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Sunday, 2 June 2013


There was a settlement at Bristol as early as 978, when the wealth of the town derived mainly from the export of English slaves to Ireland. The settlement was known as Brycgstow (Old English for "the place at the bridge").

Henry II gave the town its first charter in 1155, and Bristol county was created by royal charter in 1373.

The town originally occupied a position wholly on the north of the Avon. The alteration (1239) of the course of the Frome by digging a fresh channel, and the erection of a bridge spanning the river added to the area of the town, linking it also with Redcliffe.

The term blanket arose from the generalization of a specific fabric called Blanket fabric, a heavily napped woolen weave pioneered by Thomas Blanket (Blanquette), a Flemish weaver who lived in Bristol in the 14th century.

It was the starting place for early voyages of exploration to the New World, including the 1497 expedition when the Italian navigator John Cabot sailed west and landed in Newfoundland, in his ship the Matthew. Cabot was the first European since the Vikings to land on mainland North America.

Turkeys were first brought to England in 1526 by Yorkshireman William Strickland, who sold six acquired from American Indians for tuppence each in Bristol.

Bristol had trading links with France, Holland, Portugal, and Spain, and was the second most-important city in England between the 15th and 18th centuries.

The Avon Bridge was designed by Isambard Brunel to cross the Avon Gorge at Bristol. The engineer was working as a resident engineer on the Thames Tunnel at Rotherhithe, when he almost drowned when the tunnel collapsed and water poured in. He was seriously injured and during his recuperation he submitted designs for a competition to build a bridge across the Avon. His graceful suspension design won the competition.

In the 17th and 18th centuries Bristol developed as the principal British port for trade with the American colonies and the West Indies. The port was central to the slave trade, and was part of a triangular trading system between West Africa and the West Indian and American plantations.

The Great Western, the first steamer intended for transatlantic trade, was built in Bristol in 1838.

SS Great Britain, the first ocean-going ship that had both an iron hull and a screw propeller, was launched was from Bristol in 1843.

The first chocolate bar was created by JS Fry & Sons of Bristol in 1847.

Subscriber Trunk Dialling (STD) was inaugurated in the UK by Queen Elizabeth II when she spoke to the Lord Provost in a call from Bristol to Edinburgh.

In 1963 the Bristol Bus Boycott was held in Bristol to protest the Bristol Omnibus Company's refusal to employ Black or Asian bus crews, drawing national attention to racial discrimination in the United Kingdom.

The world’s first supersonic airliner, the Anglo-French Concorde, had its test flight near Bristol in 1969.

The first 32 Anglican women priests were ordained at Bristol Cathedral by Bishop Barry Rogerson in 1994.

Source Hutchinson Encyclopedia © RM 2013. Helicon Publishing is division of RM.

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