20 Facts about Bristol you may not know

If you're considering moving to Bristol, or have recently moved to the area, you may be surprised at some of these local facts. We certainly were!

Bristol Zoo

Bristol boasts the 5th oldest zoo in the world! In 1836 Bristol Zoo was opened and has been home to many Bristol favourites.

Hot Air Balloons

What is more iconic to Bristol then the hot air balloon. Cameron Balloons which was originally based in Cotham before moving to Bedminster is the largest hot air balloon manufacturer in the world. In fact, Bristol is the world’s biggest manufacturer of hot air balloons. So of course Bristol has it’s own festival in August


Ribena was invented in 1933 at the National Fruit and Cider Institute in Long Ashton. A University of Bristol scientist invented Ribena which gained popularity as a source of vitamin C during the war


It is believed to be the home of pirate legend Edward Teach, (otherwise known as Blackbeard). He supposedly had a hideout in Redcliffe caves.

JK Rowling

JK Rowling was born in Yate just outside Bristol. When she moved to Winterbourne, her neighbours had the surname ‘Potter’. In fact, she sought inspiration for many of the Harry Potter characters & location names from places in the West Country such as The Burrow and Godric Hollow.

Bungee Jumping

On 1st April 1979 a member of Oxford University’s Dangerous Sports Club bungee completed the first bungee jump from the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Lead Shot

Lead shot was invented by William Watts of Bristol. The process involved dropping molten lead from the top of a “shot tower” with a sufficient drop to allow the lead to form into spheres before landing in water at the bottom of the tower. This method was used from 1782, and was still in use up until the 1980s.

Easter Eggs

A Bristol based company called Fry’s created the first ever chocolate Easter Egg in 1873, not only that, but in 1847 they also invented the first solid chocolate bar.

New York City

Bristol rubble was used to build Waterside Plaza in New York City. After Bristol was bombed during World War II, some of the rubble was transported to New York to help build parts of Manhattan. There’s even a plaque next to the fountains on the harbour-side in commemoration.


Did you know that Bristol has it’s own currency and in 2012 the Bristol Pound was launched. Designed to keep money in the local economy, it’s enjoyed success in keeping trade local since then.


In 2008 Bristol was named the UK’s First Cycling City by the Government. The city received over £10m in reward in order to create better facilities for cyclists.


The world’s first, and currently, only commercial supersonic jet, Concorde, originated in Bristol. It was designed and built in Filton, April 9, 1969. Capable of flying at around 60,000 feet at speeds of around 1,340mph (or Mach 2.02). It had its last iconic flight photo taken over the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Wallace & Gromit

Aardman Animations are based in Bristol, and create classics such as: Wallace and Gromit; Chicken Run; and Pirates!


Nipper the dog was born in Bristol in 1884 and served as the model for the HMV dog. Nipper was painted by Francis Barraud titled ‘His Master’s Voice’ and later became known as the HMV dog!

Sir David Attenborough

Of course Bristol is the home of nature documentaries. 25% of the world’s nature documentaries are produced in Bristol. It’s the home of Planet Earth and Sir David Attenborough has done screenings in the Cabot Circus cinema.


In 1990, IMDb was born from the mind of Colin Needham whilst he was working as an engineer at Hewlett-Packard in Bristol. In 1998 bought the Bristol based site for around $55 Million!


Located in St Stephan’s church, alongside his wife, you can find the tomb of wool merchant Edmund Blanket. Edmund Blanket is rumoured to have been the inventor of, you guessed it, blankets.

Leaning Tower

Have you ever been to ‘The Leaning Tower of Bristol’, nope? Well the west bell tower of Temple Church leans 1.64 metres from the vertical, which is just 1 degree less than The Leaning Tower of Pisa!

Running Late

Ever late for work? Well Bristol was 10 minutes behind London for a while. It was only the introduction of train travel that meant all time had to become standardised.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel

One of the biggest contributors to Bristol was Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The genius engineer not only built the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge but the Great Western Railway which for a time was the major link between London and Bristol but also the first ironclad steamship SS. Great Britain which you can still tour to this day.

Share this post

On Trend

Most Popular Stories

5 Weird British Traditions

Spain has the Bull Run and La Tomatina (the tomato throwing festival), and there are many other weird and wonderful traditions in towns all across