Buildings and architecture of Bristol

Buildings and architecture of Bristol

Bristol, the largest city in South West England, has an eclectic combination of architectural styles, ranging from the medieval to 20th century brutalism and beyond. During the mid-19th century, Bristol Byzantine, an architectural style unique to the city was developed, of which several examples have survived.

Buildings from most of the architectural periods of the United Kingdom can be seen throughout Bristol. Parts of the fortified city and castle date back to the medieval era, as do some churches dating from the 12th century onwards. Outside the historical city centre there are several large Tudor mansions built for wealthy merchants. Almshouses and public houses of the same period survive, intermingled with areas of more recent development. Several Georgian-era squares were laid out for the enjoyment of the middle class. As the city grew, it merged with its surrounding villages, each with its own character and centre, often clustered around a parish church.

The construction of the city's floating harbour, taking in the wharves on the Avon and Frome rivers, provided a focus for industrial development and the growth of the local transport infrastructure, including the Clifton Suspension Bridge and Temple Meads railway station. The original station is now used as the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum and, like the current station, was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The 20th century saw further expansion of the city, the growth of the University of Bristol, and the arrival of the aircraft industry. During World War II, the city centre suffered from extensive bombing during the Bristol Blitz. The redevelopment of shopping centres, office buildings, and the harbourside continues to this day.

Medieval architecture (11th – 14th century)

Defensive architecture

The city was defended in medieval times by Bristol Castle, a Norman fortification built on the site of a wooden predecessor. The castle played a key role in the civil wars that followed the death of Henry I. Stephen of Blois reconnoitered Bristol in 1138 and claimed that the town was impregnable. [cite book |last=Potter |first=K.R. |authorlink= |coauthors=R.H.C. Davis |title=Gesta Stephani (Oxford Medieval Texts) (pp. 37–8, 43–4.)|year=1976 |publisher=Clarendon Press |location=Oxford |isbn=0198222343 ] After Stephen's capture, in 1141, he was imprisoned in the castle. [cite book |last=Potter |first=K.R.|authorlink= |coauthors= |title=William of Malmesbury - Historia Novella: The Contemporary History (Oxford Medieval Texts) (p50) |year=1998 |publisher=Clarendon Press |location=Oxford |isbn=0198201923 ] The castle was later taken into royal hands, [cite book |last=Sharp |first=Margaret |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Accounts of the Constables of Bristol Castle in the Thirteenth and Early Fourteenth Centuries (p. xviii.)|year=1982 |publisher=Bristol Record Society |location= |isbn= ] and Henry III spent lavishly on it, adding a barbican before the main west gate, a gate tower, and a magnificent hall. [cite book |last=Colvin |first=H.M. |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Building Accounts of Henry III |year=1971 |publisher=Oxford University Press |location=Oxford |isbn=0199200130 ] By the 16th century, the castle had fallen into disuse, but the city authorities had no control over royal property, and so the castle became a refuge for lawbreakers. In 1630, the city purchased the castle; Oliver Cromwell ordered its destruction in 1656. [cite book |last=Stone |first=George Frederick |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Bristol as it was and as it is, a record of 50 years' progress (p. 99.)|year=1909 |publisher=Walter Reid, |location=Bristol |isbn= ] An area outside the castle, known as Old Market, was used as a mustering point for troops. It later became a market for the country people to set up stalls and sell their wares. Old Market was also the site of an autumn fair. [cite web | title=Old Market | work=About Bristol | url= | accessdate=2007-05-21] The market may have existed as early as the 12th century, and was the site of the first suburb outside the city walls. It had side roads which could accommodate the traffic on market days.cite book |last=Bown |first=Dorothy |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Bristol and how it grew |year=1974 |publisher=Bristol Visual & Environmental Group, with the help of a grant from the South West Arts Association |location=Bristol |isbn=0950464821 ]

