The Ultimate Bristol Suburb Guide: Bishopston
Bishopston is a vibrant suburb in the north of Bristol. The suburb was developed around the popular Gloucester Road, which is famous for its excellent array of independent shops as well as plenty of wining and dining options in the form of gastropubs, traditional pubs, cafes and restaurants.
Thanks to being a thriving hub of social and commercial enterprise, Gloucester Road has a real local high street feel to it and much of Bishopston’s appeal comes from this. The wider area of Bishopston itself is popular with families of all ages and sizes, plus there are plenty of young professionals and students of the city’s universities in residence around the suburb too.
There was some redevelopment of Bishopston during the interwar period, notably on the western side of the area, but most of the suburb’s stunning residential properties were originally built in the Victorian era. Many of them have also been converted into multi-person occupancies, meaning there is a good selection of flats and apartments all around Bishopston.
Bishopston Location in Bristol
The main road running through Bishopston is the Gloucester Road (A38), which runs north all the way to the city of Gloucester and south past Bristol Airport and onward through the Mendip Hills.
Other major roads running in and around Bishopston include Coldharbour Road, which runs west to north, and Cranbrook Road, which strikes southeast from Gloucester Road.
Bishopston is also surrounded by numerous affluent and interesting areas, including Henleaze, Horfield and Lockleaze to the north, and Redland, The Arches and St. Andrews to the south. To the west is Stoke Bishop and to the east is Ashley Down and the Bristol County Ground, which is the home of Gloucestershire Cricket Club.
The Memorial Stadium in north Bishopston on the border with Horfield is home to one of Bristol’s two major football teams, Bristol Rovers. It also plays host to the occasional music concert as well.
There are numerous buses that run along Gloucester Road and can take pedestrians to the northernmost parts of the city or directly into the city centre.
The History of Bishopston
Bishopston takes its name from the bishop of the local diocese from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. The bishop was actually a controversial figure who sold off his church's land to private developers which caused something of a ruckus in the House of Commons at the time. Eventually, the furore died down and the parish of Bishopston was created during the summer of 1862.
The parish’s population at the time of its official creation was just 1300, although that number soared to well over 9,000 during the following forty years up to the turn of the century. A little over a hundred years later and the Bishopston population has only grown by a few more thousand to just shy of 14,000 according to the Census of 2011.
Bishopston has also been home to a number of remarkable people over the years, including two Nobel Prize-winning physicists; Paul Dirac and Cecil Frank Powell. One of the most celebrated scientists of the twentieth century, Dirac went to school at Bishop Road Primary School and attended the Merchant Venturers’ Technical College (later Cotham School).
Dirac became a theoretical physicist who was awarded the prize in 1933 for his contributions to quantum mechanics, while Powell was awarded the prize in 1950 for his development of the photographic method of studying nuclear processes and related discoveries.
Other famous names to have called Bishopston home include two founding members of the music group Massive Attack and 2006 World Cup-winning Italian footballer Alessandro Del Piero, who lived there briefly as a child as his restaurateur father took advantage of the significant Italian community that abides in the area.
Perhaps the most famous Bishopston alumni of all though is the legendary Cary Grant who, like Dirac, also attended Bishopston Road Primary School and lived in Hughenden Road where there is a special blue plaque commemorating his time there.
Shopping in Bishopston
Thanks to Gloucester Road there are lots of interesting shops to explore in Bishopston. What’s especially nice about the area is that it has a good blend of independent traders mixed in with some chain stores and household name shops.
The mix of different shops and a large number of independent retailers gives the whole area a unique and somewhat bohemian vibe which makes it one of the most fun and interesting of Bristol’s shopping areas.
Bishopston Bars and Restaurants
Gloucester Road again plays host to numerous places to eat and drink to your heart and stomach’s content. You can enjoy chargrilled Lebanese meats and meze dishes in the spacious, colourful and easy-going Lona Grill House that also includes a juice bar or head over to Dev’s Kerala for a more functional experience at the bring-your-own South Indian restaurant.
Other eating options include Atomic Burger where you can enjoy themed burgers surrounded by cult 80s memorabilia. For more burgers and tapas there is the open-all-day Tinto Lounge which is a fun and casual cafe bar decorated with mismatched furniture, or the late-night option of Ciao Burger which also includes a number of vegetarian options.
Other culinary delights include Ramen Ya (Japanese) or Eat a Pitta where a range of freshly made salad toppings can be added to all manner of gluten-free falafel. And if you like pizza, then Gloucester Road has a few independent pizza specialists for you to enjoy exploring the unique menus of.
There are also a number of traditional pubs around Bishopston, some that serve food and others that don’t. Most of them are again stationed somewhere along Gloucester Road, though gastro pubs The Lazy Dog and The Gloucester Old Spot may be worth venturing away from the main hub of activity for a good meal and a drink.
Other interesting bars in the area include the Grace, the Bristol Flyer, and the Sportsman which shows various televised sports and has eleven pool tables. For some late-night decadence, check out the Bootlegger cocktail bar and the Golden Lion, which has bands on almost every evening of the week.
Other Bishopston Attractions and Places of Interest
Bishopston was the venue of some location filming for the cult comedy show The Young Ones, with the late great Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson. Codrington Road in the south of the area was one such place, while external shots for the bank-robbing scene in the last episode of the show were filmed on Gloucester Road, just outside the former Bristol North Swimming Baths.