Celebrations In Bristol

1937 saw the coronation of King George VI. The bunting and floral displays were back again as the city and its residents celebrated the event. This early home movie also captured a very jolly street party.

Street Party In Bristol, 1930’s – Film 18616″ from YouTube Channel HuntleyFilmArchives

Thanks to a rare home movie made in Bristol in 1937, we can see how the city celebrated the coronation of King George VI.

This is an amateur home movie made in Bristol in 1937, which is now part of the Huntley Film Archives.

Streets Decorated With Bunting And Flowers

In the opening shot, we see a flag sporting images of the new King George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth, who later in widowhood became known as The Queen Mother.  A lot of bunting and decoration adorns the street.

A smartly dressed young boy smiles at the camera. Then another boy steps forward, before the scene rests on a smartly presented shop. 

Now there’s a banner telling us we are outside the West Of England College of Art, which is sporting beautiful floral displays. From its foundation in 1853 until the previous year, it was known as the Bristol School of Practical Art. The new title West Of England College of Art was held until 1969. Then it became part of Stroud and South Gloucestershire College (SGS).

The film moves on to the fountains at the Victoria Rooms, Cotham Hill, the Triangle, and Park Street. Each location is bedecked with floral displays and bunting. In contrast, people and traffic bustle about their business.

Carriages At Clifton Suspension Bridge

At the Clifton Suspension Bridge, a small group waits. They stand watching two horse drawn carriages driven and attended by people in livery. Unfortunately, the screen is too dark to see who sits inside. In addition, several policemen ride on horseback as part of the procession.

Coronation Street Party

Towards the end is a float driven through a crowd lined street, full of adults and children dressed up. 

Finally, there’s a fantastic street party scene. Lots and lots of tables sit in a line, covered in tablecloths and food. While the children sit at the tables, adults stand and walk about, many of them in fancy dress. With all the bunting and balloons it looks very jolly.

This is a really good street party celebrating the coronation of King George VI in 1937.

The City In The 1940s

The Bristol Blitz November 1940

This is a short but fascinating account of the Bristol Blitz, focusing on the evening of Sunday 24th November 1940. Both the devastation, loss of life and censorship are breathtaking.


“Bristol Blitz” from YouTube channel JayBee6011

The Bristol Blitz began on Sunday 24th November 1940. That night, the German Luftwaffe dropped 5,000 incendiary and 10,000 high explosive bombs on the old city.

Old photos and vintage footage shows the shocking devastation that the bombs and incendiary devices wreaked on the city centre.

Short interviews filmed several decades ago records the first hand memories of eyewitnesses to the event.

There was so much damage that you couldn’t even walk through the streets without carefully picking through debris.

On this first raid, 200 people died. A further 700 people were seriously injured.

Bristol Blitz

6 major bombing raids between 24 November 1940 and 11 April 1941

548 air raid alerts and 77 air raids

919 tons of high-explosive bombs & thousands of incendiary (fire) bombs

1,299 Killed

1,303 seriously injured

697 rescued from damaged buildings

89, 080 buildings damaged

81, 830 houses completely destroyed

3,000 + houses damaged beyond repair

Censorship Of Bristol Blitz Reporting

The government carefully censored all forms of media reporting, to boost morale at home and cause uncertainty for enemy tacticians.

Because of censorship, newspapers revealed little of the horror experienced by the people of Bristol that night. The newspaper report shown on screen in this short film is short and brief.

An excerpt of a propaganda newsreel claims the “ruined” ports will carry on as usual. The narrator, Leslie Mitchell, says that the Germans are lying about destroying the Docks. He says people ask why the Germans continue to issue such fantastic claims, and that Hitler tells these lies to put doubt in people’s minds.

But the reality? The images of men busy at work in the docks was filmed before the Bristol Blitz started. The newsreel distributors deliberately used older material so that the location looked untouched by the bombs.

Settlements Along The River Avon In 1940

This short film starts at the source of the Avon near Tetbury and follows it all the way to the Bristol Docks, where waters flow into the sea. There are many shots of Bristol taken just before the Bristol Blitz occurred, including the historic Dutch House which was soon to be lost.

“Western Waterway: Bristol Avon – 1941 – CharlieDeanArchives / British Council Archival Footage” from YouTube channel Charlie Dean Archives

This short film takes us on a journey in time and place. From the source of the Avon where pretty cottages sit in a rural idyll, through historic towns and villages where the river grows in size and power, to the point where the mighty waters meet the open sea and the docks are the centre of Bristol’s significant international trade, this was life along the River Avon in the early years of the Second World War.

Although the British Council Film Department Catalogue classifies this as a 1941 film, the Bristol locations were clearly filmed before the first raid of the Bristol Blitz on 24 November 1940.

During the 1940s, the British Council made 120 short documentaries. Their aim was to capture British life on film. This one looked at the path of the River Avon, from its quiet rural source through to the busy industrial port at Bristol.

Who Made This Film About The River Avon?

The commentary for this short film was credited to Alvar Liddel. They actually meant the famous BBC broadcaster and newsreader, Alvar Lidell.

The film was devised by Paul Barralet, and the script was written by Alfred Leyton. An additional credit tells us the sound recordist was W Bland.

The Source Of The River Avon

In this 10 minute footage, we see horses and carts trotting through rustic lanes. Historic cottages of Tetbury and the fields beyond form an attractive backdrop.

