Learn more about Bristol
|Status|| Ceremonial county,|
City and Unitary district
|Region||South West England|
| Ranked 47th|
|Traditional county|| County corporate|
|OS grid reference||ST5946972550|
- Total (2005 est.)
3,639 / km²
|Ethnicity|| 91.8% White|
2.9% S. Asian
2.08% Mixed Race
Bristol City Council
|Control|| No overall control|
Lib Dem Minority
|Leadership||Leader & Cabinet|
|Members of Parliament|
With a population of 400,000, and metropolitan area of 550,000, it is England's sixth, and the United Kingdom's ninth, most populous city, and one of England's core cities. It received a royal charter in 1155 and was granted county status in 1373. For half a millennium it was the second or third largest English city, until the rapid rise of Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham in the Industrial Revolution of the 1780s. It borders on the unitary districts of Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, and has a short coastline on the Bristol Channel.
Bristol is one of the centres of culture, employment and education in the region. From its earliest days, its prosperity has been linked to that of the Port of Bristol, the commercial port, which was in the city centre but has now moved to the Bristol Channel coast at Avonmouth and Portbury. In more recent years the economy has been built on the aerospace industry, and the city centre docks have been regenerated as a centre of heritage and culture. The city is famous for its music and film industries, and was a finalist for the 2008 European Capital of Culture.
There is evidence of settlement in the Bristol area from the palaeolithic era, with 60,000-year-old archaeological finds at Shirehampton and St Annes.<ref>Bristol City Council, The Palaeolithic in Bristol</ref> There are iron age hill forts near the city, at Leigh Woods and Clifton Down on the side of the Avon Gorge, and on Kingsweston Hill, near Henbury.<ref>Bristol City Council, Bristol in the Iron Age.</ref> During the Roman era there was a settlement, Abona, at what is now Sea Mills, connected to Bath by Roman road, and another settlement at what is now Inns Court. There were also isolated Roman villas and small Roman settlements throughout the area.<ref>Bristol City Council, Bristol in the Roman Period.</ref>
The town of Brycgstow (Old English, "the place at the bridge") was in existence by the beginning of the 11th century, and under Norman rule acquired one of the strongest castles in southern England.<ref>See Bristol Castle for list of references.</ref> The River Avon in the city centre has evolved into Bristol Harbour, and since the 12th century the harbour has been an important port, handling much of England's trade with Ireland. In 1247 a new bridge was built and the town was extended to incorporate neighbouring suburbs, becoming in 1373 a county in its own right.<ref name=rayfield>Jack Rayfield, 1985. Avon & Somerset. London: Cadogan.</ref> During this period Bristol also became a centre of shipbuilding and manufacturing. Bristol was the starting point for many important voyages, notably John Cabot's 1497 voyage of exploration to North America.
By the 14th century Bristol was England's third-largest town (after London and York), with perhaps 15-20,000 inhabitants on the eve of the Black Death of 1348-49.<ref>Love my town, Largest towns in England in 1334</ref> The plague inflicted a prolonged pause in the growth of Bristol's population, with numbers remaining at 10-12,000 through most of the 15th and 16th centuries. The Diocese of Bristol was founded in 1542<ref> "Pictorial Record of Bristol's History"</ref>, with the former Abbey of St Augustine becoming Bristol Cathedral. Traditionally this is equivalent to the town being granted city status. During the 1640s Civil War the city suffered through Royalist military occupation and plague.
Renewed growth came with the 17th-century rise of England's American colonies and the rapid 18th-century expansion of England's part in the Atlantic trade in Africans taken for slavery in the Americas. Bristol, along with Liverpool, became a centre for the slave trade although few slaves were brought to Britain. During the height of the slave trade, from 1700 to 1807, more than 2000 slaving ships were fitted out at Bristol, carrying a (conservatively) estimated half a million people from Africa to the Americas and slavery.<ref>British Empire & Commonwealth Museum, n.d. "News Release." (PDF)</ref> Fishermen who left Bristol were long part of the migratory fishery to the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and began settling that island permanently in larger numbers around this time. Bristol's strong nautical ties meant that maritime safety was an important issue in the city, In the 19th century Samuel Plimsoll, "the sailor's friend", campaigned to make the seas safer. He was shocked by the scandal of overloaded cargoes and successfully fought for a compulsory loadline on ships.
