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Bristol Trade

The top image on this flag is one Bristol’s most famous objects, The Nails. They existed as a space for merchants and tradesmen from seafarers to farmers to do business out in the open, reducing the risk of underhand deals and suggesting equity between traders.

It is claimed by Bristol that the nails are the source of the phrase “paying on the nail”... unfortunately this is also claimed by other cities.


The second picture down is a drawing of George White, the son of a local painter and decorator who started office work as a junior law clerk aged 15 and went on to become one of Bristol’s most successful businessmen. By the age of 20, George White became the part time secretary of Bristol Tramways Company and continued to invest in trams, busses, cars and eventually aeroplanes locally and nationally. At the age of 21, White was growing his own stockbroking company with money borrowed from his wealthy banking contacts in the Old City eventually becoming the chair of The Bristol Stock Exchange and gifting the building to the city.


Robert Ricart’s ancient map(1), is a bird’s eye view of Old City Bristol. The middle of this flag shows just how tightly packed the city trading was. On 2 November 1940 bombing raids during the Second World War destroyed half the Old City and its traders leaving behind the space where Castle Park now allows the city to breathe.


The transatlantic traffic in enslaved Africans, dating back to the 15th Century, is integral to the history of trade and wealth creation in Bristol. 


Coffee, chocolate and sugar all arrived on Bristol’s docksides as a result of the transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans and found their place in the Old City. Fry’s began selling chocolate in an apothecary on Small Street where they invented the first chocolate bar. The firm moved their premises around several locations within the Old City and other chocolate firms such as Cadbury’s and Packers were also operating locally. Guilberts are now the only chocolate trader left, now based on Small Street where Fry’s journey began. The Old City was also home to many coffee houses amongst its tightly packed streets. The current Cafe Revival is Bristol’s longest running coffee house, operating since 1718.


1. Bristol Culture & Creative Industries (Museums) 

Trade Banner WEB.tif
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