Bristol Stories and Tips

Bristol-a potted history

The City of Bristol is the centre of its own Unitarian authority, basically meaning that it governs itself and is regarded as a county in its own right. It is situated on the banks of the Severn Estuary, and in days gone by, ranked alongside London and Liverpool as one of the busiest ports in Britain.

It has population of around half a million and is the largest city in the west part of England, with major industries, including aircraft manufacture (Rolls Royce and British Aerospace), chemicals, and heavy engineering, plus it is a major port of entry for cars, coal, and oil-based products.

In the 10th century it was already a flourishing port, developing rapidly in the 11th century with the increase in wool trade with Ireland. This was further bolstered by the cloth-making industry in the 14th century. In 1497 John and Sebastian Cabot departed from Bristol for America.

Fortunes started to change in the 18th century with the demise of the cloth trade, but this was replaced quickly with the slave trade and business in general, with the Americas supplying metal processed in the city.

Things took a decidedly turn for the worse in the 19th century when the slave trade was abolished, and Bristol suffered hugely from competition from the likes of Liverpool, all this leading to a period of economic decline from which the docks never really recovered.

A slight reprieve was instigated with the arrival of the railway in 1841, with newer industries sprouting, such as brewing and tobacco, both of which, nowadays, have fallen by the wayside as the large multi-national companies have consolidated their operations to remain competitive.

Today, modern Bristol is a city undergoing a renaissance, with the old being swept away to make room for the modern industries upon which the city has built its reputation.

An endearing and lasting image for me will always be the sight of Concorde returning home to Bristol for the last time, where it was conceived, built, and tested, flying over the Clifton Suspension Bridge as a salute to Brunel and as a tribute to the engineering history of this fine city.

Been to this destination?

Share Your Story or Tip