Bristol Frome River


Bristol River Frome is sometimes called that to distinguish it from other rivers called The Frome – There is another entering The Avon to the East of Bath. The name Frome is believed to come from a Celtic river name fram, meaning, brisk or fair.

The Bristol Frome

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?


Peter Aughton in Bristol – A Peoples History  (2000) has the original course of the Frome entering The River Avon to the South of this point at about the site of The Glassboat mooring.

Bridewell Bridge
Bridwell Bridge at bottom of Bridwell Street had in 1250 been Monks Bridge.
Bridge over the Frome Union Street
Bridge over the Frome at Union Street in 1800s (Sara Williams)
Houses built of the Frome Wall  Bristol Past and Present by J. F. Nicholls and John Taylor (Arrowsmith, 1881)

From about 1860 to about 1890 The Frome was culverted from Wade Street St Judes to Stone Bridge Rupert Street. This included the area near Castle Park where there were three bridges in a row from West to East at the bottom of Merchant Street, Philadelphia Street and Pen Street. Merchant Street and Penn street still exist in 2019 and rather oddly the name Philadelphia Street lives on but instead of being parallel to the other two streets  it now is at 90 degrees and runs between them.

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’.

Old Police and Fire Station Bridewell Street 1971
Collapse of Frome Culvert 1971 Bridewell Street  looking East – Reece Winstone
Collapse of Frome culvert 1971 Rupert Street RW
Collapse of Frome Culvert 1971 Rupert Street looking West – Reece Winstone
PBAP 764 1971 Underground in the culverted River Frome – stop gates
PBAP771 1971 The underground party standing in the water by the Wade Street bridge (just off Newfoundland Road), where the River Frome emerges into daylight.