Competition from Liverpool from c.1760, the disruption of maritime commerce through war with France (1793) and the abolition of the slave trade (1807) contributed to the city's failure to keep pace with the newer manufacturing centres of the North and Midlands. The passage up the heavily tidal Avon Gorge, which had made the port highly secure during the middle ages, had become a liability which the construction of a new "Floating Harbour" (designed by William Jessop) in 1804–9 failed to overcome. Nevertheless, Bristol's population (66,000 in 1801) quintupled during the 19th century, supported by new industries and growing commerce. It was particularly associated with the Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who designed the Great Western Railway between Bristol and London, two pioneering Bristol-built steamships, and the Clifton Suspension Bridge. John Wesley founded the very first Methodist Chapel, in Bristol in 1739.
Bristol's city centre suffered severe damage from bombing during World War II. The original central shopping area, near the bridge and castle, is now a park containing two bombed out churches and some tiny fragments of the castle. A third bombed church nearby, St Nicholas, has been restored and currently houses private city council offices despite containing a triptych by William Hogarth, painted for the high altar of St Mary Redcliffe in 1756. The rebuilding of Bristol city centre was characterised by large, cheap tower blocks, brutalist architecture and expansion of roads. Since the 1980s this trend has changed with the closure of some main roads, the restoration of the Georgian period Queen's and Portland Squares, the demolition and rebuilding of the Broadmead shopping centre (at 2006 in progress) and the demolition of the city centre's tallest post-war blocks.<ref>BBC News, 2006. "Demolition of city tower begins." 13 January 2006.</ref> The removal of the docks to Avonmouth, seven miles (11 km) downstream from the city centre has also allowed redevelopment of the old central dock area (the "Floating Harbour") in recent decades, although at one time the continued existence of the docks was in jeopardy as it was viewed as a derelict industrial site rather than an asset.
 Economy and industry
As well as Bristol's nautical connections, the city's economy is reliant on the aerospace industry, the media, information technology and financial services sectors and tourism.<ref>Bristol City Council, "Bristol Economy Key Sectors."</ref> In 1998 Bristol's GDP was £6.224 billion GBP, and the combined GDP of South Gloucestershire, North Somerset and B&NES was £6.98 billion. The GDP per head was £15,472, making the city more affluent than the UK as a whole, at 23% above the national average.<ref name=rt36>Office for National Statistics, 2001. Regional Trends, no. 36. (PDF)</ref> This makes it the second-highest per-capita GDP of an English city, after London, and 34th in the European Union, as well as the only English core city with a GDP above the national average.<ref>Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, 2004. "Competitive European Cities: Where do the Core Cities stand? Urban Research Summary 13." Page 12 (PDF).</ref> In December 2005, Bristol's unemployment rate was 5.2%, compared to 3.6% for the south west and 4.8% for the United Kingdom.<ref>Nomis, 2005. "Bristol labour market." (PDF).</ref>
While Bristol's economy is no longer reliant upon its port, the city is the largest importer of cars to the UK. Since the port was leased in 1991, £330 million has been invested and the annual tonnage throughput has increased from 4m tonnes to 12m tonnes.<ref>B&NES Economic Development Unit, n.d. "Key Facts & Figures." Accessed 2006-08-28.</ref> The financial services sector employs 40,000 in the city, and the hi-tech sector is important, with 400 micro-electronics and silicon design companies, as well as the Hewlett-Packard national research laboratories. Bristol is the UK's seventh most popular destination for foreign tourists, and the city receives nine million visitors each year.<ref>Bristol City Council, Bristol Today - an overview of the city</ref>
In the 20th century, Bristol's manufacturing activities expanded to include aircraft production at Filton, by the Bristol Aeroplane Company, and aero-engine manufacture by Bristol Aero Engines (later Rolls-Royce) at Patchway. The aeroplane company became famous for the World War I Bristol Fighter, and Second World War Blenheim and Beaufighter aircraft. In the 1950s it became one of the country's major manufacturers of civil aircraft, with the Bristol Freighter and Britannia and the huge Brabazon airliner. The Bristol Aeroplane Company diversified into car manufacturing in the 1940s, building luxury hand-built cars at their factory in Filton, under the name Bristol Cars, which became independent from the Bristol Aeroplane Company in 1960.
