Bristol: A - Z of interesting facts
This renowned animation studio is based Bristol. Creators of Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run amongst other classics, the studio has built a reputation amongst filmgoers across the world. In 2018 there was a Gromit Unleashed Trail, with giant sculptures of Gromit, Wallace and their arch- enemy Feather McGraw in 60 locations across the city. It was all to raise money for Bristol Children’s Hospital.
Born in Bristol in the 1970s, Banksy is probably the most recognized street artist in the world today. Many of his early murals can be seen adorning the walls of Bristol buildings, and there are several walking tours that take in these works of art.
Every British Concorde made their maiden flight from Filton Airport in Bristol. Alpha Foxtrot, the final Concorde to fly is now at Aerospace Bristol, where thousands of visitors every year marvel at this beautiful airplane. Alpha Foxtrot was also designed, built and tested in Bristol – a true of the city. Read more about Concorde at Filton
Always a port, the docks developed where it was most convenient to cross the Avon and where ships could be carried to harbour on the tidal current. The first quays were built in 1239 on the River Frome near its confluence with the Avon, which is now the centre of Bristol.
The Ashton Court Estate is only 10 minutes from the centre of the city, but offers all the city dwellers over 800 acres of woods and grasslands. Once the home of the Smyth family it is now a historic park, with two 18-hole pitch-and-putt courses, orienteering and mountain biking trails, and open space for family games and picnics. It is also the home of the world famous Bristol International Balloon Fiesta which takes place in August every year.
Wolf Hall is just one of the many popular TV programmes and films that have used the city as a location. Others include The Young Ones, Sherlock, Only Fools and Horses and Skins.
Launched in 1943 the SS Great Britain was the first iron steam ship, and was designed by Brunel, the great Victorian engineer. Left as a rusty hull in the Faulkland Islands it was rescued in 1970 and returned to Bristol where it undertook a lengthy restoration programme. It is now a wonderful attraction and well worth a visit when in the city.
The harbourside in the centre of the city is now an area alive with waterside restaurants, a Sunday market and many other activities including yachting, SUP (stand up paddle boarding), cycling and rowing. It is an attractive modern development filled with bars, shops and hotels. The Science Centre is a great place for young minds to get a hands-on experience. The views of the water in the middle of this urban area offers visitors a peaceful and tranquil setting for a little retail therapy or a simple meal with friends.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Famous engineer, Brunel’s name is connected to the city of Bristol for several reasons, the SS Great Britain, the Clifton Suspension Bridge, and the Great Western Railway. The SS Great Britain launched in 1843 was the largest ship in the world, and the first screw-propelled, ocean-going, iron-hulled steam ship. The Clifton Suspension Bridge was not actually completed until after Brunel’s death, but it was designed in 1829 and at the time had the longest span of any bridge in the world. The work that Brunel undertook on the Great Western Railway linking Bristol with London established him as an international engineer, and included viaducts at Hanwell and Chippenhamin Wiltshire, the Maidenhead Bridge, the Box Tunnel and Bristol Temple Meads Station.
William Jessop a well-known canal engineer designed the Floating Harbour, which opened in 1809. Its development was essential to counteract the extreme rise and fall of tidal water in the docks – sometimes as much as 12m on each tide. By annexing 80 acres of tidal river he created a new half-tidal basin (Cumberland Basin) where boats could be moored at any stage of the tide.
“Know your place”
Bristol City Council has created a website that enables the residents and non-residents of the city to easily access a wealth of maps – historic and modern. The ideal reference point for those who are interested to know more about where they live. http://maps.bristol.gov.uk/knowyourplace
The city is full of iconic buildings and landmarks. Here are a few - Clifton Suspension Bridge; Wills Memorial Building; The New Room; St Mary Redcliffe Church; Cabot Tower; The Red Lodge Museum; Bristol Cathedral; Ashton Court Estate; Pero’s Bridge. The list is long, so it is well worth planning your visit to this amazing city, so that you do not miss any of its delights.
Bristol pioneered Tri-hop and drum and bass, with local music acts such as Massive Attack, Portishead and Roni Size spearheading this genre of music across the UK and beyond.
BBC Bristol is well known for making amazing nature documentaries. But it may surprise you to know that 25% of the world’s nature documentaries have been produced in the city! Many feature the iconic Sir David Attenborough.
BBC Bristol Studios have a tour that can be taken to find out more about these wonderful programmes.
Oxford University Dangerous Sports Club
This group of intrepid adventurers took the first ever Bungee Jump from Clifton Suspension Bridge in 1979. Another first for the city – one that bounced back!
Bristol is synonymous with the name Captain Blackbeard. His original birthplace and childhood home is still on Bristol’s harbourside. Why not take the Pirate Tour of the City and hear all about Bristol’s seafaring past?
The Fry Family who founded the chocolate empire were Bristol Quakers.
It was the first company in the world to manufacture chocolate bars, and one of the first to make chocolate Easter eggs. Bristol Quakers were heavily persecuted for their unconventional beliefs, with their meeting houses often being destroyed. There is a small Quaker Burial Ground in Redcliffe Way, which is a historical gem and has a fascinating history.
This iconic drink was invented in Bristol at the National Fruit & Cider Institute.
At its conception it was marketed as a health drink due to its very high concentration of Vitamin C.
Robert Louis Stevenson author of Treasure Island used many locations around the city in his famous masterpiece. Discover more on the Treasure Island Trail.
In the centre of the city at the entrance to The Exchange Building on Corn Street, there is a very unusual clock, which shows two separate times.
The black minute hand indicates London time (Greenwich Mean Time – GMT), and the red minute hand shows Bristol time. This clock dates back to the era before time was standardised across the UK, which all happened to accommodate railway schedules at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
Bristol is a multicultural university city of over 400,000 people. The city is home to two world-class universities – University of Bristol and the University of the West of England. Both have excellent research facilities as well as high quality teaching, and the inclusion of many students from around the world adds to the diversity of the city centre.
The Victoria Rooms in Clifton Bristol, now houses the University of Bristol’s Music Department. The building is quite imposing, originally an Assembly Rooms designed by Charles Dyer in the Greek revival style, and named after Queen Victoria. The foundation stone was laid on 24th May 1893 – Victoria’s 19th birthday.
Founder of the Methodist Church, John Wesley worked and preached in Bristol and a statue in Broadmead, outside the New Room (the first Methodist Chapel) is testament to Bristol’s affection for him. Charles Wesley, John’s brother – wrote many hymns, and preached with his brother in Bristol – living in the city from 1749. Until the deaths of John and Charles Wesley the New Room was the most important centre of Methodism outside London.
In need of some gentle exercise then make the most of the city and join in with Bristol Walk Fest, over 150 stunning walks and events for all ages and all abilities. Organised throughout the month of May, this is the largest urban celebration of walking in the UK – so get your trainers on and start walking!
Yachts and Sailing Boats
The Matthew is often moored near the M-Shed at the Harbourside, and visitors can go on board and look around. The sailing boat is a replica of the ship that carried John Cabot from Bristol to Newfoundland. It was made in 1997 the 500th anniversary of the original voyage.
Bristol Zoo has a stated mission to “maintain and defend biodiversity through breeding endangered species, conserving threatened species and habitats and promoting a wider understanding of the natural world”. It is the fifth oldest zoo in the world, and since 1836 has welcomed over 90 million visitors. The Zoo has an award-winning education team who bhave taught over 40 million school children the value of nature, wildlife and the impact humans have on the world around them.
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