Once Home to one of England’s biggest dockyards and slave trade harbers in England, Bristol is rich with history, controversial history, but streets of history. I have lived in the Bristol area my whole life, been to school there, have family there and have seen myself the old houses and docking sites where the history was once alive and current. From where the slaves would have been brought in, to where they would have spent their lives working in terrible conditions, the scars left behind are visible all over the city; painted on walls and pavements across the streets and roads.
Though the slave trade itself is (and for good reason) frowned upon, good things did come from it. For example, one man in particular, Edward Colston, made a great fortune from the trade and though Much of it went towards himself and his family, there was a large amount put into charity savings, which later opened a boys school (colstons collegiate school) and a girls school ( colstons girls school) aswell as other things. You can see the name all over the city (particularly in the city centre) even though a few of these places have chosen to change the controversial name over the years.
Over 3.4 million slaves were brought into the Bristol harbour, with historical evidence of this shown in multiple museums located around the city, you can enjoy a good couple of days out, learning dressing up and having fun in Bristol learning about the history that happened aswell as what happened afterwards. Each of the museums are family friendly and openly incorporating old artefacts and log books , not only about the slave trade, but also about other historical elements, from dinosaurs to transport, between them the museums give you all the information you could desire from a day out in Bristol.
From the slave trade, derived Bristol blue glass; as you can tell from the name, Bristol blue glass is blue, glass and originally from Bristol. The glass is a symbolic characteristic for Bristol, though only a handful of shops remain. The glass symbolises the dockyards and costal areas found in and around the Bristol area, the glass itself isn’t overly expensive and comes in multiple shapes and designs, from vases to windchimes.
Bristol has lots of hidden history aswell, for example, I bet you didn’t know that the well known ‘cowboy hat’ design was created in a small village on the outskirts of Bristol called Frampton cotterell, in a now House, known as the ‘hat factory’ (fitting name).
Another little secret history Bristol holds is more of a current mystery, Banksy, is a name most people in Bristol would recognise, the street artists work can be seen all around the city and although his work is not liked by all and his identity remains a secret, most people would recognise his work if they saw it, the art itself is usually based upon historical or current issues happening world wide, though others are simply Banksys view on things, for example one of the most well known prices is of a pair of sillouhettes climbing down a wall on a rope; the peice itself can be interpreted in many ways, and like the others, it seemed to appear overnight. Banksy has appeared on tv a handful of times and although he has been interviewed during these ‘appearances’ his identity has managed to stay a secret.
The wallace and grommit trail is a newer aspect that’s adding to Bristol’s history, with a completed trail and collection, to the month old additions to a newer trail popping up; another day out in and around Bristol is emmerging for families and friends to explore and enjoy.
From new to old, another trail (in a way) is known to Bristolians, aswell as most other people, is the suspension bridge, spanning across the Avon gorge and the river Avon. Built in 1831, at a height of 101m tall, Brunels famous bridge has since been used by millions of people; either passing through or on their daily commute.
Another of Brunels famous builds, was the SS Great Britain (built in 1843). This too is located in Bristol, though it is not only located here to be seen from an outside point of view; the ship is now an open museum that is filled with life size, realistic ideas of what it would have been like inside, down to the last detail; it even includes a sick room. The ship/ museum is open for most of he year and has only a small entry charge, the family can enjoy a nice day out on the historical build; a bonus for ship lovers aswell.
Bristol has much to give, but aswell as a bonus for ship/boat lovers, it also has a more hidden bonus for plane lovers, did you know that a plane, that was once honoured, once flew with the red kites, was once thought to be the fastest plane was built in Bristol, Concord was built and is still housed in Bristol( it is currently in the Bristol aerospace museum).
As you can see, Bristol’s history has played a big part of sculpting the city today, filling it with identity and days out anyone could enjoy, but don’t take my word for it, come visit the beautiful, bustling, bright Bristol.