The History of Thornbury High Street

Profile image for jmitchell27

By jmitchell27 | Wednesday, December 09, 2009, 16:22

After a long hiatus due to illness I was

finally able to attend events in Thornbury again, starting with the Local

History Society’s largest meeting to date, at a presentation on the history of

Thornbury high street.

Anyone who has seen Thornbury Museum’s

latest exhibit ‘To Market, To Market’ will be able to tell you that Thornbury

started out as a market town. However, they may not know that this had been the

case since 1252, with high streets only coming into existence in this country

around the 13th and 14th centuries.  Indeed, thanks to the sale of livestock from

Thornbury a number of different trades were established here, so much so that

until the 1950s 50% of the population were traders of some description.

For roughly 700 years Thornbury was a

market town, with the last living vestiges of this history disappearing with

the closure of the market in the late 1990s, leaving us with the service

industry based style of living that we know today. The change over the last 60

years or so has been drastic, but last nights presentation did much to

highlight the cultural affects of such changes as well.

One photo shown was of the Empire Day

celebrations in 1912, an event that I had no previous knowledge of, but the

passing of Empire was swiftly put to one side as we contemplated the

disappearance of telephone boxes (33% of which have been removed since 2002),

reminding us that the changes we witness today can be easily overlooked.

However, with the benefit of presentations such as this we are able to put into

context the great changes that have shaped out lives locally and nationally,

though whether these have been positive or not I leave to you to decide and


The next Local History Society presentation

will be about crime in Bath, and will be presented on the 12th of




  • Profile image for jmitchell27

    Meg Wise explained that the butchery trade has been affected by the fact that animals have to be processed through centralised slaughterhouses before they can be brought back and sold locally. So, it was interesting to find that rather than being out competed by the likes of Tescos, the main reason for butchers disappearing from the area is the loss of trade skills - which really just comes down to our changing lifestyles.

    By jmitchell27 at 14:40 on 11/12/09

  • Profile image for StanMor

    I heard this excellent talk by Tony Cherry at the Alveston History Society. It's eye-opening to see how much things have chaged. the High Street looks much the same although the back streets of Thornbury seem to have been comprehensively demolished. Tony's main theme though was the numebr of trades that have vanished as no longer needed (wigmakers, hatters) or overtaken by outside sources. We now have no butchers (there were once many in Thornbury,  operating their own slaughterhouses), shoemakers/retailers or even bakers.
    There are many fascinating pictures of old Thornbury held at the museum, though space precludes them being on display other than in themed exhibitions.

    By StanMor at 22:30 on 10/12/09

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