In the 18th century Bristol was the principal British port for trade with the American colonies and the West Indies.
Bristol ports involvement with the slave trade meant that following the transport of slaves that ships returned to Bristol carrying amongst other goods, Cocoa which lead to the making of chocolate.
A pioneer in chocolate making was Joseph Fry, born in Wiltshire in 1728 and like the Cadbury family was a Quaker.
He trained as a doctor he was a strong believer in the health qualities of cocoa.
After starting up business as an apothecary he founded a chocolate factory in Bristol.
His entrepreneurial spirit led him into the manufacture of soap and of china and book publishing .
Following his death in 1787 the chocolate business was taken over by his grandsons, Joseph, Francis and Richard.
Following further expansion of the business over the succeeding years it was decided in 1919 to merge with Cadbury Brothers.
Their factory at Keynsham is due to close in 2010.
The two main centres in England for this trade was Liverpool and Bristol.
The import and export trades to the Caribbean provided the opportunity to transport the human cargoes to America.
Some slaves were retained to work in England.
A leading force in the abolition of slavery was William Wilberforce, a Yorkshire man, he headed a campaign to put an end to this inhuman practice.
Born in 1759 at Kingston on Hull he spent his lifetime seeking justice for these unfortunate people.
The slave trade act was passed in 1807 and this lead to the Slavery Abolition act of 1833, the same year as his death. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.
Captains of ships were responsible for the fitting out of the vessel for sea and to get their ships manned by fair means or foul ,thus the creation of pressgangs.
Individuals were duped into going into certain locations and were either knocked unconscious or induced into a drunken state.
In Bristol a pub known as the Hole in the Wall was a favourite place for press gangs .
Still to be seen today is the small glass observation point used by the gangs.
They were able to view their intended victims as they approached.
Once rendered incapable the victim was carried or dragged aboard the vessel requiring crew.
When at sea they had no chance of escape from their captors.
Pirates and Privateers
Walking along Bristol’s ancient harbour, it's easy to imagine the tall ships with their sails whipping in the wind and the shouts and cries of sailors preparing to head out to sea. Bristol’s strong links with the ocean, and its key role in the profitable trade of slavery and tobacco, inevitably lead to the city’s involvement with piracy.
Laws at the time stated that piracy was illegal - however the practice of privateering was not. Privateers were meant to have a 'letter of Marque' from their government allowing them to attack and steal from merchant ships of certain countries.
Another pirate with Bristolian links was Bartholomew Roberts, who roamed the seas in the 18th century. He sailed from Bristol on merchant ships and was forced to join a band of pirates after his own ship was captured. He soon earned respect onboard and eventually became captain of the ship, and went on to become the most successful pirate in history, capturing 456 vessels in four years. He was killed in a battle against HMS Swallow, which had been specially commissioned to capture pirates. He was granted his dying wish to be buried at sea so his body would never be captured.
Discover Long John Silver’s treasure chest in the smugglers cave. Visit Treasure Island’s Spy Glass Inn where the press gangs roamed. Find Blackbeards Lair in the medieval port.
John Wesley’s Chapel, The New Room
This place of history is located at 36 The Horsehair, Broadmead, Bristol.
The New Room is the oldest Methodist building in the world and can be seen as it was in the 18th century.
The foundation stone was laid by John Wesley on the 12th of May 1739, with its original pulpit where Wesley preached, looking along the chapel, it is easy to imagine the impact his words would have on the congregation, visitors can stand on the spot that this great orator once stood.
In the preachers rooms above the chapel is a museum, in this , the story of John and Charles Wesley can be learned.
See John Wesley’s preaching robe, and other personal effects.
There is a gift shop with souvenirs. Admission is free.
With its origins in 1876 it was a university college until 1909 when it became the University of Bristol.
It was in June 1874 that a meeting took place in Bristol’s Victoria Room’s and it was after gaining the support of Albert Fry and Lewis Fry (of Fry’s Chocolate ) that the instigators of establishing such a place of learning, John Percival Headmaster of Clifton College and Benjamin Jowett Master of Balliol College Oxford who not only gave support philosophically but also financially.
From these beginnings the university now organises its academic affairs in 34 departments and 15 research centres.
Situated in a lively part of the city but not a campus university it is convenient to the city’s amenities.
For details of open days and events for the public to visit telephone 0117 928 9000