Alfred John Smith - 1843-1920 (Lord Mayor 1905-1907)




Alfred John Smith was born in Bedminster in 1843 the son of John Smith.  He was a ship owner, coal merchant, contractor for freight in Bristol & Newport and he also had a business in Bradford on Avon.  He was director of the Newport Coal and Coke Company Ltd. (based in St Philips, Bristol), founded  by his father (John Smith) around 1860. 

At one time he occupied 'The Highgrove' in Knowle/Totterdown, a large house adjacent to the top gate of Arnos Vale Cemetery, demolished in 1898 when Hawthorne Street was developed.  From 1872 he devoted a great deal of time to education and religious work; in that year it has been said1 that he was so moved by the sight of 'ragged children' playing on a piece of open ground on Oxford Street in Totterdown, that he determined to found a Sunday School and mission.  By June 1875 the building was erected and by September 140 children were being taught by 17 teachers, a secretary and a librarian.  He was superintendent of Oxford Street Sunday School for 34 years.  In 1898 he became a city councillor at the age of 55 and then served as Lord Mayor for two consecutive terms from 1905/6 - 1906/7.  His family lived at Brooklea, Wick Road in Brislington from around 1900 - 1943.

He died on 12th March 1920 at the age of 77 and his memorial (pictured above) is in Arnos Vale Cemetery about 150 yards down the main cemetery path from his old house near the top gate.  

1 Essay: "Christian Missionary Work Among the Seamen and Dock Workers of Bristol 1820 - 1914" by M.J. Crossley Evans, published 2001. 

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