Floating Harbour

A fine day by the water…

Image of Bristol City Centre

Narrow Quay, looking towards Bristol City Centre

That's the beauty of wandering widely. A fine February day dawned; a perfect opportunity to get out and about in one of Bristol's most picturesque and well-known locations. The Floating Harbour.

Created by the building of massive locks on the rivers Avon and Frome, and the digging of a brand new artificial waterway, what was once a tidal harbour became “floating”, on account of the fact that the water level could now be maintained at a decent constant. At the time, Britain was at war, and use was made of all those prisoners of war in the digging of what became known as the New Cut.

Image of architecture on Narrow Quay, Bristol

Original architecture still survives on Narrow Quay

The project was hugely costly, and despite the improved facilities for shipping in Bristol's city centre, coupled with the fact that the route to the ocean was still tidal, the Floating Harbour was never really a commercial success. Operations at the city centre location ceased in 1975 with the opening of new deep water facilities at Portbury, at the mouth of the River Avon.

Today, the Floating Harbour has been redeveloped and regenerated as a tourist and residential area. Many restaurants and cafes now occupy the space of the old warehouses. Or they have been converted into larger attractions, such as the M Shed museum and the Arnolfini Gallery.

Dear Reader, it's well worth a visit to Bristol's city centre if you happen to be in the area…


Image of MV Balmoral

MV Balmoral at her Princes Road berth

Image of dockside cranes

Electric cranes on Bristol's dockside, now in preservation

Image of Bristol Floating Harbour

General view of the Floating Harbour

Image of the Arnolfini Gallery and Princes Wharf

The view from the M-Shed museum, with the Arnolfini Gallery in the background



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