A brief history of local newspapers in Bristol, England from 1701 to 2022
Are you familiar with the Bristol Post or the Bristol Cable? Do you enjoy local journalism in the Bristol and Somerset area? It may perhaps come as a surprise to you to realise the full extent of the rich heritage of local newspapers that have operated in and around Bristol for over three centuries! We have picked out 21 examples from before the 20th century and another 8 from the first half of the 20th in this overview of the history of Bristol newspapers. Even then, it is just a taster and not comprehensive. To find out more, visit these sources:
http://humanities.uwe.ac.uk/bhr/Main/newspapers/papers_handlist_1.htm - A very detailed academic survey on the website of the University of the West of England (UWE)
https://bristolha.files.wordpress.com/2019/09/bha101.pdf - All the News that's Fit to Print: A Short History of Bristol's Newspapers since 1702 - a monograph by John Penny published by the Bristol Branch of the Historical Assocation in 2001
We would also like to credit Best of Bristol at https://www.bestofbristol.co/a-history-of-bristol-newspapers/ with providing inspiration for our infographic below. You will notice that some of our datings for the newspapers featured there differ, as we researched each title independently and came to separate conclusions in some cases regarding their start years. All text is our own.
Bristol Post Boy
Launched in September 1702 by William Bonney, the Bristol Post Boy was published mainly weekly until December 1715 or soon afterwards. It had just two pages of mostly national news.
Sam. Farley’s Bristol Post Man
Launched in August 1715 by Samuel Farley, Sam. Farley’s Bristol Postman continued in print until 1725, when it was replaced by Farley’s Bristol Newspaper, which in turn changed names to Sam. Farley’s Bristol Newspaper around 1734.
F. Farley’s Bristol Journal
Launched as a fortnightly Saturday newspaper in late 1742, F. Farley’s Bristol Journal was an evolution of the existing Farley’s Bristol Journal, which had been in existence since between 1737 and 1741, having itself replaced Sam. Farley’s Bristol Newspaper. In August 1746, it became weekly until closing in late December, 1747.
The Bristol Mercury appears to have been launched around May 1748. Published by Edward Ward, it ran only a short while before being replaced the following year by Ward’s longer-running newspaper The Bristol Weekly Intelligencer, which was published from September 1749 to at least February 1759.
Felix Farley’s Bristol Journal
Felix Farley’s Bristol Journal was launched in March 1752 after Felix broke ties with his brother Samuel, with whom he had jointly edited the Bristol Journal from 1748 to 1751. Felix Farley’s Bristol Journal proved one of Bristol’s most enduring newspapers, reaching its 5650th issue in March 1853, just over a century later.
Bristol Gazette & Public Advertiser
Launched by William Pine in 1767, the Bristol Gazette & Public Advertiser was published every Thursday for over a century until March 1872.
Sarah Farley’s Bristol Journal
Sarah Farley’s Bristol Journal was launched in 1777 as an evolution of the pre-existing Bristol Journal, which had been published since March 1748 by Samuel Farley Jr. and his brother Felix Farley. Sarah Farley’s Bristol Journal continued in publication until 1806, when it changed names again to the Mercantile and General Intelligencer.
The Bristolian was launched by James Acland, a journalist with radical political sympathies, in May 1827, and continued in print until at least May 1831. It is believed to have galvanised working class resentment of the wealthy elite, contributing to the Bristol Riots in late 1831.
The Bristol Standard was launched in January 1839 and appeared weekly until January 1842, when it closed down.
Bristol Times & Bath Advocate
The Bristol Times & Bath Advocate was launched in March 1839 and continued in print weekly until March 1853, when it changed names to Bristol Times & Felix Farley’s Bristol Journal.
The Western Daily Press
The Western Daily Press was launched in June 1858, and continued publishing until February 1932, when it was renamed The Western Daily Press & Bristol Mirror.
The Bristol Daily Post
The Bristol Daily Post was a daily newspaper launched in January 1860 and published five days a week. Within 18 years, it had reached its 4682nd issue, before it ceased publishing in late January 1878.
The Bristol News
The Bristol News was launched in May 1864, and appears to have run for just two weekly issues, based on surviving records. Little is known about it. A later title with a similar name, The Bristol News & Western Counties Advertiser, was launched in or around June 1869, and had reached No. 34 by February 12th, 1870.
