Many years ago in 1975 I worked in Bristol for a few months on an attachment with the BBC regional newsroom. I haven’t been back to the city until today, and will spend a weekend there with friends. So I expect to notice some changes, in particular the area around the former docks.
Bristol was once an important centre in the slave trade, a past it probably wants to forget. Anti-slavery campaigners, inspired by non-conformist preachers such as John Wesley, started some of the earliest campaigns for abolition of the trade. The campaign itself proved to be the beginning of movements for reform and women’s emancipation.
Wesley founded the very first Methodist Chapel, The New Room in Broadmead in 1739, which is still in use in the 21st century. Wesley had come to Bristol at the invitation of George Whitfield. He preached in the open air to miners and brickworkers at Kingswood and Hanham, on the eastern outskirts of the city (Wikipedia). Bristol has an importance second only to London in the history of Methodism.
Bristol is also known as an important centre for the aircraft and aerospace industry. When I arrived here at St Augustine’s Reach, I was reminded that this was also a major city for shipbuilding. The area around the old harbour has been developed with bars and restaurants and is now a very lively place, compared to what it was like over 35 years ago!