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Posted by r2d2 03/03/2009 @ 04:18

Tags : bristol, south west england, united kingdom, europe, world

News headlines
BriSox worth the wait for Bristol -
By Spencer Campbell BY SPENCER CAMPBELL BRISTOL, Va. – It's Hank Aaron's fault. Ever since Tim Johnston watched Hammerin' Hank chase down Babe Ruth, the Bristol native can't help but nervously await the beginning of professional baseball in his...
Tip leads to Bristol-area meth lab bust - South Bend Tribune
Elkhart County authorities remained on the scene of a meth lab in a neighborhood near Bristol early Wednesday. That's in the Mary Wade Acres neighborhood, west of County Road 131 between the Toll Road and Indiana 120. There was no immediate word on...
Police: Nearly $17K Recovered in Bristol Bank Job - WTIC
Farmington Police have lodged an evidence-tampering charge against one of two men allegedly involved in a Bristol bank robbery and a resulting police pursuit into Farmington which included shots fired at police on June 2....
Two men feared drowned after Bristol Channel swim - Times Online
Two men carried away by the tide as they took a swim in the Bristol Channel last night are feared to have drowned. The men, both in their thirties, went into the water near Birnbeck Pier in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, after drinks at the nearby Royal...
Cruz Tosses Six No-Hit Innings as Greeneville Beats Bristol in Opener -
By Bucky Dent BRISTOL, Va. -- For Greeneville's Luis Cruz, it was a case of right place, wrong time. For the Bristol Sox, it was an Opening Night to forget. Cruz tossed six no-hit innings before being removed by manager Rodney Linares and Bristol...
Bristol Blotter -
Anyone interested in starting a Neighborhood Watch in Bristol, Va., should contact Nicole Slagle, crime prevention coordinator with the Bristol Virginia Police Department, at (276) 645-7281. * Anyone interested in starting a Neighborhood Watch in Wise...
Bristol Virginia Council Approves $50.3 Million Budget -
By The Continuous News Desk BY ROGER BROWN After weeks of debate – not all of it nice – the Bristol City Council approved its fiscal 2009-10 budget Tuesday. By a 3-1 vote, the council approved the $50.3 million general-fund budget – including a...
uconn hospital bailout questioned in Bristol - Bristol Press
However, the move Friday he state legislature to bail out the health center for the fourth time since 2000 was questioned by Kurt Barwis, president and CEO of Bristol Hospital, who asked why the Farmington hospital was not going through an intensive...
Post 75 beats Bristol 1-0 in non-zone game - Middletown Press
The trio of Austin Brassaw (starter), Kevin Landers (winner) and Brian Santangelo (save) held Bristol to just two hits in a 1-0 75ers' victory Monday night in Bristol. Middletown's winning run came in the top of the second inning....
Southern Miss pitcher signs with White Sox - Chicago Tribune
Ballinger posted a 6-4 record with a 4.40 ERA this season, helping lead the Golden Eagles to their first appearance in the College World Series. The school said Tuesday that Ballinger will report to the Bristol, Va., to play for the Bristol Sox in the...


Bristol Bridge and the River Avon

Bristol ( pronunciation (help·info); pronounced /ˈbrɪstəl/) is a city, unitary authority area and ceremonial county in South West England, 105 miles (169 km) west of London, and 44 miles (71 km) east of Cardiff.

With an approximate population of 410,950, and urban area of 550,200, it is England's sixth, and the United Kingdom's ninth most populous city, one of England's core cities and the most populous city in South West England. It received a royal charter in 1155 and was granted county status in 1373. For half a millennium it was the second or third largest English city, until the rapid rise of Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester in the Industrial Revolution during the latter part of the 18th century. It borders the counties of Somerset and Gloucestershire, also located near the historic cities of Bath to the south east and Gloucester to the north. The city is built around the River Avon and it has a short coastline on the estuary of the River Severn, which flows into the Bristol Channel.

Bristol is the largest centre of culture, employment and education in the region. From its earliest days, its prosperity has been linked to that of the Port of Bristol, the commercial port, which was in the city centre but has now moved to the Severn Estuary at Avonmouth and Portbury, to the western extent of the city boundary. In more recent years the economy has been built on the aerospace industry and the city centre docks have been regenerated as a centre of heritage and culture. There are 34 other populated places on Earth named Bristol, most in the United States, but also in Peru, Canada, Jamaica and Costa Rica, all presumably commemorating the original.

There are a number of different ways in which Bristol's boundaries are defined, depending on whether the boundaries attempt to define the city, the built-up area, or the wider "Greater Bristol". The narrowest definition of the city is the city council boundary; although this definition does include a large portion of the Severn Estuary, west as far as the islands of Steep Holm and Flat Holm. A slightly less narrow definition is used by the Office for National Statistics; this includes built-up areas which adjoin Bristol but are not within the city council boundary, such as Whitchurch village, Filton, Patchway, Bradley Stoke, and excludes non-built-up areas within the city council boundary. The ONS has also defined an area which it calls the "Bristol Urban Area" which includes Kingswood, Mangotsfield, Stoke Gifford, Winterbourne, Frampton Cotterell, Almondsbury and Easton-in-Gordano. The term "Greater Bristol", used for example by the Government Office of the South West, is most usually used to refer to the area covered by the city and its three neighbouring local authorities, although this wider area is also sometimes known as the "former Avon area" or the "West of England".

60,000-year-old archaeological finds at Shirehampton and St Annes provide evidence of settlement in the Bristol area from the palaeolithic era. There are Iron Age hill forts near the city, at Leigh Woods and Clifton Down on the side of the Avon Gorge, and on Kingsweston Hill, near Henbury. During the Roman era there was a settlement, Abona, at what is now Sea Mills, connected to Bath by Roman road, and another settlement at what is now Inns Court. There were also isolated Roman villas and small Roman forts and settlements throughout the area. The town of Brycgstow (Old English, "the place at the bridge") was in existence by the beginning of the 11th century, and under Norman rule acquired one of the strongest castles in southern England.

The River Avon in the city centre has evolved into Bristol Harbour, and from the 12th century the harbour was an important port, handling much of England's trade with Ireland. In 1247 a new bridge was built, which was replaced by the current Bristol Bridge in the 1760s, and the town was extended to incorporate neighbouring suburbs, becoming in 1373 a county in its own right. During this period Bristol also became a centre of shipbuilding and manufacturing. Bristol was the starting point for many important voyages, notably John Cabot's 1497 voyage of exploration to North America.

By the 14th century Bristol was England's third-largest medieval town (after London and York), with perhaps 15,000–20,000 inhabitants on the eve of the Black Death of 1348–49. The Plague inflicted a prolonged pause in the growth of Bristol's population, with numbers remaining at 10,000–12,000 through most of the 15th and 16th centuries. The Diocese of Bristol was founded in 1542, with the former Abbey of St. Augustine becoming Bristol Cathedral. Traditionally this is equivalent to the town being granted city status. During the 1640s English Civil War the city was occupied by Royalist military, after they overran Royal Fort, the last Parliamentarian stronghold in the city.

Renewed growth came with the 17th century rise of England's American colonies and the rapid 18th century expansion of England's part in the Atlantic trade in Africans taken for slavery in the Americas. Bristol, along with Liverpool, became a centre for the slave trade although few slaves were brought to Britain. During the height of the slave trade, from 1700 to 1807, more than 2,000 slaving ships were fitted out at Bristol, carrying a (conservatively) estimated half a million people from Africa to the Americas and slavery. Still standing in Bristol is the Seven Stars pub, where abolitionist Thomas Clarkson collected information regarding the slave trade.

Fishermen who left Bristol were long part of the migratory fishery to the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and began settling that island permanently in larger numbers around this time. Bristol's strong nautical ties meant that maritime safety was an important issue in the city, in the 19th century Samuel Plimsoll, "the sailor's friend", campaigned to make the seas safer. He was shocked by the overloaded cargoes and successfully fought for a compulsory load line on ships.

Competition from Liverpool from c. 1760, the disruption of maritime commerce through wars with France (1793) and the abolition of the slave trade (1807) contributed to the city's failure to keep pace with the newer manufacturing centres of the North of England and the West Midlands. The passage up the heavily tidal Avon Gorge, which had made the port highly secure during the Middle Ages, had become a liability which the construction of a new "Floating Harbour" (designed by William Jessop) in 1804–9 failed to overcome. Nevertheless, Bristol's population (66,000 in 1801) quintupled during the 19th century, supported by new industries and growing commerce. It was particularly associated with the Victorian era engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who designed the Great Western Railway between Bristol and London Paddington, two pioneering Bristol-built ocean going steamships, the SS Great Britain and SS Great Western, and the Clifton Suspension Bridge. John Wesley founded the very first Methodist Chapel, called the New Room, in Bristol in 1739. Riots occurred in 1793 and 1831, the first beginning as a protest at renewal of an act levying tolls on Bristol Bridge, and the latter after the rejection of the second Reform Bill.

