Nailsea is a town some eight miles west of Bristol and historically lay within the county of Somerset. The town was formerly a major glassmaking centre and is associated with the style of glass to which it gave its name - but much "Nailsea glass" was not made at Nailsea. Other important industries have included coal mining, tanning, cider making and of course agriculture.

Nailsea original parish registers and many other local records are kept at the Somerset Record Office in Taunton.
View their holdings for:
Holy Trinity and
Christ Church parishes.

Certain records relating to mining, Methodist meetings, bankruptcies, deeds and other matters are kept at the Bristol Record Office. whose holdings can be searched through their online catalogue

Manuscript transcriptions of some Nailsea Holy Trinity churchwarden's accounts, Poor Law Overseer's accounts and early parish records are held at Nailsea Public Library.

A transcript of the Nailsea Christ Church parish registers prepared by the N&DLHS, is held in the reference section of Bristol Central Library.

Nailsea lies in the Hundred of Portbury.

Civil registrations of Births, Marriages and Deaths from September quarter 1837 to March quarter 1899 are recorded in the Bedminster district; from June quarter 1899 to March quarter 1936 in Long Ashton district; from June qtr 1936 to 1974 in Weston Super Mare district.

A Short History of Nailsea

For a much fuller list of Nailsea events, please see Peter Wright's handbook, available for free download from the Nailsea and District LHS.

350-300,000,000 BC - The part of the Earth's crust now occupied by Nailsea lay near the southern coastline of a large continental land mass, bordering a tropical southern ocean. To the north-west lay much of what is now North America. Held back by higher land to the east, the rivers formed a great shallow swamp in which coal trees lived, died and formed thick layers. The sea slowly shallowed and closed as southern Europe drifted north toward this continent.

270,000,000 BC - Nailsea was now near the equator at the centre of the super-continent of Pangaea. Africa and Southern Europe lay to the south, North America, Scandinavia and the Baltic lands to the north.

180-52,000,000 BC - Pangaea broke apart as North America and finally Greenland split away from Africa and Europe opening up the Atlantic Ocean. Nailsea was by now well north of the equator.

24,000 BC - "Red Lady of Paviland" lived on Gower peninsula. The Nailsea region was presumably also occupied.

18,000 BC - Peak of last Ice Age; Britain uninhabited.

7150 BC - "Cheddar Man" at Gough's cave, Cheddar Gorge.

3,000 BC - Human burials at Backwell Cave (previously thought to be much later in date)

800 BC-43 AD - Iron age man at Cadbury Camp on Failand Ridge.

43-400 AD - Romans ignore Nailsea, barring a small villa near Jacklands Bridge.

1086 - Domesday Book; Tickenham, Wraxall and Backwell, but not Nailsea, were important enough to be listed.

1414 - Mandate to Nayleshey to have a cemetery at a certain chapel which has been built in their town.

14th-15th c. - Holy Trinity church built, probably on the site of an earlier structure.

1507 - Nailsea coal used to fire lime kilns at Yatton.

1657 - William Willey [a Quaker] of Naylsey, standing peaceably in the steeple-house there, was violently hal'd out by the priest himself, and next day sent to Ilchester gaol

1680s - John Whiting of Nailsea persecuted as a Quaker.

1712 - New porch on Holy Trinity church.

1722-3 - Holy Trinity bells re-cast.

1737-8 - Pews built at Holy Trinity.

1784 - School operating.

1786 - P Cox, J Whitchurch & I White form a partnership to exploit coal beneath Nailsea Heath.

1788 - Glassworks opened at Nailsea.

1791 - Hannah More sponsors establishment of a Sunday School at Nailsea.

1792-3 - Holy Trinity bells repaired.

1800 - Sale of Wraxall Lodge includes Nailsea Manor and collieries.

1811 - Nailsea Holy Trinity becomes a parish in its own right with Flax Bourton as a Chapelry (previous to this both were chapelries of Wraxall).

1811 - Act of Parliament passed authorising construction of Bridgewater and Taunton Canal, with branch to Nailsea.

1813 - Enclosure of Nailsea Moor and Heath, largely completing enclosure of nearby commons.

1824 - Amendment Act passed concerning Bridgewater and Taunton Canal; plan for Nailsea branch abandoned.

1841 - Brunel's railway reaches Nailsea/Backwell.

1841-51 - Population peaks at about 2500.

1842-3 - Christ Church built and established as chapelry of Holy Trinity.

1855 - Colliers strike closes mines and glassworks; blacklegs assaulted and beaten. Riots ensued.

1856 - Christ Church becomes a separate parish.

1860-80 - Decline and closure of coal mines in face of competition from S. Wales and elsewhere.

4th December 1860 - Underground flood tragedy at Farler's pit.

1862 - Disturbance in Holy Trinity church, over occupation of new pews.

1869 - Bankruptcy of Samuel Bowen; glassworks closed and re-opened (1870) by Chance Brothers.

1874 - Closure of Nailsea glassworks.

1882? - Last Nailsea coal pit closes.

1901 - Population trough of about 1700.

1925? - Establishment of Coate's cider factory.

1953 - Nailsea selected for "New Town" development.

1956 - Coate's cider taken over by Showering's of Shepton Mallet.

1966 & 1967 Albums recorded at the Royal Oak pub by Adge Cutler and the Wurzels.

1970 - New Town development begins.

1975? - Closure of cider factory.

1981 - Nailsea town centre featured in Concrete Quarterly.