In the 1960s Filton played a key role in the Anglo-French Concorde supersonic airliner project. Concorde components were manufactured in British and French factories and shipped to the two final assembly plants, in Toulouse and Filton. The French manufactured the centre fuselage and centre wing and the British the nose, rear fuselage, fin and wingtips, while the Rolls-Royce/Snecma 593 engine's manufacture was split between Rolls-Royce (Filton) and SNECMA (Paris). The British Concorde prototype made its maiden flight from Filton to RAF Fairford on 9 April 1969, five weeks after the French test flight. In 2003 British Airways and Air France decided to cease flying the aircraft and to retire them to locations (mostly museums) around the world. On 26 November 2003, Concorde 216 made the final Concorde flight, returning to Filton airfield to be kept there permanently as the centrepiece of a projected air museum. This museum will include the existing Bristol Aero Collection, which includes a Bristol Britannia aircraft.
The major aerospace companies in Bristol now are BAE Systems, Airbus and Rolls-Royce, all based at Filton. Another important aviation company in the city is Cameron Balloons, the world's largest manufacturer of hot air balloons. Each August the city is host to the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, one of Europe's largest hot air balloon events.
The city has two League football clubs: Bristol City who play in League One and Bristol Rovers who play in League Two, as well as a number of non-league clubs. The city is also home to Bristol Rugby rugby union club, which has won promotion to the Guinness Premiership, a first-class cricket side, Gloucestershire C.C.C. and a Rugby League Conference side, the Bristol Sonics. The city also stages an annual half marathon, and in 2001 played host to the World Half Marathon Championships.
In summer the grounds of Ashton Court to the west of the city play host to the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, a major event for hot-air ballooning in the UK. The Fiesta draws a substantial crowd even for the early morning lift that typically begins at about 6.30 am. Events and a fairground entertain the crowds during the day. A second mass ascent is then made in the early evening, again taking advantage of lower wind speeds. Ashton Court also plays host to the Ashton Court festival each summer, an outdoors music festival which used to be known as the Bristol Community Festival.
The city's principal theatre company, the Bristol Old Vic, was founded in 1946 as an offshoot of the Old Vic company in London. Its premises on King Street consist of the 1766 Theatre Royal (400 seats), a modern studio theatre called the New Vic (150 seats), and foyer and bar areas in the adjacent Coopers' Hall (built 1743). The Theatre Royal is a grade I listed building and the oldest continuously-operating theatre in England. The Prestigious Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, which had originated in King street is now a separate company. The Bristol Hippodrome is a larger theatre (1981 seats) which hosts national touring productions, while the 2000-seat Colston Hall, named after Edward Colston, is the city's main concert venue. Other theatres include the Tobacco Factory, QEH and Redgrave Theatres. Bristol is home to many live music venues, of which The Old Duke is perhaps the best known.
The music scene is thriving. From the late 1970s onwards it was home to a crop of cultish bands combining punk, funk, dub and political consciousness, the most celebrated being The Pop Group. Ten years later, Bristol was the birthplace of a type of English hip-hop music called trip hop or the "Bristol Sound", from artists such as Tricky, Portishead, Smith & Mighty and Massive Attack. It is also a stronghold of drum & bass with notable artists such as the Mercury Prize winning Roni Size/Reprazent as well as the pioneering DJ Krust and More Rockers. This music is part of the wider Bristol urban culture scene which received international media attention in the 1990s and still thrives. Bristol is also home to an alternative music scene, including bands and artists as diverse as Gravenhurst, Termites, Ivory Springer, Big Joan, Chikinki, Madnomad, Bronnt Industries Kapital, Geisha, SJ Esau, Mooz, Soeza, Rose Kemp, Onedice and Hunting Lodge.
The Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery houses a collection of natural history, archaeology, local glassware, Chinese ceramics and art. The Bristol Industrial Museum, on the dockside, showed local industrial heritage and operated a steam railway, boat trips, and working dockside cranes. The Indusrial Museum was closed in October 2006 for complete renovation and will become the Museum of Bristol.
The City Museum also runs three preserved historic houses: the Tudor Red Lodge, the Georgian House, and Blaise Castle House. The Watershed Media Centre and Arnolfini gallery, both in disused dockside warehouses, exhibit contemporary art, photography and cinema.
Stop frame animation films and commercials produced by Aardman Animations and high quality television series focusing on the natural world have also brought fame and artistic credit to the city. The city is home to the regional headquarters of BBC West, and the BBC Natural History Unit. Locations in and around Bristol often feature in the BBC's natural history programmes, including the cult children's television programme Animal Magic, filmed at Bristol Zoo.
In literature Bristol is noted as the birth place of Thomas Chatterton, chief poet of the 18th-century Gothic literary revival, England's youngest writer of mature verse, and precursor of the Romantic movement. Robert Southey was born in Wine Street, Bristol in 1774, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Southey married the Bristol Fricker sisters; and William Wordsworth spent time in the city where Joseph Cottle first published Lyrical Ballads in 1798.
The 18th and 19th century portrait painter Sir Thomas Lawrence and 19th century architect Francis Greenway, designer of many of Sydney's first buildings, came from the city, and more recently the graffiti artist Banksy. Some famous comedians are locals, including Justin Lee Collins, Lee Evans, and writer/comedian Stephen Merchant.
Bristol University graduates are the satirist Chris Morris, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost of Spaced and Shaun of the Dead and Matt Lucas and David Walliams of Little Britain fame. Hollywood actor Cary Grant was born in the city, Patrick Stewart, Jane Lapotaire, Pete Postlethwaite, Jeremy Irons, Greta Scacchi, Miranda Richardson, Helen Baxendale, Daniel Day-Lewis, Gene Wilder and Tony Robinson (Blackadder) are amongst the many actors who learnt their craft at the world famous Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, opened by Sir Lawrence Olivier in 1946 and Hugo Weaving (Agent Smith, The Matrix) studied at Queen Elizabeth's Hospital School.
Bristol has a daily morning newspaper, the Western Daily Press; an evening paper, the Evening Post; a weekly free newspaper, the Bristol Observer; and a Bristol edition of the free Metro newspaper. The local weekly listings magazine, Venue, covers the city's music, theatre and arts scenes. All of these papers are owned by the Northcliffe Group.<ref>Daily Mail General Trust, 2006. "Northcliffe Newspapers Group Structure."</ref> The city has several local radio stations, including BBC Radio Bristol, GWR FM, Classic Gold 1260 and a university station, The Hub.
A distinctive dialect of English is spoken by some Bristol inhabitants, known colloquially as Brizzle or Bristle. This dialect is not common in the City and a visitor to Bristol is unlikely to hear it. Unusually for an urban area of England, it is a rhotic dialect, in which the r in words like car is pronounced. The unusual feature of this dialect, unique to Bristol, is the Bristol L (or terminal L), in which an L sound is appended to words that end in a letter a.<ref>Harry Stoke & Vinny Green, 2003. A Dictionary of Bristle. Bristol: Broadcast Books.</ref> Thus "area" becomes "areal", etc. This is how the city's name evolved from Brycgstow to have a final 'L' sound: Bristol. Further Bristolian linguistic features are:-
- The addition of a superfluous "to" in questions relating to direction or orientation, or using "to" instead of "at".
- Using male pronouns "he", "him" instead of "it".
