Ten favourite Bristol facts

There are tours today up to the top of the Wills Memorial Building. Started in 1915 but due to the First World War only completed in 1925, it stands at 68m (215 ft) high, making it twice as tall as the nearby Cabot Tower. Designed by George Herbert Oatley, it is constructed from Bath and Clipsham stone.

These Wills Tower titbits got us thinking about some of our other favourite Bristol facts:

1) Just up the road from the Wills Tower, what is now Browns restaurant used to be the university refectory. It is modelled on the Doge’s Palace in Venice.

2) Ribena was invented at the National Fruit & Cider Institute in Long Ashton. As sources of vitamin C dwindled during World War II, Bristol researchers found blackcurrants were the best alternative to oranges and Ribena was born.

3) Nipper the dog, made famous by his appearance on the HMV logo, was owned by an employee at the former Prince’s Theatre on Park Row. He is commemorated there by a blue plaque, thought to be the only blue plaque in the UK devoted to an animal.

4) The Downs Tea Rooms are former Victorian toilets. On the toilets the other side of the water tower, a blue plaque commemorates attendant Victoria Hughes, who in the 1920s befriended prostitutes, making her workplace a safe haven for working girls.

5) St Mary Redcliffe is Bristol’s tallest building at 89m. But by virtue of Clifton’s lofted elevation, Christ Church is the city’s highest structure above sea level.

6) The Bristol Post Boy of August 12, 1704, is the earliest surviving copy of a provincial newspaper in the UK.

7) The Clifton Suspension Bridge is three feet lower on the Leigh Woods side than on the Clifton side in order to counteract an optical illusion.

8) In medieval times, the Christmas Steps was called Queene Street, later becoming known as Knyfesmyth Street after its specialist traders. At its foot for centuries was a statue of the Madonna and child, rubbed smooth by generations of people for luck. The beheaded statue can still be seen just inside the entrance to St Bartholomew’s Court.

9) The star-shaped light in the ceiling of St George’s marks the point where an incendiary bomb, thankfully failing to ignite, crashed through the roof during the Blitz.

10) Bristol is the only city outside London to have a State Coach.

4 Responses so far.

  1. martin allman says:

    Great stuff, really enjoyed this trivia about Bristol!

  2. SteveL says:

    Surely the St Michael’s Hospital Tower is Bristol’s Highest structure?

  3. Declan says:

    the inspiration for Browns was a new one on me but you can kinda see the resemblance. Thanks for sharing! :)

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