St Augustines Reach


Between 1240 and 1247 the original course of the Frome (roughly from The Glassboat at Bristol Bridge along Baldwin and St Stevens Streets) to its current course to provide more dock space. The dug out section was called The New Channel.

Former Mouth of Frome at Bristol Bridge

According to The Bristol Packet boat company the left hand section of Bristol Bridge (seen from South) is the former mouth of the Frome. It is undoubtedly close to the right spot but it is strange that since 1247 when the river was diverted it has survived several major rebuilds of the bridge?

PBAN8155An artist’s view circa 1789 of the Bascule Bridge, later the site of St Augustine’s Bridge (1893).
PBAP2395 A view across the floating harbour to St Augustine’s Place c 1860

St Augustine’s Place, as it was then known, prior to the building of Colston Street. The location is recognisable, even though practically none of these buildings remain. The dark-fronted building with Gothic windows, towards the right, is the Salem Chapel, while at the top right of the picture are the windows of the Lodge Street Chapel. C1860

PBAX 2544 1941-2 Air raid damage to the premises of Messrs Price, Walker and Croxford, timber

The Drawbridge and St Stephens Church 1968 Bristol Museum
The Drawbridge in 1868
1870 behind the mast St Werburghs Church removed to Mina Road in 1876 – Reece Winstone
Screenshot-2018-2-26 Clare Street and the Drawbridge by Edward Bird
Bristol Museum
The Drawbridge 1860s Paul T
The Drawbridge 1860s
The Stone Bridge 1866 - Reece Winstone
The Stone Bridge 1866 – Reece Winstone

In the middle right you can see the figurehead of the sunk ‘Demerara’.

From Narrow Quay 1880s R W
From Narrow Quay 1880s – Reece Winstone
PABX3298 1882-94 An atmospheric photo of the northernmost stretch of the Floating Harbour, with the River Frome flowing out from under the Stone Bridge at the far end.

The Magpie newspaper, whose office can be seen on the left, started publication in 1884. Handcarts, a gas street lamp and a windlass can be seen to the right.

PABX3300 1879 -92 The northernmost stretch of the Floating Harbour, seen from the Drawbridge.

The Stone Bridge can just be seen at the far end on the left, its arch partly hidden by a leftward turn of the harbour wall. The churches of St Mary-on-the-Quay (left), St John-on-the-Wall (centre distance) and St Stephen (right) are about the only buildings recognisable today.

PBAN6515 circa 1850 The crenellated tower on the right is the Water Bailiff’s Flag Staff and Signal Tower.
PBAN6515 circa 1850 The inscription

The Water Bailiff’s Flag Staff and Signal Tower, used through much of the 19th century to control the movement of shipping in the Reach. It was demolished for the construction of E Shed in 1894.

St Augustines Reach c1860 - Bristol Archives
St Augustines Reach c1860 – Bristol Archives
Dublin Shed 1870

The Dublin Shed was built in 1861 and demolished in 1937 when the Frome was culverted at Broad Quay.

The churches above from left to right are St Stephens, St Werburghs (moved to Mina Road in 1878), Christ Church, All Saints and St Nicholas.

PBAN6467 St Augustine’s Reach in what is now the City Centre -c1875.

The Drawbridge seen here, opposite what is now the end of Baldwin Street, was installed in 1868; and the small shed beyond it was replaced in 1879. There are no tram-lines visible, so the photo is probably from 1875 or earlier.

The chapel of St Mary-on-the-Quay is clearly visible in the distance to the left. A paddle steamer is berthed at Broad Quay.

The crenellated tower near the middle of the picture is the Water Bailiff’s Flag Staff and Signal Tower, used through much of the 19th century to control the movement of shipping in the Reach. It was demolished for the construction of E Shed in 1894.

PABX3299 c1892The construction of the harbour wall at Dean’s Marsh,St Augustine’s, prior to the building of E and W Sheds.
PABX3332 Dec 1918 The captured German submarine U-86 being towed past W Shed to be displayed to the public in front of the Hippodrome.
PABX3291 1952 A grab dredger and dredger hopper (nearer) at work in St Augustine’s Reach, with E Shed behind. In the distance the Hippodrome can be seen with its original tower and globe.
St Augustines Reach from Stone Bridge 1890
Hale, William Matthew, 1837-1929; Bristol Docks, with Fishing Boats and Other Shipping at Anchor beside the Quayside
Bristol Docks, with Fishing boats and other Shipping at Anchor Beside the Quayside
William Matthew Hale – Royal West of England Academy 
St Augustines Reach
The Drawbridge 1880s
The Drawbridge 1880s – Reece Winstone
PBAN6513 The Drawbridge 1880s – Baldwin Street was completed in 1881
Drawbridge about 1890 Paul T
Drawbridge about 1890
Broad Quay covering The Frome 1892 R W 2
Covering the Frome at Broad Quay 1893  – Reece Winstone
PBAN6452 1892-3 Filling in of the Floating Harbour as far as Balwin Street, to create Colston Avenue.
PBAN9379 – A temporary dam across St Augustine’s Reach, with ships in the Floating Harbour beyond. S Shed is on the left.

The dam was put in place while work was under way to fill in St Augustine’s Reach between the Stone Bridge and the Drawbridge (further up the Reach from here). After the work was completed in 1893 the stretch from here to the Drawbridge was refilled with water for another 45 years, until the rest of the Centre was covered over in 1938.