Nearby is the start of both the River Avon and the Thames.

The small Avon runs through the historic village of Malmesbury, which is so old the narrative quite rightly focuses on its history.

A Glimpse Of Bath

The imposing buildings of Bath sit alongside the Avon, which makes for a beautiful backdrop. 

“Here the river is delightful. Soon, its clear waters will be sullied by the grime of the great Avonmouth Docks”.

The River Avon From the City Of Bristol

Next, the camera spans the wide expanse of the Avon at Bristol. In 1941 it was the country’s 7th largest city. In addition to the port, the film lists key industries as food stuffs, motor accessories, rubber, tobacco and chocolate. 

“The war has caused many new trades to be developed, making the city even busier than before”. 

There are many panoramic views of Bristol, from different locations.

The Dutch House

The old Dutch house, erected on top of medieval vaulted stone cellars in 1676 and once the home of the poet Wordsworth, is examined close up. 

Thank goodness it was, capturing the house shortly before it was destroyed in the Bristol Blitz.

The building at numbers 1 and 2 High Street had already had the lower storey cut back by 8.5 feet (2.6 m) in 1908. That was to accommodate the pavement at a medieval crossroads already struggling with city traffic.

Then on Sunday, 24 November 1940 the Dutch House was caught up in the Bristol Blitz. A 5-hour air raid of over 135 German bombers destroyed much of Bristol’s pre-war shopping area, with the incendiary bombs causing extensive fire damage to the Dutch House. 

The Dutch House was demolished three days later on 27 November 1940, to make the important road junction safe.

Cabot Tower

The monument to John and Sebastian Cabot also appears. The Venitian explorers discovered the North American continent during a journey commissioned by Henry VII. Their ship launched from Bristol for this remarkable – but often overlooked – adventure. 

You can still visit the Grade II listed Cabot Tower today.  It’s situated in a public park on Brandon Hill, between the city centre, Clifton and Hotwells. 

Bristol University

Many street scenes of Bristol appear during a commentary which lists British colonial trades without once mentioning the slave trade.

Bristol’s university tower is referred to as an example of modern architecture. 

“It is said that this tower is built with the smoke of a million cigarettes, for it was founded and presented to the city by Mr H.O. Wills.” 

The narrator tells us Bristol university is one of the best equipped universities in the world. At the time, the Prime Minister Winston Churchill was also the university’s Chancellor.

A Glimpse Of Clifton Suspension Bridge

The museum and art gallery appear, before we move to the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

On this stretch of the Avon, Jonathan Hulls tried out the first steamboat. The experiment failed, but the principles led to Foulton, an American inventor, designing a successful steamboat.

Bristol Docks

Seven miles downstream, the camera records activity at Avonmouth, where the Bristol municipality has built their extensive docks. Warehouses, dry docks and berthing spaces for hundreds of vessels clearly offer a lot of employment. Men are filmed at work in a range of jobs, some of which look unnecessarily dangerous and others involve a lot of standing about.

“Covering an area of over 6 square miles, they are one of the most modern docks in the world.”

Near the end is a great shot of a steam engine being loaded onto a ship!

Finally, we see the River Avon streaming out into the open sea. It’s time for the commentary to remind us of the trickle of water that started this mighty river.

Bristol Blitz Bomb Damage Filmed In 1942

This is a fascinating amateur home movie from 1942, astonishing both for its range and its ambition as a historical record of a frightening time. Title cards inform the viewer where they are. Meanwhile, the footage captures the shocking scenes Bristolians saw on their city streets during the Second World War.

Several well known landmarks appear, bomb damaged and surrounded by debris. Includes Dunscombe Opticians, the Hatchett Inn, Taylors of College Green, Park Street, the Masonic Temple, the folorn piano at Churchill’s bombed out shop, and the devastated City Museum and Library.

Meanwhile getting a bus becomes a surprising challenge, even with these new-fangled women bus conductors!
“Bristol During WW2, 1940’s – Film 18617” from YouTube channel HuntleyFilmArchives

The Centre

The first title card reads: 

“These pictures, taken in 1942, show some of the damage resulting from many blitzes in the winter of 1940-41”.

The first scenes are from The Centre. Traffic and people pass Dunscobe Opticians, set in a row of buildings, with some windows altered. 

“Thanks to the Dunscombe fire-fighters their premises have so far escaped serious damage”. 

A closer shot shows that the large windows have been mostly bricked up, leaving a smaller window in the centre. It isn’t attractive, and is clearly designed with just the wartime conditions in mind.

Next, we’re in what looks like a back alleyway. It looks like a building has gone, leaving cracked walls and a large pile of debris on the ground. 

The Hatchett Inn 1942

There’s now a clip of the Hatchett Inn on Frogmore Street, with a row of barrels in front of it. The man with the trolley is presumably dealing with the delivery, and seems unaware of the camera.  

“They still roll out the barrel at the old Hatchett Inn”.

Thankfully, not only did the historic public house survive the bombs, but it’s still trading today as Bristol’s oldest pub.

The Hatchett Inn was constructed in 1606 and underwent a lot of alteration before its Grade II listing. The name is thought to come from the axes once used by woodsmen in nearby Clifton Woods. 

In a street busy with pedestrians and workers, entire houses are missing. Where they once stood, now is a big pile of debris.

Workmen mend the road. They have a barrier up alerting traffic to the road closure at that section.