Bristol's city centre suffered severe damage from Luftwaffe bombing during the Bristol Blitz of World War II. The original central shopping area, near the bridge and castle, is now a park containing two bombed out churches and some fragments of the castle. A third bombed church nearby, St Nicholas, has been restored and has been made into a museum which houses a triptych by William Hogarth, painted for the high altar of St Mary Redcliffe in 1756. The museum also contains statues moved from Arno's Court Triumphal Arch, of King Edward I and King Edward III taken from Lawfords' Gate of the city walls when they were demolished around 1760, and 13th century figures from Bristol's Newgate representing Robert, the builder of Bristol Castle, and Geoffrey de Montbray, Bishop of Coutances, builder of the fortified walls of the city.

The rebuilding of Bristol city centre was characterised by large, cheap 1960s tower blocks, brutalist architecture and expansion of roads. Since the 1980s another trend has emerged with the closure of some main roads, the restoration of the Georgian period Queen Square and Portland Square, the partial regeneration of the Broadmead shopping area, and the demolition of one of the city centre's tallest post-war blocks.

The removal of the docks to Avonmouth, 7 miles (11.3 km) downstream from the city centre has also allowed redevelopment of the old central dock area (the "Floating Harbour") in recent decades, although at one time the continued existence of the docks was in jeopardy as it was viewed as a derelict industrial site rather than an asset. However the holding, in 1996, of the first International Festival of the Sea in and around the docks, affirmed the dockside area in its new leisure role as a key feature of the city.

As a major seaport, Bristol has a long history of trading commodities, particularly tobacco; deals were frequently struck on a personal basis in the former trading area around Corn Street, and in particular, over bronze trading tables, known as "The Nails". This is often given as the origin of the expression "cash on the nail", meaning immediate payment, however it is likely that the expression was in use before the nails were erected.

As well as Bristol's nautical connections, the city's economy is reliant on the aerospace industry, the media, information technology and financial services sectors, and tourism. In 2004 Bristol's GDP was £9.439 billion, and the combined GDP of Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and North Somerset was £44.098 billion. The GDP per head was £23,962 (US$47,738, €35,124) making the city more affluent than the UK as a whole, at 40% above the national average. This makes it the third-highest per-capita GDP of any English city, after London and Nottingham, and the fifth highest GDP per capita of any city in the United Kingdom, behind London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast and Nottingham. In December 2005, Bristol's unemployment rate was 5.2%, compared with 3.6% for the south west and 4.8% for the United Kingdom.

While Bristol's economy is no longer reliant upon its port, the city is the largest importer of cars to the UK. Since the port was leased in 1991, £330 million has been invested and the annual tonnage throughput has increased from 4 million tonnes to 12 million tonnes. The financial services sector employs 40,000 in the city, and the high-tech sector is important, with 400 micro-electronics and silicon design companies, as well as the Hewlett-Packard national research laboratories. Bristol is the UK's seventh most popular destination for foreign tourists, and the city receives nine million visitors each year.

In the 20th century, Bristol's manufacturing activities expanded to include aircraft production at Filton, 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. The Bristol Aeroplane Company diversified into car manufacturing in the 1940s, producing hand-built luxury cars at their factory in Filton, under the name Bristol Cars, which became independent from the Bristol Aeroplane Company in 1960. The city also gave its name to the Bristol make of buses, manufactured in the city from 1908 to 1983, first by the local bus operating company, Bristol Tramways, and from 1955 by Bristol Commercial Vehicles.

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, in Toulouse and Filton. The French manufactured the centre fuselage and centre wing and the British the nose, rear fuselage, fin and wingtips, while the Olympus 593 engine's manufacture was split between Rolls-Royce (Filton) and SNECMA (Paris). The British Concorde prototype made its maiden flight from Filton to RAF Fairford on 9 April 1969, five weeks after the French test flight. In 2003 British Airways and Air France decided to cease flying the aircraft and to retire them to locations (mostly museums) around the world. On 26 November 2003 Concorde 216 made the final 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 includes a Bristol Britannia aircraft.

The aerospace industry remains a major segment of the local economy. The major aerospace companies in Bristol now are BAE Systems, Airbus and Rolls-Royce, all based at Filton, and aerospace engineering is a prominent research area at nearby UWE. Another important aviation company in the city is Cameron Balloons, who manufacture hot air balloon. Each August the city is host to the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, one of Europe's largest hot air balloon events.

A new £500 million shopping centre called Cabot Circus opened in 2008 amidst claims from developers and politicians that Bristol would become one of England's top ten retail destinations. Bristol was selected as one of the world's top ten cities for 2009 by international travel publishers DK Eyewitness. The city was also listed as top of the Sustainable Cities Index 2008 by environmental charity Forum for the Future.

The city is famous for its music and film industries, and was a finalist for the 2008 European Capital of Culture.

The city's principal theatre company, the Bristol Old Vic, was founded in 1946 as an offshoot of the Old Vic company in London. Its premises on King Street consist of the 1766 Theatre Royal (400 seats), a modern studio theatre called the New Vic (150 seats), and foyer and bar areas in the adjacent Coopers' Hall (built 1743). The Theatre Royal is a grade I listed building and was the oldest continuously operating theatre in England. The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, which had originated in King Street is now a separate company. The Bristol Hippodrome is a larger theatre (1981 seats) which hosts national touring productions, while the 2000-seat Colston Hall, named after Edward Colston, is the city's main concert venue. Other theatres include the Tobacco Factory, QEH, the Redgrave Theatre (at Clifton College) and the Alma Tavern. Bristol's theatre scene includes a large variety of producing theatre companies, apart from the Bristol Old Vic company, including Show of Strength Theatre Company, Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory and Travelling Light Theatre Company. Theatre Bristol is a partnership between Bristol City Council, Arts Council England and local theatre practitioners which aims to develop the theatre industry in Bristol. There are also a number of organisations within the city which act to support theatre makers, for example Equity, the actors union, has a General Branch based in the city, and Residence which provides office, social and rehearsal space for several Bristol based theatre and performance companies.

Since the late 1970s, the city has been home to bands combining punk, funk, dub and political consciousness, the most celebrated being The Pop Group. Ten years later, Bristol was the birthplace of a type of English hip-hop music called trip hop or the "Bristol Sound", from artists such as Tricky, Portishead and Massive Attack. It is also a stronghold of drum & bass with notable artists such as the Mercury Prize winning Roni Size/Reprazent as well as the pioneering DJ Krust and More Rockers. This music is part of the wider Bristol urban culture scene which received international media attention in the 1990s. Bristol is home to many live music venues, including Fiddlers, Victoria Rooms, St George's and a range of pubs from the jazz orientated The Old Duke to rock at the Fleece and Firkin and indie bands at the Louisiana.

The Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery houses a collection of natural history, archaeology, local glassware, Chinese ceramics and art. The Bristol Industrial Museum, featuring preserved dock machinery, closed in October 2006 for rebuilding and plans to reopen in 2011 as the Museum of Bristol. The City Museum also runs three preserved historic houses: the Tudor Red Lodge, the Georgian House, and Blaise Castle House. The Watershed Media Centre and Arnolfini gallery, both in disused dockside warehouses, exhibit contemporary art, photography and cinema, while the city's oldest gallery is at the Royal West of England Academy in Clifton. The graffiti artist Banksy hails from Bristol, which still exhibits many of his works.

Stop frame animation films and commercials produced by Aardman Animations and television series focusing on the natural world have also brought fame and artistic credit to the city. The city is home to the regional headquarters of BBC West, and the BBC Natural History Unit. Locations in and around Bristol often feature in the BBC's natural history programmes, including the children's television programme Animal Magic, filmed at Bristol Zoo.

In literature Bristol is noted as the birth place of the 18th century poet Thomas Chatterton, and the poets Robert Southey, who was born in Wine Street, Bristol in 1774 and Samuel Taylor Coleridge married the Bristol Fricker sisters; and William Wordsworth spent time in the city, where Joseph Cottle first published Lyrical Ballads in 1798.

The 18th and 19th century portrait painter Sir Thomas Lawrence and 19th century architect Francis Greenway, designer of many of Sydney's first buildings, came from the city, and more recently the graffiti artist Banksy. Some famous comedians are locals, including Justin Lee Collins, Lee Evans, Russell Howard and writer/comedian Stephen Merchant.

