Underfall Yard


Underfall Yard

was created by Jessop in 1809 and improved by Brunel in the 1830s who changed it from an overfall into The Cut to an underfall. The pumping station was built in 1888 to operate locks a machinery around the docks and originally operated on steam. It took over from The Pump House at Howards Junction Lock. The existing electric pumps date from 1907.

Electricity sub station Avon Crescent s
The Electricity Sub-station in Avon Crescent (2018) was built to service the docks in the early 1900s

The Avon Crescent Electricity Sub-station is allegedly haunted as a worker fell from the roof into the building but they never found his body! (According to Senior Electrical Engineer – Pete Willis.)

Matthew on Underfall Slipway

The Matthew is a replica of a caravel sailed by John Cabot in 1497 from Bristol to North America. It was built in 1994-6 at Redcliffe Quay.

Cabot came to live in Bristol for the purposes of his trade, and while there applied for, and on March 5, 1496 obtained from Henry V 11. a patent for discovery for himself and his

three sons, Lewis, Sebastian, and Sancius, to sail to all parts of the east, west, and north, with five ships at their own cost, under the royal banner, and to take possession of new islands and countries, paying the king a fifth of their gain from each voyage On arriving at the port of Bristol, whither they were bound to return. He set sail in the early part of the May of the next year in a ship said to have been named the Matthew, manned by eighteen sailors, nearly all of Bristol. His son Sebastian probably sailed with him. Land was discovered on June 24. This seems to have been the northern coast of Cape Breton*.

Thus our Bristol sailors discovered North America a year before Columbus struck the coast of the southern continent.

Historic Towns – Bristol William Hunt & Edward A Freeman 1889

*Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada

The Patent Heave-Up Slipway was built in 1856 and replaced by the current slipway in the 1890s. The Winch Shed at the top of the slipway worked on hydraulic power from 1890 but was converted to electricity in 1924.

Engine and gears in Winch Shed
Engine and gears of the Winch Shed
The Mayflower Underfall Slipway

Mayflower is a steam tug built in Bristol in 1861 and now preserved by Bristol Museums Galleries & Archives. She is based in Bristol Harbour at M Shed. She is the oldest Bristol-built ship afloat and is believed to be the oldest surviving tug in the world.

The Overfall
Jessops overfall of 1809 replaced by the underfall in 1834 – TW Rowbotham 1827
Underfall Yard late 1800s
Underfall Yard early 1900s

The creation of the Underfall allowed the creation of Underfall Yard by reclaiming dock space in 1834.

Nova Scotia Place 1930 RW
Nova Scotia Place 1930 – Reece Winstone
Blacksmith Shop-Underfall Yard-27th Jan 1982
Outlet from Underfall Yard to The Cut
The Underfall into the Cut

Underfall Yard 3
Underfall Yard 2018
Underfall Yard 2019
John King Underfall Yard 9 Oct 22
Fire Avon Somerset Police

Serial Arsonist Jailed for Underfall Yard Fire – 27th November 2023
A serial arsonist has been jailed for life after starting a fire which destroyed a historic boatyard, causing millions of pounds worth of damage.

Robert Boyd-Stevenson, 46, had been working at the Underfall Yard in Bristol for three days as a maintenance coordinator when he lit the blaze.

His sentencing hearing was told the fire was started in the Big Shed just before midnight on 6 May.

The blaze destroyed the shed, boats and led to local residents being evacuated.

Rebuilding the historic yard has been estimated to cost £2.6m and take three years to complete.

Fire Avon Somerset Police
Underfall Yard 7 May 2023