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Bristol History Video Series

Bristol History Series

Over the past few weeks I’ve released a series of popular videos on the history of Bristol, England on our YouTube channel. In this article I’ll give you a summary of each of the programmes and links to them so you can easily select any you’d like to watch.

The Spectel Bristol History Series includes:-

Our family production company, Spectel Communications, originally made the documentaries between 1994 and 2000. Back in the day, major retailers such as WH Smith, HMV & Asda stocked the videos as did specialist shops and local attractions like the SS Great Britain. Many of the schools around the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire areas used the history videos as educational tools.

As the videos have been off the shelves for some time now, I thought it would be fun to share them during lockdown to help keep children and their grown-ups amused while they’re at home.


During lockdown I uploaded the Bristol video series to YouTube, releasing one video each week as a ‘premiere’, so people could watch along with us and interact live as it streamed. We looked forward to each Thursday’s release when we sat together as a family with a big bag of popcorn to watch the premiere. It was fun to see other people watching along at the same time and joining in with the on-line chat.

The whole series is now on YouTube and is currently free to watch. Just click on any of the titles below to be taken to the relevant video and please subscribe to PPMs TV if you’d like to be notified of future video releases.

Special thanks to anyone who subscribes as this helps me to continue providing free content 🎥 🙏 😁 ❤️ 🎥

Enjoy the videos!



Bristol at War video from the Spectel Bristol History Series. Links to Practically Perfect Mums YouTube channel.

A HISTORY OF BRISTOL is a historic record of the city through the ages. The documentary follows the development of Bristol from a small Anglo-Saxon settlement to a thriving metropolis. We take you back in time to:-

  • Civil War battles fought in and around the city
  • Bristol’s involvement in the slave trade, including The Merchant Venturers, John Pinney and Edward Colston plus MP William Wilberforce who helped turn public opinion against slavery with the campaign for abolition
  • The early beginnings of Bristol’s transport industry

Bristol has played a major role in shaping world history aided by adopted sons like:-

  • John Cabot, whose pioneering voyage opened up North America for colonisation
  • William Penn, who established Pennsylvania as a Quaker settlement
  • John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church
  • Isambard Kingdom Brunel, one of the world’s greatest engineers; designer of SS Great Britain, Clifton Suspension Bridge and Temple Meads.


Bristol at War video from the Spectel Bristol History Series. Links to Practically Perfect Mums YouTube channel.

I love the BRISTOL AT WAR video as it features people who were in Bristol during the war and talks about how they were affected.

  • We hear a first-hand account of the Blitz on Bristol, as it unfolded, retold by a Bristolian who recorded wartime events in vibrant detail in his diary.
  • Two sisters tell us about how excited they were about being evacuated as they thought they were going on holiday for a couple of weeks!
  • We hear of the bartering which took place to acquire provisions for a wartime wedding during rationing.
  • And then, of course, there’s the story of how the crisis meant that schools had to close.

Featured in the Bristol at War film are:-

  • Air raid shelters
  • Blackout restrictions
  • Evacuation
  • Women’s Land Army
  • Rationing
  • The Home Guard
  • The Black Market
  • The Bristol Blitz
  • VE Day Celebrations

And much more in this comprehensive record of Bristol during the war years!

Button to watch video now on Practically Perfect Mums YouTube channel


The Douglas Story video from the Spectel Bristol History Series. Links to Practically Perfect Mums YouTube channel.

THE DOUGLAS STORY follows Douglas motorcycle history – the British bike that took the world by storm. During the 1920s the Douglas Motorcycle Company of Bristol led the world in motorcycle design and manufacture, holding 150 World and British records.

We look at some of the highlights of the Douglas motorcycle empire, including:-

  • Archival 1920s footage capturing a Douglas winning the Isle of Man TT races
  • The exhilarating sport of Motorcycle Football!
  • Contributing to the war effort
  • The Royal Princes Albert and Henry joining the ranks of Douglas owners

This is a fascinating film featuring dedicated Douglas enthusiasts and members of the London Douglas Motor Cycle Club. We see riders carrying on the tradition with rallies, speedway, a cavalcade at Kingswood Heritage Museum, sprint racing plus exclusive interviews and 1920s archival film footage.


The Matthew video from the Spectel Bristol History Series. Links to Practically Perfect Mums YouTube channel.

THE MATTHEW documents the story behind the planning, build and launch of The Matthew ship and the voyage from Bristol to Newfoundland to celebrate the 500th anniversary of John Cabot’s famous voyage and the discovery of North America.

The skipper and his crew discuss the challenges of the voyage ahead during preparations on the eve of departure and offer a fascinating insight into the voyage of a lifetime!

Learn the story behind building the replica Matthew ship and the historic voyage including:-

  • The planning and construction of John Cabot’s Matthew
  • The excitement of the launch
  • The colour and spirit of the Festival of the Sea
  • The excitement as The Matthew departs
  • The tremendous welcome in North America for Newfoundland’s 500th anniversary celebrations


A Century of Bristol Cinemas video from the Spectel Bristol History Series. Links to Practically Perfect Mums YouTube channel.

A CENTURY OF BRISTOL CINEMAS is a celebration of Bristol cinema history. This video features over 60 venues, ranging from a part-time swimming pool to luxurious super cinemas.

At the turn of the century, an entertainment revolution transported Bristolians from their everyday lives to a fantasy world of celluloid dreams.

This Bristol cinema documentary looks at cinemas old and new – as they were at the start of the twentieth century up to the beginning of the millennium including:-

  • Local contributions to the development of moving pictures
  • Behind the scenes at both classical picture houses and multiplexes
  • Silent movie footage capturing the devastating effect of the blitz


A History of Kingswood Forest video from the Spectel Bristol History Series. Links to Practically Perfect Mums YouTube channel.

This intriguing film follows the history of Kingswood Forest, from the time of the early Roman settlements, through Anglo-Saxon royalty, to the rape of the forest by rich landowners.

Kingswood Forest stretched from the walled city of Bristol, into North Somerset and across South Gloucestershire to the Severn. Documented as, “The King’s Land”, the area was under the rule of the King’s Officer at Bristol Castle.

In this Bristol history video you’ll discover:-

  • How the impoverished people of the King’s Chase fought against the laws of the land
  • How Wesley and Whitfield brought religion and education to the poor
  • How great industrialists like William Champion and coal from Kingswood coal mines put the area at the forefront of The Industrial Revolution.

The documentary features a rich historical tapestry of events from the local villages and suburbs surrounding Bristol:– Bitton, Downend, Dyrham, Fishponds, Frenchay, Hanham, Kingswood, Mangotsfield, Oldland, Pucklechurch, Staple Hill, Stapleton, St George, Syston, Warmley and Wick.


Last week I was invited onto the John Darvell show on BBC Radio Bristol to talk about how I came to be publishing a series of Bristol history videos on Practically Perfect Mums’ YouTube channel during lockdown, but I’ll leave that story for another day. . .

The YouTube channel and the article I wrote about Support for Coronavirus in Portishead have been keeping me busy during lockdown – along with my homeschooling endeavours! How about you? Let me know what YOU have been up to in these unprecedented times!


1 comment… add one
  • Le Coin de Mel 11/06/2020, 22:55

    Brilliant summary of how the series came to life! Love it. I really enjoyed watching the Douglas story and Bristol at war.

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