> Henry Stoneley discusses why “Britain’s last high street” attracts thousands of students each year to live…

Let’s face it. Not all of us can afford to live in Clifton.

It will save you money on taxis into and out of town, but the chances are that if you live there, you’ll spend this excess cash on peroxide hair dye and Jack Wills tracksuit bottoms. Then again, if you wear Jack Wills, you’ll probably regard excess cash as loo roll, and good on you. You’ll probably be my boss in a few years.

For the rest of us, there really is only one choice; Gloucester Road. Starting opposite the excellent Prince of Wales just past the Arches, and stretching up to beyond The Wellington (there’s a pub theme here, just wait), Gloucester Road was, at one point, the longest stretch of independent retailers in Europe. Have some of that Stokes Croft!

Rent ranges from around £250 to £350, and whilst there are some clangers, there are also some incredible student houses along the stretch. A six bed with two bathrooms, dishwasher, washing machine, garden and a cat (he wasn’t included, but he won’t leave) sets the average student back under £300 a month. Considering the proximity to town and Frenchay this really isn’t bad. The U1/U2 bus route runs (allegedly) along the route (when they can be bothered), as does the N6 night bus, should you have no friends to come home with after a few shandies in The Golden Lion. 

Pubs! There we go, not even a casual reference. From the scary (The Queen Vic anyone?) via the posh nosh of The Robin Hood’s Retreat to the student hang outs of The Anchor and The Rising Sun, there’s something for everyone on Gloucester Road. Mondays and Thursdays are where it’s at now. What’s that? Lectures at 9 on a Tuesday or Friday? Never mind, you live on Gloucester Road now, and it’s just a two minute walk to your bed. Or 10 minutes if you stop off at Benny’s Chicken, a culinary wonder which has probably never served an actual chicken, but remains ludicrously tasty.

If food’s your thing, you’re beyond spoilt for choice. Tart is probably Bristol’s most underrated café, even if it is a little pretentious, then there’s a plethora of BYOB curry houses, and more world food than you can shake a stick at. Not that WesternEye recommends shaking sticks at food in restaurants.

Then there are the shops. If you can think of it, Gloucester Road has it.

From art supplies to zebra burgers via fireworks, herbal tea and hats, there’s every possibility you could never see the rest of Bristol if you lived here. With the best selection of butchers and greengrocers in the city, you can save a bundle on food shopping too. And because we’re not as conceited as Stoke’s Croft, we have some supermarkets, which, are all within easy walking distance of your front door. With all this packed into just over a mile, is there a reason to look anywhere else?

Henry Stoneley