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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.

Episode 43 – Bristol and the 1918 ‘Spanish’ Flu Pandemic

Arriving at the end of the First World War, the 1918 ‘Spanish’ Flu was one of the deadliest pandemics in human history, killing between 40 and 200 million people worldwide. I spoke with journalist and historian Eugene Byrne – we discussed official strategies to combat the spread of the flu, as well as its local impact on Bristol.

Episode 42 – Witches and Witchcraft in the West Country

This week I met with Mike Slater, West-Country Occult Historian, to discuss the history of witchcraft in the West Country. We spoke about the continuance of popular belief in magic, long after official witchcraft trials had ceased. We also explored ‘witch scratching’, the pernicious and long-lived idea that drawing a witch’s blood would remove her curses.

Episode 41 – Graffiti and Street Art in Bristol

Nowadays Bristol is internationally known as a centre of graffiti and street art culture. I met with John Nation – pioneer and promoter of graffiti culture and its artists since the early 1980s – to discuss how perceptions of the culture have changed. From being despised as ‘vandalism’ to hailed as a cultural export of the city, graffiti continues to elicit strong opinions, not least because it raises questions about who gets to have a say in the visual culture of the city.

Episode 40 – Dr. Edson Burton In Conversation

This week I met with the writer, poet, historian and playwright Dr. Edson Burton. We discussed (among other things) how his historical outlook shapes his cultural work; the legacy of Caribbean migration to Britain and how Brexit plays into wider narratives of place and identity.

Episode 39 – Election Special: Polling Day in 18th Century Bristol


As we approach December’s election, the Bristol History Podcast asks: how did we get here? To this end I spoke with UWE Professor of History and Heritage Steve Poole about what elections in Bristol looked like some 300 years ago.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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