Bristol and Its History

Bristol is the largest city in the West Country and the 10th largest city in the United Kingdom. The city is sited where the River Avon is joined by the River Frome, before the Avon goes to empty into the Severn Estuary. Parts of the Estuary are included in Bristol’s boundaries. The Rivers have played a huge part in the city’s development. The rivers cutting down into the surrounding limestone escarpment has produced a hilly city, with the spectacular Clifton Suspension Bridge that spans the Avon, being one of the city’s most spectacular features.

The Clifton Suspension Bridge

Bristol is on the boundary to Gloucestershire in the north and Somerset in the south. and is at the centre of a dense transport network. With major roads, rail routes and airports converging on the city, it is like a gateway to South West England, and even Wales. Bristol has a typical south west climate. It is highly influenced by the Atlantic Ocean to the west that produces a maritime climate. Generally, it is warmer than the eastern side of the country but receives more than average rainfall. The Atlantic warms the city in the winter and cools it in the summer.

People have been living in the area for thousands of years and there have been discoveries of old Roman Villas in the area. At around 1000AD a harbour was created at the confluence of the River Avon and the River Frome, and this proved to be the catalyst for the expansion of the city as boats were able to make their way in to the Severn Estuary and onward to the Atlantic Ocean.

A great deal of early the trade was with Ireland, Greenland and other parts of Europe, but as the Americas were discovered Bristol’s position on the western point of the country resulted in greater increase in business. The city even had an unfortunate link with the slave trade, and by the start of the industrial revolution Bristol was one of the three largest cities in the country outside of London. The industrial revolution saw larger ships being built that could not navigate the narrow winding channel of the River Avon and the city could not keep pace with the expansion of other port cities, such as Liverpool.

Concorde being manufactured at Filton

Avonmouth Port was created in 1867 and today is Bristol’s major port as it is able to handle the largest boats that arrive in the region. Although it is still a major port today it does not have the national prominence it once did. Bristol however, still continued to grow with many industries attracted to the city as a result of its geographical location. The aerospace industry was attracted at the start of the 20th century and remains today. Its most famous venture was at nearby Filton where Concorde production was based. The base was also home to the first commercial airplane factory in the country.

The city also has thriving electronic and creative media industries with its location being an ideal base for these industries. The old port area in the middle of the city has been regenerated in to a centre of culture and heritage. Thousands of people in the area are employed in administration and the city is home to two large universities, Bristol University and the University of the West of England.

The city is home to a number of artistic and sporting venues. Ashton Gate Stadium is home to both Bristol City football team and Bristol Rugby. Both teams are financed by the billionaire Stephen Lansdown, who also bankrolls the city’s basketball team the Bristol flyers. His dream is to produce the country’s top club sides in all three sports. Bristol is regarded as one of the best cities in the UK. It has a wide variety of entertainments available and is surrounded by some of the country’s recreational opportunities.