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Bristol ( ) is a city, unitary authority area and ceremonial county in South West England, west of Londonmarker, and east of Cardiffmarker.

With an estimated population of 416,400 for the unitary authority in mid-2007,

and a surrounding urban area with an estimated 561,500 residents, it is Englandmarker's sixth, and the United Kingdommarker's eighth most populous city, one of the group of English Core Cities and the most populous city in South West England. It received a Royal Charter in 1155 and was granted County status in 1373. From the 13th century, for half a millennium, it ranked amongst the top three English cities after London, alongside Yorkmarker and Norwichmarker, until the rapid rise of Liverpoolmarker, Birminghammarker and Manchestermarker during the Industrial Revolution in the latter part of the 18th century. It borders the counties of Somersetmarker and Gloucestershiremarker, also located near the historic cities of Bathmarker to the south east and Gloucestermarker to the north. The city is built around the River Avon, and it also has a short coastline on the estuary of the River Severn where it flows into the Bristol Channelmarker.

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 Bristolmarker was originally in the city centre before being moved to the Severn Estuary at Avonmouthmarker; Royal Portbury Dockmarker 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 Statesmarker, but also in Perumarker, Canadamarker, Jamaicamarker and Costa Ricamarker, all presumably commemorating the original.


Archaeological finds believed to be 60,000 years old, discovered at Shirehamptonmarker and St Annesmarker, provide "evidence of human activity" in the Bristol area from the Palaeolithic era.There are Iron Age hill forts near the city, at Leigh Woodsmarker and Clifton Down on the side of the Avon Gorgemarker, and on Kingsweston Hill, near Henburymarker.During the Roman era there was a settlement, Abona,at what is now Sea Millsmarker, connected to Bathmarker by a Roman road, and another at the present-day Inns Court. There were also isolated Roman villas and small Roman forts and settlements throughout the area.The town of Brycgstow (Old English, "the place at the bridge") existed by the beginning of the 11th century, and under Norman rule acquired one of the strongest castlesmarker in southern England.

The area around the original junction of the River Frome with the River Avon, adjacent to the original Bristol Bridgemarker and just outside the town walls, was where the port began to develop in the 11th century. By the 12th century Bristol was an important port, handling much of England's trade with Irelandmarker. In 1247 a new stone bridge was built, which was replaced by the current Bristol Bridgemarker in the 1760s,and the town was extended to incorporate neighbouring suburbs, becoming in 1373 a county in its own right. During this period Bristol also became a centre of shipbuilding and manufacturing. Bristol was the starting point for many important voyages, notably John Cabot's 1497 voyage of exploration to North America.
The west front of Bristol Cathedral
By the 14th century Bristol was one of England's three largest medieval towns after London, along with Yorkmarker and Norwichmarker, with perhaps 15,000–20,000 inhabitants on the eve of the Black Death of 1348–49.The plague resulted in a prolonged pause in the growth of Bristol's population, with numbers remaining at 10,000–12,000 through most of the 15th and 16th centuries. The Diocese of Bristolmarker was founded in 1542,with the former Abbey of St. Augustine, founded by Robert Fitzharding in 1140, becoming Bristol Cathedralmarker. Traditionally this is equivalent to the town being granted city status. During the 1640s English Civil War the city was occupied by Royalist military, after they overran Royal Fortmarker, the last Parliamentarian stronghold in the city.

Renewed growth came with the 17th century rise of England's American colonies and the rapid 18th century expansion of England's part in the Atlantic trade in Africans taken for slavery in the Americas. Bristol, along with Liverpoolmarker, became a centre for the Triangular trade. In the first stage of this trade manufactured goods were taken to West Africa and exchanged for Africans who were then, in the second stage or middle passage, transported across the Atlantic in brutal conditions. The third leg of the triangle brought plantation goods such as sugar, tobacco, rum, rice and cotton and also a small number of slaves who were sold to the aristocracy as house servants, some eventually buying their freedom. During the height of the slave trade, from 1700 to 1807, more than 2,000 slaving ships were fitted out at Bristol, carrying a (conservatively) estimated half a million people from Africa to the Americas and slavery.The Seven Starsmarker public house,where abolitionist Thomas Clarkson collected information on the slave trade still exists.
An 1873 engraving showing sights around Bristol
Fishermen from Bristol had fished the Grand Banksmarker of Newfoundlandmarker since the 15th century and began settling Newfoundland permanently in larger numbers in the 17th century establishing colonies at Bristol's Hopemarker and Cuper's Covemarker. Bristol's strong nautical ties meant that maritime safety was an important issue in the city. During the 19th century Samuel Plimsoll, "the sailor's friend", campaigned to make the seas safer; he was shocked by the overloaded cargoes, and successfully fought for a compulsory load line on ships.

