'Bristol Insight' logotype and page-title

Welcome to our Summer e-Newsletter, and the third one this year. We're running on full steam now as the schools break up for the Summer holidays, and we've been busy on the timetabled and private hire trips; it's great to see that despite the state of the economy people are still keen to get out on the top deck and have a good time! There's an array of news: ten top facts about the Clifton Suspension Bridge; details about the Gorillas who are running riot all over Bristol; and some great videos to watch too. So why not stay with us for a few minutes and find out more?!

See more images, feedback and breaking news from us by 'liking' us on Facebook logo

Tea On The Terrace – a cream tea stop at the Avon Gorge Hotel ...
Did You Know? – We have a strong brand worldwide, but who are we really? ...
Top Ten Facts – Bob Bruton shares some interesting facts about the Clifton Suspension Bridge ...
M Shed Now Open! – Bristol's newest museum opens its doors ...
Inspiration On Board – explore Bristol's religious heritage with Mark Van de Poll ...
Francis The Gorilla – Bristol has gone Gorilla mad! ...

Have a great summer!

Stuart and Nicola


The Hotel’s sun-drenched terraceHave you had a late afternoon drink or eaten out on the terrace at the Avon Gorge Hotel? With its breath-taking view of the Clifton Suspension Bridge it is a truly stunning and memorable location. We are offering exclusive tours for small groups (of 20 people plus) for a 90–minute open-top bus guided tour including a 60–minute cream tea stop (with pots of tea, freshly made scones, jam and clotted cream). The combined price for the tour and tea is from £14 per person depending upon group size.

For more details, please contact Nicola at nicola@citysightseeingbristol.co.uk.


Bristol Insight, Washington Did you know that Bristol Insight isn’t an international corporation, but actually a collection of franchises? Our strong international brand often fools people! We were the fourteenth franchise to join Bristol Insight at its inception in 2000, so we’ve been involved from the beginning.

There are now over ninety franchisees worldwide; you can use your Sightseeing ticket from travelling with any franchise and use it to get money off another! There are franchises in Washington DC, Perth (Australia), Cape Town, Singapore, Hawaii, Marrakech and Cartanega (the first in South America, which opened this year). Tours a little closer to Bristol include Bath, Newport, Cardiff, Bournemouth and Oxford. (Take a look at Oxford’s tour video: www.citysightseeingoxford.com/video.)

"Our eloquent local guide was thoroughly entertaining and informative"

Recently I took my family (including my mother-in-law Bridget) on one of our tour buses. It was a real eye-opener – particularly for Bridget. She lives in Keynsham and readily admits to knowing very little about Bristol. Well, this tour remedied that! In the 75 minutes that the tour lasted, Derek, our eloquent local guide for the day, was thoroughly entertaining and informative. He brought the city to life with colourful stories of people past and vivid descriptions of the beautiful buildings we passed. Bridget is keeping hold of her Bristol ticket and wants to do all the tours now, and is busy promoting Bristol to all her friends!

Bristol Insight's main website is www.city-sightseeing.com


Bob Bruton Bob has been a guide with us since 1998, and now also manages the staff rotas. After being diagnosed with a rare form of abdominal cancer in 2008, Bob left his sales-agency work and later became a guide at the Clifton Suspension Bridge; in 2009 he joined the Blue Reef Aquarium and Imax (now known as The Bristol Aquarium) as a member of the front-of-house staff. Constantly juggling between all three attractions he has a wealth of knowledge and continues to be hugely passionate about each attraction and the city of Bristol in general. Below he shares some interesting facts about the Suspension Bridge:

1. The idea for a bridge across the Avon Gorge was first conceived by William Vick, a wine merchant, in 1754.
2. From 1836 to 1853 (before the Bridge was completed) a basket travelled across the Avon Gorge slung beneath a cable a thousand feet long; rides were five shillings a time.
3. The bridge design was subject to a competition and although Brunel’s design was eventually used, he did not actually win the competition.
4. Isambard Kingdom Brunel was 24 years old when he produced the design.
5. The Bridge took twenty-eight years to build: 1836–1864. No work took place between 1842 and 1862.
6. Brunel did not live to see the Bridge in its finished form; he died five years before it was completed.
7. Brunel called the Bridge: "My first love, my darling."
8. The Bridge is three feet higher on the Clifton side, so you are travelling uphill when driving towards Clifton from the Leigh Woods, North Somerset side.
9. There are over three thousand lights on the Bridge. They were installed in 2006.
10. There are free guided tours of the Bridge on Saturdays and Sundays which Bob runs from Easter until the end of September. They leave at 3.00pm from the Clifton side (close to the Clifton tollbooth) and last about 45 minutes; no need to book, just turn up! You will also find him guiding on our scheduled tour-buses.



