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Dis­tin­guished for its in­de­pen­dent spirit, cul­ture, her­itage and thriv­ing art scene.

Dis­tin­guished for its in­de­pen­dent spirit, cul­ture, her­itage and thriv­ing art scene, Bris­tol has a rich and event­ful his­tory stretch­ing back over many cen­turies. Un­known to many, his­tor­i­cally, there are a myr­iad of con­nec­tions be­tween Bris­tol and the US that un­der­pin the spe­cial re­la­tion­ship that the US and Great Bri­tain are so fa­mous for to­day


In 1497, John Cabot and his crew set sail from Bris­tol aboard the Matthew, hop­ing to find a new route to the Ori­ent. In­stead, they found them­selves on the coast of New­found­land, be­com­ing the orig­i­nal founders of North Amer­ica (not Christo­pher Columbus as many peo­ple believe). Richard Amerike, former Sher­iff of Bris­tol, was re­spon­si­ble for fund­ing Cabot’s voy­age and it is thought that Cabot named his dis­cov­ery af­ter him as a thank you. In­trigu­ingly, Amerike’s coat of arms fea­tures stars and stripes sim­i­lar to the United States flag; a de­sign which pre-dates Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton's con­nec­tion with the con­ti­nent by 300 years. His­tor­i­cally, Bris­tol also played an im­por­tant role in Eng­land's mar­itime trade in to­bacco, wine, cot­ton and other goods with the Amer­i­can colonies pre­sent­ing a myr­iad of op­por­tu­ni­ties for Bris­tol mer­chants, in­clud­ing the no­to­ri­ous slave trade to the West Indies, which made the city a wealthy trad­ing port. Over a thou­sand years ago, Bris­tol's har­bour de­vel­oped around the low­est bridg­ing point of the River Avon but as ships be­came larger and trade in­creased, the quay space be­came over­crowded and Bris­tol Docks Com­pany fi­nally adopted a pro­posal to cre­ate a non-tidal 'Float­ing Har­bour', con­structed be­tween 1804 and 1809, which trapped the wa­ter be­hind lock gates al­low­ing ships to re­main float­ing at all times. The con­tin­ued growth in the size of ships and the nar­row­ness of the river meant ves­sels were later re-routed to Avon­mouth Docks at the Bris­tol Chan­nel. Bris­tol has since been trans­formed into a dy­namic hub for the cre­ative in­dus­tries and the dock­lands, once brim­ming with trade, have be­come an at­trac­tion in them­selves. Based in Bris­tol’s float­ing har­bour for much of the year, the Matthew, a re­con­struc­tion of the boat used by John Cabot, is pop­u­lar for har­bour tours as well as longer sail­ing trips. The city's in­fras­truc­ture boasts a num­ber of his­toric at­trac­tions, pre­served over time and care­fully cu­rated to in­form and ed­u­cate both res­i­dents and tourists.

Berke­ley Cas­tle, just north of the city, has been home to the Berke­ley fam­ily, a longliv­ing and pro­lific fam­ily for over 900 years. In an Amer­i­can an­ces­try se­ries, Courteney Cox vis­ited the cas­tle af­ter 700-year old doc­u­ments al­lowed her to trace her roots back to 1327, when her 18-times great­grand­fa­ther Thomas, third baron of Berkley was the owner of the cas­tle. It was dur­ing this time that the cas­tle was used to im­prison (and al­legedly kill) the de­posed King Ed­ward II. The world’s first Methodist chapel, also known as John Wesley's Chapel or The New Room, is an­other pop­u­lar tourist at­trac­tion in Bris­tol, draw­ing thou­sands of vis­i­tors an­nu­ally to the city. The New Room, is lo­cated right in the heart of Bris­tol's main shop­ping dis­trict and is a sa­cred gem. John Wesley came to Bris­tol in 1739 at the in­vi­ta­tion of Ge­orge White­field, who asked him to take over his work of preach­ing to the open-air crowds, many of whom were poor Bris­to­lians. Wesley preached his first open air ser­mon on April 2nd and by May 9th the re­li­gious so­ci­eties had grown so much that Wesley bought land and laid the foun­da­tion stone of what he called "our New Room in the Horse­fair". A plaque near the pul­pit tells how Wesley, in 1784, or­dained Thomas Coke, who went to Amer­ica and or­dained Fran­cis As­bury. They be­came Bish­ops of the Methodist Epis­co­pal Church in Amer­ica. The New Room is open daily for guests and vis­i­tors can also

see the Charles Wesley House nearby. The room is still used for ser­vices, while up­stairs, the suite of rooms used by the Wes­leys has now been con­verted into an ex­cel­lent, in­ter­ac­tive mu­seum on the his­tory of Method­ism and life in Ge­or­gian Bris­tol. The re­main­der of the build­ing (the new part) is given over to a café, li­brary and re­source cen­tre which is used by Methodist and other groups that visit reg­u­larly, in­clud­ing many from the United States. Brunel's SS Great

Bri­tain was an ad­vanced pas­sen­ger steamship de­signed by Isam­bard King­dom Brunel for transat­lantic ser­vice be­tween Bris­tol and New York. The ship was a world first when she was launched in Bris­tol in 1843, be­ing the first iron steamer to cross the At­lantic and the largest ves­sel at the time. She rev­o­lu­tionised travel to Amer­ica and brought to­gether new tech­nolo­gies in a way that trans­formed world travel. Brunel, the most dar­ing of the great Vic­to­rian en­gi­neers, con­ceived the ground-break­ing com­bi­na­tion of a screw pro­pel­ler, an iron hull, and a mas­sive 1000-horse­power steam en­gine. There is an ad­di­tional, in­cluded, mu­seum on-site ded­i­cated to his ge­nius, called Be­ing Brunel. The SS Great Bri­tain was im­me­di­ately suc­cess­ful and on her maiden voy­age to Amer­ica, eas­ily broke pre­vi­ous speed records. Although ef­fec­tively a pro­to­type, she con­tin­ued sail­ing un­til 1886 and trav­elled thirty-two times around the world and nearly one mil­lion miles at sea. The nav­i­ga­tional mas­ter­piece is one of Eng­land’s best mu­se­ums and the 30-year restora­tion that fol­lowed its re­turn to Bris­tol in 1970 has re­sulted in a mul­ti­sen­sory ex­pe­ri­ence of an ex­cep­tion­ally high stan­dard.

Pic­tured left-right: Artist at Bris­tol's Upfest, Eu­rope's largest Street Art & Graf­fiti fes­ti­val

Pic­tured left-right: SS Great Bri­tain mu­seum ship and former pas­sen­ger steamship; Na­tional His­toric Ves­sels on quay side in Wap­ping Wharf; M Shed, one of Bris­tol's Mu­se­ums where colour­ful ex­hibits de­tail the his­tory of the city and its peo­ple in a 1950s' dock­side tran­sit shed; Con­corde at Are­ospace Bris­tol; Bris­tol Cathe­dral and John Wesley's Chapel, also known as The New Room.

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