The city had extensive walls built by Geoffrey de Montbray, Bishop of Coutances. These have now largely disappeared, although parts remain on properties in King Street. A gateway in the old wall can now be seen under the tower of the Church of St John the Baptist.cite book |last=Burrough |first=THB |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Bristol |year=1970 |publisher=Studio Vista |location=London |isbn=0289798043 ]

Religious architecture

The earliest surviving church in Bristol is St James' Priory [cite web | title=Church of St James | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2006-10-25] in Horsefair, Whitson Street. It was founded in 1129, as a Benedictine priory, by Robert Rufus. The 12th century also saw the founding of All Saints [cite web | title=Church of All Saints | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-16] and St Philip and Jacob [cite web | title= Church of St Philip and St Jacob | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-16] churches. Temple Church, now in ruins, was built on the site of the oval church of the Knights Templar, a Christian military order forcibly disbanded in 1312. Either just before or just after the disappearance of the Templars, the church was rebuilt on a rectangular plan and served as a parish church. [cite web | title=Temple Church | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2006-07-28]

Bristol Cathedral [Joseph Bettey, "St Augustine's Abbey, Bristol" (Bristol Branch of the Historical Association 1996), pp.1, 5, 7.] [cite web | title=Cathedral Church of St Augustine, including Chapter House and cloisters | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-16] was founded as St Augustine's Abbey in 1140 by Robert Fitzharding, along with its associated school. St Mark's Church was built around 1220. [cite web | title= Church of St Mark, Lord Mayor's Chapel | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-16] Soon after, the foundations were laid for Holy Trinity Church in Westbury on Trym. [cite web | title= Church of the Holy Trinity | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-16] The 12th century also saw the building of St Mary Redcliffe, [cite web | title=Church of St Mary Redcliffe | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-16] parts of which survive in the current church, which is the tallest building in the city. It was described by Elizabeth I as the "fairest, goodliest and most famous parish church in England" on a visit to the city in 1574. [cite web |url= |title=Bristol / architecture |accessdate=2007-03-27 |format= |work= Guardian Unlimited] These 12th century churches were followed in the 14th century by the construction of Church of St John the Baptist [cite web | title=Church of St John the Baptist and St John's Gate | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-16] and St Stephen's Church. [cite web | title=Church of St Stephen | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-16]

Westbury College was a 13th century College of Priests located in Westbury-on-Trym. A gatehouse, now a National Trust property, [cite web | title=Westbury College and College House | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-16] was added in the 15th century.

Tudor architecture (15th – early 17th century)

The Tudor architectural period, which lasted from the late 15th century into the early 17th century, saw the development of large estates such as Ashton Court. [cite web | title=Ashton Court Mansion and Stables | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-16] They were built for the local merchants, who gained much of their wealth from the trade passing through Bristol Harbour. Red Lodge was constructed in 1580 for John Yonge as the lodge for a great house that once stood on the site of the present Colston Hall. [cite web | title=Red Lodge and attached rubble walls and entrance steps | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-10] In 1615, a number of houses were demolished for the development of the new Fishmarket.cite web | title=Architecture:From Hovel to Tower| work=About Bristol | url= | accessdate=2007-03-27]

During the English Civil War, the Royal Fort was considered the strongest part of Bristol's defences, and it was to the fort that the Royalists retreated when they found themselves under siege from the Parliamentarians. It fell to the parliamentary forces in 1645 and was subsequently demolished.cite web | title= Royal Fort and attached front step railings | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-24] St Nicholas's Almshouses were built in 1652 [cite web | title=St Nicholas' Almshouses, Nos.1-10 | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-02-21] to provide care for the poor. Several public houses were also built in this period, including the Llandoger Trow [cite web | title=Llandoger Trow | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-02-22] on King Street and the Hatchet Inn. [cite web | title=No.1 The Palace Hotel | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-05-15] More churches were built, including St Michael on the Mount Without. [cite web | title=Church of St Michael and attached railings | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-16] It served the St Michaels hill area, one of the first areas outside the city walls to be colonised by the wealthy merchants who were by then trying to escape the overcrowded and unhealthy conditions in the city centre. The city was by this time beginning to expand rapidly beyond its traditional city walls, and the surrounding villages were starting to become suburbs, such as the villages of Horfield and Brislington. Both had their own churches, the Church of the Holy Trinity with St Edmund [cite web | title=Church of the Holy Trinity with St Edmund | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-16] and St Lukes [cite web | title=Church of St Luke | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-16] respectively.

