Cabot Tower - History and Facts | History Hit

Cabot Tower

Bristol, England, United Kingdom

Image Credit: Marco Fine / Shutterstock

About Cabot Tower

Cabot Tower is a 32m commemorative tower atop Brandon Hill, in Bristol, United Kingdom.

History of Cabot Tower

Cabot Tower was constructed in the late 19th century as part of the 400th commemoration of John Cabot, an explorer who set sail from the port of Bristol in the Matthew, and who ‘discovered’ Newfoundland/Canada. Cabot remains a prominent name across Bristol’s urban landscape (look out for his name appearing on road names!), but his legacy has become more complex in the modern day and age.

The tower was designed by a local architect, William Venn Gough, and paid for by public subscription. The Marquis of Dufferin and Ava laid the foundation stone in June 1897, and the tower was finished just over a year later. It stands 32m tall, and is built from red sandstone, covered with cream Bath stone.

Notably, the commemorative plaque was installed by the Peace Society, ‘in the earnest hope that peace and friendship may ever continue between the kindred peoples of this country and America’.

In 2007, the tower was shut as cracks began to appear: the ironwork which supported the bricks had seriously corroded, and urgent work was needed in order to stabilise the tower and ensure its future. It reopened to the public in 2011.

Cabot Tower today

The tower is well worth the steep climb (a lift was planned but never installed) – although be warned the staircase is narrow and meeting other people can be a bit of a squeeze to get past one another. The viewing platform at the top is also not big: wait for any other visitors to leave and enjoy moments up there by yourself.

The vistas across Bristol and North Somerset are fantastic on a clear day, and you’ll be able to see the majority of Bristol’s landmarks – including an excellent view of the university’s Wills Memorial Building and the harbourside.

The tower stands atop Brandon Hill, which itself is a pleasant park with benches, a children’s play area and some nice paths/walks.

Getting to Cabot Tower

Cabot Tower is a 20 minute uphill walk from Bristol’s harbourside. Regular buses depart from Bristol Temple Meads to the top of Park Street, including the number 1, 2, 8, 72 and 72a. Bristol Temple Meads has two trains an hour to London Paddington, and is well connected to the rest of the South West, Wales and the Midlands.

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