Bristol University graduates include magician and psychological illusionist Derren Brown; the satirist Chris Morris; Simon Pegg and Nick Frost of Spaced, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz; and Matt Lucas and David Walliams of Little Britain fame. Hollywood actor Cary Grant was born in the city; Patrick Stewart, Jane Lapotaire, Pete Postlethwaite, Jeremy Irons, Greta Scacchi, Miranda Richardson, Helen Baxendale, Daniel Day-Lewis and Gene Wilder are amongst the many actors who learnt their craft at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, opened by Sir Laurence Olivier in 1946. The comedian John Cleese was a pupil at Clifton College. Hugo Weaving studied at Queen Elizabeth's Hospital School and David Prowse (Darth Vader, Star Wars) attended Bristol Grammar School.

The city has two League football clubs: Bristol City and Bristol Rovers, as well as a number of non-league clubs, most notably Bristol Manor Farm. Bristol City was promoted to the second tier of English football in 2007. The team lost in the play-off final of the Championship to Hull City (2007/2008 season). City announced plans for a new 30,000 all-seater stadium to replace their home, Ashton Gate. Bristol Rovers is the oldest professional football team in Bristol, formed in 1883. They are just below mid-table in League One, and reached the quarter-final stage of the FA Cup. During their history, Rovers have been champions of the (old) division Three (1952/53, 1989/90), Watney Cup Winners (1972, 2006/07), and runners-up in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy. The Club have planning permission to re-develop the Memorial Stadium into an 18,500 all-seat Stadium to be completed by December 2010.

The city is also home to Bristol Rugby rugby union club, a first-class cricket side, Gloucestershire C.C.C. and a Rugby League Conference side, the Bristol Sonics. The city also stages an annual half marathon, and in 2001 played host to the World Half Marathon Championships. There are several athletics clubs in Bristol, including Bristol and West AC, Bitton Road Runners and Westbury Harriers. Speedway racing was staged, with breaks, at the Knowle Stadium from 1928 to 1960, when it was closed and the site redeveloped. The sport briefly returned to the City in the 1970s when the Bulldogs raced at Eastville Stadium.

In summer the grounds of Ashton Court to the west of the city play host to the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, a major event for hot-air ballooning in the UK. The Fiesta draws a substantial crowd even for the early morning lift that begins at about 6.30 am. Events and a fairground entertain the crowds during the day. A second mass ascent is then made in the early evening, again taking advantage of lower wind speeds. Until 2007 Ashton Court also played host to the Ashton Court festival each summer, an outdoor music festival which used to be known as the Bristol Community Festival.

Bristol has a two daily morning newspapers, the Western Daily Press and the Bristol Evening Post; a weekly free newspaper, the Bristol Observer; and a Bristol edition of the free Metro newspaper. The local weekly listings magazine, Venue, covers the city's music, theatre and arts scenes. All of these papers are owned by the Northcliffe Group. Bristol Media is the city's support network for the creative and media industries with over 1700 member companies and 3200 email members. The city has several local radio stations, including BBC Radio Bristol, GWR FM (previously known as Radio West), Classic Gold 1260, Kiss 101, Star 107.2, BCfm (a community radio station launched March 2007), Ujima 98 FM, Original 106.5, as well as two student radio stations, The Hub and BURST. Bristol also boasts television productions such as The West Tonight for ITV West (formerly HTV West), Points West for BBC West, hospital drama Casualty and Endemol productions such as Deal Or No Deal. Bristol has been used as a location for the Channel 4 comedy drama Teachers, teen drama Skins and horror-drama series Being Human.

A dialect of English is spoken by some Bristol inhabitants, known colloquially as Bristolian, or even more colloquially as "Bristle" or "Brizzle". Bristol is the only large English city with a rhotic accent, in which the r in words like car is pronounced. The unusual feature of this dialect, unique to Bristol, is the Bristol L (or terminal L), in which an L sound is appended to words that end in an 'a' or 'o'. Thus "area" becomes "areal", etc. This is believed to be how the city's name evolved from Brycgstow to have a final 'L' sound: Bristol. Further Bristolian linguistic features are the addition of a superfluous "to" in questions relating to direction or orientation (a feature also common to the coastal towns of South Wales), or using "to" instead of "at"; and using male pronouns "he", "him" instead of "it". For example, "Where's that?" would be phrased as "Where's he to?", a structure exported to Newfoundland English.

Stanley Ellis, a dialect researcher, found that many of the dialect words in the Filton area were linked to work in the aerospace industry. He described this as "a cranky, crazy, crab-apple tree of language and with the sharpest, juiciest flavour that I've heard for a long time".

Bristol City Council consists of 70 councillors representing 35 wards. They are elected in thirds with two councillors per ward, each serving a four-year term. Wards never have both councillors up for election at the same time, so effectively two-thirds of the wards are up each election. The Council has long been dominated by the Labour Party, but recently the Liberal Democrats have grown strong in the city and as the largest party took minority control of the Council at the 2005 election. In 2007, Labour and the Conservatives joined forces to vote down the Liberal Democrat administration, and as a result, Labour ruled the council under a minority administration, with Helen Holland as the council leader. In February 2009, the Labour group resigned, and the Liberal Democrats took office with their own minority administration. The Lord Mayor is Lib Dem Councillor Chris Davis.

Bristol constituencies in the House of Commons cross the borders with neighbouring authorities, and the city is divided into Bristol West, East, South and North-west and Kingswood. Northavon also covers some of the suburbs, but none of the administrative county. At the next General Election, the boundaries will be changed to coincide with the county boundary. Kingswood will no longer cover any of the county, and a new Filton and Bradley Stoke constituency will include the suburbs in South Gloucestershire. There are four Labour and one Liberal Democrat Members of Parliament.

Bristol has a tradition of local political activism, and has been home to many important political figures. Tony Benn, a veteran left-wing politician, was Member of Parliament (MP) for Bristol South East from 1950 until 1983. Edmund Burke, MP for the Bristol constituency for six years from 1774, famously insisted that he was a Member of Parliament first, rather than a representative of his constituents' interests. In 1963, there was a boycott of the city's buses after the Bristol Omnibus Co. refused to employ black drivers and conductors. The boycott is known to have influenced the creation of the UK's Race Relations Act in 1965. The women's rights campaigner Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence (1867–1954) was born in Bristol. The city was the scene of the first of the 1980s riots. In St. Paul's, a number of largely African-Caribbean people rose up against racism, police harassment and mounting dissatisfaction with their social and economic circumstances before similar disturbances followed across the UK. Local support of fair trade issues was recognised in 2005 when Bristol was granted Fairtrade City status.

Bristol is unusual in having been a city with county status since medieval times. The county was expanded to include suburbs such as Clifton in 1835, and it was named a county borough in 1889, when the term was first introduced. However, on 1 April 1974, it became a local government district of the short-lived county of Avon. On 1 April 1996, it regained its independence and county status, when the county of Avon was abolished and Bristol became a Unitary Authority.

In 2008 the Office for National Statistics estimated the Bristol unitary authority's population at 416,900, making it the 47th-largest ceremonial county in England. Using Census 2001 data the ONS estimated the population of the city to be 441,556, and that of the contiguous urban area to be 551,066. This makes the city England's sixth most populous city, and ninth most populous urban area. At 3,599 inhabitants per square kilometre (9,321 /sq mi) it has the seventh-highest population density of any English district.

According to 2006 estimates, 88.8% of the population were described as white, 4.2% as Asian or Asian British, 2.9% as black or black British, 2.2% as mixed race, 1.3% as Chinese and 0.7% other. National averages for England were 88.7%, 5.5%, 2.8%, 1.6%, 0.7% and 0.7% for the same groups. 60% of Bristol's population registered their religion as Christianity, and 25% as not religious in the 2001 census, compared with 72% and 15% nationally. 2% of the population follow Islam (3% nationally), with no other religion above one percent.

Bristol is in a limestone area, which runs from the Mendip Hills to the south and the Cotswolds to the north east. The rivers Avon and Frome cut through this limestone to the underlying clays, creating Bristol's characteristic hilly landscape. The Avon flows from Bath in the east, through flood plains and areas which were marshy before the growth of the city. To the west the Avon has cut through the limestone to form the Avon Gorge, partly aided by glacial meltwater after the last ice age. The gorge aided in the protection of Bristol Harbour, and has been quarried for stone to build the city. The land surrounding the gorge has been protected from development, as The Downs and Leigh Woods. The gorge and estuary of the Avon form the county's boundary with North Somerset, and the river flows into the Bristol Channel at Avonmouth at the mouth of the River Severn. There is another gorge in the city, in the Blaise Castle estate to the north.