Taylors Of College Green

The sign for Taylors of College Green apparently sits mounted on a damaged wall. It advertises:

Fashions, millinery, furs – 65, Whiteladies Road

Fabrics, soft furnishings, linens – 67, Whiteladies Road

Outfitting and corsets – 69, Whiteladies Road

Fancy departments, shoes – 47 Queen’s Road

Park Street

It looks like life as usual on Park Street. Buses and cars drive along the road, pedestrians go about their business. 

H.A.Blake & Co Tailors and Outfitters is smart and open for business, having fitted a new style of shop window so most of the space is wood. In contrast, all the windows on the upper storeys are smashed and haphazardly boarded up.

The Masonic Temple In 1942

We now see the beautiful facade of Bristol’s Masonic Temple, including the curved entrance way. But the wooden boards across the windows and doorway hint at the serious damage incurred. 

Next door, an entire section of the street is missing, the debris several feet high across the plot. Blank fireplaces sit at each storey of the exposed walls, the homes completely gone. People walk and drive past many such ruins, going about their daily lives.

Churchill’s Piano

A piano sits in the street, next to what used to be a building. The piano was first painted white. Then the bold message, written in dark paint across the front, “CHURCHILL’S NOW AT 54 PARK ROW” shows up clearly.

Above, empty windows and a beautiful iron fireplace sit in the remains of the wall.

The Former City Museum And Library In 1942

Then we see the devastated City Museum and Library. This beautiful piece of architecture from 1872 holds enough of its structure to show its elegance, but is clearly badly damaged. The roof is gone, the windows are missing and the galleries smashed. An elephant head sits mounted on a wall inside all this chaos. 

Thankfully, the building was restored. In 1992 it became a restaurant.

Women Bus Conductors

“Women Bus Conductors do a fine job of war-work”.

It’s still the age where passengers get onto a bus through the rear entrance, and then the conductor comes along to collect tickets. Even with the camera there, both the conductor and the passengers look quite severe.

Bristol’s Long Bus Queues In 1942

“Shortage of transport results in longer bus queues”.

You’d think you were standing outside the entrance of a major event given the number of people waiting. It’s predominantly women, with many children and suited men too. 

“Here is one of the ‘Austerity’ war-time buses designed for the maximum carrying capacity with the minimum of material in construction…when full the bus holds 40 passengers”.

From the outside, the new style of bus looks American in design. It’s a single decker, entered from the front. Inside, everyone looks packed in like sardines. The standing teenagers are literally scowling at the camera!

Endless Debris

Back on the street, we’re at a junction where there’s another solid building brought low. Large yellow barriers declaring “NO THOROUGHFARE” seal off what remains of the doorway. The same warning appears on stairways and other derelict scenes. 

Workmen pick their way through the rubble and take blows at huge blocks of stone. No high vis jackets, safety gloves, hardhats or power tools. They do wear hats and waistcoats though! It looks like an insurmountable amount of work.

Triangle Cinema

Beyond the landmark circular entrance, the Triangle Cinema is reduced to a derelict square. For the past few years, throughout a national boom in cinema attendance, the Triangle Cinema had been run by the same management as the Whiteladies Picture House. But now it was beyond repair.

“No more movies at the Triangle Cinema”.

The workmen stand in an area littered with bricks and planks. Debris covers the high stairway.

The Prince’s Theatre

The Princes’ Theatre is still standing, but badly damaged. While the ground floor is smartly boarded up, look up and the building is just a shell. It’s very surprising that people are allowed to walk along the pavement, since the whole building looks fragile. There’s a big gap where the entire right section of the building collapsed.

At ground level, the camera sweeps across the front of the theatre, where the notice  “This Week The Co Optimists” still remains.

The Bristol Blitz Sites As They Are Today

This short film draws together black and white photos, vintage film and modern footage to highlight places destroyed by the Luftwaffe bombs. Includes the water pump next to St John’s Church that suddenly became the only water supply for 120,000 people.

“How the Blitz changed Bristol forever” from YouTube channel Sudden Pine

Discover what some of the Bristol Blitz sites look in the modern age, with the help of photos, vintage film and recent footage.

Who Made This Short Film? 

This three minute film about the Bristol Blitz was made by Rudi Goettsch and Dylan Schirmacher for a UWE filmmaking project.

Bristol’s Blitz

Vintage film of a Second World War air raid is accompanied by an informative commentary. 

Black and white photos showing the main targets of the air raids – the Port and the Bristol Aeroplane Company – are followed by an image of Bristol’s medieval centre from the air. 

Then suddenly comes a succession of black and white photos highlighting the scale of destruction. They are well chosen, because they show the impact on humans, and are not just a detached landscape.

The video shows the water pump next to St John’s Church that suddenly became the only water supply for 120,000 people.

More vintage film shows the aftermath of the bombs, including a line of children wheeling belongings in prams and on trolleys.

What Bristol Blitz Sites Look Like Today

We now see footage of the park area today where the medieval riverside buildings once stood.

The film also looks at the damage done to the old Dutch House. This was an important landmark in the centre of Bristol. We see modern footage of the site, where the historic building made way for a line of trees.

A lovely picture of the historic buildings at Broad Quay is then replaced with footage of the modern riverside bars and eateries today.

Bristol bridge is also shown in a photo from the old days, and footage from today. It’s astonishing how much the area has changed.

A picture shows the complete destruction of the St Phillips bridge. Modern footage shows its replacement.

