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Historic site, The Hole in the Wall Pub

The Hole in the Wall Pub, Bristol


Photograph of Historic site, The Hole in the Wall Pub. Once called the Coach and Horses, the Hole in the Wall pub on the corner of Queen Square is a well known Bristol landmark. In the 18th century it was one of a number of pubs frequented by seamen in the times when sailors could be kidnapped by press-gangs during wartime and forcibly recruited into serving in the British Navy. The spy house on the dock side of the pub was reputedly used to watch out for press-gangs as well as for government agents searching for smugglers. Although press-gangs were not used for slave ships, underhand methods were employed to get sailors aboard. (Slave ships were not popular with sailors because of the high death rates among the crew, and the danger of slave rebellions.) It was common in many of the taverns around the centre of Bristol for landlords to receive money from ship owners in return for getting sailors drunk in order to get them into debt. The only way sailors could then avoid going to the poor house or debtors’ prison was to work onboard a slave ship.

With thanks to the authors of the Slave Trade Trail around Central Bristol, Madge Dresser, Caletta Jordan, Doreen Taylor.

Creator: David Emeney

Date: 2003

Copyright: Copyright BCC Museum

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