Bristol Bridge

Bristol Bridge is an old bridge over the floating harbour in Bristol, England. Before the river was redirected away from the harbour through the New Cut, the bridge crossed the River Avon.

The original bridge was a medieval wooden structure that had both its sides lined with houses. A seventeenth century illustration shows that these were five stories high, including the attic rooms, and that they overhung the river much as Tudor houses would overhang the street. At the time of the Civil War the bridge was noted for its community of goldsmiths, who may have been attracted by the unusually secure premises. Its population was also perceived to be strongly parliamentarian.

In the 1760 a bill to replace the bridge was carried through parliament by the Bristol MP Sir Jarrit Smyth. The commission accepted the design of James Bridges and the bridge was built by Thomas Paty between 1763 and 1768. Resentment at the tolls exacted to cross the new bridge occasioned the Bristol Bridge Riot of 1793.

Before the Second World War, Bristol Bridge was an important transport hub. It was the terminus of tram routes to Knowle, Bedminster and Ashton Gate, and other trams also stopped here. It lost importance when Temple Way was built further upstream in the 1930s, and when the tram system closed in 1941.

The bridge is now a grade II listed building.


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