Today, a lot of Bristolians see Gloucester Road, along with its surrounding areas, as one of the most vibrant and interesting parts of this colourful city. From the weekly markets and events, to the nightlife and other businesses you find here, there’s always something to do. Of course, though, it wasn’t always this way. It took a long time for Bristol to become a city, and even longer for Gloucester Road to take root. So, join us in exploring this wonderful place, as we go through some of the history of our beloved road.
- 1542: A City Is Born
It took a lot of growth, change, and newcomers before Bristol would become a city. In 1220, work on the famous Bristol Cathedral started, and took decades to complete. Over the years, this landmark has been rebuilt several times, taking on traits from each period. In 1373, Redcliffe became a formal part of Bristol, and a lot of areas followed suit. With all of this change and development, it’s easy to see why so many people were drawn here. Finally, in 1542, Bristol was recognised as a city. Its cathedral, large population, and well-organised local government all contributed to this achievement, enabling it to go in a new direction.
- 1888: The Big Build-Up
By the time 1888 had rolled around, Gloucester Road was already well-populated and a lot of residential areas, like Redland and Stokes Croft, had already started to form. It wasn’t until the turn of 19th-century that the road started to begin its heritage in independent business. At this point, butchers, grocers, and other small companies started to call this area home, and the area you know and love was born.
- 1129: Building Begins
Some of the oldest cities in the UK have been around for well over a thousand years. Bristol isn’t quite as old as this, though its history starts even before its incorporation, and so does the first part of our journey. In 1129, the oldest building in Bristol was built; the St James Priory. Originally built by Robert Fitzroy, the illegitimate son of William the Conqueror, this building marks an important part of the city’s history. Robert went on to do a lot for Bristol, helping to create it as the landmark it is today.
- The City Grows
Bristol didn’t take long to become an economic and cultural hotspot, growing to take over smaller towns in the local area. During this period, a lot of connections between Bristol and its neighboring cities began to form. Gloucester Road is a great example of one of these routes, giving people a safe and easy way to travel between Bristol and Gloucester. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact time Gloucester Road started to grow, as it could have begun with anyone simply walking it. But, we do know that it happened during this time.
- A Century Of Change
Over the next century, Gloucester Road underwent a huge deal of change. With this change, a lot of companies have been able to spread their wings and find their fortunes on this strip of tarmac. But, of course, as Europe’s longest mostly-independent high street, this area has charm aside from the companies calling it home. With excellent nightlife, great parks and outdoor areas, and some of the best food Bristol has to offer, Gloucester Road has something for everyone.
- The Road Today
Nowadays, the road has over 240 shops, restaurants, and other businesses on offer. Most of them are independent, creating an eclectic mix of intriguing options for you to choose from. Over the next few years, we’re hoping to do loads more work in this area. As GRBID learns and developers closer ties with the businesses it supports, you can expect to see a lot more change on the road. Big and small, we have loads of ideas to make an impact.
We love our road, and we hope you do, too. If you’d like to get more information about GRBID and the area we serve, take a look around our site at bristolsindependentdistrict.co.uk. Or, for constant updates, check out our Facebook and Instagram pages. We can’t wait to see you soon!