Bristol Visitor information
Bristol is a city in South West England, with an estimated population of around 400,000. It is England's sixth and the United Kingdom's eighth most populous city; one of the core cities group and the most populous city in South West England.
It borders the counties of Somerset and Gloucestershire, and is also located near the historic cities of Bath to the south east and Gloucester to the north. The city is built around the River Avon, and it also has a short coastline on the Severn Estuary, which flows into the Bristol Channel.
Bristol is the largest centre of culture, employment and education in the region. Its prosperity has been linked with the sea since its earliest days. The commercial Port of Bristol was originally in the city centre before being moved to the Severn Estuary at Avonmouth; Royal Portbury Dock is on the western edge of the city boundary. In more recent years the economy has depended on the creative media, electronics and aerospace industries, and the city centre docks have been regenerated as a centre of heritage and culture. There are 34 other populated places on Earth named Bristol, most in the United States, but also in Peru, Canada, Jamaica, Barbados and Costa Rica, all presumably commemorating the original.
The city is partially sheltered by the Mendip Hills, but exposed to the Severn Estuary and the Bristol Channel.
The city has several train stations, the biggest of which is Bristol Temple Meads. Trains to London Paddington take around 2 hours, and trains to Exeter around 1 hour.
The city's coach station is located on Marlborough Street, close to Broadmead shopping area. There are several express coach services daily from most major cities. www.nationalexpress.com
The city is served by Bristol airport which flies to a range of destinations throughout Europe. The airport shuttle bus runs from the city centre to the airport regularly. www.bristolairport.co.uk
If you require car hire during your stay, please click here.
In the 18th century, Bristol was heavily involved in the slave trade. Manufactured goods from Bristol such as woollen cloth and brass and iron goods were given to the Africans in return for slaves and the slaves were then transported to the West Indies of North America and sold. The ships then took tobacco, sugar and rum back to Bristol, so the trade formed a triangle.
Glass and shipbuilding thrived in Bristol, so did a chocolate industry, some of the tobacco imported from North America was made into snuff in windmills and the metal industry made cannons, chains and anchors. There was also a large brewing industry in Bristol and in the 18th century coal was mined within the boundaries of Bristol.
In the 18th century Bristol grew rapidly. The population was probably about 25,000 in 1700 and it rose to about 50,000 by the middle of the century. By 1801 Bristol had a population of 68,000.
Many new streets were laid out in Bristol, Queen Square was built in 1702 to commemorate the visit of Queen Anne to Bristol, Prince Street followed it and then James Square and Orchard Street. However in this century the rich moved out of central Bristol and went to live in Clifton. Meanwhile Bristol Royal Infirmary was built in 1737.
In 1835 Clifton was made part of Bristol. In 1806 an act of parliament formed a body of men with powers to pave, clean and light the streets of Bristol (at first oil lamps were used to light them but after 1818 gas was used). Bristol was connected to London by rail in 1841, then to Exeter in 1844 and Plymouth in 1848. Clifton suspension bridge was built in 1864, engineered by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
In the 20th century Bristol's greatest industry became aircraft manufacture. There were other industries in Bristol during this time which were chocolate, tobacco, engineering, chemicals, zinc, furniture and pottery. At the end of the 20th century Bristol continued to develop. The Watershed Media Centre opened in 1982, in 1985 a statue of John Cabot was erected on Narrow Quay, and The Galleries shopping centre was built in 1991.