Economy of Bristol

Bristol is a city in south west England. Its economy has long connections with the sea and its ports. In the 20th century aeronautics played an important role in the economy, and the city still plays a role in the manufacture of aircraft. Bristol is also a tourist destination, and has important media, information technology and financial services sectors. [Bristol City Council, " [http://www.bristol-city.gov.uk/ccm/content/Business/economic-sectors-bristol.en Bristol Economy Key Sectors] ."]

tatistics

In 1998 Bristol's GDP was £6.224 billion GBP, and the combined GDP of South Gloucestershire, North Somerset and B&NES was £6.98 billion. The GDP per head was £15,472, making the city more affluent than the UK as a whole, at 123% of the national average.Office for National Statistics, 2001. [http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_compendia/regional_trends_2001/rt36.pdf Regional Trends, no. 36] . (PDF)]

fnb|1 includes hunting and forestry

fnb|2 includes energy and construction

fnb|3 includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured

fnb|4 Components may not sum to totals due to rounding

Employment trends

In 2000 Bristol's unemployment rate was 5.9%, compared to 4.8% for the south west, 5.8% for England, and 6.0% for the United Kingdom. In 2005 this was down to 5.2%, compared to 3.6% for the south west and 4.8% for the United Kingdom. [Nomis, 2005. " [http://www.bristol-city.gov.uk/ccm/cms-service/download/asset/?asset_id=5676034 Bristol labour market] ." (PDF).]

In 2000, employment in the former County of Avon area was categorised into the following sectors: [Westec, 2000. " [http://www.intelligencewest.org.uk/economy/data/jobind00.pdf Industrial sector of (main) job or self-employment in urban and rural areas (Avon)] ." (PDF).]

Aeronautics

In the 20th century, Bristol's manufacturing activities expanded to include aircraft production at Filton, six miles (10 km) north of the city centre, by the Bristol Aeroplane Company, and aero-engine manufacture by Bristol Aero Engines (later Rolls-Royce) at Patchway. The aeroplane company became famous for the World War I Bristol Fighter, and Second World War Blenheim and Beaufighter aircraft. In the 1950s it became one of the country's major manufacturers of civil aircraft, with the Bristol Freighter and Britannia and the huge Brabazon airliner.

In the 1960s Filton played a key role in the Anglo-French "Concorde" supersonic airliner project. Concorde components were manufactured in British and French factories and shipped to the two final assembly plants by road, sea and air. The French assembly lines were in Toulouse in southern France with the British lines in Filton. Luckily the very large three-bay hangar built for the Bristol Brabazon was available for Concorde production.

The French manufactured the centre fuselage and centre wing and the British the nose, rear fuselage, fin and wingtips. The largest proportion of the British share of the work was the powerplant, the Rolls-Royce/Snecma 593. The engine's manufacture was split between British Aircraft Corporation, Rolls-Royce (Filton) and SNECMA at Villaroche near Paris.

The British Concorde prototype G-BSST made its 22 minute maiden flight from Filton to RAF Fairford on 9 April 1969, the French prototype F-WTSS had flown from Toulouse five weeks earlier. Most of the employees of BAC and Rolls Royce, plus a huge crowd, watched from around the airfield. Fairford was chosen as the test airfield for Concorde because the runway at Filton was rejected for test flying, its length was inadequate and there were problems with the slope, and the first 1000 feet (300 m) of the runway at its eastern (A38) end could not be used. However, from the end of 1977, all test flying on the second production aircraft G-BBDG was done from Filton, following the closure of the BAC Fairford test base.

In 2003 the two airlines using Concorde (British Airways and Air France) and the company supplying spares and support (Airbus) made the decision to cease flying the aircraft and to retire them to locations (mostly museums) around the world. For the location of all the aircraft see Concorde.

On 26 November 2003, Concorde 216 (G-BOAF) made the final ever Concorde flight, returning to Filton airfield to be kept there permanently as the centrepiece of a projected air museum. This museum will include the existing Bristol Aero Collection which is currently kept in a hangar at Kemble Airfield, forty miles (60 km) from Filton. This collection includes a Bristol Britannia aircraft.

The major aeronautical companies in Bristol now are BAE Systems, Airbus and Rolls-Royce, both based at Filton.

Another important aeronautical company in the city is Cameron Balloons, the world's largest manufacturer of hot air balloons. Annually, in August, the city is host to the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, one of Europe's largest hot air balloon events.

Bristol Cars

The Bristol Aeroplane Company diversified into car manufacturing in the 1940s, building luxury hand-built cars at their factory in Filton, under the name Bristol Cars. The car manufacturer became independent from the Bristol Aeroplane Company in 1960.

Tobacco

As one of the largest ports in the UK, Bristol became very important in the tobacco trade. It is still the headquarters of Imperial Tobacco Group, the world's fourth largest international tobacco company. Imperial's group headquarters is in Upton Road, Southville and its international cigar factory is on the Winterstoke Road.

Coal mining

During the 19th century coal mining was important in parts of Bristol providing the energy for manufacturing industry. The coal field is part of a large area which stretched from the Somerset coalfield into Gloucestershire. All pits have now closed.

References


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