Competition from Liverpoolmarker from c. 1760, the disruption of maritime commerce caused by wars with Francemarker (1793) and the abolition of the slave trade (1807) contributed to the city's failure to keep pace with the newer manufacturing centres of the North of England and the West Midlands. The passage up the heavily tidal Avon Gorgemarker, which had made the port highly secure during the Middle Ages, had become a liability which the construction of a new "Floating Harbourmarker" (designed by William Jessop) in 1804–9 failed to overcome, as the great cost of the scheme led to excessive harbour dues. Nevertheless, Bristol's population (66,000 in 1801) quintupled during the 19th century, supported by new industries and growing commerce.It was particularly associated with the Victorian era engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who designed the Great Western Railway between Bristol and London Paddingtonmarker, two pioneering Bristol-built ocean going steamships, the SS Great Britainmarker and SS Great Western, and the Clifton Suspension Bridgemarker. John Wesley founded the very first Methodist Chapel, called the New Roommarker, in Bristol in 1739. Riots occurred in 1793 and 1831, the first beginning as a protest at renewal of an act levying toll on Bristol Bridge, and the latter after the rejection of the second Reform Bill.
A map of Bristol from 1946.
Bristol's city centre suffered severe damage from Luftwaffe bombing during the Bristol Blitz of World War II. The original central shopping area, near the bridge and castle, is now a park containing two bombed out churches and some fragments of the castle. A third bombed church nearby, St Nicholasmarker, has been restored and has been made into a museum which houses a triptych by William Hogarth, painted for the high altar of St Mary Redcliffemarker in 1756. The museum also contains statues moved from Arno's Court Triumphal Archmarker, of King Edward I and King Edward III taken from Lawfords' Gate of the city walls when they were demolished around 1760, and 13th century figures from Bristol's Newgate representing Robert, the builder of Bristol Castlemarker, and Geoffrey de Montbray, Bishop of Coutances, builder of the fortified walls of the city.

The rebuilding of Bristol city centremarker was characterised by large, cheap 1960s tower blocks, brutalist architecture and expansion of roads. Since the 1980s another trend has emerged with the closure of some main roads, the restoration of the Georgian period Queen Squaremarker and Portland Squaremarker, the regeneration of the Broadmead shopping area, and the demolition of one of the city centre's tallest post-war blocks.

The removal of the docks to Avonmouth Docksmarker and Royal Portbury Dockmarker, downstream from the city centre during the 20th century has also allowed redevelopment of the old central dock area (the "Floating Harbourmarker") in recent decades, although at one time the continued existence of the docks was in jeopardy as it was viewed as a derelict industrial site rather than an asset. However the holding, in 1996, of the first International Festival of the Sea in and around the docks, affirmed the dockside area in its new leisure role as a key feature of the city.


Bristol City Council consists of 70 councillors representing 35 wards. They are elected in thirds with two councillors per ward, each serving a four-year term. Wards never have both councillors up for election at the same time, so effectively two-thirds of the wards are up each election.The Council has long been dominated by the Labour Party, but recently the Liberal Democrats have grown strong in the city and as the largest party took minority control of the Council at the 2005 election. In 2007, Labour and the Conservatives joined forces to vote down the Liberal Democrat administration, and as a result, Labour ruled the council under a minority administration, with Helen Holland as the council leader.In February 2009, the Labour group resigned, and the Liberal Democrats took office with their own minority administration. At the council elections on 4 June 2009 the Liberal Democrats gained four seats and, for the first time, overall control of the City Council. The Lord Mayor is Lib Dem Councillor Chris Davis.

Bristol constituencies in the House of Commonsmarker cross the borders with neighbouring authorities, and the city is divided into Bristol Westmarker, East, Southmarker and North-westmarker and Kingswoodmarker. Northavonmarker also covers some of the suburbs, but none of the administrative county. At the next General Election, the boundaries will be changed to coincide with the county boundary. Kingswood will no longer cover any of the county, and a new Filton and Bradley Stokemarker constituency will include the suburbs in South Gloucestershire. There are four Labour Members of Parliament and one Liberal Democrat.