Situated in the south of the country, Bristol is one of the warmest cities in the UK, with a mean annual temperature of 10.2-12 °C (50-54 °F). It is also amongst the sunniest, with 1541-1885 hours sunshine per year. The city is partially sheltered by Exmoor and the Mendip Hills, but exposed from the Bristol Channel, and annual rainfall is similar to the national average, at 741-1,060 mm (29.2–41.7 in). Rain falls all year round but autumn and winter are the wettest seasons. The Atlantic strongly influences Bristol's weather holding average temperatures above-freezing all year, though cold spells in winter often bring frosts. Although a rare occurrence, snow can fall at any time from mid-November through to mid-April. Summers are drier and quite warm with variable amounts of sunshine, rain and cloud. Spring is unsettled and changeable. This season has been known to deliver spells of winter snow as well as summer sunshine.

Bristol is home to two major institutions of higher education: the University of Bristol, a "redbrick" chartered in 1909, and the University of the West of England, formerly Bristol Polytechnic, which gained university status in 1992. The city also has two dedicated further education institutions, City of Bristol College and Filton College, and three theological colleges, Trinity College, Wesley College and Bristol Baptist College. The city has 129 infant, junior and primary schools, 17 secondary schools, and three city learning centres. It has the country's second highest concentration of independent school places, after an exclusive corner of north London. The independent schools in the city include Colston's School, Clifton College, Clifton High School, Badminton School, Bristol Cathedral School, Bristol Grammar School, Redland High School, Queen Elizabeth's Hospital (the only all-boys school) and Red Maids' School, which is the oldest girls' school in England and was founded in 1634 by John Whitson.

In 2005, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer recognised Bristol's ties to science and technology by naming it one of six "science cities", and promising funding for further development of science in the city, with a £300 million science park planned at Emerson's Green. As well as research at the two universities and Southmead Hospital, science education is important in the city, with At-Bristol, Bristol Zoo, Bristol Festival of Nature and the Create Centre being prominent local institutions involved in science communication. The city has a history of scientific luminaries, including the 19th century chemist Sir Humphry Davy, who worked in Hotwells. Bishopston has given the world two Nobel Prize winning physicists: Paul Dirac for crucial contributions to quantum mechanics in 1933, and Cecil Frank Powell, for a photographic method of studying nuclear processes and associated discoveries in 1950. The city was birth place of Colin Pillinger, planetary scientist behind the Beagle 2 Mars lander project, and is home to Adam Hart-Davis, presenter of various science related television programmes, and the psychologists Susan Blackmore and Richard Gregory.

Initiatives such as the Flying Start Challenge help encourage secondary school pupils around the Bristol to take an interest in Science and Engineering. Links with major Aerospace companies promote technical disciplines and advance student’s understanding of practical design.

There are two principal railway stations in Bristol. Bristol Parkway is located to the north of the city and Bristol Temple Meads is in the centre. Both stations offer direct services to many UK destinations. Principal operators are First Great Western and CrossCountry. There is also a limited service to London Waterloo from Bristol Temple Meads, operated by South West Trains. The main service to London is by First Great Western to Paddington station. There are also scheduled coach links to most major UK cities.

The city is connected by road on an east–west axis from London to West Wales by the M4 motorway, and on a north–southwest axis from Birmingham to Exeter by the M5 motorway. Also within the county is the M49 motorway, a short cut between the M5 in the south and M4 Severn Crossing in the west. The M32 motorway is a spur from the M4 to the city centre.

The city is served by Bristol International Airport (BRS), at Lulsgate, which has seen substantial investments in its runway, terminal and other facilities since 2001.

Public transport in the city consists largely of its bus network, provided mostly by First Group, formerly the Bristol Omnibus Company - other services are provided by Abus, Buglers, Ulink, and Wessex Connect. Buses in the city have been widely criticised for being unreliable and expensive, and in 2005 First was fined for delays and safety violations. Use of private cars in Bristol is high, and the city suffers from congestion, which costs an estimated £350 million per year. Bristol is a motorcycle friendly city. The city recognises that motorcycle use eases congestion and encourages this by allowing motorcycles to use most of the city's bus lanes, as well as providing secure free parking. Since 2000 the city council has included a light rail system in its Local Transport Plan, but has so far been unable to fund the project. The city was offered European Union funding for the system, but the Department for Transport did not provide the required additional funding. As well as support for public transport, there are several road building schemes supported by the local council, including re-routing and improving the South Bristol Ring Road. There are also three park and ride sites serving the city, supported by the local council. The central part of the city has water-based transport, operated as the Bristol Ferry Boat, which provides both leisure and commuter services on the harbour.

Bristol was never well served by suburban railways, though the Severn Beach Line to Avonmouth and Severn Beach survived the Beeching Axe and is still in operation. The Portishead Railway was closed to passengers under the Beeching Axe, but was relaid in 2000-2002 as far as the Royal Portbury Dock with a Strategic Rail Authority rail-freight grant. Plans to relay a further three miles (5 km) of track to Portishead, a largely dormitory town with only one connecting road, have been discussed but there is insufficient funding to rebuild stations.

Despite being hilly, Bristol is one of the prominent cycling cities of England, and is home to the national cycle campaigning group Sustrans. It has a number of urban cycle routes, as well as links to National Cycle Network routes to Bath and London, to Gloucester and Wales, and to the south-western peninsula of England. Cycling has grown rapidly in the city, with a 21% increase in journeys between 2001 and 2005.

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University of Bristol

The University of Bristol Union building

The University of Bristol is a university in Bristol, England. It received its Royal Charter in 1909, although its predecessor institution, University College, Bristol, had been in existence since 1876. It is one of the original "red brick" universities. Bristol ranks as one of the top 10 universities in the United Kingdom according to most published league tables and receives more applications per place than any other British University. The University has an annual turnover of £260m and is the largest independent employer in Bristol.

The University is a member of the Russell Group, European-wide Coimbra Group and the Worldwide Universities Network, of which the University's Vice-Chancellor Prof Eric Thomas is the current Chair. Bristol has around 23,000 students and is one of two universities in Bristol, the other being the more recently established University of the West of England. The University has gained press attention for its high private school intake and the 2003 dispute over its admissions system.

The earliest antecedent of the university was the engineering department of the Merchant Venturers’ Technical College (founded as a school as early as 1595) which became the Engineering faculty of Bristol university . The University was also preceded by University College, Bristol, founded in 1876, where its first lecture was attended by only 99 students. The University was able to apply for a Royal Charter due to the financial support of the Wills and Fry families, who made their fortunes in tobacco plantations and chocolate, respectively. Although the Wills Family made huge sums of money from the slave-produced plantations, they later became abolitionists who gave their money to the city of Bristol. The Royal Charter was gained in May 1909, with 288 undergraduates and 400 other students entering the University in October 1909. Henry Overton Wills III became its first chancellor. The University College was the first such institution in the country to admit women on the same basis as men. However, women were forbidden to take examinations in medicine until 1906.

There shall be from henceforth for ever in Our said City of Bristol a University...

Since the founding of the University itself in 1909, it has grown considerably and is now one of the largest employers in the local area, although it is smaller by student numbers than the nearby University of the West of England. Bristol does not have a campus but is spread over a considerable geographic area. Most of its activities, however, are concentrated in the area of the city centre, referred to as the "University Precinct". It is a member of the Russell Group of research-led UK universities, the Coimbra Group of leading European universities and the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN).

After the founding of the University College in 1876, Government support began in 1889. After mergers with the Bristol Medical School in 1893 and the Merchant Venturers' Technical College in 1909, this funding allowed the opening of a new Medical School and an Engineering School—two subjects that remain among the University's greatest strengths. In 1908, gifts from the Fry and Wills families, particularly £100,000 from Henry Overton Wills III (£6m in today's money), were provided to endow a University for Bristol and the West of England, provided that a Royal Charter could be obtained within two years. In December, 1909, the King granted such a Charter and erected the University of Bristol. Henry Wills became its first Chancellor and Conwy Lloyd Morgan the first Vice-Chancellor. Wills died in 1911 and in tribute his sons George and Harry built the Wills Memorial Building, starting in 1913 and finally finishing in 1925. Today, it houses parts of the academic provision for earth sciences and law, and graduation ceremonies are held in its Great Hall. The Wills Memorial Building is a Grade II* listed building.

In 1920, George Wills bought the Victoria Rooms and endowed them to the University as a Students' Union. The building now houses the Department of Music and is a Grade II* listed building.

