I’ve just got home from the ceremony for the re-opening of the Cabot Tower, one of Bristol’s most famous landmarks. Even in the warm August drizzle, the view from the top was spectacular. I’m often asked what is the best thing about Bristol? I always mention the views, an advantage of our hilly city. And there’s no better view than from the top of the Cabot Tower.
Closed almost four years ago due to cracked masonry at the top of the tower, the structure has now been thoroughly restored by English Heritage and Bristol City Council. Bristolians and visitors to the city will now be able to see a 360 degree panorama of Bristol from over a hundred feet above the natural vantage point of Brandon Hill.
Since I last went up the tower in 2007 quite a lot has changed. The glass domes of Cabot Circus and a new tower over Quakers’ Friars appeared in 2008. While Cabot Circus was being built, Cabot House, a hideous office building behind the Council House, was being demolished. The HQ of the Environment Agency and Triodos Bank are now more pleasing examples to be viewed from the top of the tower. There have been big changes down on Harbourside too, where many of the new flats and offices have been completed over the last four years.
Other sights will be more familiar. I’ve been clambering up the Cabot Tower for over 25 years, since I was a student at Bristol University. When family and friends come to stay I always take them to see the views. The University itself has changed a lot in the last quarter century but the Wills Tower still faces its near neighbour the other side of Park Street. The Wills Tower wins easily on architectural merit but Cabot Tower is ahead on where to get the best views. But having been up both of them I recommend a visit to the top of the Wills Tower on Doors Open Day next month so you can see the optical illusion of Park Street appearing to be flat!
What a great summer this has been so far for Bristol. The opening of M Shed, great exhibitions at both the City Museum and Art Gallery and the Royal West of England Academy and of course the invasion of gorillas to mark the 175th birthday of Bristol Zoo offer something for everyone. Now you can look down on all these attractions and many more from the top of the Cabot Tower.
[Note - the Cabot Tower is normally open during daylight hours. It is free.]