Bristol was taken from Bridgewater and New Chester (now Hill) and incorporated 24 June 1819. Colonel Peter Sleeper, Benjamin Emmons and others commenced a settlement here in 1770.
Extensive deposits of fine sand or clay similar to the "Bristol sand" used in Bristol, England, to make fine china and pottery gave the town its name. Here the sand was used to make a superior quality brick, marketed as Bristol brick. With water power from the Pemigewasset River, the town was a center of manufacturing in the early days for goods such as paper, leather, woolens,flannel, bedsteads and piano stools.
Bristol is one of four towns with shoreline on Newfound Lake, which has been a tourist destination since the mid-19th century. Farmers at first rented rooms and provided meals, but in the 1870s, hotels including the Hotel Bristol and G. G. Brown Hotel were built. In 1874, Bristol was the terminus of the Franklin and Bristol Branch railroad. The New Hampshire Central Railroad was planned to pass through Bristol. In the 1920s, W. F. Darling created a compound of about one hundred cottages for rent, first known as Hiland Park and later as Bungalo Village. In 2004, the compound was sold to a proprietor who sold individual cottages to permanent owners.
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