Asha Sahni, Assistant Governance Officer at University of Bristol, was inspired by Guy Orpen’s article and photograph of sunrise over the demolished Sorting Office. While working with a writing group of adults with Asperger Syndrome Asha co-facilitates, she wrote the haiku below about changing landscapes.
By Professor Tim Cole, Professor of Social History and Director of Brigstow Institute
Responsible innovation will be at the heart of Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus and although it’s currently a levelled building site, the land has a rich history of innovation and entrepreneurship.
One example of this is John Hare and Company. Founded in 1782, it manufactured floor-cloths which were highly sought after and exported around the world. Records show that its prized floor-cloths were sent to five continents.
John Hare and Company was a 19th-century innovator. It was the only company to own the whole manufacturing process, weaving the cloth from flax and hemp, making the paint and printing the intricate patterns on to the stretched canvases – all within a mile radius of the Temple Island site.
I was lucky enough to meet a direct descendent of the first John Hare recently, 83-year old John Anthony Hare. He got in touch after reading the work of some of our history students, who have been researching the history of site that will be home to our new campus.
I invited John and his son Rupert to visit the site to see where his ancestor started the family floor-cloth business. Visiting this site that was once home to the Hare Colour Works and will become the site of the new University of Bristol campus, John told me: “It’s quite emotional to be standing here actually. It makes me really proud of my family for building such a successful business here in Bristol. It’s exciting to think it could produce the next generation of businessmen and women too.”
John and Rupert plan to follow the campus as work develops and a new generation of innovators and entrepreneurs make this place their home. You can find out more about our plans here.
As a History student at the University of Bristol I’ve had the privilege of looking into the heritage of the University’s new Enterprise campus and the history of the old Bristol Cattle Market, operating from 1830 until the 1960s. I’ve discovered a rich and extensive body of archival material, both locally in Bristol, and nationally and I was really excited to be part of the film celebrating the history of the Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus.
I looked at changes in both legislation and public opinion around cattle markets in the nineteenth century, spurred by protests against the treatment of animals at Smithfield market in London. Working with members of the History and Veterinary departments at the University, an interdisciplinary approach has helped to uncover fascinating details of the experience of animals in the market and their treatment on journeys to and from the Temple Meads site.
Bristol Cattle Market initially held market day on Thursdays, with an additional opening on Mondays added later due to high demand. With numbers in the thousands at full capacity, the market held a range of livestock, including cows, calves, sheep, pigs and horses. The establishment of the Great Western Railway station at Temple Meads in 1840 increased the ease of access to the market, both for consumers and animals. Cattle travelled to the market on foot from local farms, by rail from the surrounding areas, and by boat from Ireland and Canada. The journey by boat in particular was reported to have been long and strenuous for the animals, with the minimum amount of food, water and physical space provided in efforts to keep costs low.
Bristol Cattle Market was nevertheless seen by many as the model of good practice in animal welfare, particularly in comparison to Smithfield. In Bristol, drovers – who walked the animals into the city – did not use the sharpened sticks commonly known as ‘goads’ to herd the cows. The location of the Market itself also ensured that the pens were of regulation size and there was less overcrowding in Bristol than at other major city markets, especially Smithfield. However the extent of animal welfare provision in the market should not be exaggerated. Butchers’ reports noted bruising and cuts on slaughtered animals, and a number of contemporaries observed unnecessary cruelty to cattle on the part of the drovers. One resident of St Phillip’s Marsh recalled her terror of market day as a child:
It was terrifying to hear the herdsmen shouting and hitting those maddened cows, and the Bulls had rings through their noses with men pulling them along on huge ropes. Blood would be running down from their faces where the rings had cut into their nostrils. Sometimes men would put a sack over the Bulls heads to quieten them down. Once a Bull put his backside against my Aunties front door and broke it down, and then one of the cows ran into the house. Source: St Philips Marsh, The Story of an Island and its People, BRO Pamphlet/2054. P39
Through the nineteenth century, public awareness of animal cruelty was on the increase , exemplified by the establishment of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (now the RSPCA) in 1824. The Bristol branch of the society was established in 1842, and funded regular inspections of the market, increasing the number of cruelty cases brought to court. Contemporary newspapers frequently reported the details of such cases, with cases commonly involving the binding of calves mouths with twine, which became ‘quite sunk into the flesh’, to prevent the calves from suckling and the exposure of diseased animals in the market. Source: The Bristol Daily Post, Monday February 11 1861
The Market allowed the city to grow, putting Bristol on the map as having a good market for space for the animals and closeness to a train line. The significance of the market, and it’s long history, should be reflected in the new development of the University to commemorate the lives of the people and animals who dedicated their lives to it. We hope the essence of the market can be understood for the importance it held for Bristol, and for feeding all those who benefited from it. I have thoroughly enjoyed working on this project, and would like to thank the Brigstow Institute and the Temple Quarter group for their help and support. I hope you enjoy this film about our project and the history of the Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus.
