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Bristol Temple Meads

BRISTOL TEMPLE MEADS Commuting from Bristol is never easy. Parking is difficult, and the station is hard to get at, being surrounded by streets of terraces and subject to major regeneration. There are huge traffic problems. The M32 regularly clogs into four-mile tailbacks, and there is no integrated public transport system to relieve the pressure in a city where a lot of major companies – Lloyds TSB and British Aerospace, for example – have their headquarters. The retail landscape has been transformed with the opening in 2008 of Cabot Circus, an ultra-modern mall under an eye-catching curved glass roof, with Harvey Nichols at its heart.

Culturally, it is a rich city, with the Bristol Old Vic, the theatre school, and various pubs providing fringe theatre. The Tobacco Factory is a popular venue, staging Shakespeare in the round, comedy and music. The Hippodrome attracts the ballet and opera companies. Colston Hall is the rock venue, and the Watershed arts and media centre in the docks shows the arty films. Another big local interest is expressed through Bristol Rugby Club. The well-known public schools include Bristol Cathedral School, Bristol Grammar School, Colston’s School and Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital.

Clifton and Clifton Village are Bristol’s Olympian heights, where the mix of Georgian, Regency and Victorian is very special and very expensive. Some of the houses are so large, with eight or nine bedrooms, that they have been divided into flats for upwardly mobile couples who will pay up to £325,000 for something stylish with two bedrooms, marble fireplaces, balcony, ceiling mouldings and a drawing room with shutters. In Cliftonville, many of the 10-bedroom Victorian mansions overlooking The Downs have been converted into offices. It has good independent schools – Clifton High School and Clifton College. A four-storey Victorian house here would cost around £800,000 to £1m. A four-bedroom Victorian terrace in Cliftonwood would cost £425,000 to £500,000.

House prices in the rest of the city have been playing catch-up with remarkable speed. An alternative to Clifton is Redland, which has a mix of Georgian, Victorian and Thirties, popular with families. The closer to the city centre you get, the more you feel the presence of students from Bristol University. A two-bedroom first floor flat in a Victorian terrace in Redland, close to Clifton Downs, would be priced at around £200,000. A mid-terrace, three-bedroom Edwardian house, or a charming four-bedroom town house, could be had for £500,000.

Bristol Harbourside is worth considering if you haven’t got a family. Huge new wharfside developments are interspersed between old warehouse conversions. Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s old stamping ground around the Floating Harbour is now busy with bars and cafés. One-bedroom flats cost around £130,000 with a view. Three-bedroom town houses, with or without a view, start from £390,000.

Good for: vibrant city, cultural hub, university presence, good schools, access to the M4. M5 and Wales.

other stations nearby...

Bath SpaBristol ParkwayCastle CaryFrome
London terminal: Paddington
Journey time: 102 mins
Season ticket: £9192*
Peak trains: 2 per hour
Off-peak trains: 2 per hour
Notes: *also valid at Bristol Parkway