'Bristol Insight' logotype and page-title

Welcome to our Autumn e-Newsletter, and the fourth one this year. There have been hot, balmy Summer days, and there has been torrential rain – but even though the weather may be feeling a bit like a lottery, there have been plenty of winners out on our open-toppers. We've received lots of lovely feedback from our customers on both our timetabled service and private hire trips. We continue to strive to do better, but it’s great to know when we're making our customers happy!

Here's another mixed bag of news from us, as we head into the start of Autumn ... okay, well maybe it’s not here quite yet! There is a special car pushing the boundaries of technology; hot tips on the hidden delights of Bristol Harbour; news from our Music/Film/TV guided tour; a day with a rather unique member of staff; street-art news; and a pesky pirate adventure!

Don't forget that there is plenty of time to catch another trip (or more) with us through September and October before we take a break until February 2012. Our private hire buses continue to be available all year round; we're already taking bookings for 2012!

... and of course there is lots more to see and hear if you join us on Facebook. Facebook logo

On The Scent – Britain’s ultimate land speed record car ...
Reeling In The Money – Bristol legendary music venues past and present ...
Harbour Delights – Ten harbour people and places not to be missed ...
See No Evil – Street art makes an impact in Bristol ...
Buster the Gorilla – Our very own gorilla says a fond farewell ...
Pirate Paradise – What has Captain Barnacle been up to? ...

Best wishes,



The Bloodhound SSCLast week a hard-nosed group of Bristol Insight sleuths sniffed out the Bloodhound SSC, Britain’s ultimate land speed record car. Being built in the ss Great Britain’s ex-Maritime Heritage Centre, its aim is to be the first vehicle to reach 1000kph on land, and to:

♦ create a national surge in the popularity of Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects;
♦ create an iconic project requiring extreme research and technology while simultaneously providing the means to enable the student population to join in the adventure;
♦ use the "latest and yet to be discovered technology";
♦ share it all online.

Find out more or join the Supporters' Club at www.bloodhoundssc.com.


John Hughes, the tour guide Our new 'Bristol Rock and Reel' tour raised £70 for St Peters Hospice during a trial run at the beginning of August. John Hughes – who has also been running the 'Haunted and Hidden Bristol' walk for eight years – says:

"I used to be a keen autograph hunter at many of the tv and film locations"

"The tour will feature many tv and film locations used in Bristol over the past forty years, legendary music venues past and present, celebrity hangouts and stories, and even a few haunted buildings en route too! I have been a manager, promoter and band member for twenty years, so am very passionate about the local music scene. I used to be a keen autograph hunter at many of the tv and film locations we visit. I want to make the tour a fun one for passengers, one that gives people an insight into Bristol's many entertainment links and also bring back a few memories for people from past bands, tv and film productions."

Prices are between £8.25 and £14 per person depending on party size. To book or find out more, please contact Nicola at nicola@citysightseeingbristol.co.uk or on 0117 3670208.


Nicola Padden Nicola Padden is Bristol Insight’s Marketing, Sales and PR Manager, having joined the company two years ago from Bristol Ferry Boat Company. Twenty years ago she moved reluctantly to Bristol to study; however now she says: "I’ve fallen in love with this great and varied city, and especially with the Floating Harbour." With a lot of those twenty years located around the Harbour she gives us the lowdown on the top ten harbour people and places not to be missed!

1. Bristol Wood Recycling Project, www.bwrp.org.uk (near Stop 19).
I founded this social enterprise, not-for-profit company more than seven years ago with Ben Moss. Situated on Cattle Market Road it's a fantastic place to buy reclaimed wood, be it a replacement victorian floorboard, a sheet of chipboard, railway sleepers for your garden, or a lovely, characterful piece of hardwood you would struggle to get your hands on anywhere else!

2. Bristol Ferry Boat Company, www.bristolferry.com (Stops 1 and 4 ).
The distinctive blue and yellow boats (and the red ones!) on the water (and my previous employer). I have found this Harbour truly fascinating: from the eccentric harbour community of boat-dwellers (of which I was one), to its traditional crafts-people and its rich nautical past, and from the busy tourist attractions on its quay to its vibrant passenger boat industry, it's like no other place I have ever come across!

3. Create Centre, www.createbristol.org (Stop 5).
A place where I used to work as a volunteer, and underused as far as I am concerned. It has a strong library of eco-build literature, an eco-home, a popular green-debate venue (22nd Sept sees a debate on how Bristol will be powered in 2030), exhibitions, and their eco-café.

4. The Underfall Yard, www.underfallboatyard.co.uk (Stop 3).
A fascinating place! My partner is one of the wooden boat builders here; he is one of a team that have built the two Bristol rowing gigs and several gentleman’s launches to mention but a few. Two magnificent pilot cutters have also been built here. Feel free to walk through the yard, stick your nose inside the big shed and see what’s going on. You may even get a chance to ask a boat builder a few questions if you’re lucky!