Stuart architecture (1666 – 1713)

The Stuart or English Baroque period (1666–1713) saw more expansion of the city. Large mansions such as Kings Weston House [cite web | title=Kings Weston House | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-16] and Goldney Hallcite web | title=Goldney House and attached walls | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-16] were constructed. The needs of the poor and destitute became the responsibility of institutions such as Colstons [cite web | title=Colstons Almshouses | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-16] and the Merchant Venturers Almshouses. [cite web | title=Merchant Venturers' Almshouses | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-02-21] The King Street area was developed outside the "Back Street Gate" of the city, home to the King William and Naval Volunteer Public Houses. [cite web | title=King William and Naval Volunteer Public Houses | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-02-22] The nearby Queen Square was planned during this era. In 1669, a series of four flights of steps, now called Christmas Steps, was constructed to replace a steep, muddy, and narrow street formerly known as Queene Street. [cite web | title=Christmas Steps | work=About Bristol | url= | accessdate=2007-05-13] [cite web | title=history | work=Christmas Steps | url= | accessdate=2007-05-13] Many of the larger houses of this period, including Queen Square, were built for merchant families who were heavily involved in the slave triangle, importing goods from slave plantations. A few African and 'creole' (American/Caribbean-born) slaves came to Bristol as servants. [cite web |url= |title=The City Docks, Bristol...the slavery trail |accessdate=2007-09-04 |format= |work=History Footsteps from the Victoria County History ]

Georgian architecture (18th – early 19th century)

In 1732, John Strachan built Redland Court for John Cossins. It now forms one of the buildings making up Redland High School for Girls. [cite web | title=Redland Court (Redland High School) | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-13] In 1760, the Bristol Bridge Act was carried through parliament by the Bristol MP Sir Jarrit Smyth. Bantock, Anton (2004) "Ashton Court", ISBN 0-7524-3213-3, p. 29] That led to the demolition of St Nicholas's Gate, along with the original St Nicholas church, part of the Old Shambles, and thirty houses that stood on the old bridge. The original bridge was a medieval wooden structure, lined with houses on both sides. A 17th century illustration shows that these were five stories high, including the attic rooms, and that they overhung the river much as Tudor houses would overhang the street. cite book |last=Lynch |first=John |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=For King & Parliament |year= |publisher= |location= |isbn=0750920211 ] At the time of the Civil War the bridge was noted for its community of goldsmiths, who may have been attracted by the unusually secure premises. The current St Nicholas church was rebuilt in 1762–9 by James Bridges and Thomas Paty, who rebuilt the spire. Part of the old church and town wall survives in the 14th century crypt. [cite web | title=City Museum, former Church of St Nicholas | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-16]

The 1766 Theatre Royal, which claims to be the oldest continually-operating theatre in England, joined with the Coopers' Hall, from 1744 and designed by architect William Halfpenny, to form the Bristol Old Vic. [cite web | title=The Theatre Royal | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-16] [cite web | title=The Coopers' Hall | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-16] [cite book |last=McGrath |first=Patrick |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Bristol in the 8th century |year=1972 |publisher=David & Charles PLC |location= |isbn=0715357263 ]