 Politics and government
Bristol City Council consists of 70 councillors representing 35 wards. They are elected in thirds with two councillors per ward, each serving a four-year term. Wards never have both councillors up for election at the same time, so effectively two-thirds of the wards are up each election.<ref>Bristol City Council, "Wards up for future elections." Accessed 10 April 2006.</ref> The Council has long been dominated by the Labour Party, but recently the Liberal Democrats have grown strong in the city and took minority control of the Council in 2005. The Council Leader is Liberal Democrat Councillor Barbara Janke and the Lord Mayor is Conservative Councillor Peter Abraham.<ref>Bristol City Council, "List of councillors." Accessed 10 April 2006.</ref>
Bristol's constituencies in the House of Commons cross the borders with neighbouring authorities, and the city is divided into Bristol West, East, South and North-west and Kingswood. Northavon also covers some of the suburbs, but none of the administrative county. At the next General Election, the boundaries will be changed to coincide with the county boundary. Kingswood will no longer cover any of the county, and a new Filton and Bradley Stoke constituency will include the suburbs in South Gloucestershire. There are currently four Labour and one Liberal Democrat Members of Parliaments.<ref>Bristol City Council, 2005. "Bristol's Members of Parliament and Members of the European Parliament." Accessed 10 April 2006.</ref>
Bristol has a tradition of local political activism, and has been home to many important political figures. Tony Benn, a veteran left-wing politician, was Member of Parliament (MP) for Bristol South East from 1950 to 1983. Edmund Burke, MP for the Bristol constituency for six years from 1774, famously insisted that he was a Member of Parliament first, rather than a representative of his constituents' interests. In 1963, Paul Stephenson led a boycott of the city's buses after the Bristol Omnibus Co. refused to employ black drivers and conductors. The boycott is known to have influenced the creation of the UK's Race Relations Act in 1965.<ref>Alan Rusbridger, 2005. "In praise of... the Race Relations Acts." The Guardian Leader, 2005-11-10.</ref> The women's rights campaigner Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence (1867–1954) was born in Bristol. Local support of fair trade issues was recognised in 2005 when Bristol was granted Fairtrade City status.<ref>Bristol City Council, 2005. "Press Release: Bristol is a Fairtrade City!." Accessed 2006-04-10.</ref>
Bristol is unusual in having been a city with county status since medieval times. The county was expanded to include suburbs such as Clifton in 1835, and it was named a county borough in 1889, when the term was first introduced.<ref name=rayfield/> However, on 1 April 1974, it became a local government district of the short-lived county of Avon. On 1 April 1996, it once again regained its independence and county status, when the county of Avon was abolished and Bristol became a Unitary Authority.
In 2004 the Office for National Statistics estimated the county's population at 393,900, making it the 47th-largest ceremonial county in England.<ref>See List of ceremonial counties of England by population</ref> Using Census 2001 data the ONS estimated the contiguous built-up area to be 420,556,<ref>Office for National Statistics, Census 2001. "Usual resident population."</ref> and metropolitan area to be 550,000.<ref>Office for national Statistics, 2001. "The UK’s major urban areas." (PDF)</ref> This makes the city England's sixth most populous city, and seventh most populous metropolitan area.<ref>See List of English cities by population.</ref> At 3,599 people per square kilometre it has the seventh-highest population density of any English district.<ref>See List of English districts by population.</ref>
In the 2001 census 91.83% of the population described themselves as white, 2.85% as South Asian, 2.32% as black, 2.08% as mixed race, 0.56% as Chinese and 0.34% other. National averages were 90.92%, 4.58%, 2.3%, 1.31%, 0.45% and 0.44% for the same groups.<ref>Office for National Statistics, 2001. "Key Statistics 06: Ethnic group."</ref> Sixty percent of Bristol's population registered their religion as Christianity, and 25% as not religious in the 2001 census, compared to 72% and 15% nationally. Two percent of the population follow Islam (3% nationally), with no other religion above one percent.<ref>Office for National Statistics, Census 2001. "Key Statistics 07: Religion."</ref> Bristol had the ninth highest proportion of people refer to their religion in the last census as 'Jedi'.<ref>Office for National Statistics, Census 2001. Ethnicity and Religion: 'Jedi'</ref>
 Physical geography
Bristol is in a limestone area, which forms to the Mendip Hills to the south and the Cotswolds to the north east.<ref>See Geology of the United Kingdom.</ref> The rivers Avon and Frome cut through this limestone to the underlying clays, creating Bristol's characteristic hilly lansdscape. The Avon flows from Bath in the east, through flood plains and areas which were marshy before the growth of the city. To the west the Avon has cut through the limestone to form the Avon Gorge, partly aided by glacial meltwater after the last ice age. The gorge aided in the protection of Bristol Harbour, and has been quarried for stone to build the city. The land surrounding the gorge has been protected from development, as The Downs and Leigh Woods. The gorge and estuary of the Avon form the county's boundary with North Somerset, and the river flows into the Bristol Channel at Avonmouth at the mouth of the River Severn. There is another gorge in the city, in the Blaise Castle estate to the north.