At the point of foundation, the University was required to provide for the local community. This mission was behind the creation of the Department of Extra-Mural Adult Education in 1924 to provide courses to the local community. This mission continues today; a new admissions policy specifically caters to the 'BS' postcode area of Bristol.

Among the famous names associated with Bristol in this early period is Paul Dirac, who graduated in 1921 with a degree in engineering, before obtaining a second degree in mathematics in 1923 from Cambridge. For his subsequent pioneering work on quantum mechanics, he was awarded the 1933 Nobel Prize for Physics. Later in the 1920s, the H.H. Wills Physics Laboratory was opened by Ernest Rutherford. It has since housed several Nobel Prize winners: Cecil Frank Powell (1950); Hans Albrecht Bethe (1967); and Sir Nevill Francis Mott (1977). The Laboratory stands on the same site today, close to the Bristol Grammar School and the city museum.

Sir Winston Churchill became the University's third Chancellor in 1929, serving the University in that capacity until 1965. He succeeded Richard Haldane who had held the office from 1912 following the death of Henry Wills.

During World War II, the Wills Memorial was bombed, destroying the Great Hall and the organ it housed. It has since been restored to its former glory, complete with oak panelled walls and a new organ.

In 1946, the University established the first drama department in the country. In the same year, Bristol began offering special entrance exams and grants to aid the resettlement of servicemen returning home. Student numbers continued to increase, and the Faculty of Engineering eventually needed the new premises that were to become Queen's Building in 1955. This substantial building housed all of the University's engineers until 1996, when Electrical Engineering and Computer Science moved over the road into the new Merchant Venturers' Building to make space for these rapidly expanding fields. Today, Queen's Building caters for most of the teaching needs of the Faculty and provides academic space for the "heavy" engineering subjects (civil, mechanical, and aeronautical).

With unprecedented growth in the 1960s, particularly in undergraduate numbers, the Student's Union eventually acquired larger premises in a new building in the Clifton area of the city, in 1965. This building was more spacious than the Victoria Rooms, which were now given over to the Department of Music. The new Union provides many practice and performance rooms, some specialist rooms, as well as three bars: the Epi; the Mandela (also known as AR2) and the Avon Gorge. Whilst spacious, the Union building is thought by many to be ugly and out of character compared to the architecture of the rest of the Clifton area, having been mentioned in a BBC poll to find the worst architectural eyesores in Britain. The University has proposed relocating the Union to a more central location as part of its development 'masterplan'.

The 1960s were a time of considerable student activism in the United Kingdom, and Bristol was no exception. In 1968, many students marched in support of the Anderson Report, which called for higher student grants. This discontent culminated in an 11-day sit-in at the Senate House (the administrative headquarters of the University). A series of Chancellors and Vice-Chancellors led the University through these decades, with Henry Somerset, 10th Duke of Beaufort taking over from Churchill as Chancellor in 1965 before being succeeded by Dorothy Hodgkin in 1970 who spent the next 18 years in the office.

As the age of mass higher education dawned, Bristol continued to build its student numbers. The various undergraduate residences were repeatedly expanded and, more recently, some postgraduate residences have been constructed. These more recent ventures have been funded (and are run) by external companies in agreement with the University.

Since 1988, there have been only two further Chancellors: Sir Jeremy Morse, then chairman of Lloyds Bank who handed over in 2003 to Brenda Hale, the first female Law Lord.

One of the few Centres for Deaf Studies in the United Kingdom was established in Bristol in 1981, followed in 1988 by the Norah Fry Centre for research into learning difficulties. Also in 1988, and again in 2004, the Students' Union AGM voted to disaffiliate from the National Union of Students (NUS). On both occasions, however, the subsequent referendum of all students reversed that decision and Bristol remains affiliated to the NUS.

In 2002, the University was involved in argument over press intrusion after details of Euan Blair's application to university (son of then-Prime Minister Tony Blair) were published in national newspapers. Euan eventually gained a 2:1 in Ancient History from Bristol.

As the number of postgraduate students has grown (particularly the numbers pursuing taught Master's Degrees), there eventually became a need for separate representation on University bodies and the Postgraduate Union (PGU) was established in 2000. Universities are increasingly expected to exploit the intellectual property generated by their research activities and, in 2000, Bristol established the Research and Enterprise Division (RED) to further this cause (particularly for technology-based businesses). In 2001, the university signed a 25-year research funding deal with IP2IPO, an intellectual property commercialisation company. In 2007, research activities were expanded further with the opening of the Advanced Composites Centre for Innovation and Science (ACCIS) and The Bristol Institute for Public Affairs (BIPA).

In 2002, the University opened a new Centre for Sports, Exercise and Health in the heart of the University precinct. At a cost, local residents are also able to use the facilities.

Expansion of teaching and research activities continues. In 2004, the Faculty of Engineering completed work on the Bristol Laboratory for Advanced Dynamics Engineering (BLADE). This £18.5m project provides cutting-edge technology to further the study of dynamics and is the most advanced such facility in Europe. It was built as an extension to the Queen's Building and was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in March 2005.

In January, 2005, The School of Chemistry was awarded £4.5m by the Higher Education Funding Council for England to create Bristol ChemLabS: a Centre for Excellence in Teaching & Learning (CETL), with an additional £350k announced for the capital part of the project in February, 2006. Bristol ChemLabS stands for Bristol Chemical Laboratory Sciences; it is the only Chemistry CETL in the UK.

There is also a plan to significantly redevelop the centre of the University Precinct in the coming years.

The University has been regarded as being elitist by some commentators, taking 42% of its undergraduate students from non-state schools, according to the most recent 2006/2007 figures, despite the fact that such pupils make up just 7% of the population in the UK. The high ratio of undergraduates from non-state school has led to some tension at the university. In late February and early March 2003, Bristol became embroiled in a row about admissions policies, with some private schools threatening a boycott based on their claims that, in an effort to improve equality of access, the University was discriminating against their students. These claims were hotly denied by the University. In August, 2005, following a large-scale survey, the Independent Schools Council publicly acknowledged that there was no evidence of bias against applicants from the schools it represented. The University has a new admissions policy, which lays out in considerable detail the basis on which any greater or lesser weight may be given to particular parts of an applicant's backgrounds—in particular, what account may be taken of which school the applicant hails from. This new policy also encourages greater participation from locally resident applicants.

League tables generally place Bristol within the top ten universities in the United Kingdom. Internationally, The Times Higher Education Supplement placed Bristol 64th in the world in 2006 and 37th in 2007. Another international ranking, the Shanghai Jiao Tong University Academic Ranking of World Universities, placed Bristol 62nd globally in 2007. According to data published in The Telegraph Bristol has the third-highest percentage of 'good honours' of any UK university, behind Oxford and Cambridge.

In addition, the following courses offered by University of Bristol, managed to reach top 5 in the Times ranking (2008): Computer Science(3-rd), Electrical and Electronic Engineering(3-rd), Civil Engineering(5-th), Biological Sciences(3-rd), Mathematics (3-rd), Psychology (4-th).

In addition, Bristol is particularly strong in the field of social sciences, particularly in Economics, Finance and Management, and was recently rated 4th in the 2008 Guardian University Guide for Business and Management Studies.

Bristol is also known for its research strength, having 15 departments gaining the top grade of 5* in the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise. Overall, 36 out of 46 departments rated gained the top two ratings of 5 or 5*, and 76% of all the academic staff working in departments scored these top two levels. In terms of teaching strength, Bristol had an average Teaching Quality Assessment score of 22.05/24 before the TQA was abolished. For admission in October 2005, Bristol reported an average of 10.8 applications per place with the average A-level score on admission being 436.4. That year, Bristol's drop-out rate was 2.2% compared to the benchmark set by HEFCE of no more than 3.1%.

The University's School of Law is also one of its strongest subject areas. Immediately following Oxbridge, Bristol offers some of the best legal educations in the country alongside University College London, London School of Economics and Political Science, King's College London, Durham University and Warwick University.

The University has a Students' Union, the University of Bristol Union, which claims to have the largest Students' Union building in the country. From this location, the student radio station BURST (Bristol University Radio Station) broadcasts and the student paper Epigram publishes. In terms of student life, the Union is responsible for the organisation of the annual freshers' fair, the coordination of Bristol Student Community Action, which organizes volunteering projects in the local community, and the organization of entertainment events and student societies. The current President of the union is Tobin Webb. Previous presidents have included Sue Lawley and Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik. There is a separate union for postgraduate students, as well as an athletic union, which is a member of the British Universities & Colleges Sport. In distinction to the 'blues' awarded for sporting excellence at Oxford and Cambridge, Bristol's outstanding athletes are awarded 'reds'.

