Clifton objects to trams


Yes, yes, been most negligent of the bloggery of late. Been busy. Here’s something I picked up in the course of other work this morning and thought I’d share; a Victorian being satirical about Clifton snobbery.

In 1878, the  Bristol Tramways Company was trying to extend its network of horse-drawn tramcars into Clifton. A lot of the locals didn’t like it, fearing it would bring working men and their families up on Sundays and public holidays. This here letter appeared in the Bristol Mercury, October 17 1878.


 Sir – Is it not something terrible and most wicked that the disgusting tramway is to bring the nasty, low inhabitants of Bristol up to our sacred region?

We have nothing common of unclean amongst us at present. Poor people do not walk about our Clifton streets. We have no common people at all here. We have no maimed or aged beggars calling at our doors. We have even no vulgar dogs running about pell-mell. All is orderly and decent, for we lead our dogs by silken cords, and they are very, very proper.

And now here are those money-making plebeians of Bristol talking about running tramcars through our beautiful and lovely Clifton! I suppose those cars will be running up close to all our houses everywhere. I mean off the roadways up to our gates for fish and vegetable people to ask our servants to buy their goods. And these cars would come into our gardens and destroy our croquet lawns, and make all kinds of disagreeable disturbances. Why, I should not be surprised if they did not absolutely cut up the verdant meads or the Downs. And then, too, the people they would bring into this splendid suburb! Why is this to be? Why must the common people be allowed to walk here? They should stay in their own homes. They would feel more comfortable, surely, among their own houses and streets than here. The policemen should stop it.

Now, I hope our gentlemen in the Town Council will put a stop to the projected cars coming here. They must do so, or we shall go away to live in the quiet valleys of Westbury or Shirehampton. Nobody in Clifton would think of riding in a car! It is fearful to contemplate so mean a thing. Who is there who needs to ride in tramcars? Faugh! It is demoralising to speak of such a thing!

I hope my letter will be read by the Council, and that they will never allow the cars to come here.

Yours, in much sorrow,


Clifton, October 16th 1878

Every time the good burghers of Clifton object to any new development, or who, say, cause a struggling public house to lose its music licence, think of Noblesse, taking a rise out of them more than 130 years ago.


2 Responses to “Clifton objects to trams”

  1. 1 thebristolblogger

    Nothing really changes does it?

    BTW where can I find your Acland piece?

  2. Not written much about Acland, though he features a little in a talk I’ve done a couple of times re 19th century Bristol journos. Sources were DNB (he’s mentioned in someone else’s entry), Latimer 19thc Annals and a couple of other brief things I can’t remember. Pretty much everything Acland ever wrote was published in book form, including collected editions of The Bristolian, but these are extremely hard to get hold of. If you see any they’ll prob be from antiquarian booksellers wanting hundreds of quid. Central Library doesn’t have much. Latimer (who didn’t approve of him) is your best starting point. D/l from
    Let me know if you find out any more.

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