Home » England » Bristol » Bristol: Old Photos And Film

Bristol: Old Photos And Film

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.

The City Through The Ages

⏯ WATCH: Photos of Old Bristol

A video showing photos of the city through the years.

⏯ WATCH: UWE Project of Bristol In Old Photos

Made as part of a project for UWE (University of the West of England).

⏯ WATCH: Bristol’s Henleaze Swimming Club

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

The City In The 1920s

⏯ WATCH: 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.


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.

⏯ WATCH: 1927 – Princess Mary In Bristol & The Portway

This vintage footage shows two separate items.

The first is Princess Mary – aunt to Queen Elizabeth II – making an official visit to the new Dockland Club in Bristol and walking through a crowd of scouts and brownies.

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

⏯ WATCH: 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.

The City In The 1930s

⏯ WATCH: 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.

⏯ WATCH: 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.

⏯ WATCH: 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.

The City In The 1940s

⏯ WATCH: 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.

⏯ WATCH: 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.

⏯ WATCH: 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!

⏯ WATCH: 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.

⏯ WATCH: 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.

⏯ WATCH – 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.

Find out more about their fascinating lives in the link to the footage.

⏯ WATCH: 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.

⏯ WATCH: 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.

⏯ WATCH: Bristol After The Bombs Volume 1

⏯ WATCH: Bristol After The Bombs Volume 2

Volumes 1 and 2 of Bristol After The Bombs examine the state of the city after the Luftwaffe bombs devastated many medieval and historic districts. They visit each area transformed by the postwar planners. Lots of vintage film and photos, eyewitness interviews, and an informed commentary from a well respected local historian.

⏯ WATCH: 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.

The City In The 1950s

⏯ WATCH: Nationalised Bristol Corporation Buses In 1951

⏯ WATCH: Clifton Suspension Bridge Maintenance In 1953

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

⏯ WATCH: Victorian Buildings In Postwar Bristol, 1950s

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

⏯ WATCH: A Postwar Street In Bristol In The 1950s

The City In The 1960s

⏯ WATCH: 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.

⏯ WATCH: Bristol In The 1960’s

⏯ WATCH: 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.

⏯ WATCH: Vintage Film of Bristol, 1967

British Pathé footage from 1967.

⏯ WATCH: 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.

⏯ WATCH: 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.

Remember Local BBC TV In 1973?

⏯ BBC Bristol 1973 Documentary (Part 1 of 3)

⏯ BBC Bristol 1973 Documentary (Part 2 of 3)

⏯ 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.

The City In The 1970s

⏯ WATCH: 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.

⏯ WATCH: Bristol Docks 1973

⏯ WATCH: Bristol’s City, People and Cars, 1973

Vintage home movie footage from around 1973. Shows the street scenes, people and cars of the city. Shops have changed hands in Park Street and the roads are busier now.

⏯ WATCH: Adventure Playgrounds In Bristol, 1974

⏯ WATCH: Bristol Docks, 1974

⏯ WATCH: Bristol Docks, 1976

⏯ WATCH: Bristol City Bus Tour, 1976

⏯ WATCH: Bristol During The 1977 Silver Jubilee

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

⏯ WATCH: Bristol Docks, 1978

The City In The 1980s

⏯ WATCH: Train To Bristol and Cardiff 1980s

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

⏯ WATCH: Bristol’s Ashton Court Festival, 1986

⏯ WATCH: A Bristol Family At Home, Late 1980s

The City In The 1990s

⏯ WATCH: Bristol’s Maritime History, 1980s/1990s

⏯ WATCH: Bristol Street Scenes, 1990s

⏯ WATCH: Night Drive Through Bristol, 1990s

⏯ WATCH: Bristol Shopping Centre at Christmas, 1990s

The City In The 21st Century

⏯ WATCH: Bristol, Easter 2007

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

⏯ WATCH: BBC Bristol Banksy City

⏯ WATCH: Bristol’s First People Freeze, 2008

⏯ WATCH: Cabot Circus In Flashmob Freeze, 2009

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

⏯ WATCH: Bristol’s ‘Thekla’ Nightclub

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

⏯ WATCH: From The Bristol Zoo Archives, 1920s Onwards

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

⏯ WATCH: Bristol’s Lost Music Venue, The Croft

A short film about one of Bristol’s most loved music venue. Includes interviews from those who knew it best, looking at what made it special and what’s next now it’s closed its doors.

⏯ WATCH: Demolition of Bristol City Docks Bonded Warehouses Demolished

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

See also the County of Bristol page.

Back to Home page.

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