Situated in the south of the country, Bristol is one of the warmest cities in the UK, with a mean annual temperature of 10.2-12°C.<ref>Met Office, 2000. "Average annual temperature."</ref> It is also amongst the sunniest, with 1541-1885 hours sunshine per year.<ref>Met Office, 2000. "Average annual sunshine."</ref> The city is partially sheltered by Exmoor and the Mendip Hills, but exposed from the Bristol Channel, and annual rainfall is similar to the national average, at 741-1060 mm.<ref>Met Office, 2000. "Average annual rainfall."</ref>
Bristol is home to two major institutions of higher education: the University of Bristol, a "redbrick" chartered in 1909, and the University of the West of England, formerly Bristol Polytechnic, which gained university status in 1992. The city also has two dedicated further education institutions, City of Bristol College and Filton College, and two theological colleges, Trinity College, Bristol & Wesley College, Bristol. The Create centre is home to many sustainable development projects and life-long learning schemes. The city has 129 infants and primary schools,<ref>Bristol LEA, List of primary schools in Bristol. Accessed 2006-04-13.</ref> 17 secondary schools,<ref>Bristol LEA, List of secondary schools in Bristol. Accessed 2006-04-13.</ref> and three city learning centres. There are also many independent schools of a high quality in the city, including Colston's Collegiate School, Clifton College, Badminton School, Bristol Cathedral School, Bristol Grammar School, Redland High School, Queen Elizabeth's Hospital - an all-boys school, the only one of its kind in the area and Red Maids' School, the oldest girls' school in England, founded in 1634 by John Whitson.
In 2005 the Chancellor of the Exchequer recognised Bristol's strong ties to science and technology by naming it one of three "science cities", and promising funding for further development of science in the city,<ref>Eric Thomas, 2005. "Vice-Chancellor's speeches and articles." University of Bristol.</ref> with a £300 million "Science Park" planned at Emerson's Green.<ref>BBC News Online, 2006. "City science park partner named."</ref> As well as research at the two universities and Southmead Hospital, science education is important in the city, with At-Bristol, Bristol Zoo and Bristol Festival of Nature being prominent educational organisations. The city has a history of scientific achievement, including Sir Humphry Davy, the 19th century scientist who worked in Hotwells and discovered laughing gas. Bishopston has given the world two Nobel Prize winning physicists: Paul Dirac for crucial contributions to quantum mechanics in 1933, and Cecil Frank Powell, for a photographic method of studying nuclear processes and associated discoveries in 1950. The city was birth place of Colin Pillinger, planetary scientist behind the Beagle 2 Mars lander project, and is home to Adam Hart-Davis, presenter of various science related television programmes, and the psychologists Susan Blackmore, Richard Gregory, and Derren Brown.
There are two principal railway stations in Bristol, Bristol Parkway and Bristol Temple Meads, and there are scheduled coach links to most major UK cities. The city is connected by road on an east-west axis from London to Wales by the M4 motorway, and on a north-southwest axis from Birmingham to Exeter by the M5 motorway. Also within the county is the M49 motorway, a shortcut between the M5 in the south and M4 Severn Crossing in the west. The M32 motorway is a spur from the M4 to the city centre. The city is also served by its own airport, Bristol International (BRS), at Lulsgate, which has recently seen substantial investments in its runway, terminal and other facilities.