It’s a nice touch to end on a positive note. Some of the buildings were damaged and given necessary repairs, so the city still retains some of its historical landmarks.

Film From The Cabot Cine Circle

Think filmmkaing clubs are a new phenomena? Well, back in the 1940s the Cabot Cine Circle wanted new members. So they made a short film. It included a quick trip to the Llandoger Trow.

Vintage Bristol Film from 1940s shows Llandoger Trow Pub:

The Cabot Cine Circle produced this old black and white film. The reference to Cabot places it as local to Bristol. At the end, you discover this film was made to entice new members to the filmmaking club.

Moviescan, a company which digitises old film for customers, uploaded this curious short film onto YouTube. They dated it between 1945 and 1947, based on the 16 mm film’s code.

Llandoger Trow

The Llandoger Trow is probably Bristol’s second oldest pub, having been built in 1664. A sailor who owned the pub named it after Llandogo in Wales, which built flat-bottomed river boats called trows.

Llandoger Trow was reportedly Louis Stevenson’s inspiration for the Admiral Benbow pub in Treasure Island. Also, Daniel Defoe supposedly met Alexander Selkirk, his inspiration for Robinson Crusoe, in the pub.

You’ll find Llandoger Trow on King Street, between Welsh Back and Queen Charlotte Street, near the old city centre docks.

In recent years the business has struggled to run profitably, especially given the expense of maintaining such a historic building. Therefore, in March 2019 the owners, Brewers Fayre, closed the venue and put the empty premises on the market. 

Cabot Cine Circle Film

In the short film, a sailor returns home at Bristol Docks, and stops at the Llandoger Trow pub for a pint near Welsh Back but has a few too many before staggering back to his house – which looks like the meeting place for the Cabot Cine Circle film club who shot this film. The code on the original 16mm film probably dates it between 1945 and 1947.

The sailor walks around the dock area in Bristol where various businesses are running including Warren & Co, Charles Hill & Sons and FC Brummell & son.

Moviescan digitised and restored the original Kodak 16 mm film.    

Bristol University 1944: Churchill, Winant, Menzies

As though the Bristol Blitz had not caused enough suffering early in the Second World War, in 1944 the city was again under serious attack during the Good Friday air raids. Churchill visited some of the ruined sites on 12 April 1944.

But this short film records another event that happened that day. At the University of Bristol, he conferred honorary degrees on an American Ambassador and an Australian Prime Minister.

Churchill confers honorary degrees at the University of Bristol, 1944: University of Bristol.

The Bristol Blitz ended in April 1941, but the German bombers continued to attack the city until 15 May 1944.

The Good Friday air raids of 1944 caused further damage to the centre of the city, Knowle, Hotwells, Cotham, and Filton. Plus, the Bristol Tramways were damaged beyond repair, so the service never reopened. Winston Churchill visited the ruins on 12 April 1944.

On the same day, Churchill attended a ceremony at the University of Bristol, and conferred honorary degrees on the American Ambassador to Britain, John Gilbert Winant, and the Australian Prime Minister, Robert Gordon Menzies. You can watch the ceremony in the film above.

Who Was John Winant?

John Gilbert Winant was born into a wealthy family in New York City on February 23, 1889. Although he attended Princeton University, he did not graduate.

After a short career as a teacher in Concord, New Hampshire, John Winant became a Republican politician. He went on to hold positions in state, national and international politics. 

As Governor of New Hampshire, he was the first man to serve more than a single two-year term, winning elections three times. His support for compassionate policies and direct action to help the less fortunate are well documented.

John Winant During World War II

During the Second World War, John Winant served as US Ambassador to the UK and worked closely with Winston Churchill. It was in this role he received the honorary degree from the University of Bristol in 1944.

He fell in love with Churchill’s daughter Sarah, who had discreetly separated from her husband. Meanwhile, his own wife and children remained back at home in New Hampshire.

His need to keep the affair secretive was exacerbated when his son John, a bomber pilot, was captured by the Germans. Even after release, the young man remained traumatised by his experience, which included threats of execution.

When the war ended, John Winant remained in London, waiting for Sarah to divorce her husband. But the actress, 25 years younger than him, instead focussed on her career.

A Sad And Untimely End

He returned to the United States a brokenhearted man with debts. In addition, he was dissatisfied with the three volume book series he wrote, despite the fact they were accepted for publication.

November 3, 1947, saw the release of his first book. That day, he spoke to Sarah Churchill by phone. Shortly after, he walked into his son’s bedroom with his revolver, and shot himself.

Sadly, suicide was both a felony and a sin. St Paul’s refused to allow John Winant’s burial in the church grounds. Instead, he was buried in Blossom Hill Cemetery until 1968. By then, attitudes were changing, so permission was given for exhumation and reburial at St Paul’s. His final resting place is now in accordance with his known wishes.

Who Was Sir Robert Gordon Menzies?

Robert Gordon Menzies is notable for being the first Australian Prime Minister born to two Australian born parents. Service twice as Prime Minister of Australia, in office from 1939 to 1941 and again from 1949 to 1966, his 18 years of national leadership make him Australia’s longest-serving prime minister.

Australian Politics

Before entering politics, Robert Menzies received a law degree from the University of Melbourne and established himself as one of Melbourne’s leading lawyers.

