Bristol City Docks Home Page


A Thousand Years of History

Living on Bristol City Docks, or what these days is referred to as ‘Harbourside’, has left me fascinated by its long and colourful history. I have tried to discover how it has evolved over the last thousand years starting with the first known map which dates from 1066.

Bristol in 1066


Undoubtedly Bristol Docks have been constantly changing over time but, what the significant changes were and, how many ages there were, is a matter of conjecture and opinion. So the following is a gross simplification trying to portray the evolution over history. This page divides the history the Bristol Docks into seven eras.

The Seven Ages of Bristol Docks

The maps of the waterways between the Clifton Suspension Bridge and Totterdown lock are hand drawn from a number of sources so should be regarded as representations rather than properly surveyed maps. Inevitably older maps will be less accurate than modern ones.

Over the thousand years the shape of Bristol Docks has been constantly changing see

The Changing Shape of Bristol Docks

Also the infrastructure bridges, railways has changed see

Building Bridges

Finally the names of parts of the Bristol Docks have been under constant change see

What’s in a Name?


Each of these main pages above are linked to other pages which contain information and pictures about particular areas of Bristol City Docks. There are 29 sections of the docks listed below – each linked to the relevant page.

Interactive Buttons to Bristol City Docks

Key Locations

Alphabetical Key to Bristol City Docks Locations

Sources of information

The information contained in these pages comes from multiple sources including the web and many publications. Wherever possible the source is quoted and I would be pleased to receive corrections or clarifications. A great deal of the material comes from the Bristol Libraries and Archives and the Bristol City Museums and Art Galleries. In particular, from the collection of photographs and other material held by M Shed including the Port of Bristol Authority collection. Where an image has a reference number beginning PBA this means it is from that collection. I am discovering that some pictures attributed to others are part of this collection and I am relabelling them.

A special thanks to Andy King, Senior Curator – Social, Industrial & Maritime History and Working Exhibits, based at M Shed Museum for his knowledge, guidance and access to the collections.

Andy King
Andy sadly died in July 2021 after early retirement  –  a great loss to the City.

See Thank you Andy King

Some of the wonderful pictures in these sections come from the Reece Winstone collection. Reece Winstone FRPS (1909–1991) was an English photographer from Bedminster, Bristol.

He published 36 books of photographs of Bristol dating from the birth of photography up until 1988. Copies of his books and photographs can be obtained from his son John via the website:

There are many sources which contain fractions of the whole, often with gaps or contradictions. There will therefore be errors and omissions which I would be pleased to correct if they are drawn to my attention.

As Hilary Mantell said:

“Facts are not truth, though they are part of it … And history is not the past – it is the method we have evolved of organising our ignorance of the past. It’s the record of what’s left on the record.”

SS GB 2011 s
SS Great Britain in Great Western Dockyard where it was originally launched in 1843