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Bristol

The Bristol Tourist Information Centre is on the Harbourside, so you can always find out what's on in the city.

Early History
This area has been inhabited since the palaeolithic era, with archaeogical evidence dating back 60,000 years. 

The Romans established a settlement known as Abonae at what is now Sea Mills.  Lying 3.5 miles north-west of the present city, the Roman town was abandoned in the 4th century. 

At the beginning of the 11th century an Anglo-Saxon settlement, known as 'Brigsowe', was founded between the Rivers Avon and Frome.  This name derived from Old English meaning 'place by the bridge'. 

The Normans built one of their strongest castles in southern England at Bristol at the end of the 11th century. 

Port of Bristol
From its earliest days Bristol's prosperity was linked to its port.  By the 13th century Bristol was handling much of England's trade with Ireland.  As the town grew it incorporated neighbouring suburbs and became an important centre of shipbuilding and manufacturing. By the 14th century Bristol was the 3rd largest town in England (after London and York). 

The port of Bristol was the starting point on many important voyages.  It was from here that the explorer John Cabot sailed west hoping to find a shorter route to Asia.  When he landed on Newfoundland in 1497, Cabot was the first European known to have set foot on the American mainland.  A replica of his ship the 'Matthew', is now moored at Bristol Harbour.  

The city expanded steadily with the development of England's colonies in the New World.  

Slave Trade
Bristol grew rapidly following the expansion of the trans-Atlantic 'Slave Trade'.  For over a 100 years Bristol was a key port in this triangular trade. Arms, alcohol and textiles were shipped from Bristol to the west coast of Africa, where they were traded for slaves. This human cargo was shipped across the Atlantic to the plantations of the Americas. Once emptied the ships holds were filled with sugar, molasses and tobacco for the return trip to Bristol. 

From 1700 until 1807, when the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act was passed, more than 2,000 slaving ships were fitted out in Bristol.  These vessels carried over 500,000 slaves from Africa to the Americas.  By the mid-18th century Bristol had become the 2nd largest city in England and many of the warehouses that lined the port are still visible from the docks today. 

Floating Harbour
Bristol began to decline in the 19th century following the abolition of slavery.  With few industrial towns nearby, the port failed to keep pace with the newer manufacturing centres such as Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester.  Sea-going ships had always had problems using Bristol's relatively shallow port. 

The city has one of the highest tidal ranges in the world making its port exceedingly difficult navigate.  Once in port, ships were stranded between tides on the drying mud causing considerable stress to the vessels. 'Shipshape and Bristol Fashion' was a phrase coined for a ship that was of high enough quality to survive the rigours of using the port. 

In an attempt to improve this situation a 'Floating Harbour' was built in the city centre in 1804-09.  Designed by William Jessop, the harbour had a constant water level that allowed vessels to float between tides (hence the name 'Floating Harbour').  However, the 10 mile tidal stretch of river between Avonmouth and Bristol, with its great meanders, was especially difficult for large sea-going ships to navigate.  Although the port failed to prosper and the docks closed In 1975, Bristol flourished with many new industries and growing commerce.

Today Bristol's commercial port is located at Avonmouth on the Severn Estuary. 

Isambard Kingdom Brunel
The arrival of Isambard Kingdom Brunel in the mid-19th century did much to improve the city.  Brunel, who was created chief engineer at the Bristol Docks in 1831, was employed to improve the city's locks and dredging system.  The great Victorian engineer also designed the Great Western Railway between London and Bristol, a harbourside railway system to connect Temple Meads Station to the docks and the Clifton Suspension Bridge.  Later Brunel's magnificent ships, ss Great Western and ss Great Britain, were built at Patterson's yard in Bristol.  The ss Great Britain, the world's first ocean-going propeller-driven iron ship, has now been restored to her former glory and is the centrepiece of an awarding-winning museum on Bristol Harbourside. 

Bristol Harbourside
This vibrant waterside area of Bristol runs from the city centre to the Cumberland Basin.  In recent times Bristol Harbourside has become an important residential, commercial and leisure district of the city.  Arnolfini, the city's international arts centre, relocated to a disused tea warehouse on Narrow Quay, and proved a catalyst in attracting other businesses to the then neglected dockside.  Bristol Harbourside soon became a lively residential, commercial and cultural centre at the heart of the city.  The old dockland area around the Floating Harbour has been completely redeveloped.  New buildings have been built and many of the warehouses and buildings have been transformed into museums, art galleries, shops, restaurants, cafés and bars.

The water area has become very popular for boat trips, allowing visitors to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre.  Ferry transport across the harbour provides an alternative link to Temple Meads railway station from the city centre.  From the ferries and boats there are wonderful views of the city and harbour.  The water area is increasingly popular for leisure craft and water sports such as sailing, canoeing, windsurfing, rowing and waterskiing. 

Bristol Harbour Festival is held every July, the city's largest and liveliest waterside event.  Lasting three days, the festival features music, street theatre, dance and water displays.  During this time the harbourside is host to an influx of visiting ships, including Royal Navy vessels, tall ships and life-boats.

Bristol Today
Because of Bristol's economic and strategic importance it was the target of heavy bombing during World War II leaving the city centre devastated.   The original shopping area near Bristol Bridge is now a park containing two bombed-out churches and the remains of Bristol Castle.  Bristol was quickly rebuilt but the original buildings were replaced by soaring tower blocks and new roads.