Bristol has a tradition of local political activism, and has been home to many important political figures. Edmund Burke, MP for the Bristol constituency for six years from 1774, famously insisted that he was a Member of Parliament first, rather than a representative of his constituents' interests. The women's rights campaigner Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence (1867–1954) was born in Bristol. Tony Benn, a veteran left-wing politician, was Member of Parliament (MP) for Bristol South East from 1950 until 1983. In 1963, there was a boycott of the city's buses after the Bristol Omnibus Company refused to employ black drivers and conductors. The boycott is known to have influenced the creation of the UK's Race Relations Act in 1965.The city was the scene of the first of the 1980s riots. In St. Paul's, a number of largely African-Caribbean people rose up against racism, police harassment and mounting dissatisfaction with their social and economic circumstances before similar disturbances followed across the UK. Local support of fair trade issues was recognised in 2005 when Bristol was granted Fairtrade City status.

Bristol is unusual in having been a city with county status since medieval times. The county was expanded to include suburbs such as Cliftonmarker in 1835, and it was named a county borough in 1889, when the term was first introduced. However, on 1 April 1974, it became a local government district of the short-lived county of Avon. On 1 April 1996, it regained its independence and county status, when the county of Avon was abolished and Bristol became a Unitary Authority.



There are a number of different ways in which Bristol's boundaries are defined, depending on whether the boundaries attempt to define the city, the built-up area, or the wider "Greater Bristolmarker". The narrowest definition of the city is the city council boundary, which takes in a large section of the Severn Estuary west as far as, but not including, the islands of Steep Holmmarker and Flat Holmmarker. A slightly less narrow definition is used by the Office for National Statistics (ONS); this includes built-up areas which adjoin Bristol but are not within the city council boundary, such as Whitchurchmarker village, Filtonmarker, Patchwaymarker, Bradley Stokemarker, and excludes non-built-up areas within the city council boundary. The ONS has also defined an area called the "Bristol Urban Area", which includes Kingswoodmarker, Mangotsfieldmarker, Stoke Giffordmarker, Winterbournemarker, Frampton Cotterellmarker, Almondsburymarker and Easton-in-Gordanomarker. The term "Greater Bristol", used for example by the Government Office of the South West, usually refers to the area occupied by the city and parts of the three neighbouring local authorities (Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire), an area sometimes also known as the "former Avon area" or the "West of England".

Physical geography

Bristol is in a limestone area, which runs from the Mendip Hillsmarker to the south and the Cotswoldsmarker to the north east.The rivers Avon and Frome cut through this limestone to the underlying clays, creating Bristol's characteristic hilly landscape. The Avon flows from Bath in the east, through flood plains and areas which were marshy before the growth of the city. To the west the Avon has cut through the limestone to form the Avon Gorgemarker, partly aided by glacial meltwater after the last ice age. The gorge helped to protect Bristol Harbour, and has been quarried for stone to build the city. The land surrounding the gorge has been protected from development, as The Downs and Leigh Woodsmarker. The gorge and estuary of the Avon form the county's boundary with North Somerset, and the river flows into the Bristol Channelmarker at Avonmouthmarker at the mouth of the River Severn. There is another gorge in the city, in the Blaise Castlemarker estate to the north.


Situated in the south of the country, Bristol is one of the warmest cities in the UK, with a mean annual temperature of 10.2-12 °C (50-54 °F).It is also amongst the sunniest, with 1,541–1,885 hours sunshine per year.The city is partially sheltered by the Mendip Hillsmarker, but exposed to the Bristol Channelmarker, Annual rainfall is similar to the national average, at 741-1,060 mm (29.2–41.7 in). Rain falls all year round, but autumn and winter are the wettest seasons. The Atlantic strongly influences Bristol's weather, maintaining average temperatures above freezing throughout the year, although cold spells in winter often bring frosts. Snow can fall at any time from mid-November through to mid-April, but it is a rare occurrence. Summers are drier and quite warm with variable amounts of sunshine, rain and cloud. Spring is unsettled and changeable, and has brought spells of winter snow as well as summer sunshine.


In 2008 the Office for National Statistics estimated the Bristol unitary authority's population at 416,900, making it the 47th-largest ceremonial county in England.Using Census 2001 data the ONS estimated the population of the city to be 441,556,and that of the contiguous urban area to be 551,066.This makes the city England's sixth most populous city, and ninth most populous urban area.At it has the seventh-highest population density of any English district.

According to 2007 estimates, 88.1% of the population were described as white, 4.6% as Asian or Asian British, 2.9% as black or black British, 2.3% as mixed race, 1.4% as Chinese and 0.7% other. National averages for England were 88.2%, 5.7%, 2.8%, 1.7%, 0.8% and 0.7% for the same groups.

Historical population records

Note: Only includes figues for Bristol Unitary Authority i.e. excludes areas that are part of the Bristol urban area (2007 estimated population 551,066) but are located in South Gloucestershire, BANES or North Somerset which border Bristol UA such as Kingswood, Mangotsfield, Filton, Warmley etc.

