Illustrated with memorable photographs throughout, Secret Bristol peels away the gloss which covers inconvenient historic events to reveal truths about the city that are sometimes horrific, brutal, or merely odd. From prehistory to the present, it takes us on a fascinating journey through the inhuman aspects of early trade, through slavery, piracy, struggles for social justice portrayed as criminal riots and the cruelties inflicted in city institutions. Bristol's contribution to aircraft and automobile design and manufacture is chronicled, and the contempt felt for ordinary people by First World War generals and Whitehall bigwigs is exposed, as is the way opposition to the pointless conflict was swept under the carpet of history. The book describes how Bristol's medieval heart, largely destroyed in the Blitz, was forgotten with the connivance of the government and finished off by post-war planners. The `Whites Only' employment policy on Bristol buses in the early '60s and the 1980 St Paul's riots take us up to Bristol today.
Born and brought up in Merseyside, James worked various trades and came to Bristol in 1978 to spend the weekend with a friend. He liked the city so much that he made it his permanent home. He has had success with a book called 'Gaskin', which was made into a BBC film, and its sequel, 'A Boy Called Graham', and wrote a radio play that was set and recorded in Bristol. It was while researching the background for his play that the author's interest in Bristol's past became aroused; 'Secret Bristol' is the result. Married in Manila in 1994, James and his wife now live in south Bristol and have two children.