by Caroline Levett, M Shed volunteer and walk guide
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.
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.
All the historical walks at M Shed are free, donations are gratefully received, and bookings can be made on the day at reception.
Main image: The bandstand in Victoria Park, early 1900s © Bristol Culture
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