Bristol is a city in the southwest of England that has a rich history and culture. It has also been home to a number of famous people throughout the years. Here are just a few examples of famous people and creative movements who have come from Bristol:

Famous Creative People and Inventions From Bristol 1

Blankets

Of course, textiles have been used for warmth and protection and have a long history dating back thousands of years and spanning many civilisations. But the use of the weave commonly used for the modern blanket has been attributed to Thomas Blanket, a 14th Century Flemish weaver who fled persecution in his home country, becoming a refugee in Bristol.

Legend has it, one night he lay awake shivering under goat skins, until he tiptoed to his workshop to fetch a heavy cloth he’d been weaving. One snug night’s sleep later and he realised he had something worth selling, so he named it after himself and now we all appreciate blankets from Bristol.

Famous Creative People and Inventions From Bristol 2

Tarmac roads

Tarmac, the modern road surface, was invented by a Scottish engineer while working in Bristol as the General Surveyor of the Bristol Turnpike Trust. Despite being Scottish, he developed his new technique while maintaining 146 miles of Bristol’s roads. After initially experiencing financial difficulties while perfecting his invention, he received support from the Bristol Corporation and eventually succeeded in creating tarmac.

Photo credit: Jonty

Famous Creative People and Inventions From Bristol 3

Darth Vader

Well, to be precise, it was the actor who played Darth Vader, David Prowse, who was born in Bristol. If Darth Vader was born in Bristol we would do more than throw his statue in the harbour.

As an actor and bodybuilder, Prowse is best known for his role as the physical embodiment of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy. Prowse began his acting career in the 1960s and also appeared in several other films and television shows, including the James Bond film “Casino Royale” and the British science fiction series “Doctor Who.” In addition to his acting career, Prowse was also a three-time British heavyweight weightlifting champion and was awarded an MBE in 2000 for his services to charity. Despite his international fame, Prowse remained closely connected to his hometown of Bristol throughout his life.

Famous Creative People and Inventions From Bristol 4

Motorbike sidecars

P.J. Kerswell was the first to successfully market his invention of a motorcycle with a sidecar, even though similar designs had been attempted before. In 1887, he opened a riding school in Bristol and started selling custom-made motorcycles with sidecars from his garage in Old Market. These motorcycles were highly popular and helped establish Kerswell as a successful inventor and businessman.

It is fitting that the Bristol-based animation studio Aardman Animations included a scene in their film A Close Shave where their beloved clay character Gromit rides in a sidecar.

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Aardman Animations

Aardman Animations is a world-renowned British animation studio based in Bristol, England. Founded in 1972 by Peter Lord and David Sproxton, the company is best known for its stop-motion animation techniques and has produced a number of popular and award-winning films and television series, including “Wallace & Gromit,” “Chicken Run,” and “Shaun the Sheep.” Aardman has also worked on a number of high-profile commercials and music videos, and its distinctive style and sense of humour have made it a beloved and influential studio both in the UK and around the world. The company remains closely linked to its hometown of Bristol, where it has its main studio and headquarters.

Photo credit: Jordanhill School D&T Dept

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Banksy

Never has an artist been so famous while remaining so unknown. Banksy, believed to be from Bristol, has gained international fame for his distinctive and often controversial artwork. His works can be found on walls and buildings across Bristol and around the world, and have been exhibited in galleries and museums.When Banksy’s Girl with Balloon artwork sold for £1.2 million in 2018, a shredder, which the artist had secretly installed in the frame, partially shredded the piece. The owner renamed the reconstituted artwork Love is in the Bin, and in 2021 resold it for £20.9 million. Adding the buyer’s premium, the price came to £24.4 million.Credit: By Banksy, photograph by Sotheby’s
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J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling is a British author, philanthropist, and film producer best known for her Harry Potter fantasy series. Born in July 1965 in Yate, near Bristol, Rowling spent her childhood in Winterbourne and attended secondary school in Bristol. After completing her education, she worked as a researcher and bilingual secretary for Amnesty International in London before eventually returning to Bristol to work as a researcher at the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. It was during this time that she began writing the Harry Potter series, which went on to become a worldwide phenomenon, selling over 500 million copies and inspiring numerous films, video games, and other adaptations. The city has inspired some settings in the series.Photo credit: Daniel Ogren, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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Damien Hirst

A British artist who is known for his controversial and thought-provoking artwork. He was born in Bristol in 1965, and grew up in a working-class neighbourhood. His work often explores themes of death, mortality, and the human condition, and has included everything from preserved animals in formaldehyde to diamond-encrusted skulls.Hirst’s work has been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world, and he has also been involved in numerous charitable and social causes. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including the prestigious Turner Prize in 1995.Photo credit: Jonathan Deamer, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Trip Hop

This genre of electronic music, which originated in Bristol in the 1990s, has been influential in the development of other electronic music styles. It is characterized by its use of samples and downbeat rhythms, and was popularized by artists such as Massive Attack, Portishead, and Tricky, all hailing from Bristol and the surrounding area.

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John and Charles Wesley

John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, is known for his work and preaching in Bristol. His statue can be found outside the New Room in Broadmead, the first Methodist chapel ever built, and the museum within the New Room tells the story of both John and Charles Wesley’s lives. Charles Wesley, an English leader of the Methodist movement, is famous for composing around 6,500 hymns and carols, including “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” He lived with his wife and three children at 4 Charles Street from 1749 to 1771, and the house is open to visitors and has been preserved as it was during the Wesley family’s time there.

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Sir Daniel Day-Lewis

Sir Daniel Day-Lewis is an actor who is widely regarded as one of the greatest actors in cinematic history, as well as one of the most respected actors of his generation. He studied acting at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School for three years, and later performed at the Bristol Old Vic.Photo source: Jaguar MENA
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Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Although Isambard Kingdom Brunel was not born in Bristol, he is known for completing many of his most famous projects in the city. These projects include the Clifton Suspension Bridge, SS Great Britain, the Old Passenger Shed at Bristol Temple Meads station, the Tubular Swivel Bridge in Cumberland Basin, and the sluice gates at Underfall Yard.

In conclusion, Bristol has been home to a number of famous creative people, including animators, artists, writers, actors, and musicians. The city’s rich history and diverse culture has provided a fertile ground for creativity and innovation, and has contributed to the success of these individuals.

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Author: Aidan Ashby

Aidan is a web and branding designer living in Bristol, UK. He’s a cautious optimist and is loathe to discuss himself in the third person. He loves pancakes and has a perpetual desire to just be sat in the woods with his feet up in front of a bonfire.

Connect with Aidan on LinkedIn.

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