by David Stephenson of the St. George History Group
The route of Church Road existed in Roman times. There must have been a fairly big Roman settlement in the area as the biggest Roman cemetery in Bristol has been found close to Avonvale Road
The Romans left this road as part of the main route from Bath to London, and stage coaches began using it to run from Bristol to London in the 16th century. It was this road that Queen Elizabeth the First travelled down on her famous visit to Bristol in 1574. Many other Kings and Queens also travelled this route, as did Oliver Cromwell. Also, the preacher John Wesley must have travelled along 'The Road' numerous times on his way to Kingswood and Hanham.
The district of St. George was created in 1756. The district started from Lawrence Hill. Church Road had been known as the London Waye coming from Kingswood and the Bath Waye coming from Hanham.
In 1765 two thousand vehicles and more than twelve hundred horses were recorded in one week going through this main road, plus thousands of people walking, so it has always been a very busy road.
Up until the 1870s Redfield had been predominantly market gardens, but it was at this time when the market garden owners were selling land or building houses all along both sides of Church Road. The new streets were often named after these landowners, Verrier, Weight, Leonard and Gerrish.
Before 1876 the only way to travel was to walk or use the services of the local carriers. They used horses and carts to transport goods and people, starting from various public houses in Old Market and running to outlying villages but only on certain days of the week. Stagecoaches continued running up until the opening of the Great Western Railway in 1840.
Public transport began in East Bristol in 1876 when a horse tramway was opened between Old Market and St George Fountain. From St George a horse bus operated to Kingswood. In 1895 the electric tramway was opened from Old Market to Kingswood. This was one of the greatest days in the history of East Bristol. In 1900 the line opened from St George to Hanham. The electric tramway meant that you could travel from East Bristol to Old Market and then connect to lines going to other districts of Bristol. The Tramway Centre was conveniently placed in Beaconsfield Road, St. George.
Buses began appearing in the 1920s on new country services and in the late 1930s Bristol Tramways decided to replace the trams with double-decker buses. The Second World War slowed down this process but in 1941 a bomb severed the main electric cable serving the trams and the Kingswood and Hanham trams came to an abrupt end. Next day buses appeared on the tram routes and have been the main public transport along Church Road ever since.
Travelling on buses was a way of life for most people in the 1950s and 1960s as only a small percentage of the population owned cars.
Through the years as access became much easier Redfield and St. George thrived; schools were built, churches, chapels, pubs, picture houses and outdoor beer licences, also St. George Park opened and of course the shops selling everything you needed without travelling too far.