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Broadmead, Bristol

From its origins as ‘broad meadow’, Broadmead has come a long way – and some would argue whether you would call it progress. In the early thirteenth century, the district was renowned for its Dominican priory, but after the Reformation, John Wesley established the New Room, the spiritual home of Methodism which has now been turned into an intriguing museum. Its neighbouring streets Wine Street and Corn Street were the retail hubs of Bristol until the Luftwaffe flattened them in the Second World War.

Thus, a civic decision was made to develop Broadmead into the Southwest’s best shopping district and the architectural pay-off wasn’t pretty. Many angular, brutalist buildings were thrown up quickly to meet the needs of postwar development and there was a fair bit of public opposition to the plans. Nonetheless, today there’s a wide variety of shops, restaurants and other venues to choose from, with the futuristic shopping mall Cabot Circus having opened in 2008 and the smaller Galleries shopping centre is also extremely popular. Cabot Circus boasts 1.5 million sq ft of floor space and feature such brand boutiques as New Look, French Connection, Hugo Boss, the Disney Store and House of Fraser. Its concept is high-end in contrast to the bargain-oriented shops outside and within the Galleries, itself a three-story affair opened in 1991. Its food court offers a range of dishes, from US-style fast food to pan-Asian to healthy options such as jacket potatoes. The Bristol Ticket Shop, located outside the Galleries, sells hot tickets to concerts, plays, musicals and other live events.

In vaguely the Broadmead area you’ll find some of Bristol’s oldest and most pleasant public houses. The Llandoger Trow is possibly the city’s oldest, dating all the way back to 1664 and overlooks the historic docks district. The Old Duke is a warm and friendly bar where you can catch the latest in local live jazz and sit outside on the cobbled streets with an ice cold cider when the weather’s fine. On the same street is the legendary Bristol Old Vic where excellent local, national and international plays are performed. Many acting greats have also trod the boards here too.

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