‘Our two cities are great places to start a business,’ writes phone box millionaire Stephen Fear
A Tale of Two Cities: Charles Dickens was referring to Paris and London when he wrote his famous book, but in a regional context he might well have applied the term to Bristol and Bath!
These two quintessentially British Cities are divided by only nine miles and yet in many ways they are light years apart.
Growing up on a council estate in Bristol, Bath wasn’t somewhere I gave any thought to! It first came onto my radar when I started my first business. I owned a revolutionary new cleaning fluid and Bath had plenty of places that needed cleaning!
So with samples in hand I headed over to this beautiful city in my friend Paul’s van. I was 16, so couldn’t drive.
We parked in Milsom Street and if I remember rightly there were no restrictions, which was just as well because we left Paul’s van there for ten hours!
I was gobsmacked at the gorgeous Georgian terraces and ‘London’ like feel of the place. It was buzzing in a way Bristol at that time wasn’t.
Bristol had been an economic powerhouse during its long history and had many beautiful areas, including, Clifton and The Downs, one of the largest protected green spaces of any City in the world. Since the Second World War however it had suffered from poor management and sporadic development.
Bath at that time seemed more vibrant and dashing. Today of course, Bristol has regained its position as ‘the place’ to be, winning The Times “Best city in which to live in Britain” in 2014.
Bristol seems to be on everyone’s lips these days. My American friends talk about it being the Boston of Europe, especially given its award-winning waterfront. Watching the ferry delivering people to the city centre certainly gives the city a ‘Boston’ feel!
Bath and Bristol both have beautiful architecture, but Bristol as a business location wins in my view due to its ease of access to the motorway network and closer proximity to Bristol International airport.
These beautiful cities are now working closer than ever to promote the region generally. Together they offer pretty much everything a business could want. Great international transport links, fast broadband, skilled workers, good education offers at Bath University, Bristol University and of course, the University of the West of England, whose celebrity is growing daily around the world. A brilliant new Faculty of Business & Law is being built at UWE shortly which will only enhance that department’s huge existing global reputation.
If you are young and growing up in Bristol or Bath and want to become an entrepreneur, my advice would be to check out the business courses on offer at Bristol Metropolitan College, or any of the educational establishments mentioned above. They are all superb.
I travel extensively and spend a lot of time in London and abroad but Bristol & Bath have a special feel that says “home”. Home is always where the heart is, and mine remains in Bristol.