Appendix 3: The Clay Tobacco Pipes


Documentary evidence gives a fascinating glimpse into this part of the St Jude's area, which was intensely occupied from the early 18th century onwards. Focusing specifically on the tobacco pipemakers has enabled us to examine in detail one section of the artisan community, living in the Wade Street area during the 19th century. The documentary evidence to a large extent corroborates previously held impressions of the area. The majority of the buildings within the study area appear to have been domestic dwellings, occupied, at least in the 19th century, by between one and five families, the majority of whom were engaged in some form of trade. Evidence from the pipe manufacturing industry suggests a high employment rate for women and children, with the two factories within the study area being managed by male master pipemakers. 30 There would also seem to be a wide age range, those employed included an older female worker of 74 years of age.

It must also be said that, if the occupations of other inhabitants are taken as a guide, the trade of pipemaker was probably not either highly skilled or highly paid. Occupations listed on the census returns include numerous unskilled trades such as labourer, salt hawker or pedlar, as well as more skilled occupations such as cabinet maker or shoe maker. 31 It must also be noted that a significant proportion of those listed (including pipemakers) are children. Price quotes a contemporary newspaper (The Bristol Mercury) of 1850, which suggests that pipemaking was an occupation that youngsters fell into faute de mieux (Price 2014, 1257). The newspaper quotes a conversation with a sand-hawker, who:

having lost his father when young, and, consequently, having never been trained to any recognised craft or labour, he could not obtain employment.

The journalist continues,

A similar answer was returned by a young woman, who had followed, from a child, the wretched trade of a pipemaker (author's italics).

The pipe factory at 26 Wade Street appears to have been in operation, at least intermittently, over a period of up to forty years, employing a relatively large number of external employees, and was therefore one of the larger pipemaking concerns in the area. It is thus possibly surprising that it has not left more of a mark on the archaeological record, in terms of kiln structures etc. Several of the pipe factories in the surrounding streets are much shorter lived, some lasting only a few years32 (Price 2014, section 3).

Documentary evidence has also revealed the extremely close-knit nature of the pipemaking community, in that there was frequent inter-marriage between pipemaking families, many of whom also had frequent changes of address, but mainly restricted within the immediate St Jude's area. The documentary record, as expected, largely mirrors the fortunes of the pipemaking industry in this part of Bristol. Thus, numbers of pipemakers peaked between 1851 and 1871, and, by the early 20th century, associated alternative trades are coming to the fore, such as cigar-making and cigarette box manufacture.

30. There is plenty of documentary evidence elsewhere for women running their own pipemaking businesses, in particular, widows who have taken over from their deceased husbands (Price 2014, section 3 and passim).

31. Between the years 1851 and 1911, analysis of the occupations of the inhabitants would suggest that the numbers of those involved in the more skilled trades remained fairly stable (at around 10% of the total population), but with two major downturns in 1871 and 1901. For some reason, the year 1871 also saw a sudden and unexplained peak in the population, coupled with a peak in the number of those involved in wood-cutting (see Appendix 1 and Small Finds Report, Appendix 5).

32. E.g. Joseph Notton's factory, at 7 Wade Street (1858-61).


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