Merchant Street lay in a suburb that had grown up outside the ancient city walls during the middle ages. The straight lines of the streets and regularity of the plots here and in Broadmead indicate that this was an example of medieval town planning. Originally called the street of the Marshall, medieval Merchant Street had been inhabited by cooks and victuallers servicing the garrison in the castle which lay to its south. At the northern end of the Merchant Street lay St James’ Barton, the farm site attached to the nearby priory. At the southern end of Merchant Street a bridge crossed the river Frome and the mill race that serviced the nearby Castle Mill. The waterways here and its distance from the city made this and the adjacent street of Broadweir an important site of industry, and archaeological excavations have found evidence of tanning, animal hide working, and metal working. The rear of the tenements on the east side of Merchant Street marked the boundaries of the City and County of Bristol, created in 1373. The river was arched over in the middle of the 19th century, but Ordnance Survey maps and the 1910 Domesday book reveal that this was still a site of industry, with a saw mill located at the southern end, as well as a number of small shops and workshops. Despite significant population growth over the centuries, this area was never as densely populated as parts of the old city. Although the new suburb of St Paul’s was built to the east of Broadmead in the 18th century, residents living in Merchant Street remained within walking distance of open fields for long into the 19th century. Although the area was little affected by bombing during the Second World War, Merchant Street was included within the new development of Broadmead in the 1950s. Under the terms of the Housing Act of 1930 and the Town and Country Planning Act of 1947, the demolished buildings could not be replaced with residential developments, and this became a street wholly dedicated to commercial activity. The recent redevelopment of Quaker’s Friars and Cabot Circus has seen a return of city centre living, with flats above the ground-floor shops.