With a population of around 400,000, Bristol is the largest city in southern England after London and the largest shipping port in England. It received a royal charter in 1155 and, until the rise of Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester during the Industrial Revolution, was one of England’s largest cities. Bristol suffered extensive bombing during World War II and a subsequent steep decline in its manufacturing industry.
The port of Bristol grew up in medieval times because of its location near the rivers Avon and Frome. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, this area was turned into the enclosed Floating Harbour by the construction of locks. With the advent of larger ships, though, the Avon Gorge became too much of a liability, and commercial shipping moved downstream to more modern docks at Avonmouth and Portbury.
The city is no longer an industrial center, but rather a vibrant college town. The University of Bristol dominates the city, and the students provide a lot of income and jobs for the community.