During the period of Georgian architecture (about 1720–1840) the main architects and builders working in Bristol were James Bridges, John Wallis, and Thomas Paty with his sons John and William Paty. They put up hundreds of new buildings, reflecting the increased prosperity that came with the new Floating Harbour and trade based at The Exchange, built in 1741–43 by John Wood the Elder. [cite book |last=Haddon |first=John |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Portrait of Avon |year=1981 |publisher=Robert Hale Ltd |location=London |isbn=0709183615 ] cite web |url= |title=Historical and Architectural Survey and Analysis of The Exchange, Corn Street, Bristol |accessdate=2007-02-01 |author=Dr Roger H. Leech, FSA, MIFA |authorlink= |coauthors= |date= |year=1999 |month=May |format= |work= |publisher= |pages= |language=English |archiveurl= |archivedate= |quote= |format=PDF] [cite book |last=Little |first=Bryan |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=The city and county of Bristol |year=1967 |publisher=SR Publishing |location=Wakefield |isbn=0854095128 ] Their early work included the Royal Fort, Blaise Castle House [cite web | title= Blaise Castle House and attached wall | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-13] and Arno's Court estate, with the associated Arno's Court Triumphal Arch [cite web | title=Arno's Court Triumphal Arch | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-16] and Black Castle Public House. [cite web | title= Black Castle Public House | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-16] More modest terraces and squares grew up in the new suburbs such as Hotwells and north into Clifton, including 7 Great George Street, now the Georgian House Museum. [cite web | title=The Georgian House, attached front area railings and rear garden walls | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-14] It was built around 1790 for John Pinney a successful sugar merchant, and is believed to be the house where the poets William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge first met. [cite web |url= |title= Georgian House |accessdate=2007-03-14 |format= |work=Homes and Gardens ] It was also home to Pinney's slave, Pero, after whom Pero's Bridge at Bristol Harbour is named. [cite web |url= |title= Bristol's Georgian House |accessdate=2007-03-14 |format= |work=Bristol Museums ]

In addition to evidence of the wealth brought by the slave trade there are several significant links to the abolitionists. Bristol's Hannah More was an influential member of the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the African Slave Trade. In the Seven Stars Public House Thomas Clarkson collected evidence for William Wilberforce on the cruelty of the trade in humans. Bristol Cathedral contains several memorials to people active in the abolition cause, including a bust of Robert Southey. [cite web |url= |title=In the footsteps of Bristol's abolitionists |accessdate=2007-10-17 |format= |work=BBC Bristol ] John Wesley opposed the trade in humans and in 1774 his sermon at the New Room against slavery was disturbed by explosion. Several plays adopted by the abolitionists were performed at the Bristol Old Vic, including "Oroonoko", the story of an enslaved African and "The Padlock", which was praised by Clarkson for its importance to the abolition cause. [cite web |url= |title=In the footsteps of Bristol's abolitionists |accessdate=2007-09-04 |format= |work=BBC Bristol ]

Several residential squares with terraces of three storey houses were laid out around central gardens. An example is Portland Square, which was built between 1789 and 1820, and is now largely occupied by offices. In the 1830s, much of Queen Square was rebuilt following damage caused during the Bristol Riots, [Andrew Foyle, "Bristol", Pevsner Architectural Guides (2004) ISBN 0-300-10442-1] and to the north of the city, Kings Square. The most fashionable areas were at the top of the hill, as in wet weather the cesspits overflowed down the hill. Further development, though in a less formal manner, continued along the radial roads to Stokes Croft and Cheltenham, towards Horfield and in the St Phillips, Redcliffe and Bedminster areas.

