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Bristol Area Guide

Clifton Bridge, Bristol Image courtesy of Flickr user Duncan Hull

Bristol is the south-west of England's centre for arts, culture, employment and education. Sitting along the Bristol Channel, it has long been a hub for shipping and trade in England, but it has recently modernised, drawing in creative media, electronics and aerospace companies.

The Luftwaffe air raids severely affected Bristol, killing 1300 people, destroying 3000 buildings and damaging almost 100,000. There is now a memorial park in the city centre with the remains of two churches and some parts of the castle. Rebuilding of the city in the 1960s saw many brutalist buildings being constructed, but in the 1980s, a concerted effort to restore Georgian buildings and squares and to regenerate many neighbourhoods was undertaken.

Demographics

The population of Bristol is around 428,100, rising to 551,000 when the surrounding areas are taken into account. According to the 2011 census, 84% of the population is white, 6% is black, 5.5% is Asian, about 3.5% is mixed race and just over 0.5% is made up of other ethnicities.

There are more children under sixteen than there are people eligible for pension. This large population of young people is reflected in the large number of schools in the area.

Education

The independent schools and the outstanding primary schools, such as Ashley Down Primary School and Brentry Primary School, are generally clustered in the north-western part of Bristol, though there are some in other parts of the city. Outside of the north west of the city, most primary schools tend to be rated good.

Outstanding secondary schools include St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School and the Sir Bernard Lovell School, and there are good schools evenly spread throughout the area. Independent secondary schools are still clustered in the west, however.

Bristol also has two universities, the redbrick University of Bristol and the University of the West of England, formerly the Bristol Polytechnic.

Transport

Bristol is connected to Wales and London via the M4 motorway and Birmingham and Exeter on the M5. The M32 runs from the M4 to the city centre, and the M49 links the M4 and the M5 to the west of the city.

The city has two main rail stations: Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway. Temple Meads has high-speed services to London and routes across the region, and Parkway is a stop along the line from Cardiff to London.

Amenities and Shopping

As the biggest city in the south west, Bristol has loads of things to do, from theatre to shopping and sport.

Theatres

The main theatre in the city is the Bristol Old Vic, an offshoot of the London theatre. The Theatre Royal is the oldest continuously operating theatre in England, and it is housed in a grade I listed building. The Bristol Hippodrome is the largest venue in the city, attracting national touring productions. Experimental theatre shows are undertaken by the Arnolfini theatre groups, the Tobacco Factory put on many Shakespeare plays. In fact, there are so many theatres, theatre troupes and actor training facilities (notably the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School) in Bristol that Equity, the actor's union, has a branch in the city.

Music and festivals

Bristol has long had a thriving music scene, from its role in the establishment of trip hop to the current rock and experimental scenes. Colston Hall, the Trinity Centre and the O2 Academy attract big-name acts, and smaller venues like the Anson Rooms in the University of Bristol and The Thekla help promote local talent. There is also a large jazz and blues scene, centred mostly on the Old Duke pub.

Colston Hall often features performances by many international orchestras, and the Bristol Choral Society performs there at least three times a year. St George's Bristol and University of Bristol's Victoria Rooms also host renowned ensembles including the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Bristol Bach Choir and the Bristol Ensemble.

Bristol hosts a lot of festivals. The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta and the Bristol International Festival of Kites and Air Creations light up the sky. The Bristol Harbour Festival brings tall ships and music together, and the St Pauls Carnival is a Caribbean carnival. The Bristol Slapstick Silent Comedy Festival and the Wildscreen Festival celebrate silent films and wildlife documentaries respectively. The Bristol Festival of Ideas features debates, lectures and other events to enrich participants' intellectual lives.

Museums and galleries

The Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery has many exhibitions on natural history, archaeology, Egyptology, ceramics, glassware and art. The Watershed Media Centre showcases photography, digital arts and cinematic works, and the Royal West of England Academy was the first art gallery in Bristol and has many landscapes by William James Müller, Frances Danby and others in its collection. M Shed has exhibitions on Bristol's history, including its dark past as a key port during the slave trade.

Sport

The city's two major football teams are Bristol City F.C. and Bristol Rovers F.C. Bristol Rugby plays in the rugby union, and the Bristol Sonics are in the Rugby League Conference. Additionally, the Gloucestershire County Cricket Club is based in Bristol.

Less mainstream sports such as basketball and American football are gaining popularity in Bristol. The Bristol Storm play in the English Basketball League, and the Bristol Aztecs are in the top division of the British American Football League. The Pitbulls represent the city in the English National Ice Hockey League.

The city hosts a half-marathon every year, and the city council organises Bristol's Biggest Bike Ride annually to raise money for charity. There are several golf courses, municipal pools and tennis courts for fans of individual sports.

Shopping

The Bristol Shopping Quarter is in the middle of the city and is made up of four main areas. Cabot Circus is a shopping centre that includes Harvey Nichols and House of Fraser. Broadmead is a series of pedestrianised streets featuring both high street stores and independent shops. Within Broadmead is The Galleries, an indoor shopping centre with over 100 stores.

Elsewhere, Clifton Village is a Georgian street with upmarket fashion and jewellery boutiques. Park Street is where all the trendsetters get their clothes and music, then get a bite to eat. Gloucester Road is the artistic area, with galleries, studios and unique shops lining the street. The Mall at Cribbs Causeway is just north of the city and has more than 135 stores.

Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure the above information is up to date, some inaccuracies may occur. If you notice any inaccuracies please contact editor@primelocation.com

All information was correct at time of publication and is provided in good faith.