Bristol in the south west of England has a rich and famous maritime and Engineering history based on travel, made from its location and links with the sea. The city has done well to preserve this heritage and there is evidence for these links not just on the water....
|"Sailing South" !!|
John Cabot had an unusual background as there was some confusion over his place of birth due to the translation of his name. He lived in Venice for a while and consequently was able to trade in the Mediterranean at a time of great prosperity. Due to later financial difficulties, he was forced to move to Spain looking for work which turned out to be unsuccessful in both Valencia and Seville. Christopher Columbus had just discovered North America about this time and he tried to gain funding and backing to replicate the trip from both Seville and Lisbon. The authorities wouldn't entertain the idea and eventually he arrived in London where he got his wish.
He relocated to Bristol which was the second largest English seaport at that time to prepare for the voyage with The Matthew. The first trip didn't work out well as the crew underestimated on 7 months supplies and had to return before embarking on a second trip and eventually landing in Newfoundland in 1497. The details after this point are a bit vague but in the following two years, he organised another unsuccessful atlantic crossing which was affected by the weather and some of his fleet were lost. It is not known whether he died in England or at sea in 1499, but with the lure of conquering the Ocean once..... I'll let you make up your mind !!
|The Matthew "replica"|
When not on tour, the vessel does sedate and peaceful selected evening trips around the harbour.... nice experience, although I was struck by the fact during the sail that it is difficult to believe that it crossed the Atlantic both in the original form and the replica.
|Tall things... ancient and modern !!|
During the 19th century, Isambard Kingdom Brunel was at the forefront along with other builders constructing the railways of Britain. Brunel originally from Portsmouth, had more than just an interest in railways and I'm not just talking about his fashion !! .....
|Little man syndrome ... Tall hat !!|
He was given the task of building a railway initially from London to Bristol which terminated at the magnificent structure of Bristol Temple Meads railway station.
The building had a dedicated platform as a terminus which is unfortunately now a mix of station car park, Commonwealth museum and Nursery. Brunel extended his railway and bridge work further into South West England to continue his "Great Western Railway" project and the need for the terminus platform to the west of the station was reduced.
|"Now where did I leave my bike ?!"|
|SS Great Britain in dry dock|
SS Great Britain (the first non wood ship / first propellor driven ocean ship) and the unsuccessful Great Eastern (the longest ship, once again, of its time). It is unfortunate that the Great Eastern was well ahead of its time and ran into budgetary and technical problems as a passenger ship. It eventually ended up for industrial use. Not quite what Brunel had in mind.
|Gateway to America 1840's|
These days, passengers can still leave Bristol harbour (when the tide time is suitable for the River Avon) for trips in the Severn Estuary / Bristol Channel. I once had the opportunity to travel on the Balmoral from Clevedon to Illfracombe and it was an awesome experience passing all the ships at a speed of 20 knots.
As I said earlier, Bristol has done well to preserve the maritime heritage in a modern city. Cranes line the harbourside in front of the Industrial museum (currently closed long term for upgrading) while at the same time the view to the left is one of postcard beauty...
|St Mary Redcliffe church|
The harbourside is accessible for both the commuter in the morning and the tourist throughout the day from the above landing stage by a fleet of various boats and the Bristol Ferry company....
|Modern Engineering ... Pero's bridge|
|house .... and garden|
|"I can't get my boat parked outside my house"...... La Rochelle indeed !!|