Accommodation for students is primarily in the central precinct of the University and two areas of Bristol: Clifton and Stoke Bishop. In Stoke Bishop, Wills Hall on the edge of the Clifton Downs was the first to be opened, in 1929, by then-Chancellor Winston Churchill. Its original quadrangle layout has been expanded twice, in 1962 and 1990. Churchill Hall, named for the Chancellor, followed in 1956, then Badock Hall in 1964. At the time of Badock Hall's establishment, some of the buildings were called Hiatt Baker Hall, but two years later, Hiatt Baker moved to its own site and is now the largest hall in the University. The first self-catering hall in Stoke Bishop was University Hall, established in 1971 with expansion in 1992. The Universities newest undergraduate residence, Durdham Hall, was opened in Stoke Bishop in 1994. All of the main halls elect groups of students to the Junior Common Room to organize the halls social calendar for the next year.

In Clifton, Goldney Hall was built first in the early 1700s by a wealthy merchant family of the same surname and eventually became part of the University in 1956. It is a popular location for filming, with The Chronicles of Narnia, The House of Eliott and Truly, Madly, Deeply, as well as episodes of Only Fools and Horses and Casualty, being filmed there. The Grotto in the grounds is a Grade I listed building. Clifton Hill House is another Grade I listed building now used as student accommodation in Clifton.It was originally built in between 1745 and 1750 by Isaac Ware, and has been used by the University since its earliest days in 1909. Manor Hall comprises five separate buildings, the principal of which was erected from 1927–1932 to the design of George Oatley following a donation from Henry Herbert Wills.

One of its annexes, Manor House, has recently been refurbished and officially 'reopened' in 1999.

Several of the residences in the central precinct are more recent and have been built and are managed by third-party organisations under exclusivity arrangements with the University. These include Unite House and Chantry Court, opened in 2000 and 2003 respectively by the UNITE Group, as well as Dean's Court (2001, postgraduates only) and Woodland Court (2005), both run by the Dominion Housing Group.

Bristol awards a range of academic degrees spanning bachelor's and master's degrees as well as junior doctorates and higher doctorates. The postnominals awarded are the degree abbreviations used commonly among British universities. The University is part of the Engineering Doctorate scheme, and awards the Eng. D. in systems engineering, engineering management, aerospace engineering and non-destructive evaluation.

Bristol notably does not award by title any Bachelor's degrees in music, which is available for study but awarded B.A. (although it does award M.Mus. and D.Mus.), nor any degree in divinity, since divinity is not available for study (students of theology are awarded a B.A.). Similarly, the University does not award B.Litt. (Bachelor of Letters), although it does award both M.Litt. and D.Litt. In regulations, the University does not name M.D. or D.D.S. as higher doctorates, although they are in many universities., as these degrees are normally accredited professional doctorates.

The degrees of D.Litt., D.Sc., D.Eng., LL.D. and D.Mus., whilst having regulations specifying the grounds for award, are most often conferred as honorary degrees (in honoris causa). Those used most commonly are the D.Litt., D.Sc. and LL.D., with the M.A. (and occasionally the M.Litt.) also sometimes conferred honorarily for distinction in the local area or within the University.

In common with most UK universities, Bristol is headed formally by the Chancellor, currently Brenda Hale and led on a day-to-day basis by the Vice-Chancellor, currently Prof Eric Thomas. There are four Pro-Vice-Chancellors and three ceremonial Pro-Chancellors. The Chancellor may hold office for up to ten years and the Pro-Chancellors for up to three, unless the University Court determines otherwise, but the Vice-Chancellor and Pro-Vice-Chancellors have no term limits. From September 2008, there will also be a Deputy Vice-Chancellor, who will stand in for the Vice-Chancellor on all matters when the latter is away from the University.

Responsibility for running the University is held at an executive level by the Vice-Chancellor, but the Council is the only body that can recommend changes to the University's statutes and Charter, with the exception of academic ordinances. These can only be made with the consent of the Senate, the chief academic body in the University which also holds responsibility for teaching and learning, examinations and research and enterprise. The Chancellor and Pro Chancellors are nominated by Council and appointed formally by Court, whose additional powers are now limited to these appointments and a few others, including some lay members of Council. Finally, Convocation, the body of all staff, ceremonial officers and graduates of the University, returns 100 members to Court and one member to Council, but is otherwise principally a forum for discussion and to ensure graduates stay in touch with the University.

Some of the University of Bristol's buildings date to its pre-charter days when it was University College Bristol. These buildings were designed by Charles Hansom, the younger brother of Joseph Hansom, the inventor of the Hansom Cab. These buildings suffered being built in stages due to financial pressure. George Oatley added to them a tower in memory of Albert Fry which can still be seen on University Road. The first large scale building project the University of Bristol undertook on gaining a charter was the Wills Memorial Building which it was hoped would be a symbol of academic permanence for the University and a memorial to the chief benefactor of the University Henry Overton Wills. It was requested to the architect George Oatley that the building be built to last at least 400 years but the site purchased, at the top of Park Street suffered from an awkward slope and a desirability to link the building with the Museum and Art Gallery situated adjacent to the plot. The architecture critic Roger Gill has stated that the building is "remarkable in size" but noted that the "ambience of a medieval University was strangely lacking". He goes on to criticize the building as a "sham" and a "folly". The armorials on the Founder's Window represent all of the interests present at the founding of the University of Bristol including the Wills and Fry families. The Tyndalls Park Estate and Royal Fort were also purchased from the trustees of the Tyndall family allowing the University to expand. Many Departments in the Faculty of Arts are housed in large Victorian houses which have been converted for teaching.

Goldney gardens entered the property of the University of Bristol through George Wills who had hoped to build an all male hall of residence there. This was prevented due to the moral objection of the then warden of Clifton Hall House who objected to the idea of male and female residences being in such close proximity. University records show that Miss Starvey was prepared to resign over the issue and that she had the support of the then Chancellor Conwy Lloyd Morgan. Eventually land was purchased in Stoke Bishop allowing Wills Hall to be bought, allowing the building of what has been described as a "quasi-Oxbridge" hall, to which was added the Dame Monica Wills Chapel added by George Wills' widow after his death.

Many of the more modern buildings including the Physics department and Senate House were designed by Raplh Brentnall after funds from the University Grants Committee. He is also responsible for the extension to the Wills Memorial Building library which was completed to such standard that few now realize that is an extension to the original building. Brentnall oversaw the rebuilding of the Great Hall of the Wills Memorial Building after it was partly destroyed during the Bristol Blitz of World War II. The buildings of St Michael's Hill were rebuilt using hundreds of old photographs in order to recreate the original houses. The flats at Goldney Hall were designed by Michael Grice and received an award from the Civic Trust for their design . Bristol University owns some of the best examples of Georgian architecture in the city, the best examples being Royal Fort House, Clifton Hill House and Goldney Hall despite some additions. The Victoria Rooms which house the Music Department were design by Charles Dyer and is seen as a good example of a Greek revival movement in British architecture. The tympanum of the building depicts a scene from The Advent of Morning designed by Jabez Tyley. Its major feature was a large organ which has since been destroyed by fire.

In common with other universities in the United Kingdom, Bristol uses its particular pattern of academic dress as well its logo and coat of arms to represent itself.

The University specifies a mix of Cambridge and Oxford academic dress. For the most part, it uses Cambridge-style hoods and Oxford-style gowns. Unusually for British universities, the hoods are required to be 'University red' (see the logo at the top of the page) rather than black.

The inscription on the book is the Latin opening of the 124th Psalm, "If the Lord Himself had not (been on our side...)".

Bristol has produced eight Nobel Laureates and academics include ten Fellows of the Academy of Medical Sciences, ten Fellows of the British Academy, twelve Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering and eighteen Fellows of the Royal Society.

Present academics include Sir Michael Berry, knighted in 1996, one of the discoverers of quantum mechanics' 'geometric phase', John Rarity who, in 2001, set a then world-record 1.9km range for free-space secure key exchange using quantum cryptography, and Mark Horton, one of the presenters of the BBC's Coast television series. Patricia Broadfoot, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Gloucestershire, and Nigel Thrift, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Warwick both were previously faculty at Bristol. Anthony Epstein, co-discoverer of the Epstein-Barr virus, was Professor of Pathology at the University from 1968–1982. Historical academics include Sir John Lennard-Jones, discoverer of the Lennard-Jones potential in physics and Alfred Marshall, one of the University College's Principals and influential economist in the latter part of the 19th century.

