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23 Epic Facts About Bristol (You’ll Never Believe #6!)

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Although learning about facts and history might remind you of boring days at school where you were constantly trying to learn dates related to Kings and Queens and what the population of China was, these days, I often find them to be a great way to really get to know a place.

Especially when they’re as interesting as these facts about Bristol are…

23 Interesting Facts About Bristol

1. With a population of over 615,000, Bristol is the largest city in the South West of England, and the 11th most populated urban area in all of the United Kingdom.

2. Bristol has its very own currency, the Bristol Pound, which was invented to encourage residents to “shop local”.

3. Bristol is “twinned” with seven different towns, cities and principalities around the world: Porto in Portugal, Tbilisi in Georgia, Bordeaux in France, Puerto Morazàn in Nicaragua, Beira in Mozambique, Hanover in Germany and Guangzhou in China.

City views of Bristol and the surrounding countryside from the top of Cabot Tower

4.  There are over 35 different places around the world, which are also called Bristol. And as many as 29 of them are in America!

5. Back in 2008, Bristol was named England’s first ‘cycling city’ in a £11.4 million Government scheme to encourage more people to cycle. The money was used to create dedicated cycle lanes, better facilities and more training for children.

6. A Bristol-based firm was the first company in the world to produce solid chocolate bars. This was Fry’s Chocolate led by Joseph Fry. Their chocolate bar: Fry’s Chocolate Cream was first created in 1847 and then mass produced in 1866. Before then, chocolate was only taken as a drink. 

7. Fry’s Chocolate was also the first company to make chocolate Easter Eggs. Basically, you can thank Bristol for all the chocolatey deliciousness available around the world today… and this is just another of Bristol’s many secrets.

8. John Cabot sailed from Bristol on The Matthew to help ‘discover’ North America in 1497. Today, Bristol is often referred to as the ‘Birthplace of America’.  

9. Bristol was the first UK city to be awarded European Green Capital in 2015. The city has also won other coveted awards… basically, it’s known to be a pretty awesome place to visit!

A photo of the Bristol harbourside with some colourful houses in the background

10. World-renowned guerilla street artist, Banksy, was born in Bristol in the 1970s. Many of his earliest works can still be found throughout the city, which makes for an epic self-guided walking tour.

11. The first ever bungee jump took place from the Clifton Suspension Bridge in 1979. The people involved were all members of the Oxford University Dangerous Sports Club… oo-er!

12. The popular blackcurrant squash drink, Ribena was invented in Bristol in 1933 by Vernon Charley, a scientist at the University of Bristol. Did you also know? The name Ribena comes from the botanical name for the blackcurrant, which is Ribes nigrum.

13. 25% of the world’s nature documentaries are produced in Bristol, many of which star the infamous David Attenborough.

14. In previous centuries, Bristol was a large maritime trader of tobacco, wine, cotton and even slaves. Today, the city is the largest importer of motor vehicles to the UK, as well as grain, timber, fresh produce and petroleum products.

A close-up photo of the SS Great Britain ship, complete with multicultural flags flying

15. Bristol is also the world’s largest manufacturer of hot air balloons… in that case, it makes sense that Bristol is also home to Europe’s largest annual meeting of hot air balloons at the International Balloon Fiesta held every August.

16. Bristol is the true home of Wallace and Gromit as the cartoons and movies were all filmed in Bristol!

17. The infamous pirate Captain Blackbeard was born and raised in Bristol. He also once had a hideaway cave under the St. Mary Redcliffe Church.

18. Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous book, Treasure Island features many locations around Bristol. The connection to Blackbeard is probably why!

19. Part of New York City, the Waterside Plaza in Manhattan to be exact, was built with rubble from Bristol after the English city was bombed in WWII. You can even find a plaque next to the fountains at the plaza to commemorate this relationship!

A glimpse of the streets of New York from behind a rain spattered window

20. Large publishing house, Penguin Books, started out in a Bristol vending machine. Allen Lane, previous Bristolian resident and the founder of Penguin Books, wanted to make literature more affordable by selling paperbacks from vending machines for the same price as a pack of cigarettes.

21. Up until the introduction of train travel in 1840, Bristol used to have its own timezone and ran 10 minutes behind London-time. The clock on the Exchange building on Corn Street still has Bristol’s old time on it — the red minute hand shows Greenwich Mean Time and the black minute hand shows Bristol time.

22. Hollywood legend Cary Grant was born in Bristol in 1904… and his first ever role in theatre was working at The Bristol Hippodrome!

23. Concorde, the world’s first commercial supersonic jet, was designed and built in Filton in Bristol… today, Filton is now home to another aerospace giant: Airbus.

Did you learn something new about my favourite UK city? Or do you know of a fact about Bristol that is missing? Let me know in the comments!

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Justine Jenkins

Justine is one half of the married couple behind the Wanderers of the World travel blog. She lives in Bristol, UK and has travelled extensively within Europe and beyond since 2013. After her trips, she shares detailed travel itineraries, helpful travel guides and inspiring blog posts about the places she's been to. When she's not travelling overseas, you'll find her joining her husband, Scott on various day trips, weekend getaways and walks within the UK, which she also writes about on Wanderers of the World. Aside from travelling and writing, she also loves reading, crafting and learning about nature.

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