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City Fact Files - Bristol | Oporto

Bristol Fact File - Part 1 | Part 2

Clifton Suspension Bridge

Clifton Suspension Bridge

This famous Bristol landmark spans the Avon Gorge. It was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and was completed in 1864, five years after his death. The bridge has a span of 214 metres, and was the longest road bridge in the world when it was first opened. Its chains are recycled - rescued from Hungerford Bridge, London, which was demolished. The design is inspired by Egyptian architecture, and the bridge was originally meant to have sphinxes on either tower, but they proved to be too costly.

Whilst the bridge was being built, people used to pay to be pulled across the gorge in a basket. Some Victorian couples even proposed marriage on the way across, suspended 75 metres above the River Avon.

Unfortunately the bridge has often been used for suicide attempts. The road below has now been covered over to prevent road accidents as a result of 'jumpers'. There is a high safety railing to help prevent suicides, and the Samaritans have a call box at the towers either end of the bridge, so that people in distress have an alternative to jumping.

Pero's Bridge

Peros bridge

The footbridge on Bristol Harbourside was built in 1999, the result of a collaboration between Irish artist Eilis O'Connell and Arup Engineers. The footbridge is comprised of two fixed spans and a central 11m lifting span, which allows a 9m wide channel for navigation. The counterweights are the unusual horn-shaped forms.

The bridge is named after enslaved West Indian, Pero who lived from around 1753 to 1798.  He was born on the tiny Caribbean island of Nevis, where his family had been transported as slaves from Africa. In 1783 Pero was brought to Bristol as a slave by rich sugar planter and merchant, John Pinney, and ended up as a servant in his home on Great George Street.

Pero's Bridge is so named to commemorate and pay tribute to all the Africans and West Indians that were enslaved by Bristol's merchants and planters, to recognise their contribution to the wealth of the city, and to show that the suffering caused by slavery and the racism of the past would no longer be hidden.

The Matthew

The Matthew

This is a replica of the original Matthew ship in which John Cabot and his crew sailed to Newfoundland, Canada, over 500 years ago. Most people believe that the first European to reach the American continent was Christopher Columbus, but it was actually John Cabot in 1497. He had originally set sail for Asia to trade goods with the people there, but arrived in what is now Canada, unaware of its existence.

This replica ship also made the journey across the Atlantic to America in 1997. It carried the same number of crew as the original and took the same route. Today, The Matthew sits proudly on the Bristol harbourside, next to the SS. Great Britain. It is open to the public and provides short trips around the Harbourside.

The Imaginarium

The Imaginarium at @Bristol

This huge futuristic, chrome-plated sphere in Millennium Square is the Orange Imaginarium. It is part of the At-Bristol Science Education Centre and is a 100 seat planetarium; other attractions include Wildwalk, a living rainforest environment; Explore, a hands-on science gallery and the amazing 3D Imax cinema. The At-Bristol Centre and the development of Millennium Square was part of a huge redevelopment of the Bristol Harbourside in 2000 using lottery funding.

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