Year Total population
1801 68,944
1811 83,922
1821 99,151
1831 120,789
1841 144,803
1851 159,945
1861 194,229
1871 228,513
1881 262,797
1891 297,525
1901 323,698
1911 352,178
1921 367,831
1931 384,204
1941 402,839
1951 422,399
1961 425,214
1971 428,089
1981 384,883
1991 396,559
2001 380,615
2007 416,400 (estimate)

Economy and industry

The Nails in Corn Street, over which trading deals were made
As a major seaport, Bristol has a long history of trading commodities, originally wool cloth exports and imports of fish, wine, grain and dairy produce, later tobacco, tropical fruits and plantation goods; major imports now are motor vehicles, grain, timber, fresh produce and petroleum products. Deals were originally struck on a personal basis in the former trading area around Corn Street, and in particular, over bronze trading tables, known as "The Nails". This is often given as the origin of the expression "cash on the nail", meaning immediate payment, however it is likely that the expression was in use before the nails were erected.

As well as Bristol's nautical connections, the city's economy is reliant on the aerospace industry, defence, the media, information technology and financial services sectors, and tourism. The former Ministry of Defence (MoD)'s Procurement Executive, later the Defence Procurement Agencymarker, and now Defence Equipment & Supportmarker, moved to a purpose-built headquarters at Abbey Wood, Filton in 1995. The site employs some 7,000 to 8,000 staff and is responsible for procuring and supporting much of the MoD's defence equipment.

In 2004 Bristol's GDP was £9.439 billion, and the combined GDP of Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and North Somerset was £44.098 billion. The GDP per head was £23,962 (US$47,738, €35,124) making the city more affluent than the UK as a whole, at 40% above the national average. This makes it the third-highest per-capita GDP of any Englishmarker city, after Londonmarker and Nottinghammarker, and the fifth highest GDP per capita of any city in the United Kingdom, behind London, Edinburghmarker, Glasgowmarker, Belfastmarker and Nottingham. In March 2007, Bristol's unemployment rate was 4.8%, compared with 4.0% for the south west and 5.5% for England.

Although Bristol's economy is no longer reliant upon the Port of Bristolmarker, which was relocated gradually to the mouth of the Avon to new docks at Avonmouth (1870s) and Royal Portbury Dock (1977) as the size of shipping increased, the city is the largest importer of cars to the UKmarker. Since the port was leased in 1991, £330 million has been invested and the annual tonnage throughput has increased from 3.9 million long tons (4 million metric tonnes) to 11.8 million long tons (12 million metric tonnes). The tobacco trade and cigarette manufacturing have now ceased, but imports of wines and spirits by Harveys and Averys continue.

The financial services sector employs 59,000 in the city, and the high-tech sector is important, with 50 micro-electronics and silicon design companies, which employ around 5,000 people, including the Hewlett-Packard national research laboratories, which opened in 1983.

Bristol is the UK's seventh most popular destination for foreign tourists, and the city receives nine million visitors each year.

In the 20th century, Bristol's manufacturing activities expanded to include aircraft production at Filtonmarker, by the Bristol Aeroplane Company, and aero-engine manufacture by Bristol Aero Engines (later Rolls-Royce) at Patchwaymarker. The aeroplane company became famous for the World War I Bristol Fighter, and Second World War Blenheim and Beaufighter aircraft. In the 1950s it became one of the country's major manufacturers of civil aircraft, with the Bristol Freighter and Britannia and the huge Brabazon airliner. The Bristol Aeroplane Company diversified into car manufacturing in the 1940s, producing hand-built luxury cars at their factory in Filtonmarker, under the name Bristol Cars, which became independent from the Bristol Aeroplane Company in 1960. The city also gave its name to the Bristol make of buses, manufactured in the city from 1908 to 1983, first by the local bus operating company, Bristol Tramways, and from 1955 by Bristol Commercial Vehicles.

In the 1960s Filton played a key role in the Anglo-French Concorde supersonic airliner project. The Bristol Aeroplane Company became part of the British partner, the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC). Concorde components were manufactured in British and French factories and shipped to the two final assembly plants, in Toulousemarker and Filton. The French manufactured the centre fuselage and centre wing and the British the nose, rear fuselage, fin and wingtips, while the Olympus 593 engine's manufacture was split between Rolls-Royce (Filton) and SNECMA (Parismarker). The British Concorde prototype made its maiden flight from Filton to RAF Fairfordmarker on 9 April 1969, five weeks after the French test flight.In 2003 British Airways and Air France decided to cease flying the aircraft and to retire them to locations (mostly museums) around the world. On 26 November 2003 Concorde 216 made the final Concorde flight, returning to Filton airfield to be kept there permanently as the centrepiece of a projected air museum. This museum will include the existing Bristol Aero Collection, which includes a Bristol Britannia aircraft.

