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Only a stone's throw from GWS Media, and close to the Floating Harbour and the Docks, Queen Square is a grand and attractive Georgian square in the heart of Bristol.
It was the first landscaped residential square in England outside London and was planned from around 1700, with building complete in 1727. It was named for Queen Anne who visited in 1702. In further homage to London squares, a statue was added at the centre of King William III.
The current north and west sides are mostly not original, as the Bristol Riots of 1831 led to many buildings being torched and destroyed. Clifton had already begun to supplant Queen Square as the most prestigious part of Bristol to live in towards the end of the eighteenth century. There was further damage done in 1937 when an inner city ring road was routed through the square.
Queen Square is once more a very desirable location since it was restored to its former appearance as an open square from 1999-2005. The houses around it are primarily now used by businesses, typically in the Legal and Financial Industry.
Queen Square is often used by local workers taking their lunchtime meal, as well as a quiet place to take a break from the bustle of the surrounding city. It features public events, theatre and concerts, and features in the Bristol Harbourside festival. The Balloon Festival traditionally starts with a group of balloons taking off from Queen Square, which GWS has experienced at first hand.
Buildings of interest include the first ever American Embassy on the south side, and the Bristol Custom House on the north side.
At the corner of Queen Square is the Hole in the Wall, another historical pub which offers excellent cooking, and just off the south west corner is the Arnolfini Gallery. Based in a former tea warehouse dating from 1831, an early example of the Bristol Byzantine style, this has an eclectic range of exhibitions, live art and dance events, as well as talks, lectures and cinema. There is also a bookshop with a range of art books and a Cafe Bar.
Floating Harbour & the Docks
The Floating Harbour was a solution to the problem of the tidal nature of the waterways in Bristol, which grounded ships at low tide. A system of lock gates and a dam was built to control water flows and ensure ships could stay afloat at all times.
Bristol was a thriving commercial port, and reminders of this history can be found all over the city. As trade moved in the 60s and 70s to ports with deeper facilities for larger ships, Bristol docksides fell into disrepair. Since the 1990s, a number of regeneration projects have converted disused dock buildings and sheds to bars, nightclubs and cafes in the waterfront area.
You can cross St Augustine's reach by Pero's bridge, and find the Watershed Media centre, host to conferences and festivals and a cinema, based in converted Victorian warehouses.
You will also find the Millenium square with its iconic planetarium, water sculpture, statues of Cary Grant and Thomas Chatterton, and a number of cafes and restaurants.
Nearby is the Amphitheatre, used for open-air concerts and during the annual Bristol Harbour Festival.
The Industrial Museum, housed in a 1950s transit shed, exhibits items from the industrial past, and on the wharf outside working steam cranes, tugs and a fireboat can be seen.
Further to the west you can see the SS Great Britain, launched in 1843 and the first iron-hulled screw propelled steamship to cross the Atlantic. You can see a great deal of the internal workings of the ship on the official tour.
The Matthew is a painstaking reconstruction of the wooden craft used by explorer John Cabot to travel to Newfoundland in 1497. (John Cabot has in more recent times given his name to Cabot Circus, a popular shopping area in central Bristol that numbers Harvey Nicholls among its stores and which pulls in shoppers from the whole South West of England.)