Local History Resources for Bristol, England

Vintage postcard showing many trams on Old Market Street in Bristol, England, circa 1906

Discover a wide range of local history resources for Bristol, England.

Bristol is both a city and a county, so Bristol is not in Somerset but in its own county.


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What Is Bristol Famous For?

The Clifton Suspension Bridge, opened in 1864, is an iconic symbol of the city. You can walk or cycle across the Clifton Suspension Bridge for free but vehicles are charged.

The free visitor centre at the Leigh Woods end Clifton Suspension Bridge is open between 10 am – 5 pm each day. It’s only closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, and shuts an hour early on Boxing day.

Bristol Zoo is also a major tourist attraction in the city, along with the development at Bristol Harbourside. If you’re in the mood for wandering, the Georgian houses in Clifton are worth a look.


Areas of Bristol

Is it safe to live in Bristol? Yes. There are some areas of deprivation where street crime has a higher risk of occurring, but be aware of your surroundings and make sensible decisions about where to be, especially after dark. 

The following areas are in the city and county of Bristol:


Local History Videos

Where areas of Bristol listed above are highlighted, you can click through to a page of links to free-to-view online videos showing the area’s past.

In addition, we have a page set up for Bristol: Old Photos And Film where distinct areas were not specified or were part of a wider look at the city.

You may also be interested to see our page of links to past videos of schools in Bristol.


Local History Facebook Pages And Groups

Facebook pages and groups can be a great way to connect with other people and discussions about Bristol’s past. You can join, like or follow these Facebook communities:


Local History Groups And Resources About Bristol

Whether you are passionate about genealogy or just want to know more about the place you live in, there’s plenty of information about Bristol available to you.

Avon Gardens Trust

Avonmouth Genealogy Group

Barton Hill History Group

Bishopston, Horfield & Ashley Down Local History Society

Boundless – Bath & Bristol Group

Brislington Conservation and History Society

Bristol and Avon Family History Society

Bristol Aero Collection Trust

Bristol and Avon Archaeological Society

Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society

Bristol and Avon Family History Society

Bristol Archives

Bristol Central Library – local history collection in the Reference Library

Bristol Civic Society

Bristol Radical History Group

Bristol History and Archaeological Society

Bristol Industrial Archaeological Society

Bristol Insight Tour Guides

Bristol Medico-historical Society

Bristol Radical History Group

Bristol Record Society

Bristol Threatened History Group

Crockerne Pill and District History Society

Frenchay Tuckett Society

Friends of Bristol City Museum and Archives

Guild of Registered Tourist Guides (South-West)

Hotwells, Clifton and Cliftonwood Local History Society

Knowle and Totterdown Local History Society

Malago History Society for Bedminster & Bishopsworth

Regional History Centre, University of the West of England

Stoke Bishop Local History Group

Westbury on Trym Society


Bristol History

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.


Other Local History Resources

In addition, there are many national resources (enough to justify their own page!) which could help your local history research.

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