The aerospace industry remains a major segment of the local economy.The major aerospace companies in Bristol now are BAE Systemsmarker, (formed by merger between Marconi Electronic Systems and BAe; the latter being formed by a merger of BAC, Hawker Siddeley and Scottish Aviation), Airbus and Rolls-Royce, all based at Filton, and aerospace engineering is a prominent research area at the nearby University of the West of Englandmarker. Another important aviation company in the city is Cameron Balloons, who manufacture hot air balloon. Each August the city is host to the Bristol International Balloon Fiestamarker, one of Europe's largest hot air balloon events.

A new £500 million shopping centre called Cabot Circusmarker opened in 2008 amidst claims from developers and politicians that Bristol would become one of England's top ten retail destinations. Bristol was selected as one of the world's top ten cities for 2009 by international travel publishers Dorling Kindersley in their Eyewitness series of guides for young adults.


Based on its environmental performance, quality of life, future-proofing and how well it is addressing climate change, recycling and biodiversity, Bristol was ranked as the UK's most sustainable city, topping environmental charity Forum for the Future's Sustainable Cities Index 2008. Notable local initiatives include Sustrans, who have created the National Cycle Network, founded as Cyclebag in 1977, and Resourcesaver established in 1988 as a non-profit business by Avon Friends of the Earth.



The Coopers Hall, entrance to the Bristol Old Vic Theatre Royal complex
The city is famous for its music and film industries, and was a finalist for the 2008 European Capital of Culture, but the title was awarded to Liverpool.

The city's principal theatre company, the Bristol Old Vicmarker, was founded in 1946 as an offshoot of the Old Vicmarker company in London. Its premises on King Streetmarker consist of the 1766 Theatre Royal (607 seats), a modern studio theatre called the New Vic (150 seats), and foyer and bar areas in the adjacent Coopers' Hallmarker (built 1743). The Theatre Royal is a grade I listed building and is the oldest continuously operating theatre in England. The Bristol Old Vic Theatre Schoolmarker, which had originated in King Street is now a separate company. The Bristol Hippodromemarker is a larger theatre (1981 seats) which hosts national touring productions. Other theatres include the Tobacco Factorymarker (250 seats), QEHmarker (220 seats), the Redgrave Theatre (at Clifton Collegemarker) (320 seats) and the Alma Tavern (50 seats). Bristol's theatre scene includes a large variety of producing theatre companies, apart from the Bristol Old Vic company, including Show of Strength Theatre Companymarker, Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory and Travelling Light Theatre Company. Theatre Bristol is a partnership between Bristol City Council, Arts Council England and local theatre practitioners which aims to develop the theatre industry in Bristol.There are also a number of organisations within the city which act to support theatre makers, for example Equity, the actors union, has a General Branch based in the city, and Residence which provides office, social and rehearsal space for several Bristol-based theatre and performance companies.

Since the late 1970s, the city has been home to bands combining punk, funk, dub and political consciousness, amongst the most notable have been Glaxo Babies, The Pop Group and trip hop or "Bristol Sound" artists such as Tricky, Portishead and Massive Attack; the list of Bands from Bristol is extensive. It is also a stronghold of drum & bass with notable artists such as the Mercury Prize winning Roni Size/Reprazent as well as the pioneering DJ Krust and More Rockers. This music is part of the wider Bristol urban culture scene which received international media attention in the 1990s.Bristol has many live music venues, the largest of which is the 2,000-seat Colston Hallmarker, named after Edward Colston. Others include the Bristol Academymarker, Fiddlers, Victoria Roomsmarker, Trinity Centremarker, St George's Bristolmarker and a range of public houses from the jazz-orientated The Old Dukemarker to rock at the Fleece and Firkin and indie bands at the Louisiana.

The Bristol City Museum and Art Gallerymarker houses a collection of natural history, archaeology, local glassware, Chinese ceramics and art. The Bristol Industrial Museummarker, featuring preserved dock machinery, closed in October 2006 for rebuilding and plans to reopen in 2011 as the Museum of Bristol. The City Museum also runs three preserved historic houses: the Tudor Red Lodgemarker, the Georgian Housemarker, and Blaise Castlemarker House. The Watershed Media Centremarker and Arnolfini gallerymarker, both in disused dockside warehouses, exhibit contemporary art, photography and cinema, while the city's oldest gallery is at the Royal West of England Academymarker in Clifton.