His career in politics started in 1932, when he spent two years as Deputy Premier of Victoria. Transferring to federal parliament, he won the roles of Attorney-General and Minister for Industry. Then in April 1939 the death of Joseph Lyons, the leader of the United Australia Party (UAP), led to Robert Menzies’s election to leadership and appointment as prime minister.

Australia entered the Second World War in September 1939. In 1941 Robert Menzies travelled to London, to attend Chuchill’s War Cabinet meetings. Unfortunately, he was away for four months. By the time he returned it was too late to rescue his control of the UAP. He subsequently resigned as prime minister. 

Robert Menzies now frequently appeared in the media, including a series of weekly radio broadcasts reaching audiences across New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. He also continued working as a backbench MP. It was during this period he received his honorary degree at the University of Bristol.

By 1945, he had helped create the new Liberal Party, which led to his second term as Prime Minister 1949–1966.

Retirement From Politics

Once retired, he was showered with honorary degrees and fellowships, and held a number of official appointments.

In 1971 Robert Menzies suffered his first stroke, which permanently paralysed one side of his body. However, he remained active and cheerful until 15 May 1978, when he suffered a fatal heart attack while reading in his study at his Melbourne home. Then followed one of the largest state funerals ever held in Australia, on a day that more than 100,000 people turned out to line the streets of Melbourne.

Churchill In Bristol Harbour Hotel Ceremony (1945)

In 1945 Winston Churchill attended a ceremony in the hall of the Bristol Harbour Hotel. It was a big occasion which filled the streets with excited and cheerful spectators.

Churchill In Bristol Ceremony (1945): British Pathé

This footage from British Pathé shows Winston Churchill arriving at and participating in an official ceremony in Bristol. He’s in a horse-drawn carriage accompanied by a contingent of mounted policemen. Also in the carriage is the city’s Mayor, an officer in uniform and a man wearing a peculiar hat.

In the background, you can see the bomb damaged buildings. It takes your breath away. But the crowds of well wishers have turned out in force. You can see a lot of very clear shots of local people. They are overjoyed to see Winston Churchill in their city.

Inside, Churchill sits at a table as the Mayor gives a speech. Next, Churchill stands up and signs the book. The audience looks on as he shakes hands with the Mayor and looks at the scroll.

Then Churchill makes a speech, which the audience applauds.

The Bristol Harbour Hotel Ceremony

This footage of Churchill’s visit from 1945 is almost certainly inside The Bristol Harbour Hotel. The patterned glass windows with metal framework still exist today.

One noticeable difference is the style of columns. In 1945 they appeared to be one solid column. Today they are elegant double columns. 

You can stay in the 42-room boutique hotel & luxury spa – or even celebrate your wedding in the same room in which the great and the good of Bristol welcomed Winston Churchill in 1945.

London, Bristol & Castle Combe in 1949

This is a home video of a holiday, showing the locations visited in 1949. Just four years after the end of the Second World War, we get a glimpse of London, Bristol and the pretty Cotswold village of Castle Combe.

“London And Bristol, 1940’s – Film 32849” from YouTube Channel HuntleyFilmArchives

This amateur home movie from circa 1949 includes locations across London, Bristol and Wiltshire.

London Scenes In 1949

It starts at the famous steps in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Then we see a woman posing in a park, followed by views of Saint James’ Park. Next we see an older man smoking a pipe as he walks along the Mall by Buckingham Palace. At Hyde Park corner, there are lots of Routemaster red buses. People enjoy the fountains in Trafalgar Square on a sunny winter day. Then we see the Horseguards Parade.

Bristol Scenes In 1949

The footage of Bristol starts with the Avon Gorge, with the camera obscura on the top. We see Clifton Suspension Bridge, views of Clifton, and the Avon Gorge Hotel from the bridge.

The Cotswolds

Suddenly we’re in the Cotswold village of Castle Combe. It’s a quintessentially English village often named as the ‘prettiest village in England.’, which sits in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Old stone houses sit by a stream, and a historic thatched house appears.

Then we see an older woman and a younger couple standing outside a country pub. Quaint village scenes include old folks standing for the camera. After a stately home appears there are more family scenes, with women sitting on the grass.

Bristol After The Bombs Volume 1

“Bristol After The Bombs DVD” from YouTube Channel 1st Take Ltd

The Luftwaffe’s bombing raids during the Second World War devastated much of central Bristol’s historic streets. During the rebuilding programme of the 1950s, a new shopping centre emerged in Broadmead.

Until it was virtually wiped out in 1940, Castle Street was Bristol’s principal shopping area. The planners decided that Broadmead was to be the post-war retail centre. Stores such as Woolworths and Marks & Spencer were among the first of the new arrivals in the early 1950s. Towards the end of the decade, the huge structures of Lewis’s and Jones’ dominated the scene.

This video charts those new developments of the modernisation programme. You will also see glimpses of pubs, streets, and businesses, swept away forever.

This is the tale of how and why the city underwent such massive changes. The video is illustrated by evocative archive film, never previously released on DVD. There are also stunning period photographs. Interviewees who remember the city at that time enhance understanding of these events. Also, modern film provides a comparison with many of the places depicted in the archive footage.

The narrator is eminent local historian and author, Mike Hooper. The video was produced in association with Bristol Record Office.

This documentary will be enjoyed by anyone who has an interest in Bristol, past or present.

Bristol After The Bombs Volume 2

“Bristol After The Bombs Volume 2” from 1st Take Ltd.

