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City Fact Files - Bristol | Oporto

Bristol Fact File - Part 1 | Part 2

The Beetle Sculpture

Beetle sculpture

One of the major public art commissions outside the At-Bristol complex, is 'Beetle' by Nicola Hicks. It was inspired by the rhinocerous beetle, one of the world's strongest creatures, which can support 850 times its own weight on its back. The sculpture is modelled out of plaster and straw and then cast in metal.

Other public art on Millennium Square includes a life-size bronze statue of Cary Grant by Graham Ibbeson. Hollywood legend Cary Grant was born and bred in Bristol, and was a regular visitor to the city until his death in 1986.

Unfortunately, other public art works proved too popular for their own good - Jasmine, Bill and Bob, three life-size bronze Jack Russell terriers by Cathie Pilkington were stolen soon after being put on display in 2000.

The Leadworks

leadworks

The building used to be a working industrial leadworks and is now part of At-Bristol and the Harbourside regeneration scheme. The Grade II listed facade and the Victorian circular brickwork chimney have been retained, and features of its design have been incorporated throughout the At-Bristol complex. During the 1990's, the semi-derelict building was used as a South West Arts venue, as it made an interesting exhibition space. The building now houses the Firehouse Restaurant and At-Bristol offices.

The Industrial Museum

industrial museum

This museum is situated on the floating harbour, in a building that used to be a transit shed for goods coming into the city. Outside are two restored cranes, which are now used to give working demonstrations of how ships were loaded with their cargo. The museum contains over 700 exhibits, which illustrate Bristol's industrial heritage. There is a transport gallery with a collection of horse drawn vehicles, trains and buses; a collection of aeroplane engines with a model of the Concord cockpit; and an extensive exhibition telling the story of Bristol's involvement in the transatlantic slave trade.

The largest of the museums' exhibits are outside the building and they come to life on summer weekends. The railway, operated by two steam locomotives, Portbury and Henbury, two tug boats, a fire boat, and the Fairbairn steam crane in the picture are all Bristol built and give regular working demonstrations.

The Royal West of England Academy (RWA)

royal west of england academy

In 1849 artist Ellen Sharples bequeathed a sum of £2000 to the Bristol Academy for the promotion of fine arts, which was a significant amount of money at that time! This fine building was completed in 1858 and became Bristol's first art gallery. Ellen Sharples also donated her private art collection to the new institution and these paintings still form the majority of the permanent collection, alongside many other fine art exhibits. The Academy is situated in the academic heart of the city, close to the University of Bristol, and has a strong commitment to Arts education. The patron is Queen Elizabeth II and it attracts many thousands of visitors each year.

Christ Church with St. Ewan

christ church with st ewan

Christ Church existed for hundreds of years on the corner of Wine Street and Broad Street. Nearby on Corn Street was St. Ewan's church, however both were demolished in the 18th century and a new church built on the Wine Street site. It was designed by William Paty and the brightly coloured Quarter Jacks, on either side of the clock face, are a survival from the original church. Every quarter of an hour the figures swing their little hammers, and strike the bells the appropriate number of times.

This area has many old buildings and was the commercial centre of Bristol. In nearby Corn Street, the old corn exchange still remains. There are numerous cafés, pubs, banks, a permanent indoor market and regular street markets selling clothes, jewellery, artwork and locally produced food.

Bristol Cathedral

bristol cathedral

The first religious building on this site was an abbey for Augustinian monks, who were known as the Black Canons. It was founded by wealthy merchant Robert Fitz Hardinge, back in 1140, and was dedicated to St. Augustine the Great. In 1540, at the time of the reformation, the Abbot was forced to surrender the Abbey to King Henry VIII. In 1542 Bristol gained city status and so the Monastery Church became the 'Cathedral of the new see of Bristol' dedicated to the Holy and Undivided Trinity.

The Cathedral has been through many periods of decline and rebuilding. The two western towers were added in the 19th century, and the nave was rebuilt following damage during rioting in the 1830's, while nearby is the 15th century upper storey of the original Norman Abbey gatehouse.

Today the Cathedral welcomes visitors, there is a tea shop and a tranquil rose-speckled garden, with wooden seats, where visitors can sit and contemplate amongst the gravestones.

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