Bristol Advertiser Evening Telegram
The Bristol Advertiser Evening Telegram was a daily newspaper that appears to have lasted for only about a year and two months, from May 1875 to July 1876.
The Clifton and Redland Free Press
The Clifton and Redland Free Press was launched in May 1890, and continued publishing for a while before being replaced at an indeterminate date some time between October 1891 and November 1928 by the Clifton and Redland Free Press & Clifton Chronicle, which itself ceased publishing in or soon after January 1931.
Clifton Society was launched as a weekly around November 1890, and continued in publication to March 1916.
Bristol Catholic News
The Bristol Catholic News appears from its numbering scheme to have been launched as a weekly around August 1894, although the earliest records found online are dated 1895. It continued in print until February 1912, after which it changed names to the Bristol Catholic Herald, which continued thus until July 1934.
Record Montpelier & District Free Press
The Horfield & Bishopston Record & Montpelier & District Free Press was launched as a weekly around April 1897, and continued in print until January 1931.
Bristol Guardian & Avonmouth Advertiser
The Bristol Guardian and Avonmouth Advertiser was a weekly that was launched around June 1897, and published weekly until April 1910, before changing names to Bristol Guardian, under which name it continued until September 1923, whereupon its name changed again to Bristol Guardian & Gazette.
The Town Crier
The Town Crier was launched in April 1897 as a weekly, and seems to have run for just eight issues before being discontinued that same June.
Bristol Evening Express
The Bristol Evening Express was a daily newspaper that lasted for just a short time, from December 1899 to around late April 1900 or soon after.
The Bristol Echo was a daily that appeared six days a week. It was first published in October 1901, and continued in print until November 1909.
Bristol Evening Times
The Bristol Evening Times was launched in October 1904, and continued to be published thus until November 1909, before changing names to Evening Times & Echo, under which name it continued in print until January 1932.
Bedminster, Knowle & Brislington Record
The Bedminster, Knowle & Brislington Record & Local Time Table was launched as a weekly in June 1909, and continued publishing until March 1910, before changing names to the South Bristol Free Press and Bedminister, Knowle & Brislington Record, under which name it continued in print until January 1931.
Western Weekly Post
The Western Weekly Post was launched in May 1909. After a month’s pause, it began publishing weekly, and continued thus until May 1914, when it ceased publishing.
Bristol and the War
Bristol and the War was a short-lived weekly published during the First World War, from around October 1914 to June 1917 or soon after.
Little is known of the Bristol Forward, which was a political newspaper published by the Independent Labour Party. Only a copy of the second issue, from 1916, is recorded.
Bristol Evening Post
The Bristol Evening Post is a daily that appears six days a week. It was first published in March 1932, and has remained in publication ever since. It has since undergone two changes of name, first to Evening Post in January 1962, and secondly to Bristol Post in April 2012. It is now owned, along with the vast majority of local newspapers in the UK, by Reach PLC.
Bristol Evening World
The Bristol Evening World was first published thus in March 1946, and continued until June 1958, when it changed names to its original name Evening World, continuing under that name until it folded in January 1962. It had first been published as Evening World from October 1929 until January 1932, before changing names to Bristol Evening World & Evening Times & Echo until July 1943, and back again to Evening World until March 1946.
Little information is publicly available online about the Bristol Weekend, but archives of it spanning 1961 to 1965 are recorded on Bristol City Council’s website as being available to researchers on application.
Bristol Voice was launched as a monthly around 1976 by a group of housing activists and was particularly focused on community social issues. It continued for just six years until 1981.
Bishopston Matters is a local-interest newspaper for an area within North Bristol that was launched in November 2007 and continues to be circulated as a free quarterly sponsored by advertising.
Bristol 24-7 was launched by journalist Christopher Brown in 2009. It was sold off to new owners in 2014, following which a similar but unrelated publication called Bristol 24/7 was introduced by Brown. Bristol 24/7 remains in print today, and is still independently owned. It offers a membership scheme to support its operations, but is free to access.
The Bristol Cable was launched in 2014 by a group of volunteers and is run as a worker co-operative. It invites local residents to sponsor it through a membership scheme. The Cable has won awards for its local investigative journalism, including a 2019 British Journalism Award. It had a print run of approximately 30,000 copies per quarterly issue as of 2017.