The video screen above starts the second volume of a series. Exploring how Bristol arose in the 1950s from the ashes of the Blitz, it explains much of the thinking which was to define Bristol’s planning system for many years.

 New places to live and work were desperately needed, as were improved road systems.

Local historian Mike Hooper guides us through these dramatic changes. Interviews with other local historians and local residents add depth to the narrative.

In addition to almost an hour of archive footage, the extensive use of maps and modern film provides the perfect ‘past and present’ comparison.

From Temple To St Michael’s Hill

Using previously unreleased archive footage, the video begins in Temple. It proceeds to Redcliffe, an area transformed during this period. Small Georgian streets disappeared, making way for maisonettes and flats. 

Moving towards Temple Meads Station, we see the many changes in the Victoria Street area. Then we head to Jacobs Wells Road, with the construction of St Peter’s House and Brandon House.

A brief visit to Clifton shows the construction of the Maples store on The Triangle. Then we head to Kingsdown, Bristol’s first planned suburb in the 18th century. 

You will enjoy fabulous views from the top of St Michael’s Hill. See how much of the housing here was swept away for the expansion of Bristol University and nearby hospitals.

Stokes Croft To Brislington

Via Stokes Croft, it’s then on to St Judes. Slums were first cleared in the 1930s. Now flats sprang up in the post-war period. 

The 1950s scene in Barton Hill was particularly dramatic. People searched for firewood amongst rubble. Nearby, the first tower block outside London was under construction.

Turning to the south of the city, we visit Bedminster. See how areas such as York Road and St Lukes Road changed. New industrial estates around Whitehouse Street appeared.

This odyssey of Bristol’s post-war history ends in Brislington. Once a tranquil North Somerset village, the area was suddenly dominated by a large trading estate.

Bristol Vintage Film, Late 1940s

See a wide range of locations around the city in the late 1940s with this footage from Huntley Film Archives.

“Bristol, 1940s – Film 13107” from YouTube channel HuntleyFilmArchives.

Bristol in the late 1940s.

Clifton Suspension Bridge. Hotwells. The Centre. Church. Streets. Docks. Colonnade in Clifton. Slum housing. Bomb damage in the centre. View from the Cabot Tower. Saint Michaels Hill and a postman on his bicycle delivering letters. Workers leaving a factory, a close shot of men and women leaving factory gates right to left, some are running.

Traffic in the Centre. Aerial view of Avonmouth docks. Ships being loaded and unloaded. Harveys, wine tasting by candlelight. Tobacco importing and a cigarette factory. Cocoa imports and chocolate manufacture. Chocolates on a conveyor belt. A printing press in action. Industry. High angle shot of workers leaving a factory at walking pace. Covered goods yard, overhead view of produce being moved around on sack barrows.  Traffic on the outer city-wide road. A plane takes off from the airport.

Avon Gorge. Children play. Parklands and Clifton/Bristol Zoo. Good footage of visitors close up to zoo animals. Horses on the Downs. Wills Building of University. West of England College of Art in Clifton. Theatre. Old Vic actors on stage. Speedway at night. Nightime, city lights and signs. Neptune statue. Filton Aerodrome and Brabazon aircraft. People on the streets look up and point at the aircraft. Good aerial view over Avon Gorge and Clifton Bridge and city. John Wesley statue. Edward Colston statue. Edmund Burke statue. City Council leaves a church service. A policeman holds onlookers back. Swords of state.

Formal council meeting. Fire engine races down the road. Ambulance in a residential area. A policeman directs traffic. Road sweeper – a man with a broom. Sewer worker emerges from manhole. Gardener at work in landscaped grounds. Kids play in slum streets. Council plans and models for good living. Building the Henbury estate, surveyor using theodolite, builders, bricklayers. Schools and a mass exodus of kids at home time.

Elderly people on grounds of a stately home, perhaps now a nursing home? Mothers with babies going into child health care clinics. Weighing of babies. A young girl receives a dental health check. Boy having an eye test. The doctor checks the boy’s glands. Kids play with a stethoscope. Children playing. Town plans and an aerial view of new housing estates and the city centre. Man cycles along the city centre street. Boat on the river.

The City In The 1950s

Nationalised Bristol Corporation Buses In 1951

“Nationalised Bristol Corporation Buses In 1951 – British Transport Films BTF from Work In Progress” from YouTube channel PublicEnquiry.

Clifton Suspension Bridge Maintenance In 1953

In 1953 British Pathé recorded the maintenance crew at work on the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

“Clifton Suspension Bridge (1953)” from YouTube channel British Pathé

Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol.

First electrician lowering the bulbs down to him. From the top of bridge river. Man walking and partly sliding down the suspension rail. The camera pans with him revealing a long shot of the bridge. Low angle shot, looking up to a man on rail fixing lamps. Close top shot, looking down to man fixing lamps pan over to river and roadway below. High angle, a man sitting astride rail. Pan across to another rail another man fixing lamps. Workmen on the pavement below fixing lamps in sockets. 

Man fitting lamps into a socket. Low angle, to top of the rail, a man pulling up lamps. Man on the ground sending up lamps to the man on rail pan up with wire to the man on rail at the top. High angle shot, the man on rail with ropes. Shot from the top of the bridge over the adjacent countryside, river, etc. High angle, shot, two men on top of rails fixing lights. One man on rail fixing lamps. Low angle shot, bridge pillion against the sky. Bridge across the gorge, panning. Top shot of the bridge. Bridge from ground level. 

