Bedminster, Bristol

Bedminster is the name of both a council ward in Bristol, England, and an area of the city that falls mostly within that ward.

The ward contains the areas of Bedminster and Ashton Vale, and one railway station, Parson Street railway station. There is also a Bedminster railway station, but this lies outside the Bedminster ward in Windmill Hill.

Areas in the council ward


Bedminster lies to the south of the city centre and was once a small town in Somerset. It is known for having a large Italian population, mainly descendents of the Italian immigration after the Second World War.

The town's origins seem to be Roman, centred around the present East Street and West Street. The Malago river, which runs through Bedminster to join the Avon, was an early Christian place for baptisms - the old word for which, beydd may be the origin of Bedminster’s name.

The Royal Manor of Bedminster comprised all the land south of the Avon, from the Avon Gorge to Brislington, and in the Domesday Book had 25 villeins, 3 slaves and 27 smallholders. In 1154 it was given to the Lords of Berkeley, who kept it for 300 years. In 1605 it was purchased by the Smyth family of Ashton Court who remained the Lords of the Manor until the 19th century.

In 1644, during the English Civil War, Bedminster was sacked by Prince Rupert. When John Wesley preached there in the 1760s, it was a sprawling, decayed market town, with orchards next to brick works, rope walks and the beginnings of a mining industry.

Open cast coal mining had been done on a small scale since the 1670s, but in 1748 the first shafts were sunk by Sir Jarrit Smyth at South Liberty Lane. By the end of the century there were eighteen coal-pits operating in the Bedminster and Ashton Vale coalfield.

Between 1804 and 1809 the New Cut was excavated through the northern part of the parish from Temple Meads to Hotwells, providing a new course for the River Avon, enabling the original course to be held at a constant level so that shipping could stay afloat in Bristol Harbour, now known as the Floating Harbour. In addition to removing the tides, the new cut also helped with reducing silting in the harbour. It is now the boundary between Bedminster and the City centre.

The population of Bedminster increased rapidly, from 3,000 in 1801 to 78,000 in 1884, mostly as a result of the coalfield and industries such as smelting, tanneries, glue-works, paint and glass factories. In the 1880s two major employers moved there - E. S. & A. Robinson (paper bag manufacturers) and W. D. & H. O. Wills (cigarette and cigar makers). The population overflowed to Windmill Hill, Totterdown, Southville, the Chessells and Bedminster Down. During this time, churches, public houses, shops and businesses were built, some of which still survive.

In the Second World War, Bedminster was one of several areas of Bristol that were heavily bombed during the Bristol Blitz. Post-war town planning relocated most of the heavy industry to the rural areas to the south of the parish, and new estates grew up in Withywood, Hartcliffe and Highridge. Bedminster declined during the post-war years, but recent redevelopments, a big new supermarket and a pedestrianisation scheme are improving the area. North St (which divides Bedminster from Southville) in particular has undergone huge renovation with the introduction of the Tobacco Factory theatre and bar and dozens of modern shops.

There are four primary schools in Bedminster:

  • Holy Cross RC Primary School
  • South Street Primary School
  • Parson Street Primary School
  • Victoria Park Primary School

Ashton Vale

Ashton Vale is primarily an industrial area of Bristol, which lies in the Bedminster council ward.

Sport and recreation

Bedminster is home to many sports teams, including Broad Plain Rugby Club, who play in the Bristol Combination league, and Bedminster Cricket Club, which was founded in 1847 and has historical links with W. G. Grace, who play in the West of England Premier League lower divisions.


External links

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