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A podcast dedicated to exploring various aspects of Bristol’s history. Produced in partnership with the Bristol Cable since April 2018.

  1. Episode 38 – Everyday Life in the Early Modern West Country

    History of the late medieval and early modern periods has tended to focus on a small number of people who have left a big dent on the historical record: kings and queens, statesmen and landowners. Most people could tell you something about Henry VIII’s wives or his eating habits – but how much do we know about what life was like for the ordinary men and women living under his rule? This week I met with Dr Mark Hailwood – Lecturer in History at the University of Bristol – to discuss what everyday life was like in the rural west country in the late medieval and early modern periods.
  2. Episode 37 – Natural History of the West Country

    This week I met with Joe McSorley of the Avon Wildlife Trust to discuss the natural history of the West Country – from the earliest existing records of animal and plant life in the area, through the ramblings of Victorian naturalists, to today’s systematic collection of scientific data. We also charted changing popular attitudes towards the natural world, the rise of the idea of conservation, and what we can do do arrest the alarming decline in species numbers in recent decades.
  3. Episode 36 – Bristol University and its Historians

    This week I met with Dr. John Reeks to discuss Bristol University and its historians. The university was founded in 1909 and dominates much of the landscape of the centre of the city, with almost 24,000 students enrolled in degree courses. We discussed the history of university and the work of some of the most illustrious historians produced by the institution.
  4. Episode 35 – Bristol’s Overseas Trade

    Bristol was born as a trading hub, and for the best part of a millennium its identity has been bound up with its status as a conduit for both national and international trade. I met with Dr Richard Stone, Teaching Fellow in Early Modern History at Bristol University, to discuss the history of Bristol’s overseas trade, from its foundation to the present day.
  5. Episode 34 – Melissa Chemam in Conversation

    This week I met with author and journalist Melissa Chemam to discuss her book ‘Out of the Comfort Zone: From Bristol to Massive Attack.’ Melissa looks to Bristol’s social and political history as a way of understanding its artistic output. We talked about the culture that spawned the music of Massive Attack, Portishead and Tricky, as well as the street art of Banksy.
  6. Episode 32 – Concorde

    This week I met with Dr. Keith McLoughlin of Bristol University to discuss the remarkable story of Concorde – the first supersonic passenger aircraft. We discussed the postwar origins of the project; difficulties with financing in the 60s and 70s; and why it retains such a hold over the public imagination today, more than fifteen years on from its final flight.
  7. Episode 31 – Bristol Rugby Club

    This week I met with Bristol Bears’ Club Historian (and verified superfan) Mark Hoskins to talk all things Bristol Rugby. We discussed the evolution of the club from its origins in the late-Victorian era and its role in the community during the World Wars, through to the pioneering captaincy of John Blake in the 1950s and the club’s eventual adaptation to the age of professionalism.
  8. Episode 30 – Bristol’s Public Memory of Slavery

    This week I met with Dr. Jessica Moody of Bristol University to discuss the ways in which Bristol has publicly addressed its involvement in the Transatlantic slave trade. We touched on methods of commemoration (using Liverpool as a point of comparison)and explored some of the reasons behind Bristol’s changing attitude towards her slaving past.
  9. Episode 29 – Mike Manson in Conversation

    This week I met with author, historian and one man Bristolian institution: Mike Manson. In a whistle-stop tour through his literary career we discussed the importance of local history, the differences between writing fiction and writing history, and Mike’s exploration of some of the less well known parts of Bristol’s history.
  10. Episode 28 – Being Brunel

    Being Brunel is one of Bristol’s newest and most innovative museums. An addition to the existing SS Great Britain site, it attempts to get behind the myth and into the mind of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, one of the country’s most famous engineers. I visited Being Brunel and spoke with Head of Collections Nicholas Booth about the idea behind the project, how it was realised in practice, and about the enduring appeal of IKB.
  11. Episode 27 – Bristol and the Civil War

    The English Civil War is often reduced to a stereotype of haughty Cavaliers and humourless Roundheads. Yet in reality it was was one of the bloodiest and most disruptive conflicts in our nation’s history. I met with Dr. John Reeks of Bristol University to discuss the causes, course and consequences of the war from a Bristolian perspective.
  12. Episode 26 – Lucienne Boyce on History and Historical Fiction

    This week Tom Brothwell meets with acclaimed historian and historical fiction writer, Lucienne Boyce. They discuss the history of the women’s suffrage movement in Bristol, the continuities between the 18th century and our present day, and to what degree historical fiction can contribute to historical understanding.
  13. Episode 25 – Bristol Zoo

    As the fifth oldest zoo in the world, Bristol Zoological Gardens has been introducing Bristolians to wild animals since 1836. Tom Brothwell meets with Dr Andy Flack, Teaching Fellow in Modern History at Bristol University, to discuss the origins of the zoo, its role in civic identity and the extent to which our attitude towards animals has (and hasn’t) changed over the past two centuries.
  14. Episode 24 – The Women Who Built Bristol

    This week Tom Brothwell meets with author Jane Duffus, to discuss her new book ‘The Women Who Built Bristol’. This work of collective biography tells the story of some 250 women connected with Bristol, ranging from the 12th century to the present day. We discuss the origins of the project, the history of the women’s suffrage movement in Bristol and Jane gives a preview of a few of the most interesting women who feature in her book.
  15. Episode 23 – Bristol From Below

    This week Tom Brothwell meet with Steve Poole, Professor of History at UWE to discuss his book ‘Bristol from Below’ (co-authored with Nicholas Rogers). They explore the life of ordinary Bristolians in the long 18th century, discussing – among other things – riots, radicalism, arson and sodomy.
  16. Episode 22 – Gas Girls

    This week the podcast will feature the audio from a short film telling the extraordinary tale of those people – mainly young women – who worked filling shells with mustard gas at two Avonmouth factory sites during the First World War. Many thanks to Diana Taylor for allowing us to use the audio from her short film: Gas Girls.
  17. Episode 21 – Derek Robinson in Conversation

    This week Tom Brothwell meets with Bristolian author Derek Robinson – creator of ‘A Darker History of Bristol’. They discuss his life and career as a writer; what it takes to write good historical fiction and Bristol’s changing attitude towards its own history.
  18. Episode 20 – W.G. Grace

    W.G. Grace was born in Downend in 1848. Through his remarkable achievements on the cricket field he became one of the most famous faces in Victorian Britain. Tom Brothwell met with cricket writer Scyld Berry to discuss the life, career and impact of W.G. on his sport and British society more generally.

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