CLIFTON, a suburb and residential district of Bristol, England, adjoining it on the west; 122 m. W. of London by the Great Western railway. The river Avon (q.v.) here runs in a gorge, followed closely by a railway on either side, and having several quarries, which have in a measure spoiled the beauty of its hanging woods. At a height of 245 ft. above high water Isambard Brunel's famous suspension bridge bestrides this gorge. It was begun in 1832 and completed in 1864. It has a span of 702 ft., and its total weight is 1500 tons, and it is calculated to bear a burden of 9 tons per sq. in. The long famous hot springs of Clifton, to which, in fact, the town was indebted for its rise, issue from an aperture at the foot of St Vincent's Rock, in the portion of Clifton known as Hotwells. The water has a temperature of about 76° F. A hydropathic establishment is attached to them. Immediately above the suspension bridge the Clifton Rocks railway ascends from the quays by the river-side to the heights above. The Clifton and Durdham Downs (both on the Gloucestershire side of the river), form the principal pleasure-grounds of Bristol. They lie high above the river, extend for some 5000 acres, and command a beautiful prospect over the city, with its picturesque irregular site and many towers, and over the surrounding well-wooded country.
Three ancient British earthworks bear witness to an early settlement on the spot, and a church was in existence as far back as the time of Henry II., when it was bestowed by William de Clyfton on the abbot of the Austin canons in Bristol; but there are no longer any architectural vestiges of an earlier date than the 18th century. Clifton gives name to a Roman Catholic bishopric. Of the churches the most important are St Andrew's parish church; All Saints, erected in 1863 after the designs of G. E. Street, and remarkable for the width of its nave and the narrowness of its aisles; and the Roman Catholic pro-cathedral church of the Holy Apostles, with a convent and schools attached. Clifton College, a cluster of buildings in Gothic style, was founded in 1862 by a limited liability company, and takes rank among the principal modern English public schools. Down the river from Clifton is Shirehampton, a favourite resort from Bristol.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)