Weekly City Spotlight: Bristol

Arial View Of Bristol

Arial View Of Bristol

Bristol is a city situated in the South West of England, close to both Gloucester and Bath.  Located alongside the River Avon, Bristol borders Somerset and Gloucestershire and was awarded a Royal Charter in 1155 as well as county status in 1373.  Bristol is recognised as being a city steeped in history, as well as a prosperous city of culture.

Bristol through the Years
Bristol was an ancient settlement, which evidence shows even had inhabitants dating back to the Palaeolithic period, as well as during the Iron Age, with forts built in the city.  During Roman times, many villas and settlements were located in the area, with roads being made to link to nearby settlements such as Bath.

As a port, Bristol was a successful trading location as early as the 11th century, and even produced its own coins which featured the town’s name, Brycgstow which meant the place at the bridge.  With its success came the threat of invasion from Ireland, which it successfully fought against.

During the 12th century, Bristol continued to grow and was recognised as being responsible for most of the country’s trade with Ireland, as well as a port for trading with countries such as Iceland.  As the area developed, both manufacturing and shipbuilding also became a focus for Bristol during the 13th century.

Throughout the 15th century many voyages set sail from Bristol with missions of exploration and it played a key role as trading began to extend to countries such as Spain, the Americas and West Africa.

Throughout the 1800’s Bristol became synonymous with the work of Isambard Kingdom Brunel.  As well as the design for the Great Western Railway linking Bristol with London, Brunel was also responsible for the design of the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge which crosses the River Avon from Clifton in Bristol to Somerset.  With its history of shipbuilding, Bristol was the location for the building of the SS Great Britain and SS Great Western, again these were the work of Brunel’s pioneering design.

Bristol is recognised as a city of culture as well as education with both the University of Bristol and University of the West of England based there.  Bristol is home to a number of museums including the famous Blaise Castle House Museum and Estate, the Fleet Air Arm Museum and Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.

Popular Culture
Bristol has so much to offer visitors, with lively events such as the Bristol Harbour Festival, a three day event celebrating this city of culture, to its many theatres including the Tobacco Factory Theatres and Colston Hall.

Films & TV
Aardman Animations are based in Bristol, and as a result, their much loved films featuring Wallace and Gromit, as well as Creature Comforts, Author Christmas and The Pirates! An Adventure with Scientists have all been made in Bristol.

Starter for Ten – based on the David Nicholls novel, James McAvoy stars in this comedy about a student based at Bristol University.

The Truth About Love – Starring Jennifer Love Hewitt and Jimi Mistry, this 2005 film is based in Bristol.

Deal or no Deal – the popular TV game show featuring Noel Edmunds is filmed in Bristol.

Skins – filmed in and around Bristol, the gritty TV drama Skins focuses on a group of teenagers who live in Bristol.

Casualty – this long running BBC medical drama, which ran for over 20 years was also filmed in and around Bristol.

Junk – written by Melvin Burgess, this novel follows two teenagers and takes place on the streets of Bristol.

The Clifton Chronicles – by Jeffrey Archer are a best-selling series of books which are set in Bristol.  The books follow the life of Harry Clifton.  Only Time Will Tell is the first in the series, with The Sins of the Father and Best Kept Secret completing the series.

Guilty Tiger – a crime novel by Chris Brown, is based in Bristol.  Chris Brown is also known for his autobiography Bovver, detailing his life as Bristol Rovers Fan in the 1970’s.

Social Media
Bristol has its own official tourism website, Visit Bristol, as well as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube accounts.

Famous Faces
The Lord Rees-Mogg (William Rees-Mogg) – born in Bristol on 14 July 1928, was a journalist who later went on to be Editor of The Times newspaper, as well as Vice Chairman of the BBC.

Sir Thomas Lawrence – a famous artist, was born in Bristol on 13 April 1769, Lawrence was known for his portrait painting and painted Queen Charlotte in 1790. His paintings of allied leaders were also on display at Windsor Castle.

Stephen Merchant – was born in Bristol 24 November 1973, this multi award winning writer, director, actor and presenter is also famous for his work with Ricky Gervais which includes The Office and Extras which he co-wrote and directed.


Clifton Suspension Bridge

Clifton Suspension Bridge

Clifton Suspension Bridge – recognised as Bristol’s most iconic landmark, the bridge is Grade I listed and is 412m in length.  Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the bridge consists of 81 wrought iron rods, with wrought iron chains connected to the bridge towers allowing movement.  Opened in 1864, the bridge provides a crossing for road users as well as pedestrians and cyclists.

SS Great Britain – designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, visitors can board this magnificent steam ship to explore the restored vessel and learn more about its amazing history as a pioneering ocean liner.

The Wills Memorial Building – Situated in Queens Road in Bristol, the building of this grand Bristol landmark was started in 1915 and completed in 1925.  George Alfred Wills and Henry Herbert Wills commissioned the building to commemorate their Father, Henry Overton Wills III who was the first Chancellor of the University and a benefactor from whom the university received a donation of £100,000.  With neo gothic design, this incredible building forms part of the University of Bristol.

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