For hundreds of years, til the Industrial Revolution saw the rise of the great cities of the North West and Midlands, Bristol vied with the likes of York and Norwich to be the country’s second city. Behind London, of course. It was a key port that traded with the rest of Europe, and later the world. It didn’t entirely miss out in the Industrial Revolution, as the Clifton Suspension bridge stands testament to. Since then, Bristol has had to reinvent itself. It’s done so pretty successfully.
BAE and HP have major bases here. Concorde’s maiden flight from British soil was made from here. Concorde’s final ever flight landed here. SS Great Britain, once the world’s largest passenger ship is berthed here. And nine million tourists a year come here. Which surprised me. I’d never thought of Bristol as a tourist destination. But I go where the bargain train fares take me, and from Salisbury train station, Bristol is a very manageable and affordable day trip.
I now understand why millions of people come to Bristol. It’s a fabulous city. Full of fantastic old architecture, ala Bath. There’s a lot of funky new architecture as well. The nasty post war concrete blocks are to be seen here and there, but they’re gradually on the way out. The city is buzzing with art and culture. There’s a huge range of restaurants and cafes. Antique shops. We even stumbled across a Mexican importer, where Mrs P stopped and stocked up.
There’s a lot of live music, in the streets, in parks and in bars. It was a much bigger city than I expected it to be. It definitely gets the Mexile Seal of Approval. We’ll be back. Till then, here’s a few shots I took from around the town on Flickr.