Despite being six miles from the sea via the tidal River Avon, Bristol was a major port in the Middle Ages with ships sailing to explore North America. Later Bristol became notorious for its involvement in the slave trade which created substantial wealth, with a side effect the start of the tobacco industry in the city and the growth of fashionable areas such as Clifton with its Georgian terraces
The second phase of Bristol's growth came with the Great Western Railway and its builder Isambard Kingdom Brunel. He built the iconic Clifton Suspension bridge over the Avon Gorge, and his famous innovatory iron and propellor-driven ship, the Great Britain, is the leading visitor attraction in the city.
In the early 1800s the 'Floating Harbour' was created, with water held back by locks on the River Avon allowing ships to stay afloat in port. This harbour area extends almost to the city centre giving Bristol a unique connection to the sea.
Nowadays Bristol has two Universities and is home to aerospace and digital industries with the original UK supersonic Concorde aircraft built in the city. Its port has moved to Portbury on the Severn estuary, the boundary between England and Wales.
Bristol is easily reached by fast train from London or the M4 motorway, with the M5 motorway connection North and South and to the Severn Bridge for Wales.
Bristol is reached by boat from London via the Kennet and Avon Canal. More info on canal holidays on the Kennet and Avon Canal.
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