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Bristol History

History of Bristol With the motto “Virtue et Industria” (virtue and hard work) Bristol’s citizens have always been industrious, its rich and colourful past of wine and tobacco helping to create the Bristol we know today.

But virtue wasn’t always top of the list for Bristol’s pioneers and there were certainly several very bleak periods in the history of this city.

Industry has prevailed, however, even as far back as a quarter of a million years ago when people first began exploiting the lush abundant greenery around the River Avon.

During Anglo-Saxon times the area was known as Brigstow meaning “place of a bridge”. The river connections meant that goods were easily traded in this area, including olive oil and fruit, and soon it became a centre of commerce.

The bubonic plague or Black Death hit the city in 1348 and killed a third of its inhabitants, but even this didn’t hold up business for too long.

It was from Bristol that a ship set sail and discovered a “New Founde Lande” otherwise known as America, which was the first action to really put the city on the global history map.

The 1500s saw Bristol honoured with a visit from Queen Elizabeth, who was very impressed with St Mary Redcliffe Church [map] (which still stands today) and the general wealth of the area and its sea merchants.

During the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century Bristol became richer than ever, and enjoyed a position as a key port in Europe. Many grand buildings were erected and rich Victorians chose to holiday in Clifton, where fresh air prevailed away from the smog of the industrialised city.

During World War II Bristol paid the price for being a successful port and suffered at the hands of the Luftwaffe. The Blitz left many famous monuments in ruins and many people were killed.

Like a phoenix from the flames Bristol was quick to rebuild and move on, and today is a fine example of a cosmopolitan town. The Docklands area has become a trendy place for restaurants and bars, and also incorporates the At-Bristol leisure development.

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