Stop frame animation films and commercials produced by Aardman Animations and television series focusing on the natural world have also brought fame and artistic credit to the city. The city is home to the regional headquarters of BBC West, and the BBC Natural History Unit. Locations in and around Bristol often feature in the BBC's natural history programmes, including the children's television programme Animal Magic, filmed at Bristol Zoomarker.

In literature, Bristol is noted as the birth place of the 18th-century poet Thomas Chatterton, and also Robert Southey, who was born in Wine Street, Bristol in 1774. Southey and his friend Samuel Taylor Coleridge married the Bristol Fricker sisters;and William Wordsworth spent time in the city,where Joseph Cottle first published Lyrical Ballads in 1798.

The 18th- and 19th-century portrait painter Sir Thomas Lawrence and 19th-century architect Francis Greenway, designer of many of Sydneymarker's first buildings, came from the city, and more recently the graffiti artist Banksy, many of whose works can be seen in the city. Some famous comedians are locals, including Justin Lee Collins, Lee Evans, Russell Howard, and writer/comedian Stephen Merchant.

Bristol Universitymarker graduates include magician and psychological illusionist Derren Brown; the satirist Chris Morris; Simon Pegg and Nick Frost of Spaced, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz; and Matt Lucas and David Walliams of Little Britain fame. Hollywood actor Cary Grant was born in the city; Patrick Stewart, Jane Lapotaire, Pete Postlethwaite, Jeremy Irons, Greta Scacchi, Miranda Richardson, Helen Baxendale, Daniel Day-Lewis and Gene Wilder are amongst the many actors who learnt their craft at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School,opened by Laurence Olivier in 1946. The comedian John Cleese was a pupil at Clifton Collegemarker. Hugo Weaving studied at Queen Elizabeth's Hospitalmarker School and David Prowse (Darth Vader, Star Wars) attended Bristol Grammar Schoolmarker.


Bristol has 51 Grade I listed buildings, 500 Grade II* and over 3,800 Grade II buildings, in a wide variety of architectural styles, ranging from the medieval to the 21st century. In the mid-19th century, Bristol Byzantine, an architectural style unique to the city, was developed, of which several examples have survived. Buildings from most of the architectural periods of the United Kingdom can be seen throughout the city. Surviving elements of the fortified city and castle date back to the medieval era, also some churches dating from the 12th century onwards.

Outside the historical city centre there are several large Tudor mansions built for wealthy merchants. Almshouses and public houses of the same period still exist, intermingled with modern development. Several Georgian-era squares were laid out for the enjoyment of the middle class as prosperity increased in the 18th century.

During World War II, the city centremarker suffered from extensive bombing during the Bristol Blitz. The redevelopment of shopping centres, office buildings, and the harbourside continues apace.

Sport and leisure

The city has two League football clubs: Bristol City and Bristol Rovers, as well as a number of non-league clubs. Bristol City was formed in 1897, became runners-up in Division One in 1907, and losing FA Cup finalists in 1909. They returned to the top flight in 1976, but in 1980 started a descent to Division Four. They were promoted to the second tier of English football in 2007. The team lost in the play-off final of the Championship to Hull City (2007/2008 season). City announced plans for a new 30,000 all-seater stadium to replace their home, Ashton Gate. Bristol Rovers is the oldest professional football team in Bristol, formed in 1883. They are just below mid-table in League One, and reached the quarter-final stage of the FA Cup. During their history, Rovers have been champions of the division Three (1952/53, 1989/90), Watney Cup Winners (1972, 2006/07), and runners-up in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy. The Club have planning permission to re-develop the Memorial Stadiummarker into an 18,500 all-seat Stadium to be completed by December 2010.

The city is also home to Bristol Rugby rugby union club, a first-class cricket side, Gloucestershire C.C.C. and a Rugby League Conference side, the Bristol Sonics. The city also stages an annual half marathon, and in 2001 played host to the World Half Marathon Championships. There are several athletics clubs in Bristol, including Bristol and West AC, Bitton Road Runners and Westbury Harriers. Speedway racing was staged, with breaks, at the Knowle Stadium from 1928 to 1960, when it was closed and the site redeveloped. The sport briefly returned to the city in the 1970s when the Bulldogs raced at Eastville Stadiummarker. In 2009, senior ice hockey returned to the city for the first time in 17 years with the newly formed Bristol Pitbulls playing out of Bristol Ice Rink.

The Bristol International Balloon Fiestamarker, a major event for hot-air ballooning in the UK, is held each summer in the grounds of Ashton Courtmarker, to the west of the city. The fiesta draws substantial crowds even for the early morning lift beginning at about 6.30 am. Events and a fairground entertain visitors during the day. A second mass ascent is made in the early evening, again taking advantage of lower wind speeds. Until 2007 Ashton Court also played host to the Ashton Court festival each summer, an outdoor music festival known as the Bristol Community Festival.


