Bristol is a southwestern English city and unitary authority. Until the formation of the county of Bristol, the historic centre of Bristol and the sections of the city north of the River Avon (Lower, or Bristol, Avon) were part of the historic county of Gloucestershire, while the districts south of the Avon were part of the historic county of Somerset.
Bristol, which is situated on the Avon River and has access to the Bristol Channel, has a long history as one of England’s oldest ports. Following John Cabot’s trip to North America in 1497, it became a popular port of departure for the New World. On the 400th anniversary of Cabot’s expedition, Cabot Tower was built in Brandon Hill Park to commemorate the occasion.
During the English Civil War, Bristol served as a commerce centre and a Royalist headquarters. For generations, shipbuilding has been a cornerstone of Bristol’s economy, reaching a zenith with I.K. Brunel’s SS Great Britain.
This was the first steamship to conduct regular Atlantic crossings, having been built in 1838.