Religious needs in the expanding city were met for several denominations with Redland Chapel [cite web | title=Redland Chapel | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2006-07-09] and other Church of England buildings appearing, including Christ Church [cite web | title=Christ Church with St Ewen | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-16] and St Werburghs. Whitefield's Tabernacle, Kingswood was the first methodist chapel [cite web | title=Whitfield's Tabernacle | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-13] and a Quaker meeting house known as Quakers Friars was built in 1749. [cite web | title=Quaker meeting house, now registry office | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-16]

Regency architecture (early 19th century)

The term Regency architecture refers primarily to buildings of the early 19th century, when George IV was still Prince Regent, and also to later buildings of the Victorian period which were designed in the same style. It follows closely on from the neo-classical Georgian style of architecture, adding an elegance and lightness of touch. Many buildings in the Regency style have a white painted stucco facade and an entryway to the main front door—usually coloured black—framed by two columns. Regency houses were typically built as terraces or crescents, often in a setting of trees and shrubs. Elegant wrought iron balconies and bow windows were also fashionable. An instigator of this style was John Nash, whose most notable work in Bristol is Blaise Hamlet, a complex of small cottages surrounding a green. It was built around 1811, for the retired employees of Quaker banker and philanthropist John Scandrett Harford, who owned Blaise Castle House. The cottages are now owned by the National Trust.

The Clifton and Cotham areas provide examples of the developments from the Georgian to the Regency style, with many fine terraces and villas facing the road, and at right angles to it. In the early 19th century, the romantic medieval gothic style appeared, partially as a backlash to the symmetry of Palladianism, and can be seen in buildings such as Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, [cite web | title=City Museum and Art Gallery and attached front walls | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-10] Royal West of England Academy, [cite web | title=Royal West of England Academy | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2006-05-09] and The Victoria Rooms.cite web | title=Victoria Rooms and attached railings and gates | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-23] St Mary on the Quay church was built between 1839 and 1843, by Richard Shackleton Pope, as a Catholic apostolic chapel for the Irvingite congregation: it is now a Roman Catholic church. [cite web | title=Church of St Mary-on-the-Quay | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-16]

Victorian architecture (late 19th century)

The Victorian era saw further expansion of the city, both in its industrial heartland around the docks and in the suburbs, particularly in Clifton.

Palatial squares were developed for the prosperous middle classes. Italianate and Grecian villas, made with Bath Stone and sitting in their own gardens, were built in areas such as Clifton Down. At the same time, hundreds of acres of working class and artisan homes were built, especially in the south and east of the city. To support the growing population, public service buildings such as the Beaufort Hospital (now Glenside), schools such as Clifton College and public houses such as the Mauretania Public House were constructed. [cite web | title=The Mauretania Public House | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-02-19]

Cabot Tower is situated in a public park on Brandon Hill. It was built in 1897 by William Venn Gough in memory of John Cabot, 400 years after he set sail from Bristol and landed on what is now Canada. [cite web | title=Cabot Tower | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-13]

Industrial architecture

A notable feature of Bristol's architecture is the Bristol Byzantine style. [cite web | title=Bristol Byzantine | work=Looking at Buildings | url= | accessdate=2007-05-18] Characterised by complicated polychrome brick and decorative arches, this style was used in the construction of factories, warehouses and municipal buildings built in the Victorian era. Surviving examples include the Colston Hall, [cite web | title=The Colston Hall | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-13] the Granary on Welsh Back, and the Gloucester Road Carriage Works, [cite web | title=No.104 The Carriage Works | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-05-02] along with some of the buildings around Victoria Street. Several of the warehouses around the harbour have also survived, including the Arnolfini, which now houses an art gallery. [cite web | title=Bush House | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2006-08-18] Clarks Wood Company warehouse, [cite web | title= Clarks Wood Company warehouse | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-05-15] the St Vincent's Works [cite web | title=St Vincent's Works and attached front area railings | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-05-02] in Silverthorne Lane, and the Wool Hall [cite web | title=No.12 The Wool Hall, including the Fleece and Firkin Public House| work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-05-12] in St Thomas Street, are other survivors from the 19th century.