Notable alumni of the University of Bristol include writers Dick King-Smith, Angela Carter and David Nicholls, author of the novel Starter for Ten, turned into a screenplay set in the University of Bristol. Other high-profile former students include BBC News' Chief Political Correspondant James Landale (who founded the Bristol University independent newspaper, the Epigram), illusionist Derren Brown, Global Economist Robert Barro, IMF Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Prince of Monaco Albert II, TV newsreader Alastair Stewart, as well as musician James Blunt. Radio 4 presenter Sue Lawley was also a student there, whilst Liberal Democratic MP Lembit Opik was President of Bristol University Students' Union during his time there.

The University also has a remarkable comedy pedigree. Little Britain stars Matt Lucas and David Walliams, attended the university, as did Simon Pegg (of Hot Fuzz fame) and Chris Morris, creator of the controversial Brass Eye. Other comedy stars include Chris Langham, of The Thick of It fame, standup comic Marcus Brigstocke, and Radio 4 favourite Danny Robbins. More recently, Bristol students established a satirical newspaper, The Tart, which received national press attention.

For a full list of famous alumni, see Bristol University's page on notable alumni.

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Bristol F.2 Fighter

A Bristol F.2 Fighter preserved at the Imperial War Museum Duxford

The Bristol F.2 Fighter was a British two-seat biplane fighter and reconnaissance aircraft of World War I flown by the Royal Flying Corps. It is often simply called the Bristol Fighter or popularly the "Brisfit" or "Biff". Despite being a two-seater, the F.2B proved to be an agile aircraft that was able to hold its own against opposing single-seat fighters. Having overcome a disastrous start to its career, the F.2B's solid design ensured that it remained in military service into the 1930s and surplus aircraft were popular in civil aviation.

The Bristol fighter's basic design stemmed from design studies by Frank Barnwell in March 1916 for an aircraft in the same class as the R.E.8 and the F.K.8 - the Type 9 R.2A with the 160 hp Beardmore engine and the R.2B, powered by the 150 hp Hispano Suiza. Neither type was built as the new 190 hp (142 kW) Rolls-Royce Falcon I inline engine became available, and Barwell designed a new aircraft around the Rolls-Royce engine. This, the Type 12 F.2A was a more compact design, intended from the outset as a two-seater fighter: it first flew on 9 September 1916. The F.2A was armed in what had by then become the standard manner for a British two-seater, with one synchronised fixed, forward-firing .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine gun and one flexible Lewis gun of the same calibre mounted on a Scarff ring in the observer's rear cockpit.

Only 52 F.2As were produced before production switched to what became the definitive Bristol Fighter, the Bristol Type 14 F.2B which had first flown on 25 October 1916. The first 150 or so were powered by the Falcon I or Falcon II engine but the remainder were equipped with the 275 hp (205 kW) Falcon III engine and could reach a maximum speed of 123 mph (198 km/h). The F.2B was over 10 mph (16 km/h) faster than the F.2A and was three minutes faster at reaching 10,000 ft (3,000 m). A second Lewis gun was often added to the rear cockpit.

The Bristol M.R.1 is often described as an "all-metal version of the F.2b". In fact it was a totally new design - although it shared the characteristic of having the fuselage positioned between the upper and lower wing. Two prototypes were built, the first flying on 23 October, 1917, but the M.R.1 never entered mass production.

Rolls Royce aero engines of all types were in chronic short supply in this period, and the Falcon was no exception. Plans to make the Bristol Fighter the standard British two-seater, replacing the R.E.8 and F.K.8, stalled against this barrier; there simply would not have been enough Falcons available. Efforts to find an available powerplant that was sufficiently powerful and reliable, ultimately failed.

The Type 15 was fitted with a 200 hp (149 kW) Sunbeam Arab piston engine. This motor suffered from chronic vibration and the "Arab Bristol" was never a viable combination, in spite of prolonged development. A few Arab-engined Bristols were at the front very late in the war – but most British reconnaissance squadrons had to soldier on with the R.E.8 and F.K.8 until the end of hostilities.

The Type 16 was fitted with a 200 hp (149 kW) Hispano-Suiza piston engine. This worked better than the Arab - but the Hispano-Suiza availability was no better than for the Falcon, and the motors that were available were required for the S.E.5a and Sopwith Dolphin. The 300 hp version of the Hispano-Suiza, suggested for the Type 17 was not available in numbers before the end of the war.

Other engines tried or suggested for the F.2B were the 200 hp RAF 4d, the 180 hp Wolseley Viper and the 230 hp Siddeley Puma.

The Type 22 F.2C was a proposed version adapted for a radial or rotary engine; either a 200 hp Salmson radial, a 300 hp (224 kW) ABC Dragonfly radial (Type 22A), or a 230 hp (172 kW) Bentley B.R.2 rotary (Type 22B).

The United States Army Engineering Division had plans to develop and build an American version of the Bristol Fighter. But efforts to start production in the United States foundered against the mistaken decision to power the type with the Liberty L-12 engine – a totally unsuitable engine for the Bristol, as it was far too heavy and bulky, the resulting aircraft being nose heavy, with only 27 of the planned 2,000 being built. Efforts to change the powerplant of American Bristol Fighters to the more suitable Liberty 8 or the 300 hp Hispano-Suiza came up against political as well as technical problems, with one each of the Hispano-engined Engineering Division USB-1A and the Liberty L-8-engined Engineering Division USB-1B built. Limited numbers of aircraft designated XB-1 and later XB-1A (with Hispano or Wright engines) were built postwar.

Postwar developments of the F.2B included the Type 14 F.2B Mk II, a two-seat army co-operation biplane, fitted with desert equipment and a tropical cooling system, which first flew in December 1919. 435 were built. The Type 96 Fighter Mk III and Type 96A Fighter Mk VI were structurally strengthened aircraft, of which 50 were built in 1926-1927.

Surplus F.2Bs were modified for civilian use. The Bristol Tourer was an F.2B fitted with a Siddeley Puma engine in place of the Falcon and with the cockpits enclosed by canopies. The Tourer had a maximum speed of 128 mph (206 km/h).

When initially deployed, aircrews were instructed to maintain formation and use the crossfire of the observers' guns to meet any threat from enemy fighters. This was standard procedure at the time, and worked well for such types as the F.E.2b. For the Bristol, these tactics were flawed and did not withstand the first contact with the enemy. The F.2A arrived on the Western Front in April 1917 as the British launched the Battle of Arras. The very first F.2A patrol of six aircraft from No. 48 Squadron RFC, led by Victoria Cross winner William Leefe Robinson, ran into five Albatros D.IIIs from Jasta 11 led by Manfred von Richthofen. Four out of the six F.2As were shot down, including Robinson who was captured; and a fifth was badly damaged.

More flexible, aggressive tactics soon proved that the new Bristol was by no means as ineffective in air-to-air combat as its first encounter with the enemy seemed to indicate. In fact it was eventually realised that the type was fast and manoeuvrable enough to be flown in combat more or less like a single-seat fighter; the pilot's fixed forward-firing gun serving as the principal weapon, with the observer's flexible gun serving mainly as a bonus "sting in the tail". Flown in this manner the Bristol Fighter was a formidable opponent for any German single-seater.

In September and October 1917, orders for 1,600 F.2Bs were placed and by the end of the First World War, the Royal Air Force had 1,583 F.2Bs in operation. A total of 5,329 aircraft were eventually built, mostly by Bristol but also by the likes of Standard Motors, Armstrong Whitworth and even the Cunard Steamship Company. After the war, F.2Bs continued to operate in army cooperation and light bombing roles throughout the British Empire, in particular the Middle East, India and China. The F.2B also served with the New Zealand Permanent Air Force and RAAF as well as with the air forces of Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Greece, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Spain and Sweden. It was not until 1932 that the F.2B was finally withdrawn from RAF service; its last unit being No. 20 Squadron RAF stationed in India. The type lasted a further three years in New Zealand.

In 1920, Poland bought 107 Bristol Fighters, thus becoming second largest user of this type (105 with Hispano-Suiza 300 hp engines, two with RR Falcon III). Forty were used during the Polish-Soviet war, among others in battle of Warsaw, as reconnaissance and ground attack aircraft, the rest became operational after hostilities. Two were shot down, one was captured by the Soviets, several were lost in crashes. They served in Poland for reconnaissance and training until 1932.