Victorian Buildings In Postwar Bristol, 1950s

Take a walk around the postwar city before the developers moved in.

“Victorian Era In Bristol, 1950s – Film 96137” from YouTube channel HuntleyFilmArchives.

Bristol, UK. A road, with many houses.  To the right, austere houses of many different sizes.  Terraced houses in front. More houses; some tall ones to the right, on a corner of the road; pan left to see more houses and a wide road; men walking along the pavement at night.  Factories to the left of the river; a spire seen over them. A river at the front left; to the right, buildings, and a large factory. Houses on the left, an industrial chimney at the back; pan left to a house.  The ruined wall of a one-time factory by the river.

A street with a big chimney.  Another street with a large chimney visible in the distance.  An elegant house with trees to its left and right. The same from a distance.  A building in a Greek style, with pillars at the top and bottom. The merchants’ coat of arms on the wall.  An elegant house in the distance. Outside; pan right to the gate, with a lion statue on a plinth, beneath a willow tree.

A Postwar Street In Bristol In The 1950s

A scan of a postwar street with repetitions and added music.

“BRISTOL 1950s” from YouTube channel Anthony Blake.

The City In The 1960s

A Drive Around Bristol In The 1960s

A 1960s drive around the city. Includes the docks, St Mary Redcliffe, Bridewell, Temple Way to Lawrence Hill.

“A drive around Bristol in the 1960s” by Bristol Guy.

Bristol In The 1960’s

“Bristol in the 1960’s” by YouTube channel SwanEntertainment1.

Rolls Royce Newspaper Boy In Bristol, 1967

An amusing short film from British Pathé.

Edwin Hopper is a sixth form student at Ashton Park Secondary School. But he also delivers newspapers around the city – in his 1929 Rolls Royce car.

“Rolls Royce Newspaper Boy In Bristol (1967)” by British Pathé.

No 16 Caledonia Place, Bristol. MS. Pan with Edwin Hopper leaving his house and getting into his 1929 Rolls Royce estate car. He checks oil etc. before climbing in.

Later, he leaves the newsagents shop with a bag of papers and gets into Rolls and drives off.

Now we see Edwin on his rounds. He has to cross Clifton Suspension Bridge. He delivers to all types of houses on his long drive.

Edwin arrives at the Ashton Park Secondary School in his Rolls, after picking up his sister. They are both 6th formers there.

Vintage Film of Bristol, 1967

British Pathé footage from 1967.

“Bristol (1967)” by British Pathé. Bristol, Avon

M32 Construction In Bristol, 1968-1971

Filmed between 1968 and 1971, this footage records the construction of the M32/Parkway motorway.

The Dower House is set in its grounds, as the original Duchess`s lake is emptied. Meanwhile, the thirteen arches in Eastville are demolished ready for the new road.

“M32/The Parkway, Bristol. Under construction. Part 2” by Tom Andrews.

“Construction of the M32/Parkway motorway filmed in colour between 1968-1971 by the Stoke Park Institute. Footage includes The Dower House set in it`s grounds before the motorway was built, the emptying of the original Duchess`s lake, the demolition of the thirteen arches in Eastville and the opening of this stretch of the motorway in 1971. Plus incredible footage of this whole stretch of motorway from Dower House to Junction 2 in Eastville before construction started. Watch and weep….”

Bristol’s Anti Litter Week, 1967

Recorded on 17 July 1967, this footage reminds us that litter has caused problems for decades. Here students descend on the city in their jovial campaign T-shirts, brooms at the ready.

Bristol Holds Anti Litter Week (1967) by British Pathé.

Bristol, Avon. Date found in the old record – 17/07/1967.

Various shots of boys and girls students on parade outside Bristol Council offices. They carry brooms and litter sacks and wear T-shirts with the slogan ‘I Am Not An Untidy So And So’.

They march off accompanied by Lord Mayor of Bristol, Alderman F. C. Vyvyan-Jones.

Various shots of the students at work with dustpan and brush in the streets of Bristol.

New litter bin in shape of a pelican in which the public is encouraged to place litter into the beak.

Anti litter week posters on display in council windows.

Bristol wreck car tip. Various shots of a bulldozer at work on Bristol rubbish tip while tippers bring rubbish. 

The City In The 1970s

BBC Bristol 1973 Documentary (Part 1 of 3)

“BBC Bristol 1973 documentary part ⅓” from Keith Rodgerson

Take a look back at BBC Bristol in 1973.

“There’s no time to do any knitting, certainly not for the charming girls on our main telephone switchboard.”

BBC Bristol 1973 Documentary (Part 2 of 3)

“BBC Bristol 1973 documentary part ⅔” from Keith Rodgerson

Who didn’t love Animal Magic? Here’s your chance to see what happened in the background.

And who were all the children speaking to John Craven for Search?

In the Young Film Maker 1972 episode of search, we meet 12 year old Michael Chappell, from Wolverton. Apparently the BBC received about 200 film entries in their competition, which is very surprising given how few families had access to film recording equipment at the time.

BBC Bristol 1973 Documentary (Part 3 of 3)

This documentary, uploaded to YouTube in three parts, is a fascinating trip down memory lane. See how your favourite shows were made with the presenters everyone once knew.

