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Listen: Bristol Unpacked with the Master of the Merchant Venturers, on whether they are an all powerful elite club, or just charitable business people

The Society of Merchant Venturers is often talked about in conspiratorial tones.

Listen: Bristol Unpacked with Neil Maggs

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The Society of Merchant Venturers is often talked about in conspiratorial tones. Forced into the limelight by the toppling of Colston, the Merchants have come under greater scrutiny for past and present practises. According to the Society, they are opening up more to the public, confronting their history and diversifying their membership. They say that far from controlling the city they are just successful professionals who donate time, skills and money to worthy causes. But along with relatively low profile members, they also count some of the city’s biggest corporate big-whigs, controversial bosses, Conservative Party donors and a leading climate change denier. Why does the Society still exist and what are the roles it plays in the city today?

Neil chats with Gilian Camm, the Society’s first female ‘Master’ on this and more.

(Can’t see this? click here)

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  • It never ceases to amaze me that the chair of the Venturers Trust had to settle a libel claim with education campaigner, Christine Townsend, after he accused her of being a terrorist. He then had to resign and this conduct by a local Academy chain all goes entirely unremarked in the local press.


  • She literally said “sell” before she corrected herself to say “send” their children to the school lol.


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