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About Bristol

Situated on the river Avon in the West Country, Bristol is a city with a long history and a great tradition of seafaring. Rich in heritage sites and architecture, it has been a major port for over a millennium and it was and is still - albeit to a lesser degree, one of the important trading cities of England.

In earlier times its trade in wool, leather, wine, and salt with the major countries in Europe and further afield, earned it the recognition of being the second city in England in terms of wealth and importance. Later, Bristol became the principal British port for the American and West Indian trade. It was a major slaving port with traders sailing down to the west coast of Africa to regions such as Benin and the Fever Coast to load their tragic human cargo for transportation to America and the Indies. Here they would exchange the slaves for sugar before returning to Bristol. Bristol went on to became an important sugar refining centre and many merchants became unbelievable rich even by today's standards. Shipbuilding too became a major industry in the city with Bristol built ships famous for their sailing lines and quality of finish hence the expression of something well turned out being shipshape and Bristol fashion'. Brunel built his magnificent steamship the Great Britain here and it can be seen today in the Great Western dock.

The city's Harbour has undergone an extensive programme of refurbishment. The warehouses that used to hold all that sugar, spice and wool have been transformed into fashionable cafes, top class restaurants and wine bars with good art galleries thrown in. I wonder what those hard bitten, sailors would have made of it.

Must See in Bristol

In Bristol itself, visit the Matthew and the Bristol Industrial Museum, on the quayside for the full story of Bristol's seafaring and industrial history and the men who made their fortunes from it. A trip out to the S.S. Great Britain is very worthwhile.

The Cotswold Hills lie north and the countryside of South Gloucestershire to the east. The road to Gloucester will take you to Berkeley, with its 12th century castle and the Edward Jenner Museum and a little further on you will reach Slimbridge, Sir Peter Scott's famous Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, with its amazing variety of birds of all kinds in a spectacular setting.

Events in Bristol

July - St Paul's Carnival - The Notting Hill of the west

July - The Royal International Air Tattoo - about an hour's drive away at RAF Fairford near Swindon.

August - International Balloon Fiesta - an amazing sight