Public transport in the city consists largely of its bus network, provided by First Group. Buses in the city have been criticised for being unreliable and expensive, and in 2005 First were fined for delays and safety violations.<ref>Kerry McCarthy, et al, 2006-01-17. Oral Answers to Questions — Transport, House of Commons / Hansard.</ref><ref>BBC News Online, 2005. "Bus firm must reduce city fleet."</ref> Use of private cars in Bristol is high, and the city suffers from congestion problems, estimated to cost the economy £350 million per year.<ref name=ltp06.1>B&NES, Bristol City, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire councils, 2006. "Joint Local Transport Plan." Chapter 1. (PDF)</ref> Since 2000 the city council has included a light rail system in its Local Transport Plan, but has so far been unable to fund the project. The city was offered European Union funding for the system, but the Department for Transport did not provide the required additional funding.<ref>James Skinner, 2006. "Memorandum on Government Discrimination against Innovative Low-cost Light Rail in favour of Urban Diesel Buses." Sustraco / H.M. Treasury.</ref> As well as support for public transport, there are several road building schemes supported by the local council, including re-routing and improving the South Bristol Ring Road.<ref>Atkins, 2005. "Greater Bristol Strategic Transport Study." Chapter 6.</ref> The central part of the city has water-based transport, operated as the Bristol Ferry Boat, which provide both leisure and commuter services on the harbour.
Bristol was never well served by suburban railways, though the Severn Beach Line to Avonmouth and Severn Beach survived the Beeching Axe and is still in operation. The Portishead Railway was closed to passengers under the Beeching Axe, but was relaid in 2000-2002 as far as the Royal Portbury Dock with a Strategic Rail Authority rail-freight grant. Plans to relay a further three miles of track to Portishead, a largely dormitory town with only one connecting road, have been discussed but there is insufficient funding to rebuild stations.<ref>House of Commons Debate, 2005. "Bristol-Portishead Rail Link." Hansard, Monday, 24 January 2005.</ref>
Despite being hilly, Bristol is one of the prominent cycling cities of England, and is home to the national cycle campaigning group Sustrans. It has a number of urban cycle routes, as well as links to National Cycle Network routes to Bath and London, to Gloucester and Wales, and to the south-western peninsula of England. Cycling has grown rapidly in the city, at 1.64% between 1991 and 2001, and 21% between 2001 and 2005.<ref>John Parkin, Bolton Institute Comparisons of cycle use for the journey to work from the 1981, 1991 and 2001 censuses. Traffic Engineering and Control, September 2003, cited in "Lies, damn lies and statistics." Accessed 2006-04-12.</ref><ref name=ltp06.1/>
 Twin cities
Bristol was amongst the first cities to adopt the idea of town twinning. In 1947 it was twinned with Bordeaux and Hanover, the first post-war twinning of British and German cities. It is currently twinned with:<ref>Bristol City Council, "Town twinning." Accessed 2006-04-10.</ref>
- Image:Flag of France.svg Bordeaux, France, since 1947
- Image:Flag of Mozambique.svg Beira, Mozambique, since 1990
- Image:Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg Guangzhou, China, since 2001
- Image:Flag of Germany.svg Hanover, Germany, since 1947
- Image:Flag of Nicaragua.svg Puerto Morazan, Nicaragua, since 1989
- Image:Flag of Portugal.svg Porto, Portugal, since 1984
- Image:Flag of Georgia (bordered).svg Tbilisi, Georgia, since 1988
 See also
- List of places in Bristol
- List of people from Bristol
- W.D. & H.O. Wills
- Bristol Reservoirs
- Bristol's parks
- Maltese cross (unofficial county flower)
- List of photographs of Bristol
 External links
- Visit Bristol — official tourist office site
- Bristol travel guide from Wikitravel
- About Bristol — pictorial tours of Bristol
- Photographs of Bristol
- BBC Bristol; Local news, webcams
- Bristol City Council
- Dictionary of local dialect words
- Bristol Wards Information; Bristol City Council's official information on the many wards that constitute the city
- Webpage on the Civil War fortifications of Bristol
- Bristol Indymedia - open news publishing project
- Bristol Memories Past and Present
- Bristol Past — includes articles on Bristol history from the 18th to 20th centuries
- A Few Views of Bristol in Old Postcards
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