Day 4: Bristol – From High-Speed Trains to Passenger Liners

Guest Post by Rosie Seidel and Rebecca Thayer:

Today we had our earliest morning of the journey so far. We left Canterbury for the train station just before 9am.

Train to St. Pancras
Our train to St. Pancras pulling into Canterbury West station.

We took Canterbury West to St. Pancras in London, then took the tube to Paddington Station to catch our train that took us to Bristol! The ride to Bristol gave us beautiful views of the rolling English countryside, full of sheep and small towns. Our train stopped briefly in Bath before reaching Bristol, which looked like a magnificent old town built into the cliffside by the water.

When we reached Bristol, our hotel was only a short walk from the train station, which will make traveling for our upcoming day trips to Exeter and Hereford more convenient. After dropping our things at the hotel, we wasted no time getting out and exploring the city!

St. Nicholas' Market in Bristol, 10 minutes from our hotel.
St. Nicholas’ Market in Bristol, 10 minutes from our hotel.

As a group, we first visited St. Nicholas Market, which hosts small shops and food stalls. Many of us stopped and enjoyed crêpes. The girl who prepared our crêpes for us told us her mother was an American from Connecticut, and her father was from England, so we were able to make a connection with her!

From the market, we split into smaller groups. Some went off to try and find Bristol’s cathedral, others took a boat tour through the city. Crêpes in hand, a few of us walked down to the river where the SS Great Britain is docked. We entered the site of the ship and its accompanying museum. We were fascinated to learn that the boat, though it appears to sit in the water, actually rests on a dry dock.

Below the glass platform that has a thin tank of water that shows how the SS Great Britain would have rested in water, lies a dehumidifier that keeps the air around the bottom of the vessel at 20% humidity, the same as an Arizona desert.

The SS Great Britain in drydock
The SS Great Britain in drydock

Built in 1843, the ship is made of iron and the dehumidifier keeps the underside, visible from the dry dock, from deteriorating. The ship was revolutionary for its time because of the propeller and rudder design. It was exciting to see the rarely seen underside features of a ship after it has already been in operation!

The Great Britain originally served as a passenger liner and was later used for cargo. The ship was in use for a grand total of 90 years! The inside of the ship hosted scenes of what life would have been like on the ship when it was a passenger liner. We came across one “passenger” who appears to be a fellow Terp!

Check out the forearm tattoo on this mannequin, looks like a fellow Terp

After our long day of travel, we were tired and decided to take an Uber back from the ship to our hotel. Our driver was very nice and between him and the girl at the crêpe stand, we agree that the people in Bristol are quite friendly! We spent a relaxing evening in the hotel in preparation for our adventure in Exeter tomorrow!

Stay tuned to hear more about our travels!

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