The local Pennant sandstone is frequently used as walling material, often with limestone dressings, as found on the old Temple Meads railway station [cite web | title=Temple Meads Station | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-16] and Clifton Down railway station. [cite web | title=Clifton Down Station, Steam Tavern Public House and attached screen walls | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-24] Pennant sandstone is also used as large rock-faced squared blocks, described as "Pennant rubble", which are used alone, eked out with plain brickwork, or incorporated into the more rugged examples of Bristol Byzantine. Much of the local transport infrastructure including the Clifton Suspension Bridge, Temple Meads railway station and its predecessor—now used as the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum—were designed or built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. [cite web | title=Bristol Old Station, Temple Meads | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-13]

In 1864, after over 100 years of planning, the Clifton Suspension Bridge [cite web | title=Clifton Suspension Bridge | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2006-05-09] over the Avon Gorge linked the city to the Ashton Court estate. However, development to the west of the River Avon remained limited.

Twentieth century architecture

In the early part of the 20th century further expansion took place in residential districts increasingly distant from the city centre. Bristol Hippodrome was designed by Frank Matcham, and opened on 16 December 1912. [cite web | title=The Hippodrome | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-21]

The Wills Memorial Building was commissioned in 1912 by George Alfred Wills and Henry Herbert Wills, the magnates of the Bristol tobacco company W. D. & H. O. Wills, in honour of their father, Henry Overton Wills III, benefactor and first Chancellor of the University of Bristol. Sir George Oatley was chosen as architect and told to "build to last". He produced a design in the Perpendicular Gothic style, to evoke the famous university buildings of Oxford and Cambridge. [cite web|url=|title=New Chapter for the Wills Memorial Building|publisher=University of Bristol|accessdate=2006-03-18] [cite web|url=|title=Wills Memorial Building|publisher=University of Bristol, Centre for Romantic Studies|accessdate=2006-03-18] [cite web | title=University Tower and Wills Memorial Building and attached front walls and lamps | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-13] The university also took over several existing houses such as Royal Fort, Victoria Rooms, Clifton Hill House, [cite web | title= Clifton Hill House and attached front walls | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-14] Goldney Hall, Wills Hall [cite web | title=Wills Hall | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-13] and buildings on Berkeley Square, [cite web | title=Nos.1-8 (Consecutive) and attached railings and gates | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-02-22] [cite web | title= Nos.11-19 (Consecutive) and attached railings | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-02-22] [cite web | title=Nos.20-30 (Consecutive) and attached railings and gates | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-02-22] Park Street and the surrounding areas. Oatley was also involved in the design or restoration of other buildings in Bristol in the early part of the 20th century, including the restoration of John Wesley's original Methodist chapel, the New Room. [cite web | title=64.The New Room, Bristol | work=Methodist Conference | url= | accessdate=2007-03-31] [cite web | title=Wesley's New Room | work= Looking at Buildings from the Pevsner Architectural Guides | url=,5 | accessdate=2007-03-31]

The 1930s saw the construction of the Employment Exchange and the planning of the new Council House, although this was not completed until 1956. [cite web | title=Council House and attached railings and piers | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2006-08-21] As a centre of aircraft manufacturing, Bristol was a target for bombing during the Bristol Blitz of World War II. [cite web | title=Overview | work=Bristol Blitzed | url= | accessdate=2007-03-07] Bristol's city centre suffered severe damage, especially in November and December 1940, when the Broadmead area was flattened, and Hitler claimed to have destroyed the city. [ [ Pictoral history of Bristol] , Accessed 2006-04-14.] The original central area, near the bridge and castle, is now a park featuring two bombed-out churches and fragments of the castle. A third bombed church has been given a new lease of life as the St Nicholas' Church Museum. Slightly to the north, the Broadmead shopping centre was built over bomb-damaged areas. Clifton Cathedral, to the north of the city centre, was built during the early 1970s.