5. Bristol Gig Club, www.bristolgigclub.weebly.com (Stop 3, Underfall Yard and 5 Bristol Marina).
I row one of these beautiful wooden beasts. A crazy sport where you grab an oar each, work together as a team and row like people possessed! Open to anyone, whatever your fitness levels. They recruit twice a year and it’s a truly great way to exercise and socialise. The serious rowers compete in the international championships in the Scillies every year…and do very well!

6. The Lockside, www.lockside.net (Stop 5).
Not exactly the experience you might expect, considering it’s tucked beneath a fly-over and is essentially in the middle of a mini Spaghetti Junction. But don’t be fooled; fantastic breakfasts with a great view of the Cumberland Basin, and peaceful! A hidden gem!

7. The Matthew, www.matthew.co.uk (Stop 4).
Another of Bristol’s little gems: the Cabot replica tall ship. I worked on this ship, helped helm her around the Isles of Arran and Bute, and fired her cannon at Glasgow River Festival (dressed as a pirate of course!); a truly unforgettable experience! She does regularl fish-and-chip trips around the harbour and is soon to be relocated to outside the M Shed.

8. The Architecture Centre, www.architecturecentre.co.uk (Stop 21).
Another place I used to work as a volunteer. Exhibitions on the built environment, education programmes, design events and debate ... and a fab little shop with unusual jewellery, eco-gifts and architecture books. Also the hub of the 'Open Doors Day' event happening on 10th September.

9. Ben Wookey, Boat Master, Bristol Packet, www.bristolpacket.co.uk (Stops 1 and 4).
Winner of the 'South West England Tourism Excellence Award' 2010: Gold. A good friend, harbour veteran and the most natural historian / commentator / entertainer. Don’t miss the chance to do a harbour tour or Avon Gorge trip with him!

10. St Nic’s Market, www.stnicholasmarketbristol.co.uk(Stop 17 ).
An exciting place to eat (the Moroccan restaurant’s Moroccan Chicken is my absolute favourite!) with a vast choice of dining experiences including Italian, Afro-Caribbean, Mediterranean, and Portugese. A regular Farmers' Market takes place on Wednesdays (my favourite shopping experience when I lived on the water) with the best in local produce from farm and sea.


Street artist For those in any doubt about the growing popularity and support for street art, the success of Bristol City Museum’s exhibition of home-grown talent Banksy in 2010 cannot be denied! The city’s role as the centre of urban street art has now been doubly secured since the arrival in town of the ‘See No Evil’ project over the 18th–20th August. Whatever your thoughts on street art, the impact that has been made by Europe’s biggest ever street art project is plain to see. Some of the world’s leading street artists have produced some of the world’s largest single pieces of art in a permanent street exhibition.

Championed by Bristol street artist Inkie and supported by Bristol City Council, Nelson Street has come alive! Visit www.seenoevilbristol.co.uk to find out more and see a video.


Bus'ter and friends!BUS'TER, Bristol Insight's very own BUS TOUR gorilla made the front page of the Bristol Evening Post when he said a fond farewell to the 'Wow! Gorillas' on his open-top bus route in preparation for the end of the ‘Wow! Gorilla' Project on September 7th. Bus'ter is a tour guide on our open-top buses and has loved having all these new neighbours so close to his work. Bus’ter says:

"Some people even shout ‘Wow Gorilla!’ every time they see a new one"

"I’ve really enjoyed making friends with so many of the gorillas that we pass on our tours. I’ve shared a banana or two with most of them by now. I was a bit worried they might all get a bit lonely, but they tell me that they have met SO many lovely people: children who come to say hello and lots of people wanting their photos taken with them. They are all quite famous now! We are always pointing them out on the bus; some people even shout ‘Wow Gorilla!’ every time they see a new one. The whole Wow! Gorilla project has been great fun, and I will miss them when they all go to their new homes!"

He goes on to say: "There is still time left for people wanting to tick more Gorillas off their list. Come and join us on the open-top buses and see how many you can spot!"

♦ View photos of Bus'ter's final tour on our Bus'ter the tour-guide page (many thanks to Bus’ter’s personal photographer Carrie Hitchcock.) To see more photos go to our Facebook page.


Captain Barnacle!Watch our brand new video (below) to see what that pesky pirate Captain Barnacle has been up to now, out and about enthralling children and entertaining parents on his Big Bus Adventure! On a private hire at the beginning of August he set off on his open-top bus, accompanied by a group of young pirates (with eye-patches, moustaches, scarves and a pirate flag) to share in his adventure. With the aid of puppets, mimicry, plenty of pirate jokes and a good old pirate sing-song he kept his audience captivated and entertained!

Prices for a Captain Barnacle tour range from £11 to £15 per person depending upon group size. Pirate dressing-up is very much encouraged! To book or find out more about this and other special tours we can provide, please contact Nicola at nicola@citysightseeingbristol.co.uk or on 0117 3670208.

(Many thanks to video-maker Nick Wilcox-Brown.)


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