There’s a thread running through the books I’ve written, which is they are all set in and around Bristol.
I’m sure I’ve put the city on the map. As without The Hill, The Third Skull and Dreamwalkers It’s unquestionable that no one would have heard of the place, even those who live here.
That’s not strictly true. I’m sure some of you may be aware of the Clifton Suspension Bridge, Cary Grant and Massive Attack.
But here are 10 things that about the city in which I was born, and where I still live that I’m particularly proud of.
I’m starting off with what is likely the least known, but probably most important thing known to mankind.
- The first bar of chocolate. In 1847, in a factory in Union Street, where the Odeon Cinema now stands, the very first bar of chocolate was produced. Yes, you heard me…….. the very first bar of chocolate. By S. Fry & Sons, Ltd. I’m sure the world is better place because of this. But on the flip side, Bristol has probably single handedly contributed to obesity and the onset of early stage one diabetes.
- Faggots. Invented by Herbert Hill Brain, son of a grocer. He started his own grocery wholesale business in Temple Street, Bristol. In 1927, a premises at Upper York was purchased and it was used for bacon curing, smoking, cooking hams and butter packing. This is where the faggots were made. These days Mr Brain’s faggots are famous and are served in a in a rich West Country sauce. I’ve never known what a rich West Country sauce is. Is it any richer than a rich Black Country sauce, or a rich East Anglian sauce? I don’t know, nor do I care. It’s just another achievement for us Bristolians to be proud of.
- Nipper the Dog. Nipper? Nipper? Who the *&^% is Nipper? Nipper lived a stone’s throw away from where I’m typing this blog. (A stone’s throw if Geoff Capes was throwing the stone). Nipper was the dog who served as the model for a painting titled His Master’s Voice. This went on to be the logo for HMV records. Nipper originally lived with his owner, Mark Henry Barraud, in the Prince’s Theatre in Bristol where Barraud was a scenery designer. In 1898, three years after Nipper’s death, Francis Barraud, his last owner and brother of his first owner, painted a picture of Nipper listening intently to a wind-up Edison-Bell cylinder phonograph. This became the world famous Iconic logo for HMV.
- Blackbeard the Pirate. Some fascinating facts about America’s most famous pirate, who was born Edward Teach in Bristol in 1680: His gang was 400 strong and he sailed in a huge slave ship he named Queen Anne’s Revenge. Co-incidentally the ship, built in 1710, was originally given a name which later become a by-word for Bristol – she was called “Concord”. He died after being shot five times and had 20 sword cuts. He was known to drink at the Hatchet Pub in Bristol. (Again, a stone’s throw from where I am right now (providing you have the throwing power of around 25 Geoff Capes)). Beneath the copious layers of black paint covering the door of the pub, it’s believed to be covered in human skin.
- Harry Potter. JK Rowling’s character was named after a real person, (Who I understand was called Harry Potter). He lived down the road from her when she was a girl and resided on the outskirts of Bristol. This is where it is alleged she took the name for books.
- Queen Elizabeth 2nd stayed in a local pub. In 1981, when the royal Rolls was caught in a snowdrift in Gloucestershire Her Majesty took refuge in a roadside public house. The Crossed Hands pub in Chipping Sodbury (A stone’s throw from Bristol, if you’re Geoff Capes with the world’s largest trebuchet). The Queen got in via the fire escape and had chicken liver paté, Dover sole and a gin and tonic. Princess Anne and Jackie Stewart turned up, too, it seems — and also used the fire escape.
- Shaun the Sheep, Wallace and Gromit, Morph…… were all filmed in Bristol at the Aardman studios. In fact, as I write this blog, I am a stone’s throw away from someone whose husband worked on Curse of the Were Rabbit film. (I can actually reach her with a stone as she is about 10ft away from me). I just did. She’s not happy. The stone cut her forehead.
- Lead shot was invented in Bristol. The first shot tower in the world was built on Redcliffe Hill by plumber William Watts. In 1782 he invented a way to make perfectly round lead shot by pouring molten lead through a sieve and allowing it to drop from a height into water. It all came to him in a dream. The dreamer visualised rain as perfectly round little spheres. Being a hunter and a plumber who knew his lead, Watts conducted an experiment of pouring molten lead through a sieve from the tower of the St. Mary Redcliffe church.
- Ribena was invented in Bristol . Loved by all (except maybe dentists), Ribena was invented by a University of Bristol scientist (just a stone’s throw from where I am writing this same blog) in 1933 at the National Fruit and Cider Institute, and quickly gained popularity during the war as an alternative source of vitamin C.
- Authors from Bristol. Authors from Bristol seem to have an obsession with throwing stones and Geoff Capes.
I hope these 10 little known facts will help raise Bristol’s profile and increase the tourist industry the city so desperately needs.