Like much of British post-war development, the regeneration of Bristol city centre was characterised by large cheap tower blocks such as Castlemead, brutalist architecture, and road expansion. Since the 1990s this trend has been reversing, with the closure of main roads and the redevelopment of the Broadmead shopping centre. In 2006, two of the city centre's tallest post-war blocks were demolished. The transfer of the docks to Avonmouth, 7 miles (11 km) downstream from the city centre, relieved congestion in the centre of Bristol and allowed substantial redevelopment of the old central dock area (the Floating Harbour). The continued existence of the central docks was for some time in jeopardy, as they were seen to be remnants of a derelict industry instead of an asset to be developed for public use.

In the 1990s, a harbourside concert hall designed by architects Behnisch & Partners was planned, but an Arts Council decision cut the funding and the project has not been revived. [cite journal |last=Blundell Jones |first=Peter |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=1998 |month=December |title=Harbour master - design and construction of a concert hall in Bristol, England |journal=The architectural review |volume= |issue= |pages= |id= |url= |accessdate= 2007-07-16 |quote= ] This has left At-Bristol, which mixes art, science and nature, with its all-reflective planetarium, as the centrepiece of the Harbourside development. [ [ Bristol / architecture ] , Guardian Unlimited Accessed 2007-03-27.]

Twenty-first century architecture

As at 2007, the Broadmead shopping centre is being redeveloped, and the city centre's tallest post-war blocks, including Tollgate House, are being demolished. [cite web |url= |title=Demolition of city tower begins |accessdate=2007-03-10 |format= |work=BBC News 13 January 2006.] In 2005, the city council undertook extensive consultations about the future of tall buildings in Bristol, and identified support for new tall buildings so long as they are well designed, sustainable, distinctive and 'fit' into the existing urban landscape. [cite web |url= |title=Height Matters - Consultation on tall buildings in Bristol |accessdate=2007-07-15 |format= |work=Bristol City Council.]

In May 2007, proposals were announced to build approximately 753,000 square feet (70,000 m²) net of homes, offices, and business premises in the St Pauls area. The development, if approved, may include a 600 feet (183 m), 40-storey tower next to the M32 motorway, acting as a new entrance to the city. The tower would be a similar shape to the Swiss Re "Gerkin" tower in London. [cite web |url= |title=600ft 'Gherkin' tower planned for Bristol |accessdate=2007-05-16 |format= |work=This is Bristol]

Tallest buildings

As of 2007, the tallest buildings in Bristol are: [ [ Emporis Buildings] , Accessed 2007-03-25.]

See also

* Churches in Bristol
* Grade I listed buildings in Bristol
* Grade II* listed buildings in Bristol
* Grade II listed buildings in Bristol
* History of Bristol


Further reading


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  • Architecture of Birmingham — Although Birmingham in England has existed as a settlement for over 1,000 years, today s city is overwhelmingly a product of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, with little surviving from its early history. As it has expanded, it has acquired a… …   Wikipedia

  • Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery — Coordinates: 51°27′22″N 2°36′19″W / 51.4561°N 2.6053°W / 51.4561; 2.6053 …   Wikipedia

  • Bristol Old Vic — This article is about Bristol Old Vic Theatre Company. For Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, see Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Coordinates: 51°27′07″N 2°35′38″W / 51.452°N 2.594°W …   Wikipedia

  • Bristol Cathedral — Infobox UK cathedral building name =Bristol Cathedral infobox width = image size = caption = map type =Bristol map size =200 map caption =position within Bristol location = full name =Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity geo =… …   Wikipedia

  • Bristol County Courthouse Complex — Infobox nrhp name = Bristol County Courthouse Complex nrhp type = hd caption = Superior Courthouse, 2008 lat degrees = lat minutes = lat seconds = lat direction = long degrees = long minutes = long seconds = long direction = location = 9, 11, 15… …   Wikipedia

  • Culture of Bristol — Bristol is a city in South West England. As the largest city in the region it is a centre for the arts and sport. The region has a distinct West Country dialect. Contents 1 Events 2 Theatre 3 Music …   Wikipedia