M Shed’s Historical Walks: Windmill Hill

Posted on by Lauren MacCarthy.

By Caroline Levett, M Shed volunteer and walk guide

Windmill Hill volunteer Caroline Levett with bicycle

Volunteer guide, Caroline Levett © Bristol Culture


The Windmill Hill walk covers the history of Bedminster, showing how it evolved from a rural Somerset town to Bristol’s most famous industrial suburb.

Along the way, we highlight some of the key features of the Victorian expansion of south Bristol and discuss the inevitable impact that this had on public health.

For example, the cholera outbreaks of 1830 and 1846 caused more fatalities in Bedminster than any other part of Bristol. The geographic distribution of these outbreaks can be seen very clearly in William Budd’s maps, a Bristol physician, who went to great lengths to protect the city’s water supply.



Aerial view of Bedminster, showing part of St John's Lane, Victoria Park and surrounding area

Aerial view of Bedminster, showing part of St John’s Lane, Victoria Park and surrounding area, c. 1970 © Bristol Culture

We have copies of these maps to show to walkers and indeed the entire walk is illustrated with a wealth of drawings and photographs.

Personally, I think that the best bit about the Windmill Hill walk is the way that the route rises effortlessly from the squalor that we describe in Victorian Bedminster to the glorious view from the top of Victoria Park, looking out across the whole of North Bristol. It really is quite stunning.


Main image: The bandstand in Victoria Park, early 1900s © Bristol Culture


M Shed’s historical walks are led by volunteer guides with a wealth of knowledge and an infectious passion for their subject. All the walks at M Shed are free, donations are gratefully received, and bookings can be made in advance by calling 0117 352 6600.

Find out when the next Windmill Hill walk is.


Other blogs in this series:

RedcliffeFloating HarbourOld City | 1831 RiotsBristol AbolitionPirates and Prejudice

One comment on M Shed’s Historical Walks: Windmill Hill

  1. Peter Ashford

    I have a photo of my grandfather taken at Windmill Hill School, probably about 1910. Would you like a copy?


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