Recently the city centre has been regenerated with the demolition of the tallest of the tower blocks and the rebuilding of the Broadmead Shopping Centre. 

The city's Georgian architecture, including Queen Square and Portland Square, has also been restored. 

From the early 20th century Bristol's economy flourished the areospace industry.  George White established the Bristol Aeroplane Company at Filton in 1910 and it was here that Concorde was built and tested in the mid-1960s.  Filton is also home to Rolls Royce. 

Today Bristol is a major focus for media and technology.  Aardman Animations creators of the Oscar-winning Wallace & Gromit are located here and BBC Bristol, noted for its Natural History Unit, is based at Clifton. 

Shopping In Bristol

Broadmead Shopping Centre in the heart of the city, has department stores, national high street chains and specialist outlets and a wide range of cafés, restaurants, pubs, a cinema and other attractions.  At the centre of the Broadmead shopping area is the Mall Galleries Shopping Centre - the three-level covered street runs parallel to Bristol's main shopping road and has more than 100 shops under its roof.  Surrounding the Mall Galleries are over 200 other stores including all the department stores and a wide variety of specialist shops. 

Cabot Circus

In Autumn 2008, following a £500 million city centre regeneration programme, the Broadmead Shopping Centre will be renamed Cabot Circus.  A new shopping, leisure and residential area over the central ring road.  There will also be a 13-screen 'Cinema de Lux'.  The central area and three streets will be covered by a shell-shaped glass roof, the first of its kind in Europe.

Cribbs Causeway  Patchway

Just north of Bristol, Cribbs Causeway is the South-West's premier out-of-town shopping centre.  The indoor, two-level centre, opened in 1998, has around 135 leading stores and 17 restaurants and cafes and facilities include a crèche and children's play area.  The centre's unusual name is taken from an ancient thoroughfare that follows the route of a Roman road from central Bristol to a crossing place on the River Severn.  Located just off Junction 17 on M5. 

      Map of Bristol
What To See -

Bristol Tourist Attractions

Where To Stay in Bristol

Call our Hotel Telephone Reservations Line: 0870 4786316

Hotels


DAYS INN BRISTOL HOTEL GORDANO Welcome Break Gordano Service J19, M5 Portbury Bristol BS20 7XJ  MAP
Days inn Bristol West is approximately 15 minutes from Bristol city centre and airport.

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Radisson Blu Bristol Broad Quay Bristol BS1 4DA  MAP
The Radisson Blu Hotel, Bristol is a tastefully designed, eye-catching building in the centre of the city, close to the old town, and most of the city's cultural treasures, Museums, Theatres and the new Concert Hall. Colston Hall.

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Bristol Marriott Hotel City Centre 2 Lower Castle Street Old Market Bristol BS1 3AD  MAP
In the heart of Bristol, close to all of the city centre’s businesses, shops and attractions, this 4-star hotel offers spacious accommodation and modern facilities, including an indoor swimming pool.

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Guest Houses Bed & Breakfasts Inns and Other Hotels


Rodney Hotel 4 Rodney Place Bristol BS8 4HY  MAP
A small, romantic hotel with a secret walled garden, set in the heart of Clifton village. A perfect starting point for exploring Bristol, where the staff go out of their way to make every guest feel special.

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Downs Edge Downs Edge Saville Road Bristol BS9 1JA  MAP
At Downs Edge you will find the warm welcome and relaxed atmosphere of a country house.

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Forge Accommodation Bridgewater Road Bristol BS40 9UR  MAP
Forge Accommodation is just 100 metres from Bristol International Airport and offers free transfers to and from the airport. The Forge provides en suite accommodation with TVs and free Wi-Fi.

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Holiday Cottages


Union Road, St Philips Bristol BS2 0LH
Situated 10 minutes’ walk from Bristol Castle Park, Geometric Blu boasts modern apartments with private parking and free Wi-Fi. Bath is 12 miles from the property.

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18 Victoria Square Clifton Bristol BS8 4ES
A 5-minute drive from the centre of Bristol, these serviced apartments are family run, and boast a mix of traditional and modern features. There is free Wi-Fi throughout, and the lounge features a large fireplace and overlooks a secluded garden.

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Oolitic Springs Dundry near Bristol BS41 8NS Tel: 01244 357717  MAP
Oolitic Springs is a ground floor apartment in the small village of Dundry in Somerset, close to the city of Bristol. The apartment has one double bedroom with an ensuite and one twin bedroom, also with an ensuite, making it suitable for four people....
Sleeps: 4 Bedrooms: 2 Bathrooms: 2 Changeover Day: Sat Price Guide: £261 - £555 a week.

Phone Bookings & Enquiries: 01244 357717
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Days Out in and around Bristol


Towns near Bristol To Visit - straight line distance:

Abbots Leigh Tourist Information (3.09 miles) Pill Tourist Information (4.46 miles) Keynsham Tourist Information (4.80 miles) Chew Magna Tourist Information (6.24 miles)

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Premier Inn Bristol City Centre (King Street)
Premier Inn Bristol City Centre (King Street)
Llandoger Trow King Street Bristol
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