PBAP3160 1930s A view from the front of S Shed, Narrow Quay, looking up St Augustine’s Reach to the city centre.

The floating harbour in front of the Hippodrome has yet to be filled in (1938), but the predominance of motor buses (as opposed to trams) suggests that this is probably well into the 1930s.

Culverting the Frome Nov 1938 RW
Culverting the Frome 1938 – Reece Winstone
Filling in St Augustines Reach 1893 Paul T
Filling in St Augustines Reach 1893

In 1893 The Frome was culverted from The Stone Bridge down to the junction of Clare Street and Baldwin Street. The Drawbridge was replaced with St Augustines Bridge.

Bristol Centre 1893
St Augustines Bridge in 1893 – Louise Gibson
St Augustines Bridge and Exhibition 1893

St Augustines Bridge and Exhibition Summer 1893

The Industrial and Fine Arts Exhibition  was held in a specially built wooden hall at the bottom of Colston Avenue near St. Augustine’s Parade. The hall was 110 feet wide and 520 feet long and cost £11,000. It was lit by 20 electric and 400 gas lamps. The hall featured the first electric clock in Bristol. The exhibition itself was part promoted by J. W. Arrowsmith who owned Arrowsmith’s the printers. It was opened by the Mayor, Mr. (later Sir) R. H. Symes. The exhibition made a profit of £2,200 which was donated to local charities. Around half a million people visited the exhibition during the five months it was open. The only trace of the exhibition now is a fountain by the Colston statue.


PBAN6468 The Floating Harbour at the City Centre, painted by C.P. Knight in 1895. The painting is in the City Museum & Art Gallery.
Bristol Tramway Centre built 1896 photo 1904
By 1904 this area had become the Bristol Tramway Centre
Broad Quay and Tramways Centre c 1915 R W
Bristol Tramways Centre c 1915 – Reece Winstone
Broad Quay from St Augustines Churchyard 1924 R W
Broad Quay from St Augustine’s Churchyard 1924 – Reece Winstone

PBA270 1929 Postcard image of Shipping & Tramways Centre. View from Colston Street to the CWS building (centre) and the Granary at Princes Wharf (distant, right). Also depicts motorised trams, city buildings, ships along Narrow Quay, Broad Quay, horse drawn vehicles (carrying barrels), cars, cyclists, newspaper salesmen with placards. Trams advertise “Jacobs Cream Crackers”, “Evening World”. – Bristol Museums Galleries and Archives

PBA778 1937 Tramways Centre & St Augustines from College Green

St Augustines Bridge 1930s
St Augustines Bridge and Broad Quay 1930s
Broad Quay 1956
1933 Campbells SS Glen Gower at Broad Quay RW
Broad Quay - Bristol Archives
Broad Quay – Bristol Archives

In 1938 The Frome was culverted down to the bottom of Broad Quay.

The River Frome flows into the Floating Harbour. A Detail from a pullout in The Port of Bristol Handbook, Bristol Docks Offices, Queen Square 1886, p68. Bristol Central Reference Library
The River Frome flows into the Floating Harbour. A Detail from a pullout in The Port of Bristol Handbook, Bristol Docks Offices, Queen Square 1886, p68. Bristol Central Reference Library.
Narrow Quay screw propelled SS Arragon 1871
Narrow Quay screw propelled SS Arragon 1871 – Reece Winstone
From Narrow Quay 1880s R W
From Narrow Quay 1870s – Reece Winstone
PBAX 2659 1949 Mv “Teal” loading or unloading a lorry cab unit at V Shed, City Docks. Evidence of war damage on Narrow Quay behind.
narrow quay 1963
Narrow Quay 1963 – Reece Winstone
PBAN288.Ships in St Augustines Reach 1960s
CWS building from Bordeaux Quay
CWS (Co-op) Building which was demolished in 1973-4 and replaced with Broad Quay House
St Augustines Reach entrance c1900
St Augustines Reach entrance c 1910 – Bristol Archives
Deans Ferry arriving at Narrow Quay Farr Lane (now replaced by Peros Bridge) 1934 – Reece Winstone


Bordeaux Quay Sign

St Augustines Reach 1956 RW
St Augustines Reach 1956 – Reece Winstone
Canons Marsh (Bordeaux Quay) 1960s - RW
Canons Marsh/Bordeaux Quay 1960s – Reece Winstone
Cannons Road Wharf 1966 - RW
Cannons Road Wharf 1966 (Bordeaux Quay) – Reece Winstone
Narrow Quay 1966 - Reece Winston
Narrow Quay 1966 – Reece Winstone
Narrow Quay C 1970
Narrow Quay C1970 – Reece Winstone
Bourdeaux and Narrow Quays 2018
Bordeaux and Narrow Quays 2018
St Augustines Reach and Peros Bridge
St Augustines Reach and Peros Bridge in 2016
The Georgian House
The Georgian House, Great George St, was built in 1790 for John Pinney, slave plantation owner and sugar merchant. It was also where the enslaved man of African descent, Pero Jones lived.
PBAN8868A The back of the statue of Neptune above the exit culvert for the river Frome in 1969 . The foreground is now occupied by the cascade steps.
Mouth of Frome 2018
Mouth of River Frome on left next to the Cascade in the City Centre 2018
John Cabot Narrow Quay
John Cabot Statue Narrow Quay