phone mail2 facebook twitter play whatsapp
5 Things You Didn’t Know About Bristol
Image Credit: Paul Townsend

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Bristol

21 May 2017 | Anya Keiller

So you find yourself in Bristol, and you’re looking to see what the city has to offer. A cursory glance at any profile of the place will tell you that Bristol was crowned the Green Capital of Europe in 2015, it’s the spiritual home of trip hop and the famous British TV show ‘Skins’ was filmed there. That’s all very well, but in true Culture Calling style we’ve dug a little deeper to present you with a run-down of some of the lesser-known facts about the city.

1. It's the 'birthplace of America’ 

In 1497 John Cabot set sail from Bristol in pursuit of Asia, only to accidentally discover mainland America instead. Rumour has it that America may even have been named after one Richard Amerike (Sheriff of Bristol at the time Cabot set sail), who was one of the main backers for the great voyage. Cabot – or Giovanni Caboto in Italian – is thought to be of Venetian origin, but he moved to Bristol around 1490. The city’s central shopping centre is now named Cabot Circus in his honour.


Image Credit: Lee, Cabot Circus
 
2. It manufactures more hot air balloons than anywhere else

If you’re familiar with Bristol, you’ll know that hot air balloons are frequently spotted floating over the city. This is because Bristol is home to the world’s biggest manufacturer of hot air balloons, Cameron Balloons. Bristolians love this fact so much that they even devote an entire weekend festival to balloons every August: the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. Crowds of tens of thousands of people gather to watch the mass ascents of hot air balloons, sometimes with as many as 100 balloons launching simultaneously. Last year it was announced that the world’s largest hot air balloon is due to be made by Cameron Balloons as a special project for Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov, who recently broke the record for circling the globe singlehandedly in – you guessed it – a hot air balloon.


Image Credit: GothPhil, Bristol International Balloon Fiesta
 
3. It hosted the world’s ‘first’ bungee jump 

On 1 April, 1979, student David Kirke bungee-jumped from Bristol’s iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge in what is said to have been the world’s first ever bungee jump. Kirke was jumping as a member of the Oxford University Dangerous Sports Club, so he performed the jump in a top hat and tails while holding some champagne, naturally. The jumpers were arrested not long afterwards and promptly released after promising never to do it again. But they continued to jump all over the world, including from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. Thus the famous high-adrenaline sport was – officially, at least – born in Bristol.


Image Credit: Pitch87, Clifton Suspension Bridge

4. It's rubble was stolen after WW2 and transported to New York

Here’s a slightly more modern Atlantic connection: on the banks of the East River in New York there is a series of angular reddish buildings known as the Waterside Plaza. What most people don’t know is that they have been built from Bristol bricks. The story goes that after World War II American supply ships went to Bristol, which had been bombed to pieces by the Germans. They decided to take the debris back overseas, salvaging the rubble to build part of the Waterside Plaza on the New York river. The building now has a plaque naming the site the ‘Bristol Basin’.


Image Credit: Eden, Janine and Jim, Waterside Plaza Towers
 
5. Here be pirates 

One of the most famous and fearsome Bristolians was the legendary pirate Blackbeard. Born Edward Teach in Bristol in 1680, Blackbeard headed a 400-strong gang and sailed in a captured slave ship he called Queen Anne’s Revenge. With this ship he went on to capture 23 other ships, stripping them bare and selling everything onboard. Blackbeard’s birthplace can be found by exploring the Bristol harbour-side, and he is even said to have had a hideout in the Redcliffe Caves.


Image Credit: Steve Sharp, http://redcliffecaves.org.uk

To organize a tour of Redcliffe Caves see here.
 

Tell us what you think

You may also like

A Guide to Street Art in Brighton

A Guide to Street Art in Brighton

If there’s one thing Brighton has in spades, it’s street art. You’d be hard pushed to navigate your way through the city without encountering it in some…

VIDEO: Bristol Pride 2017 in 30 Seconds

VIDEO: Bristol Pride 2017 in 30 Seconds

Bristol Pride returned for 2017 earlier this July, as thousands of revellers took to the city’s streets to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community.