Bristol has two daily newspapers, the Western Daily Press and the Bristol Evening Post; a weekly free newspaper, the Bristol Observer; and a Bristol edition of the free Metro newspaper, all owned by the Daily Mail and General Trust. The local weekly listings magazine, Venue, covers the city's music, theatre and arts scenes and is owned by Northcliffe Media, a subsidiary of the Daily Mail and General Trust. Bristol Media is the city's support network for the creative and media industries with over 1600 members. The city has several local radio stations, including BBC Radio Bristol, Heart Bristol (previously known as GWR FM), Classic Gold 1260, Kiss 101, Star 107.2, BCfm (a community radio station launched March 2007), Ujima 98 FM, Original 106.5 ,as well as two student radio stations, The Hub and BURST. Bristol also boasts television productions such as The West Country Tonight for ITV West (formerly HTV West), Points West for BBC West, hospital drama Casualty (due to move to Cardiffmarker in 2011) and Endemol productions such as Deal Or No Deal. Bristol has been used as a location for the Channel 4 comedy drama Teachers, BBC drama Mistresses, teen drama Skins and horror-drama series Being Human.


A dialect of English is spoken by some Bristol inhabitants, known colloquially as Bristolian, or even more colloquially as "Bristle" or "Brizzle". Bristol natives speak with a rhotic accent, in which the r in words like car is pronounced. The unusual feature of this dialect, unique to Bristol, is the Bristol L (or terminal L), in which an L sound is appended to words that end in an 'a' or 'o'.Thus "area" becomes "areal", etc. Further Bristolian linguistic features are the addition of a superfluous "to" in questions relating to direction or orientation (a feature also common to the coastal towns of South Walesmarker), or using "to" instead of "at"; and using male pronouns "he", "him" instead of "it". For example, "Where's that?" would be phrased as "Where's he to?", a structure exported to Newfoundland English.

Stanley Ellis, a dialect researcher, found that many of the dialect words in the Filton area were linked to work in the aerospace industry. He described this as "a cranky, crazy, crab-apple tree of language and with the sharpest, juiciest flavour that I've heard for a long time".


In the United Kingdom Census 2001, 60% of Bristol's population reported themselves as being Christian, and 25% stated they were not religious; the national UK averages are 72% and 15% respectively. Islam accounts for 2% of the population (3% nationally), with no other religion above one percent, although 9% did not respond to the question.

The city has many Christian churches, the most notable being the Anglican Bristol Cathedralmarker and St. Mary Redcliffemarker and the Roman Catholic Clifton Cathedralmarker. Nonconformist chapels include Buckingham Baptist Chapelmarker and John Wesley's New Room in Broadmead.

Islam is served by four mosques in bristol

There are several Buddhist meditation centres, a Hindu Temple, Progressive and Orthodox synagogues and four Sikh temples.

Education, science and technology

Bristol is home to two major institutions of higher education: the University of Bristolmarker, a "redbrick" chartered in 1909, and the University of the West of Englandmarker, formerly Bristol Polytechnic, which gained university status in 1992. The city also has two dedicated further education institutions, City of Bristol Collegemarker and Filton Collegemarker, and three theological colleges, Trinity Collegemarker, Wesley Collegemarker and Bristol Baptist College. The city has 129 infant, junior and primary schools,17 secondary schools,and three city learning centres. It has the country's second highest concentration of independent school places, after an exclusive corner of north London. The independent schools in the city include Colston's Schoolmarker, Clifton Collegemarker, Clifton High Schoolmarker, Badminton Schoolmarker, Bristol Cathedral Schoolmarker, Bristol Grammar Schoolmarker, Redland High Schoolmarker, Queen Elizabeth's Hospitalmarker (the only all-boys school) and Red Maids' Schoolmarker, which claims to be the oldest girls' school in England, having been founded in 1634 by John Whitson.

In 2005, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer recognised Bristol's ties to science and technology by naming it one of six "science cities", and promising funding for further development of science in the city,with a £300 million science park planned at Emerson's Greenmarker.As well as research at the two universities and Southmead Hospitalmarker, science education is important in the city, with At-Bristolmarker, Bristol Zoomarker, Bristol Festival of Nature and the Create Centre being prominent local institutions involved in science communication. The city has a history of scientific luminaries, including the 19th-century chemist Sir Humphry Davy, who worked in Hotwellsmarker. Bishopstonmarker gave the world Nobel Prize winning physicist Paul Dirac for crucial contributions to quantum mechanics in 1933. Cecil Frank Powell was Melvill Wills Professor of Physics at Bristol University when he was awarded the Nobel prize for a photographic method of studying nuclear processes and associated discoveries in 1950. The city was birth place of Colin Pillinger, planetary scientist behind the Beagle 2 Mars lander project, and is home to the psychologist Richard Gregory.

