Redcliffe Wharf and Bridge


2832448 Part of the Floating Harbour between Ropewalk and Canon’s Marsh, showing St Mary Redcliffe and the back of the New Gaol, 1822 (pencil & w/c on paper) by O’Neill, Hugh (1784-1824); Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, UK; Bequest of William Jerdone Braikenridge, 1908; British, out of copyright.
Redcliffe Back
Redcliffe Back

William II Canynges (c. 1399–1474) was an English merchant and shipper from Bristol, one of the wealthiest private citizens of his day and an occasional royal financier. He lived in a grand house on Ferry Street, Redcliffe – see below. He served as Mayor of Bristol five times and as MP for Bristol thrice. He was a generous patron of the arts in Bristol, particularly concerning the church of St Mary Redcliffe in Bristol, “The crown of Bristol architecture”. Following the death of his wife Joan in 1467, he renounced civic and commercial life and was ordained a priest in 1468, in which capacity he remained until his death six years later. His tomb effigy in St Mary’s later inspired the boy poet Thomas Chatterton to write the romantic poem “The Storie of William Canynge”.

He appears to have started to specialise in shipping the goods of others rather than trading on his own account. He owned a fleet of at least ten ships, as is stated in William Worcester’s “Itineraries”, one of the largest known in England at that time, and is said to have employed 800 sailors. Three of his ships exceeded 200 tons, then considered large: The Mary Canynges (400 tons), Mary Redcliffe (500 tons) and the Mary and John (900 tons). The last was considered by Worcester “a monster” and had cost £2666 13s. 4d. to build. His combined tonnage was almost 3,000 tons.[Wickipedia]

Part of Canynge Tower/House on Ferry Street – This was on the harbour edge in the 15th century but is now 40 metres away
14 Century stone slipway and quay at Canynge House
Avon (Midland Railway) Wharf 1898
Midland Railway (Avon) Wharf 1898
This Ordnance Survey Map of 1884 shows the Midland Railway Wharf called Albert Quay
Redcliffe Back 1935 -Reece Winston


PBA688 Western Counties Mill, Redcliff Back. sailing ship & barge Garibaldi’. Redcliffe Bridge yet to be built.

Redcliffe Bridge

There was no bridge between Prince Street and Bristol Bridge up until 1942 but this stretch of the floating harbour was served by two ferries:

Redcliffe Backs Ferry – c1928 – Reece Winston

Redcliffe Backs Ferry operated from 1794 until 1930.

Prior to the building of Redcliffe Bridge there had also been a Grove to Guinea Street ferry from 1882.

Redcliffe Bascule Bridge was built from 1938 before formally opening in 1942 .

Redcliffe Bridge commences building on the Redcliffe side
Redcliffe Bridge being built looking towards The Grove
Redcliffe Bridge under construction
Redcliffe Bridge nearing completion
Redcliffe Bridge ready for use
Redcliffe Bridge Plaque 1942
George Poppleton

George Frederick Poppleton (1910 to 1953) was appointed to the City Engineers Department in Bristol City Council probably in 1937. He was appointed Resident Engineer on the planning and construction of Redcliffe Bridge which began in 1938/39 due to his experience of bridge building especially bascule bridges.

After the War George was involved in the upkeep and maintenance of Redcliffe Bridge.  Richard, his son, recalls visiting the Bridge control room and watching it being raised and lowered and going down into the ‘engine room’ and to see how it all worked.

Information provided by his sons Alan and Richard Poppleton

Redcliffe Bridge Circa 1950
Redcliffe Bridge Circa 1950


PBA1600 Camerton (Sandsucker) passing Bascule Bridge at Redcliffe Way 1952
Redcliff Bridge 1955
Redcliffe Bridge 1955


Sand Dreger Camerton Redcliffe Bridge 1972 Paul T
Sand Dredger Camerton at Redcliffe Bridge 1972


Redcliffe Bridge open for the Matthew
PBAN4123 PBA fleet – grab dredger BD7 and mudhopper. Bristol Sand & Gravel suction dredger “Camerton” at berth in background.
redcliffe 1973 rw
Redcliffe 1973 – Reece Winstone
Crane Redcliff Quay-1979



Redcliffe Back -1935 -R Winston

redcliffe 1973 rw

Redcliffe Back 1937 Paul T
Redcliffe Back 1937
PBAX2424 1968 View of St Mary Redcliffe Church from roof of WCA Mill on Redcliff Back, in the process of being demolished. At far right is William Watts’s old shot tower on Redcliffe Hill, also demolished in 1968.
Redcliffe Backs c1960
Redcliffe Back c1960
Redcliffe Backs 1975 RW
Redcliffe Backs 1975 – Reece Winstone
Redcliffe Wharf and Redcliffe Bridge 1978 (In: Lord, J. Southam, J. 1983, p.17).
Welsh Back Redcliffe Back from Bristol Bridge
Redcliffe Quay 2018
Redcliffe Wharf
Redcliffe Wharf 2017
Redcliffe Bridge from Redcliffe Wharf 2017
Redcliffe Bridge from Redcliffe Wharf 2017
Redcliffe Bridge 2019
Church of St Thomas the Martyr from Redcliff Back 19 Aug 21
Redcliffe Wharf 19 Aug 21