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Interesting Facts About Bristol

Bristol has been one of the UK's largest settlements for hundreds of years, so in that time it has managed to rack up a few interesting stories - but how many of the facts below did you know before?

Let us know if you have any other interesting trivia about the city, and we'll add it to the list!

  • Bristol is located just 120 miles west of London and is the largest city in the south west of England.
  • Bath Spa is about 12 miles to the east of the city, and 45 miles away across the Bristol Channel is Cardiff in Wales.
  • The city is situated on the River Frome and River Avon.

Bristol rivers

  • Bristol has been a wealthy trading port since the Roman era.
  • Bristol is a port city known as the 'Birthplace of America' - John Cabot sailed from Bristol on The Matthew to help 'discover' North America in 1497. 
  • The city played an important role in England's maritime trade in tobacco, wine, cotton and more.
  • From the late 1600s to the early 1800s, Bristol was involved in a massive slave shipping industry.
  • Today, Bristol is a buzzing, multicultural university city of 400,000.

Wills Memorial
Wills Memorial Building, part of the University of Bristol

  • The infamous pirate Captain Blackbeard once had a hideaway cave under St. Mary Redcliffe church. His original birthplace and childhood home still stands on Bristol's harbourside. You can do pirate tours of the city to hear more about this side of Bristol's past.
  • Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous book Treasure Island features many locations around Bristol, which you can discover on the Treasure Island Trail.
  • Pero's Bridge is named after Pero Jones, who was the African servant of a plantation owner.
  • John Wesley's New Room, in Broadmead, is the world's oldest Methodist church.


John Wesley's New Room

Casamia
Casamia

  • Aardman Animations are based in Bristol, and create well-loved classics including Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run and Pirates! 
  • Bristol is the  world's biggest manufacturers of hot air balloons, as well as the host of Europe's largest hot air balloon fiesta every August.
  • Bristol is known as a pioneer of trip-hop and drum and bass, due to local music acts Massive Attack, Portishead and Roni Size among others.
  • Another famous Bristolian is graffiti artist Banksy, whose work can still be seen at sites across the city - he occasionally pops home to do a new one too!


The Mild Mild West by Banksy, which can be found on Stokes Croft

  • Bristol has been used as a filming location in many popular TV programmes and films, including Only Fools and Horses, The Young Ones, Skins, Sherlock, Wolf Hall and many more.
  • Ribena was invented in Bristol at the National Fruit and Cider institute and marketed as a health drink due to its high concentration of Vitamin C.
  • BBC Bristol produce a whopping 25% of all the world's nature documentaries - many of them featuring the legendary Sir David Attenborough. You can do tours of the BBC Bristol Studios to find out more. 
  • There's a clock at the entrance of The Exchange building on Corn Street which shows two times - the black minute hand shows London time (now GMT), and the red hand shows Bristol time! This was before time was standardised across the UK to accomodate railway schedules. 

The Exchange clock
The clock on The Exchange building

  • Fry's Chocolate in Bristol was the first company in the world to manufacture chocolate bars, and one of the first to make chocolate Easter eggs too.
  • The first ever bungee jump took place from the Clifton Suspension Bridge in 1979, with members of the Oxford University Dangerous Sports Club.
  • There's a bit of Bristol in Lower Manhattan - the 'Bristol Basin' was built using rubble from the city after the Second World War and has a plaque to commemorate its origins.
  • Bristol has its very own currency - the Bristol Pound! Launched in 2012 and still going strong, you can exchange your cash into Bristol Pounds at points around the city, including the Tourist Information Centre.

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