Initiatives such as the Flying Start Challenge help encourage secondary school pupils around the Bristol area to take an interest in Science and Engineering. Links with major aerospace companies promote technical disciplines and advance students' understanding of practical design.


Bristol has two principal railway stations. Bristol Temple Meadsmarker is near the centre and sees mainly First Great Western services including regular high speed trains to London Paddingtonmarker as well as other local and regional services and CrossCountry trains. Bristol Parkwaymarker is located to the north of the city and is mainly served by high speed First Great Western services between Cardiff and London, and CrossCountry services to Birminghammarker and the North East. There is also a limited service to London Waterloomarker from Bristol Temple Meads, operated by South West Trains. There are also scheduled coach links to most major UK cities.
The city is connected by road on an east–west axis from Londonmarker to West Walesmarker by the M4 motorway, and on a north–southwest axis from Birminghammarker to Exetermarker by the M5 motorway. Also within the county is the M49 motorway, a short cut between the M5 in the south and M4 Severn Crossingmarker in the west. The M32 motorway is a spur from the M4 to the city centre.

The city is served by Bristol International Airportmarker (BRS), at Lulsgatemarker, which has seen substantial investments in its runway, terminal and other facilities since 2001.

Public transport in the city consists largely of its bus network, provided mostly by First Group, formerly the Bristol Omnibus Company – other services are provided by Abus,Buglers,Ulink,and Wessex Connect.Buses in the city have been widely criticised for being unreliable and expensive, and in 2005 First was fined for delays and safety violations.Private car usage in Bristol is high, and the city suffers from congestion, which costs an estimated £350 million per year. Bristol is motorcycle friendly; the city allows motorcycles to use most of the city's bus lanes, as well as providing secure free parking.Since 2000 the city council has included a light rail system in its Local Transport Plan, but has so far been unwilling to fund the project. The city was offered European Union funding for the system, but the Department for Transportmarker did not provide the required additional funding.As well as support for public transport, there are several road building schemes supported by the local council, including re-routing and improving the South Bristol Ring Road.There are also three park and ride sites serving the city, supported by the local council.The central part of the city has water-based transport, operated by the Bristol Ferry Boatmarker, Bristol Packet and Number Seven Boat Trips providing leisure and commuter services on the harbour.

Bristol's principal surviving suburban railway is the Severn Beach Line to Avonmouth and Severn Beachmarker. The Portishead Railway was closed to passengers under the Beeching Axe, but was relaid for freight only in 2000–2002 as far as the Royal Portbury Dockmarker with a Strategic Rail Authority rail-freight grant. Plans to relay a further three miles (5 km) of track to Portisheadmarker, a largely dormitory town with only one connecting road, have been discussed but there is insufficient funding to rebuild stations. Rail services in Bristol currently suffer from overcrowding and there is a proposal to increase rail capacity under the Greater Bristol Metro scheme.

Bristol was named "England's first 'cycling city in 2008, and is home to the sustainable transport charity Sustrans. It has a number of urban cycle routes, as well as links to National Cycle Network routes to Bath and London, to Gloucester and Wales, and to the south-western peninsula of England. Cycling has grown rapidly in the city, with a 21% increase in journeys between 2001 and 2005.

Twin cities

Bristol was among the first cities to adopt the idea of town twinning. In 1947 it was twinned with Bordeauxmarker and then with Hannovermarker,the first post-war twinning of British and Germanmarker cities. Twinnings with Portomarker, Portugalmarker (1984), Tbilisimarker, Georgiamarker (1988), Puerto Morazanmarker, Nicaraguamarker (1989), Beiramarker, Mozambiquemarker (1990) and Guangzhoumarker, Chinamarker (2001) have followed.

See also


  1. John Penny MA; The Luftwaffe over the Bristol area 1940-44Retrieved: 14 July 2008
  2. url=
  3. Sustrans, 2002. The Official Guide to the National Cycle Network. 2nd ed. Italy: Canile & Turin. ISBN 1-901389-35-9. Relevant section reproduced here [1].
  4. Andrew Foyle, Bristol, Pevsner Architectural Guides (2004) ISBN 0-300-10442-1
  5. Pictoral history of Bristol, Retrieved 2006-04-14.
  6. Simon Elmes, "Talking for Britain", p.39

External links

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