A Hungover Guide to Bristol

A Hungover Guide to Bristol

Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. That awful moment when you are forced to face the consequences of the night before which escalated all too easily…

Win Two Tickets to the Affordable Art Fair in Bristol

Affordable Art Fair - Win Two Tickets to the Affordable Art Fair in Bristol

Win two tickets to the Bristol Affordable Art Fair's Charity Private View!

A Falafel Lover’s Guide to Bristol

A Falafel Lover’s Guide to Bristol

Locals love them, hungover students binge them, and vegans swear by them. Falafels are a staple in any Bristolian's diet, and with such an…

Oxford art collective, Intermix Jungle, talk about their upcoming pop-up

Oxford art collective, Intermix Jungle, talk about their upcoming pop-up

Art, music, design, performance: all within one space. Intermix Jungle is a new collective of over 20 young Oxford-based artists, whose first venture is a…

24 hours in Margate

24 hours in Margate

A short commute from the capital, Margate’s wealth of independent shops and cafes make it a popular getaway for Londoners hoping to get a bit of…

24 hours in Easton, Bristol

24 hours in Easton, Bristol

Easton is one of Bristol’s most vibrant districts. Home to a wealth of independent shops, world cuisine and a burgeoning music scene, this cultural hotpot is…

Win 2 Tickets to a Private Art View, Lunch & Photography Books!

The Other Art Fair - Win 2 Tickets to a Private Art View, Lunch & Photography Books!

The Other Art Fair returns to Bristol for its third year this September, and to celebrate we have a prize perfect for any art lovers.

Eastbourne’s Towner Art Gallery Showcases Two New Exhibitions

Eastbourne’s Towner Art Gallery Showcases Two New Exhibitions

Two new exhibitions open this summer at the Eastbourne’s Towner Art Gallery.

Most popular

The Best Cycle Paths in Bristol

The Best Cycle Paths in Bristol

As one of the UK’s greenest cities, Bristol and its citizens are well versed in cycling lore. The city and its surroundings are criss-crossed with well-maintained mountain and leisure trails so read on for our selection of some of the best…
Edinburgh on a Budget

Edinburgh on a Budget

Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city, is one of the UK’s most beautiful and fascinating destinations to visit. It’s a hard task fitting in all its wondrous sights in a day, but here’s our how-to guide on getting the best of the bunch for under £20.
Bristol’s Hidden Gems: Indie Theatres

Bristol’s Hidden Gems: Indie Theatres

Bristol is known throughout the UK for being a leader in arts and culture. The city’s theatrical offerings are no different – here is our round up of where to look for a top-notch evening of entertainment.
A Book Lover’s Tour of Literary Britain

A Book Lover’s Tour of Literary Britain

From Shakespeare’s Stratford to the city that birthed The Boy who Lived, we have compiled the essential must-see destinations for literary lovers.
Win Two Tickets to the Event of your Choice!

Shoreham Wordfest - Win Two Tickets to the Event of your Choice!

Fancy expanding your literary imagination? Or perhaps sourcing inspiration for your great novel? We are giving away two tickets to the event of your choosing at this year’s Shoreham Wordfest!  
A Culture Calling Guide to the Edinburgh Fringe 2017

A Culture Calling Guide to the Edinburgh Fringe 2017

Every August the incomparable Edinburgh Festival takes root in the Scottish capital, bringing with it hundreds of thousands of performers, critics, musicians, comedians. Read on for our guide to some of the shows to look out for.
An Interview with Tessa Lynch

An Interview with Tessa Lynch

We speak to the seminal artist about her upcoming performance at Bristol's Spike Island
A Falafel Lover’s Guide to Bristol

A Falafel Lover’s Guide to Bristol

Now that we've all agreed that falafels are the best food to grace the earth, we've compiled a list of the best spots to indulge in these cheeky little chickpea chappies.
An Interview: Mischief and Madness in Moominvalley

An Interview: Mischief and Madness in Moominvalley

Moomin mania is coming to Bristol. We speak to Bristol-based collective Lost and Found on their performance.
A Hungover Guide to Bristol

A Hungover Guide to Bristol

Feeling last night's pint a little too much? No fear, we've made a list of the best hangover spots in Bristol.

Your inbox deserves a little culture!