Bristol 16th - 18th Centuries

Trade continued to grow, the main export being woollen cloth, and by the mid-16th century Bristol's port was the second largest in England after London. The 17th century rise of England's American colonies saw renewed growth in Bristol as trade with these colonies flourished.

During the 18th century England's rapidly increasing role in the Transatlantic Triangular Trade caused further growth in Bristol, much of which involved the slave trade.

The slave trade and the consequent demand for cheap brassware caused a boom in the copper and brass manufacturing industries of the Avon valley, which in turn led to the development of the Industrial Revolution in the area. Glass, soap, sugar, paper and chemical industries also developed along the Avon valley.

In 1739 John Wesley founded the world's very first Methodist Chapel, called The New Room, in Bristol. In the same century he also inspired advocates of anti-slavery to begin some of the earliest campaigns against the practice. These proved to be the beginning of movements for reform and women's emancipation.

The medieval Bristol Bridge was rebuilt between 1764 and 1768 to cope with its increasing traffic burden, and a toll was charged to pay for these works. Resentment to an extension to this toll in 1793 resulted in the Bristol Bridge Riot, one of the worst riots of the 18th century.