There are three airworthy Bristol Fighters in 2007, (and several replicas). The Shuttleworth Collection contains one airworthy F.2B Fighter, identity D8096, that still flies during the English summer. The Canada Aviation Museum owns a second, D-7889, while the New Zealand film director Peter Jackson owns D-8040, which flies from the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, which also holds a second original fuselage. Substantially original aircraft are on static display at the RAF Museum, Hendon, the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, the Museo del Aire, Madrid, Spain, the VAF, Old Kingsbury, Texas, and the Brussels Aviation Museum, Belgium.

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Bristol Channel

The Bristol Channel coast at Ilfracombe, North Devon, looking west towards Lee Bay

The Bristol Channel (Welsh: Môr Hafren meaning 'Severn Sea') is a major inlet in the island of Great Britain, separating South Wales from Devon and Somerset in South West England, and extending from the lower estuary of the River Severn (Afon Hafren) to that part of the North Atlantic Ocean known as the Celtic Sea (Môr Celtaidd). It takes its name from the English city of Bristol and is over 30 miles (50 km) across at its widest point.

The lower limit of the Bristol Channel is drawn between St Govans Head in Pembrokeshire, Lundy Island, and Hartland Point in Devon. The upper limit is between Sand Point, Somerset and Lavernock Point in South Wales. East of this line is the Severn estuary. Western and Northern Pembrokeshire and North Cornwall are outside of the limit of the Bristol Channel, and are considered part of the seaboard of the Atlantic Ocean.

The Bristol Channel, on both the South Wales and West Country sides, has more miles of Heritage Coast seaboard than any other stretch of water in the United Kingdom. Heritage coastlines include Exmoor, Bideford Bay, the Hartland Point peninsula, Lundy Island, Glamorgan, Gower peninsula, South Pembrokeshire and Caldey Island.

In 2004, The Times "Travel" magazine selected Barafundle Bay in Pembrokeshire as one of the best twelve best beaches in the world. In 2007 Oxwich Bay made the same aforementioned magazine's Top 12 best beaches in the world list, and was also selected as Britain's best beach for 2007. The Bristol Channel and nearby Celtic Sea beaches of Wales, North Devon and North Cornwall are acknowledged by many travel magazine writers as the best in the U.K. for sand and water quality.

At low tide large parts of the channel become mud flats due to the tidal range of 15 metres (49 ft), second only to Bay of Fundy in Eastern Canada. The Bristol Channel is an important area for wildlife, in particular waders, and has protected areas, including National Nature Reserves such as Bridgwater Bay at the mouth of the River Parrett. Development schemes have been proposed along the channel, including an airport and a tidal barrier for electricity generation, but conservation issues have so far managed to block such schemes.

Major islands in the Bristol Channel are Lundy, Steep Holm and Flat Holm. The islands and headlands provide some shelter for the upper reaches of the channel from storms. These islands are mostly uninhabited and protected as nature reserves, and are home to some unique wild flower species. In 1971 a proposal was made by the Lundy Field Society to establish a marine reserve. Provision for the establishment of statutory Marine Nature Reserves was included in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, and on 21 November 1986 the Secretary of State for the Environment announced the designation of a statutory reserve at Lundy. There is an outstanding variety of marine habitats and wildlife, and a large number of rare and unusual species in the waters around Lundy, including some species of seaweed, branching sponges, sea fans and cup corals.

The Bristol Channel has superb beaches and spectacular scenery, particularly on the coast of Exmoor and Bideford Bay in North Devon and the likes of the Vale of Glamorgan and the Gower peninsula on the Glamorgan coast. The western stretch of Exmoor boasts Hangman cliffs, the highest cliffs in mainland Britain, culminating near Combe Martin in the gigantic "Great Hangman", a 1,043 ft (318 m) 'hog-backed' hill with a cliff-face of 820 ft (250 m); its sister cliff "The Little Hangman" has a cliff-face of 716 ft (218 m). On the Gower peninsula, at its western extremity is the Worms Head, a serpent shaped island of carboniferous limestone which is approachable at low tide only. The beaches of Gower (at Rhossili, for example) and North Devon's Bideford Bay (and Woolacombe for example) win awards for their water quality and setting, as well as their excellent surfing. The recognised eastern demarcation between the Bristol channel and the Severn estuary is a notional line drawn between Lavernock point in South Wales and Sand point in North Somerset.

One of the unqiue features of Wales and the West Country is that, apart from the north-facing hog-back cliffs of Exmoor, a good chunk of Wales and the West Country is a west-facing, Atlantic facing coastline meaning that a combination of an off-shore (east) wind and a generous Atlantic swell produces excellent surf along the beaches of the Heritage coasts of the Vale of Glamorgan, Bideford Bay and Gower and, along with the Atlantic coasts of Pembrokeshire and Cornwall, the Bristol Channel coasts are the centre for surfing in the whole of Britain. Although slightly overshadowed by the Atlantic coasts of North Cornwall and West Pembrokeshire, both Gower and Bideford Bay nevertheless have several superb breaks—notably Croyde in Bideford Bay and Langland Bay on Gower—and surfing in Gower and Bideford Bay is enhanced by the golden beaches, clean blue waters, excellent water quality and good facilities close by to the main surf breaks.

The Bristol Channel is a dangerous area of water because of its strong tides and the rarity of havens on the north Cornish and north Devon coasts that can be entered in all states of the tide. A sailor's rhyme goes "Twixt Hartland Point and Padstow Bay is a sailor's grave by night or day." Because of the treacherous waters, pilotage is an essential service for shipping. A specialised style of sailing boat the Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter developed in the area.

In the Severn Estuary above Avonmouth, river rescue is provided by Severn Area Rescue Association, while in Burnham-on-Sea the Burnham-On-Sea Area Rescue Boat (BARB) uses a hovercraft to rescue people from the treacherous mud flats on that part of the coast. A hovercraft was recently tested to determine the feasibility of setting up a similar rescue service in Weston-super-Mare. There are also RNLI lifeboats stationed along both sides of the Channel.

The city of Bristol, situated on the River Avon, gives its name to the Channel and was once one of the most important ports in Britain. There are still docks in the city centre, but these are largely now given over to leisure use. Bristol's dock activity has now been transferred to the nearby Severn estuary at Avonmouth Docks and Royal Portbury Dock. Resort towns on the Bristol Channel include Weston-super-Mare, Burnham-on-Sea, Watchet, Minehead and Porlock in Somerset; and Ilfracombe, Bideford and Barnstaple in Devon.

The city of Cardiff is on the northern side of the estuary, with Cardiff Bay protected behind the Cardiff Bay Barrage. Further west is the city of Swansea. Important ports on the Welsh coast include Milford Haven, a major oil import terminal. Resort towns and villages on the Welsh coastline include Penarth, Llantwit Major, Mumbles and Barry with Barry Island.

There are no road or rail crossings of the Bristol Channel. The bridges and tunnel of the Severn crossing are located near the point at which the River Severn becomes generally known as the Severn Estuary.

P and A Campbell of Bristol were the main operators of pleasure craft and particularly paddle steamers, from the mid-1800s to the late 1970s, also the Barry Railway Company. These served harbours along both coasts, such as Ilfracombe, Clevedon and Weston-super-Mare.

This tradition is continued each summer by the PS Waverley, the last seagoing paddle steamer in the world (built in 1947). The steamer provides pleasure trips between the Welsh and English coasts and to the islands of the channel.

The Bristol Channel which is linked to the Severn Estuary has the potential to generate more renewable electricity than all other UK estuaries. If harnessed, it could create up to 5% of the UK’s electricity, contributing significantly to UK climate change goals and European Union renewable energy targets. The Severn Tidal Power Feasibility Study was launched in 2008 by the UK Government to assess all tidal range technologies, including barrages, lagoons and others. The study will look at the costs, benefits and impacts of a Severn tidal power scheme and will help Government decide whether it could or could not support such a scheme. Some of the options being looked at may include a third road crossing.

The cause of the flood is uncertain and disputed. It had long been believed that the floods were caused by a combination of meteorological extremes and tidal peaks, but research published in 2002 showed some evidence of a tsunami in the Channel. Although some evidence from the time describes events similar to a tsunami, there are also similarities to descriptions of the 1953 floods in East Anglia, which were caused by a storm surge. It has been shown that the tide and weather at the time were capable of generating such a surge.

In 1835 John Ashley was on the shore at Clevedon with his son who asked him how the people on Flat Holm could go to church. For the next three months Ashley voluntarily ministered to the population of the island. From there he recognised the needs of the seafarers on the four hundred sailing vessels in the Bristol Channel and created the Bristol Channel Mission. He raised funds and in 1839 a specially designed mission cutter was built with a main cabin which could be converted into a chapel for 100 people, this later became first initiative of the Mission to Seafarers.

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Source : Wikipedia