5 of my favourite Bristol excursions

Photo to illustrate a visit to Bristol Blue Glass, hand produced blue glass
Benedetta watching Bristol Blue Glass being hand produced

As part of my homestay package, I offer my students two or three afternoon or evening excursions a week. Over the years, I have discovered some great places to visit in this lively city. Often these destinations are free or very inexpensive. Here are some of my favourite places:

Bristol Blue Glass Factory

Blue glass is a special glass that is made by hand in Bristol.  It’s interesting to go to the factory, where you can see the glassmakers produce these unusual dark blue glass items. The work room is extremely hot with several huge furnaces burning fiercely. The young people who produce the items are friendly and will explain their blowing and spinning techniques of the molten glass.

This visit is completely free and provides an opportunity to see artisans working and creating blue glass items. There is also a shop, where you can buy the things that you have just seen created.

The Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery

This is another one of my favourite destinations with my students. The building itself is a delight, with an enormous Box Kite bi-plane designed in Bristol in the early 20th century, suspended from the ceiling of the imposing entrance hall. The museum contains several galleries with a range of subjects: Egypt and Assyria; South Western Natural History; Dinosaurs and Sea Monsters; Minerals; a Chinese gallery with the best collection of Chinese glass outside the Forbidden Palace; Pottery and Silver objects and on the top floor, a small Art Gallery of classical and modern art.

This is a free visit with a suggested donation of £5.00.

The Georgian House Museum

This is a fascinating insight into life in a house which was occupied by a wealthy sugar plantation owner and slave owner. The house is furnished as it would have been during that period of history. There is a small section which explains the family history of the owner, John Pinney, and how he profited from slavery on the Caribbean island of Nevis. John Pinney was fond of a cold bath and there is a plunge pool in the bottom of the house. The basement which shows the lives of the servants is the most interesting part of the visit. This visit is free, although they accept donations gratefully.

M Shed

This is a great place to visit to learn about Bristol’s industrial and social history. It’s very interactive and interesting. You can learn about Bristol’s engineering background and why it became the birthplace of the supersonic aircraft, ‘Concorde’, built in collaboration between the UK and France.

 It also has a section which explains Bristol’s connection with slavery, through the ‘Triangular Trade’. This was the name given to the route which went from Bristol to the west of Africa, and then across the Atlantic to the Caribbean and back to the UK, as part of the slave and sugar trade. Many Bristol families became fabulously wealthy through this shameful business.

This is a free visit but with a suggested donation of about £5.00

Underfall Yard

Underfall Yard is an area of the Cumberland Basin, part of the Bristol Harbour which you can see from the end of my road. The original hydraulic pumps which used to operate the bridges and sluices of the harbour have been recently restored. These pumps were designed in 1907 and stopped working in the 1970s, and they run the pumps for visitors three times a week. There is also a good café which serves delicious coffee and tasty snacks! After some refreshment, you can walk around the harbour and look at the various different marine businesses and the colourful houses and views of Clifton and the Clifton Suspension Bridge.