About Bristol

Let's get one thing straight: there's no such thing as the Bristol sound.

Bristol, in South West England, had an estimated population of almost four-hundred-and-fifty thousand in 2016, making it England’s sixth most populous city.

The original town was listed in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle of 1051 as a port trading regularly with Ireland. Bristol's economy today is in the creative media, electronics and aerospace industries and the city-centre docks have been redeveloped as centres of heritage and culture. The city has two universities and a variety of artistic and sporting organisations and venues.

Many of the buildings in Bristol’s trading past remain today. Queen Square, situated near the harbour, remains much as it was hundreds of years ago. Much of the wealth and prosperity brought into this area came from pirating and the slave trade, money said to have funded many buildings around the harbour.

Bristol is one of the UK's most popular tourist destinations. In 2014 The Sunday Times named Bristol “Best city in Britain in which to live” and in 2015 Bristol won the EU's “European Green Capital Award”.


Bristol’s history

Iron Age hill forts and Roman villas have been found in Bristol, which received a royal charter in 1155. Bristol was divided between Gloucestershire and Somerset until 1373, when it became an independent county. From the thirteenth to the eighteenth century, Bristol was among the top three English cities in tax receipts, until being overtaken by Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham during the Industrial Revolution.

Bristol-built ships were famous for their craftsmanship, constructed using the finest materials and most skilled techniques. This made Bristol an ideal starting place for early voyages of exploration to the New World.

Bristol seafarers exported woollen cloth, coal, lead, and animal hides. Imports included wine, grain, slate, timber and olive oil. Between 1697 and 1807, ships left Bristol to make the trip to Africa and onwards across the Atlantic with slaves. Half a million slaves were brought into slavery by these ships, representing one-fifth of the British slave trade during this time. The Port of Bristol is no longer at the city centre Bristol Harbour, moving to the Severn Estuary in the 1870s.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel is probably Bristol's most famous sons. In the nineteenth century he had a major role in the cutting-edge design and construction of Bristol’s floating harbour, still in use today. His passenger ship, the SS Great Britain is open to the public as one of Bristol’s major visitor attractions.