Every day the people of Bristol walk past hundreds of street names without giving them a second thought.
But who are the historical figures who lie behind these roads?
From local preacher “The Walking Bible” to the once Commander-in-Chief of India and the hay salesman, read on to find out more about the genesis of some of Bristol’s most beloved streets.
Adelaide Place/ Terrace, BS16
This street has royal roots, named after Queen Adelaide (1792-1849), wife of King William IV.
Visiting Blaise Castle in 1718, Adelaide is known for being the only Georgian queen who outlived her husband.
A perhaps slightly larger achievement was Adelaide was also immortalised in 1836 when the now capital city of South Australia was established and named after her.
Gingells Green, BS5
Contrasting rather dramatically with the aristocratic origins of most of Bristol’s street names, this street honours George Gingell, a hay and straw salesman born in the 1880s who traded from this location.
The Gingell family later became better known for their trade as butchers, with three generations working together to run the meat-shop in Lawrence Hill, from 1915 to the 1980s.
Purdy Court, BS16
Residents of Purdy Road might be surprised to learn that this road has a religious genesis, named after local Methodist preacher Victory Purdy, born in 1747.
Nicknamed alternatively “The Kingswood Collier” or the “Walking Bible”, Purdy allegedly became famous locally for having the read the Bible so many times through that he was capable of quoting any chapter and verse without the need of a prompt.
Purdy had a prolific ecclesiastical career, with his recordings revealing that upon his death in 1822, aged 75, he had preached 2,882 sermons, composed 1,853 hymns and travelled 22,896 miles, primarily by foot.
Morris Road, BS7
Recognising the life and art of William Morris (1834-96), this road is named after the founder of the British Arts and Crafts Movement.
Best known in modern day Britain for his wallpaper and textile designers, Morris’s talents didn’t stop there. A cultural revolutionary of the Victorian era, the figure was also a poet, a writer, and a socialist activist.
Clive Road, BS14
The origins of this street name interweaves with Britain’s colonial history, named after Robert Clive (1725-74), whose legacy has been continually marred by controversy.
A British military officer, Clive was one of the key figures who established British control of India.
Commander-in-Chief of India from 1756-1760 and subsequently in 1765-1767, Clive went back-and-forth to England from India, elected as an MP for Shrewsbury in 1760 and securing an Irish peerage in 1762.
Clive was to meet a sad end, dying aged 49 whilst suffering from an opium addiction in his London home in 1774, allegedly committing suicide.
Vincent Close, BS11
This street wins the prize for boasting the oldest historic figure on our list, dating all the way back to the classical times of the Roman Empire.
Named after St. Vincent, this Spanish saint suffered a cruel martyrdom in 305 AD after refusing to worship the ancient gods of Rome and Greece.
Evidence suggests that Vincent had a contemporaneous connection to Bristol, with an ancient chapel dedicated to the Saint built around the same time as his death on the highest point of St. Vincent’s Rocks, which today overlooks the Avon Gorge.
It was 9ft broad and 27ft long and was still intact in 1480.
Winkworth Place, BS2
One of the few streets to celebrate local women, Winkworth Place recognises the philanthropy of two sisters Catherine and Susanna. Younger sister Catherine (1827-1878) was deeply involved throughout her life in efforts to expand educational opportunities for girls, serving as both a governor for Red Maids’ School and a promoter of Clifton High School for Girls.
The school has honoured her contributions to the founding of the school by naming a school house after her.
Susanna (1820-1884) too aimed to make a social difference, one of the first to initiate reform to the poor housing conditions in Bristol, especially in the tenements of Hotwells, the poorer area of Clifton.
Together, these social reformers made a significant impact on improving urban living conditions and increasing educational opportunities for the Bristol poor.
Aiken Street, BS5
Aiken Street comes from nineteenth-century figure Peter Freeland Aiken, a factory owner from Clifton who became the first owner of the Great Western Cotton Mill.
Founded in 1838, this factory was the only of its kind in the South West of England, with the majority of cotton mills located in the areas of Lancashire, Cheshire, Yorkshire and Derbyshire.
A vital source of employment for hundreds of local people, a whole community of shops, pubs and schools came to surround the mill.
Unfortunately, as it became cheaper for manufactures to get their cotton from abroad rather than buying it home-grown, the factory was forced to go into liquidation in 1925 and the plant ultimately fell into disuse four years later.
Edgcumbe Road, BS6
This road is most likely to have aristocratic origins, named after the Peerage title of Earl of Mount Edgcumbe.
This title was granted in 1789 to its first holder, George Edgcumbe (1720-1795).
Unfortunately, George did not get to enjoy his title for too long, dying six years later.
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