Aidan Shilson-Thomas is one of our students who is capturing the rich history of the Temple Quarter site. Read his findings about how a 200-year old visitors book revealed the secrets of Bristol’s imperial past.
As part of the team tasked with researching the History of the site where the University’s Temple Campus will be built, our brief sometimes seemed overwhelming: ‘Find out about the people who lived and worked there’. Sounds simple enough?
The land around Bristol’s enterprise quarter has been farmed, worshipped on, industrialised, deindustrialised, developed and levelled time and again for over 1000 years. The campus will be a major development, but from a historical perspective it’s just another blip on Bristol’s map.
With such rich history we were faced with a true mountain of source material. The archival records ran to hundreds of ‘items’, and some of these were hundreds of pages long! It’s no surprise, therefore, that we sometimes chanced on the unexpected. When you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, or even exactly what you’re looking at(!), the smallest detail can take you on a trip through the archives.
On the same land where part of the new campus will be built, 400 men, women, and children worked for John Hare & Co. in the 18th and 19th centuries, producing stunning decorative floorcloths that were sold around the world. A visitor’s log from the 1800s shows that people visited from as far away as Barbados, Cuba and New York.
Reading through the log, I had expected to see some international visitors. But an entry which took us all by surprise was for three signatures which had been marked as being from the sons of the King of Ashantee. What on earth were three African princes doing in a carpet factory in Bristol?
We learned that they weren’t there voluntarily. These princes were hostages to the British government after a treaty with the Ashantees broke down. Whilst in Britain, it was claimed that they had ‘greatly profited by care and attention bestowed upon their education; they [then] engaged in a tour through England to inspect the different manufactories…previous to their return to their native country.’
In light of this we re-examined another entry from an ‘Edward George Jenkinson, in service to the New Zealand government.’ Some digging revealed that Jenkinson was a translator who served the governor of New Zealand, and that he had brought 11 high-ranking Maoris to England in 1863 to teach them about British industry. This was, reported the Scotsman, so that they could ‘obtain such general information respecting the greatness and power of England as may prove a benefit to themselves and to their several tribes on their return…’
The Maori’s were also introduced to Christian leaders and visited the home of John Wesley. The Ashantee princes had received a similar treatment, and the papers reporting on their tour claimed that they had become ‘sincere and true converts’ to Christianity.
From these signatures we discovered a different history of the site to the one we’d been looking for. As a key manufacturing site, an exemplar of British industry and enterprise, John Hare & Co. became a means to carrying out the ‘civilising mission’. It was part of a process of religious and social indoctrination that was meant to acculturate not only the Ashantee princes and the Maori leaders, but also, eventually, the people who they ruled in Britain’s empire.
The history of the site of the new campus can give us a sense of perspective. The campus will be the next chapter in the site’s history, not the first. It was an ‘enterprise zone’ long before we decided to call it one! It also gives us fresh insights into the city that we all live and work in. Bristol has an intimate, complicated and problematic association with Empire. Our site’s history newly reveals one of the many ways that this was forged and reinforced.