Inside M Shed’s entrance foyer On the morning of Friday, 17th June I attended the launch of M Shed, Bristol’s exciting and innovative new museum that tells the story of our city. It’s situated on the site of the original Industrial Museum on the harbourside, just a few minutes walk from the city centre. M Shed has been designed by the internationally-renowned LAB Architecture Studios, giving it a very contemporary feel. While renovating the building to provide facilities for a leading modern museum, every effort was made to retain its unique industrial nature.

I arrived there early and was able to visit all three galleries of the museum (representing 'Bristol People', 'Bristol Places', and 'Bristol Life') before the official launch began. The first thing anybody said to me was: "Excuse me, you’re standing on my house!" I turned round, rather startled, to find that a woman had come up to me and was looking down at a giant map of the city on the floor, and indeed I was standing on the exact location of her house! Moving hastily, I bumped into Terry, Bristol Insight's main Private Hire driver, who pointed out all Bristol's main attractions while standing astride the Suspension Bridge!

"Bristol’s exciting and innovative new museum that tells the story of our city"

There is so much to see I can’t summarise it all here, but the highlight for me – apart from the giant map – was probably the 'Bristol Places' gallery which focuses on the physical and dynamic city, and the way that people have shaped and experienced the city and continue to do so. I particularly liked looking at the variety of different vehicles we’ve used to travel around the city: buses, trains and planes. All the galleries have interactive displays that you can try out and learn how things work. (So not only will adults love it, children will too!) M Shed is free to enter, and has an excellent café, as Warwick Hulme (Bristol Insight's MD) and I discovered, being its first-ever customers! Do try and get down to the Museum as soon as you can, and explore what is so special about our wonderful city!


Mark van De Poll on the tourOn Sunday, 19th June we ran a ‘History of Christianity Tour’ for Woodlands Christian Church, Clifton. Led by our specialist local guide, Mark Van de Poll (with his assistant Pam), the tour explores the history of Christianity in Bristol across three fascinating periods: Medieval Bristol – a city built on prayer; The Reformation – Bristol leads the way out of the dark ages; and The Spiritual Enlightenment – Bristol as the gateway to a faith revival. Mark features historical characters like William Tyndale, George Whitefield, John and Charles Wesley, George Muller, Mary Carpenter, and many others.

Mark is currently studying History at Bristol University and created the tour for a conference in which he was involved. We loved it so much we now feature it in our Private Hire repertoire. He says, "My passion is to uncover the story of who we are as a people. How did we get to where we are, and what is our own personal part to play in our lifetime? I hope that this tour will inspire, enlighten, and be an enjoyable journey through the history of the most striking influence on the history of Bristol and the Western world: Christianity."

The group loved the trip:
"Just to say thank you for the excellent bus tour on Sunday."
"Very many thanks ... I thoroughly enjoyed Mark’s knowledgeable talk and singing the hymns to and from Hanham Mount. Thank you for all the time and thought you put into the trip."

To hire Mark and his ‘History of Christianity’ tour please contact Nicola at nicola@citysightseeingbristol.co.uk.

♦ Watch a video on YouTube of a section of the tour.


Nicola Padden with Francis the Gorilla on one of our busesBristol Zoo is celebrating its 175th birthday, and you might have noticed some of the sixty life-size Gorilla sculptures that have been created and placed around the city as part of its ‘Wow! Gorillas’ project (www.bristolzoo.org.uk/wow-gorillas). Additionally, one hundred small Gorillas have been sponsored and decorated by children across the city’s nurseries and primary schools, and these will also pop up around the region.

"Sixty life-size Gorilla sculptures have been created and placed around the city"

We at Bristol Insight have sponsored a small Gorilla and Warwick Hulme, our MD, handed him over to Wrington C of E Primary (where Warwick has been driving the school bus for 16 years), for the children to name and decorate. "The name Francis was chosen by the children because it was the name of a young boy in Uganda that the children recently learnt about during International Week/Comic Relief which we celebrated at school," says Lucy-Jane Whitehead, a teacher at the school. "The decorative leaf artwork theme was also the children’s choice." Francis is currently riding on board ‘Dennis' (Bus 2 on our timetabled service: timetables) and anyone who takes a picture of themselves with him and uploads it onto our Facebook page has the chance of winning a family ticket to Bristol Zoo Gardens and sponsorship of one of the Gorillas in the zoo! Go to our Facebook page to upload your picture.

At the end of the 10–week exhibition, the sculptures will be sold at auction on 29th September and the small Gorillas will be returned to their respective schools. The money raised will go to Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Appeal which raises funds for the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, and to Bristol Zoo’s gorilla conservation projects.


Nineteen of the sixty life-size Gorilla sculptures can be seen from the Bristol Insight tour; download a list of their locations to print out (.pdf 355 KB), and see if you can spot them all!


Return to Top