Barb Drummond

Beyond Bristol History

Beyond Bristol History

I am a historian in Bristol England who has been publishing books, mostly on local history for 5 years. I have led a range of walks in the city, done research for the BBC and the late British Empire and Commonwealth Museum. I have been involved in a number of local arts trails and have appeared on local and national radio and local tv. I am often consulted by academics and the media, as well as family historians. 

I have a blog at which is attracting some very interesting and talented followers.  It is approaching its 2,000th post and continues to evolve.  

I am also on twitter: #texthistory

I also have a website set up as an antidote to the 2007 celebrations of the Abolition of the Slave Trade at which is the result of a research project funded by the then British Empire and Commonwealth Museum and intended to be distributed in Tourist Information Centres throughout the South West.

I am publishing books on kindle, some of them updates of paper books, as follows:

'Mr Bridges' Enlightenment Machine' This is an extraordinary story about a man and a travelling clock, and deals with the history of travelling shows, early science, and the essence of how the English helped make the modern world. It is the result of many years of extensive research, and is detailed, entertaining, and full of information you never knew you wanted to know. To be published n 2018

'Fine ships & Gallant Sailors - The Sydney-Emden Battle' - see paperback below

'Dead Cats in Conduits - Bristol's Drinking Water' - see paperback beloe

'14 Mix'n' Match Walks in Central Bristol' - Expanded and updated from  '13 Fascinating Walks in Central Bristol'

'Civil Engineering & Civic Apathy - The Gerogian Rebuilding of Bristol Bridge' : an updated version of 'Death and the Bridge'

'Britain's Abolition of the Slave Trade: A Source Book' - This is a compilation of 3 pieces of research: a wideranging introduction to the subject, a list of details on slavery & abolition sites in the south west, as commissioned by the Empire & Commonwealth Museun, and an extensive timeline of major world incidents on the topic

'Bristol's Slavery & Abolition: Overview, Context & Walking Trail'- This is an update and reworking of the popular Bristol's Slavery & Abolition Trail, with extra information & pictures.

'Buildings & Builders of Georgian Bristol 1735-54' This is the first of two on the subject, and is of interest to anyone interested in how things happened in the past, especially the 18th century, when so many things happened by accident, including the founding of the world's biggest empire. 

You can view and buy all my books on Amazon

I presented a paper on how male architecture empowered women in Georgian Bath at the International Symposium "More than a Spa Resort? The Urban Experience in Bath since the Reformation" at the Bath Literary & Scientific Institute Queen Square on Sat 24 April, 2010.

I presented a paper  'The Three Ages of Bristol Bridge' at another symposium, "The Second City Remembered" at UWE, St Matthias Campus, Fishponds  Bristol, on 23/24 July.

After many years of intense research I appear to have finally finished my book 'The Big World of Mr Bridges' Microcosm'. Opening chapters and comments from readers  can be read for free on Harper Collins'  'authonomy' website where you can also comment and/or vote for it. It is about  Henry Bridges, an Essex carpenter and father of James who rebuilt Bristol Bridge in the 1760s. He built a giant musical/astronomical clock that toured the world in the 18th century. Part of it is in storage at the British Museum. But it is also about education, entertainment, science, art, colonialism, politics, social life and much much more. It is full of facts you never thought you would find interesting, is funny, strange and if you only ever read one book on history, this should be the one. I am currently looking for a publisher as this is beyond my limited publishing capacity.

'The Big World of Mr Bridges' Microcosm' is now being re-edited and a sequel is also on the way.

I am also working on a book about a Bristol orphan who feed his slaves.

click here to visit my new website 

Northern Exposure: A Guide to Post Industrial Society. The best television series ever?

Myths and Origins of Robots - The ideas of automata date back over 5,000 years

England's Famine Mills (an update of the article in BIAS Journal) 18th century mismanagement of food supply and famines which led to the building of Corn Mills around Bristol and elsewhere

An  18th Century Polymath - William Mason poet, landscape designer, cleric, reformer

Henry VIII's Real Legacy - His dissolution of the monasteries had more impact than is generally credited

England's Last Official Exorcism: The strange tale of George Lukins, the Yatton demoniac who was exorcised in Bristol in 1788

England's Tsunami of 1607: A graphic account from contemporary source of this forgotten disaster

Publications to date: all can be obtained from any bookshop, from Amazon or direct from me - see below

Published May 2010: "Stride, Shuffle or Crawl- A Glastonbury Walk" £5

This book offers original research into the history of the town of Glastonbury, then a basic circular walk of the town starting at the High Cross,and ending at the abbey, with an optional detour to the ancient trees Gog & Magog and to the Tor.

Click here for more information and to purchase.


"A Green Thumbprint on a Smudge of a City - A Walking Guide to Castle Park"£5

This is a simple but fascinating guide to the city'smost popular park, and complements the earlier 'Bombs & Burgesses' book. Suitable for all ages, as an introduction to the many fascinating spots in the oldest part of the city. Entirely off road. As it is the place where the city began, it is a good starting point to explore the city's history.

Click here for more information and to purchase.

"Dead Cats in Conduits - Bristol's Drinking Water", the story of this valuable and largely ignored resource. Full of colour illustrations, photographs and maps it tells of the city's mediaeval conduits, how they were neglected Post Reformation, and the building of the modern system. It also features the earliest drinking fountains with maps of the survivors can be found. Like my other books, it has relevance beyond this city. It is now on sale £6.49 .

Click here for more information and to purchase.

"Fine Ships & Gallant Sailors - The Sydney-Emden Battle 9 November 1914" £6.49 This is the story of a little known naval battle, fought near an obscure coral atol that established the Australian Navy as a force to be reckoned with, and put an end to the spectacular career of a German raider at the start of World War I. It covers the delivery of HMAS Sydney, the preparations for the departure of the first ANZAC fleet they were escorting, and the aftermath of the battle. It is based on a previously unpublished journal of the Sydney's shipwright as well as a wealth of other material.  Copies have been shipped to the Cocos Keeling Island Tourism Association, my first international outlet.  

