In 1887, John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles described Bristol like this:
Bristol, city, mun. and parl. bor., seaport, and co. of itself, chiefly in Gloucestershire but partly in Somerset, at the confluence of the rivers Avon and Frome, 6 miles from the Bristol Channel at Avonmouth and 120 miles W. of London by rail, the port being 29 miles from Cardiff, 70 from Swansea. 245 from Dublin, 255 from Cork, and 325 from Liverpool; mun. bor., 4632 ac., pop. 206,874; parl. bor., pop. 253,906. Bristol is built on a number of eminences, and has a fine appearance. It contains important institutions, religious, educational, and charitable. ...
It has several fine churches, notably the Cathedral (1142-1160), and the church of St Mary Redcliffe. It includes the suburbs of Clifton, Redland, and Cotham. At Clifton Down a magnificent suspension bridge spans the river Avon, having an elevation of 245 ft. above high-water mark. From an early date B. has been a sealport of great importance, its position being very favourable to commerce. In the reign of Henry II. it carried on trade with the N. of Europe, and between 1239 and 1247 there was occasion for enlarging and improving the accommodation for the shipping. There are now extensive docks, not only within the city itself, but also at Avonmouth on the N. side of the mouth of the river, and at Portishead on the S. side; both these harbours being in direct communication with the city by railway. The coasting trade is of great magnitude, steamers plying regularly between B. and Cardiff, Swansea, London, Cork, Dublin, Liverpool, and Glasgow; while the foreign trade extends to nearly all parts of the world. (For shipping statistics, see Appendix.) B. has mfrs. of glass, soap, and earthenware; shipbuilding, tanning, and sugar-refining; and extensive chemical and engineering works. Bristol returns 4 members to Parliament -- 4 divisions, viz., West, North, East, and South, 1 member for each division: the parl. limits were extended in 1885 so as to include the local government districts of St George, Horfield, and Stapleton, and an additional part of the par. of Bedminster. It returned 2 members till 1885.
A Vision of Britain through Time includes a large library of local statistics for administrative units. For the best overall sense of how the area containing Bristol has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of Bristol. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering Bristol and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Bristol in Gloucestershire | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 24th April 2014
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