“BBC Bristol 1973 documentary part 3/3” from Keith Rodgerson

Discover more about the working of the BBC in Bristol back in 1973.

“And now pumpkins. Well, they may not feature much on your menu, but on the continent they certainly enjoy them. In America they scoop them out and put candles in them for Hallowween… I can’t say it .. pumpkins, it sounds rude…now how about pumkins..doesn’t sound much better”.

The lateness of Mrs Alison Midwood and her pumpkins then causes a few problems for the team. But the leading story for the day is even more surprising. A man lit and cigarette, then threw the match down the drain, and it caused a gas explosion!

Bristol Charter’s 600 Year Celebration, 1973

This is a 4-minute clip from a film made in 1973. It records the celebrations marking the 600th anniversary of the granting of the charter by King Edward III which gave Bristol the right to call itself a County.

“Bristol 600” by Bristol Film and Video Society.

Bristol Docks 1973

“Bristol Docks 1973” by Powerboat Archive.

Bristol’s City, People and Cars, 1973

Vintage home movie footage of Bristol around 1973 or 1974 showing the street scenes, people and cars of the city. Shops have changed hands in Park street and the roads are busier now.

“Bristol street scenes 1970s amateur home movie cine footage of city, people and cars” by

This was taken on colour 9.5mm film which is unusual for the 70s as most people shot in the more popular 8mm.

Adventure Playgrounds In Bristol, 1974

This film made the case for committed funding for Adventure Play, back in the 1970s.

“Adventure Playgrounds, Bristol, 1974” by London Play.

Bristol Docks, 1974

“Bristol Docks 1974” by Powerboat Archive.

Bristol Docks, 1976

“Bristol Docks 1976” by Powerboat Archive.

Bristol City Bus Tour, 1976

“Bristol City Bus Tour 1976” by Bristol City Eastend WTMS. Bristol City Bus Tour 1976 Promotion.

Bristol During The 1977 Silver Jubilee

Footage of Bristol City Centre, discovered on a car boot sale cine reel!


Bristol Docks, 1978

“Bristol Docks 1978” by Powerboat Archive.

The City In The 1980s

Train To Bristol and Cardiff 1980s

A trip to Bristol Temple Meads station, Cardiff and Severn Tunnel Junction.

A presentation set to movie showing a trip to Bristol Temple Meeds station, Cardiff and Severn Tunnel Junction in 1984 BR Blue reigned supreme.

“Trains from our past take 1 (looking back to the 80’s)” by MikesMovies.

Bristol’s Ashton Court Festival, 1986

A film from 1986 of the Bristol free festival found on a VHS tape. It also includes some student film based on the nativity with plastic toys.


The City In The 1990s

Bristol’s Maritime History, 1980s/1990s

A look at Bristol’s maritime history. Filmed in the late 1980s/early 1990s?

“Maritime Bristol” by JayBee6011.

Bristol Street Scenes, 1990s

Street scenes from the 1990s.

“1990s Bristol, UK, Street Scenes” by thekinolibrary.

Night Drive Through Bristol, 1990s

1990s Bristol at night.

“1990s Drive Through Bristol at Night” by thekinolibrary.

Bristol Shopping Centre at Christmas, 1990s

1990s Bristol shopping centre at Christmas.

“1990s Bristol Shopping Centre at Christmas” by thekinolibrary.

The City In The 21st Century

Bristol, Easter 2007

A walk around the city on a sunny day in the Spring of 2007.

“My life in Bristol” by YouTube channel braiscelme.

BBC Bristol Banksy City

We may not know who Banksy is, but we all know this famous artist is from Bristol!

“BBC Bristol Banksy City” by Yezidism07. Bristol Banksy City.

Bristol’s First People Freeze, 2008

Bristol’s first People Freeze took place in the city centre of Bristol on the 15th March 2008 at 13:30.

“People Freeze Bristol” by YouTube Channel bobs3dot.

Cabot Circus In Flashmob Freeze, 2009

Just 1 month after starting his Flashmob group and event on Facebook, creator, Mathew White had 2500 people! The aim? To create one of the best FlashMob scenes so far.

On February 28th, 2009, close to a thousand people froze in place for 5 minutes in Bristol’s Cabot Circus shopping mall!

“Flashmob: Cabot Circus, Bristol.” by Mathew White.

Bristol’s ‘Thekla’ Nightclub

“A brief history and insight into Bristol’s most unique club.”

“The ‘Thekla’ Documentary – Bristol.” by bristol5on1.

From The Bristol Zoo Archives, 1920s Onwards

Footage from the Bristol Zoo archives from as early as the 1920s.

“Bristol Zoo old footage” by YouTube Channel Bristol Zoo.

Bristol’s Lost Music Venue, The Croft

A short film about one of Bristol’s must loved music venues. Includes interviews from those who knew it best, looking at what made it special.

“The Croft – End of an Era” by YouTube channel RataplanFilms.

Demolition of Bristol City Docks Bonded Warehouses

Demolition of the old bonded warehouse in Bristol City docks. Huge crowds turned out to see this historic event.

“Demolition of Bonded Warehouses, Bristol City Docks” by JayBee6011.

Interested In Bristol’s Local History?

Join a Facebook groups to discover more photos, films and discussions about the past in your area.

ALHA – Avon Local History & Archaeology

Bristol & Avon Family History Soc.

History of Bristol Docks and local Villages.

Stoke Bishop Local History Group

More Bristol pages