Bristol is a fascinating city. Having received its Royal Charter in 1155, it has centuries of history and during that time it has produced many famous people, products and been the location for all manner of historical landmark events. This makes Bristol a great city to visit for a short break as there’s just so much to see and do.
If you want some information to pique your interest in this amazing place, here are five interesting facts about Bristol that you may not have known.
Image courtesy of Rob Brewer
The Theatre Royal in Bristol is the country’s oldest continually working theatre. Opened in 1766, the theatre has played host to the leading stage actors as well as being a vital part of many films stars careers. The theatre is home to the Bristol Old Vic theatre company, an offshoot of the Old Vic in London, and its off-shoot Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. The school counts Daniel Day-Lewis, Jeremy Irons, Gene Wilder and Patrick Stewart among its alumni.
2. The Candyman Can
The world’s first chocolate bar was made in Bristol. Chocolate had been an ingredient used in the production of drinks and desserts until 1847, when the world’s first chocolate bar was created at the Fry’s chocolate factory. Based on Union Street in Bristol J.S Fry & Sons had been producing chocolate since 1759, under a variety of names, but it was the invention of the first chocolate bar that could be created for mass consumption that made chocolate a treat for people of all ages and from all walks of life. Bristol was also home to another chocolate manufacturer, originally H.J Packer but now known as Elizabeth Shaw.
Ribena is one of Britain’s most popular soft drinks, an indelible part of the childhood of millions. It’s also distributed around the globe and it was first developed and produced in Bristol. Dr. Vernon Charley, a scientist at Bristol University, invented the syrup at the Long Ashton Research Centre just outside Bristol and the drink was put into production by Bristol food and drink company H.W. Carter. During World War II the syrup was distributed to the nation’s children for free to help maintain healthy levels of Vitamin C due to the absence of oranges and other fruits during the war.
4. Come Fly With Me
Bristol has a long and proud history in the field of aviation. Planes were being built in Bristol from 1910 by the British and Colonial Aircraft Company. The company would go on to be the Bristol Aeroplane Company and produce such iconic craft as the Bristol Bulldog biplane. However the biggest contribution Bristol made to aviation was the designing and production of Concorde. The supersonic airliner revolutionised commercial flight and much of the design and building of the craft was undertaken at Filton in Bristol. When Concorde was eventually retired from service in 2003 it made its final landing at Filton, a fitting homecoming for this icon of the airways.
5. Here Boy!
Image courtesy of Beverly & Pack
One of the UK’s most recognisable mascots was from Bristol. Nipper the dog, he of HMV logo fame, was from Bristol, although he wouldn’t find fame until after his death. His final owner, Francis Barraud, painted a picture of Nipper listening to a phonograph, titled His Master’s Voice. The painting has since been adapted and used by various companies in the music industry, not least the chain of record stores HMV and is one of the world’s most recognisable images.