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Visiting Bristol's Famous Bridge and Ship

Home > Bristol > Exhibitions | Day Trips | Fun Things To Do | Museums | Places of Interest
by Tony Dyer (subscribe)
I've made it to my life's goal - the old age pension. Now I write for fun. Hope you enjoy reading.
Published May 21st 2017
If I had a bucket list it would’ve just got two ticks
A visit to Bristol was something I had always wanted to undertake. I recently got the opportunity to get there and fulfil two clear objectives:
1. Drive over the Clifton Suspension Bridge; and
2. Visit the SS Great Britain.

One beautiful sunny day (as were most of the days during my stay in the Motherland) I punched in the post code for the bridge, BS8 3PA, and headed out.

Luckily, I pulled over just before I got to the bridge to get the £1 coin out for the toll. While stopped I photographed the approach to the bridge. It was lucky because, after fulfilling my wish and crossing the bridge, I became stuck in traffic and couldn't stop for more photos. When I finally managed to pull over the bridge was no longer in sight.

Bristol, Clifton Suspension, Bridge, ss Great Britain, history, sights, England, Brunel,
My one good photo of the Clifton Suspension Bridge


That was my bad as it is actually quite easy to get a great view of the bridge and to find out everything you need to know at the Visitors' Centre. But as my major objective was to drive over the bridge, and I had done that, as I seemed to be caught up in some heavy traffic I just kept driving until I could stop.

So when I finally pulled over safely I again punched my satnav with the post code, BS1 6TY, for the SS Great Britain (I didn't really punch the satnav, I just touch the screen).

As luck would have it, my satnav's new directions took me directly under the Clifton Suspension Bridge so I took a totally illegal photo as I drove along (but that's just between you and me).

Bristol, Clifton Suspension, Bridge, ss Great Britain, history, sights, England, Brunel,
My one bad photo of the Clifton Suspension Bridge


Fortunately, the SS Great Britain site is really easy to find and parking is a snap. There's a public car park right outside where you can pay by the hour – this is actually a devilish trick by the local authorities because you will always over guess your stay to be on the safe side.

Then over to the visitors' centre where tickets are available if you have not already bought them on line . Entry prices are:
Adult £14
Senior (aged 60 and over) £13
Student (valid student identification is required) £11
Child (5 - 17 year olds) £8
Child (4 year olds and under) FREE
Companion or assistant (accompanying a paying visitor who is disabled) FREE

I paid the 'Senior Passenger's' entry fee of £13 and bought the Guide Book for £4.95 and began my own personal homage to the greatest of Victorian engineers, Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

This really is a fantastic display. It was everything I had hoped for and more. The first stop on the brochures' tour seems to take you underwater. The ship actually sits in a dry, dry dock but has a sheet of waterproof glass covered with water giving it the appearance of floating on the water. Your 'Passenger's Ticket' entitles you to climb down the stairs, or take the lift, and then walk along underneath the ship. It's here you get to see the huge screw (propeller to us land lubbers) Brunel invented for the ship and all the iron plate used in its construction.

Bristol, Clifton Suspension, Bridge, ss Great Britain, history, sights, England, Brunel,
Just two bits of Brunel's genius


Once you've had enough of being under the water the next stop is the museum. As I walked along the marked pathway I read all about the ship and the various aspects of sailing in the 1800s. Another very interesting fact, for me anyway, is I found out the SS Great Britain used to make regular trips to Australia that included stops in Brisbane.

After the museum it's on to the actual ship. A very interesting display indeed. They have staged humans, cows, pigs, chooks (that's Australian for chickens), horses and all types of props set up in strategic places. We 'Passengers' are allowed to climb down two decks and take in the various staged tableaux. For example, the Galley appears to be in full swing with a human dummy (or should that be a dummy human?) and I am positive it smelt like bacon when I went in! Also interesting were the fancy designs around the cabin doors which I assumed were First Class cabins.

Bristol, Clifton Suspension, Bridge, ss Great Britain, history, sights, England, Brunel,
Every cabin has a different portrait above the door


Once back onto the wharf I took another look around. It really is an impressive spectacle.

Bristol, Clifton Suspension, Bridge, ss Great Britain, history, sights, England, Brunel,
Like the English weather I experienced, this ship is very impressive


Before heading out on the road back to my cosy country cottage in Wiltshire I visited the Coffee Shop and had a most delicious tuna melt and a flat white.

Bristol, Clifton Suspension, Bridge, ss Great Britain, history, sights, England, Brunel,
A delicious ending to my Bristol visit


For more information on the Clifton Suspension Bridge check out its web site here and the Facebook page here. You can call the Visitors' Centre on 0117 974 4664 or email: visitinfo@cliftonbridge.org.uk

Then, for more information on the fantastic SS Great Britain display get onto its web page here and Facebook page here. Otherwise, give them a call on 0117 926 0680, email at: admin@ssgreatbritain.org or make contact through the web page here.
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Why? It does you good to see some of the greatest constructions ever built.
When: The Bridge is usually open; SS Great Britain is open every day, except 24 and 25 December and the second Monday in Jan (8 Jan 2018)
Phone: Clifton Suspension Bridge: 0117 974 4664 and SS Great Britain 0117 926 0680
Where: Bridge Rd, Bristol, BS8 3PA and Great Western Dockyard, Gas Ferry Rd, Bristol, BS1 6TY
Cost: Bridge Toll is £1; SS Great Britain admissions are: Adult £14 Senior (aged 60 and over) £13 Student (valid student identification is required) £11 Child (5 - 17 year olds) £8 Child (4 year olds and under) FREE
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