Click here for more information and to purchase.

"The Lost Village of Dumbleton" by Jeronomy Fortescue-PonsettThis is a break from my normal publishing, a work by the famous pioneering anthropologist/explorer. This heartwarming tale of a lost West Country village tells of a man who could not stay home, two sets of singing twins, a koala abandoned by the annual migration of invisible beasts, nocturnal sheep rustling and an extraterrestrial called Anthony. Ms Fortescue Ponsett was also the author of the pioneering work of anthropology, "Yodelling and Fishing". £4.99

Click here for more information and to purchase.


"Cheltenham Gyratory A Nice Walk" This is an extended walking tour of the leafy town, with a wonderful variety of architecture. It follows a question and answers format to guide you with colourful photograpsh and maps. It can claim some very surprising celebrities, such as a Victorian magician, a pioneer of world music, world famous engineers and a rather odd incident between a poet and a drunken circus clown. £6.99

Click here for more information and to purchase.

"Bath Gyratory Stone & Spa Walk" This is one of a pair of walks in Bath, both of which start at the Tourist Information Centre. As the above, it is full of colourful maps and photograhs, and goes from the old city up to Lansdown and back via Walcot. It was described by a local author as the most pleasant day's research he has ever done. It covers a bestselling comic poet, a pioneer of speech therapy who was tried for treason, and a radical MP called 'old tear 'em up'. £6.99

Click here for more information and to purchase.


"Bath Gyratory 3 Bridges Walk" This walk is flat and visits several parks over the river in Bathwick. It visits a landscaped graveyard, and a fashionable chapel that collapsed with the noise of an earthquake, and includes a pioneer of geology and a playwriting evangelist. £6.99

Click here for more information and to purchase.


"Bristol Gyratory Quirky Circuit Walk" This walk is recommended by a local scout leader as a wonderful way for her troop to explore their area. She said it does all the work for her and the scouts have a great time. It covers the central area of the city,the harbourside and south of the river. A lot of fun for adults and children. £6.99

Click here for more information and to purchase.



"Bombs and Burgesses A History of Castle Park" This tells of the area of central Bristol where the city began, from the Saxon castle and town to the remodelling by the Georgians, to become the main shopping precinct before being damaged in World War II bombing, and the arguments as to its future which continue still. This is not just about historic events, but also  how open space is managed, and how people use it. £6.49

Click here for more information and to purchase.


"Losing El Dorado Scots in Latin America" This is a break from local history, and deals with 2 little known settlements by the Scots who largely missed out on the rush to settle the New World. the first is about the Darien colony which originated in an overland journey by privateers including the West Country's William Dampier. The disaster contributed to the Scots becoming part of the United Kingdom and prefigured the building of the Panama Canal.The Venezuelan settlement of El Topo is a litany of mismanagement and good intentions gone wrong when the British were settling mostcorners of the globe. £4.99

Click here for more information and to purchase.


"Victoria Park The Peoples' Park" By mid19th century Bristol claimed to be well supplied with open spaces for recreation, but there were none in the south and east where most of the poor lived. This tells how local people asked for and were given this and other parks inthe city and the uses of them since. £4 of which £1 goes to Victoria Park Action Group.

Click here for more information and to purchase.


"From Cat to Cathedral Bristol's Religious Heritage" This is an extended walk round the city visiting a wide range of religious sites, from the cat's grave at St Mary Redcliffe to several ruined churches, a synagogue and a former Catholic chapel. £4.50

Click here for more information and to purchase.



"Eyebrows on Fire Bristol and Abolition" Like the book below,this was published to celebrate the bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade in 2007. It describes the arguments for and against abolition at the time,and the immense efforts, especially by the navy to enforce the ending of the trade. The second part of the bookdescribes 3 important abolitionists - John Weeks, publican and patriot, Mary Robinson poet, and Elizabeth Blackwell, the world's first female doctor. £4.50

Click here for more information and to purchase.



"The Bristol Slavery and Abolition Trail" This is a good,concise introduction to the subject, and lists the main surviving sites in the city. With 'Eyebrows on Fire' it is the only source of information on the whole story of abolition and slavery, a perfect antidote to the Bristol custom of insulting their ancestors. It was used by the BBC for their research during the celebrations. £4 

Click here for more information and to purchase.



"Death and the Bridge The Georgian Rebuilding of Bristol Bridge"

This is a book that should have been written long ago, about the dangerous roadway on the city's namesake and the drawn out arguments to solve it. James Bridges was appointed bridge surveyor, and proved to be talented, self effacing but was ultimately driven away by intrigue.  A tale of civil engineering and politics that feels more like a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta.

It is a prequel to 'The Big World of Mr Bridges' Microcosm' £5

Click here for more information and to purchase.


"13 Fascinating Walks in Central Bristol" This is 13 walks of different length and difficulty, fromthe city centre up to the downs and into the wilds of Bedminster that can be done alone or in various combinations. Everything from a waddle along The Cut after Sunday lunch to an extended climb up  to the downs. Tested on the local Ramblers. £5

Click here for more information and to purchase.



"The New Eden An Introduction to Arnos Vale Cemetery" This book is in 2 parts,a generalintroduction to Victorin Cemeteries and why they were built,then applying this to the first local private cemetery,with details of someof those buried here. Recommended by Griff Rhys Jones of 'Restoration'. £4

Click here for more information and to purchase.



I use paper from sustainable sources.  If you have any problems buying through this website, or any comments, please contact me.

I can be contacted on