Bristol Industrial
Archaeological Society (BIAS)
BIAS@50 - 1967-2017 - Celebrating half a century of research

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Brunel Swivel Bridge Project

Do look at Brunel's Other Bridge (new website created 26 Jan 2014). This holds far more information and holds the latest progress.
Brunel Swivel Bridge
Brunel Swivel Bridge, 1876 replica in foreground
Brunel Swivel Bridge
Brunel Swivel Bridge
Brunel Swivel Bridge
Brunel Swivel Bridge
Brunel Swivel Bridge
Brunel Swivel Bridge
Details of the following will be found below:


You can make a donation by sending a cheque payable to

Avon Industrial Buildings Trust to:
The Treasurer, Thatched Wells, Duckhole, Thornbury, BS35 1LD.

We have also created a project on to help us fund raise for our HLF bid

Exhibition moving to the Create Centre

From 16 February to April 2015, the exhibition can be found in the Create Centre in Smeaton Road BS1 6XN
swivel bridge

Senior Create officer Michelle Scoplin and Create officer Phil Tomlinson checking the display.
Mon to Fri 9 – 5


5 January to 15 February 2015

There will be an exhibition about the Swivel Bridge in the foyer of the Central Library, College Green with photos through the ages, drawings, work progress, and giving an opportunity for fund raising for our next stage

swivel bridge

Tuesday 28th October 2014 Evening talk

to learn about the Bridge, held in conjunction with the Institute of Structural, Mechanical and Civil Engineers Pugsley Lecture Theatre | Queens Building | University of Bristol 1800 for 1830 - Refreshments and food provided
swivel bridge

Doors Open Day 2015

Saturday 12 September 10-4: Bristol Doors Open Day a once-a-year chance to look behind closed doors and discover the city’s hidden treasures. You can explore fascinating buildings, join guided tours and enjoy a range of events and activities – all free for the day. With over 60 venues taking part this year – the event’s 21st birthday – many joined us for a fantastic celebration of Bristol’s history, architecture and culture.
Several venues in BS8 including the Brunel Swivel Bridge and Clifton Rocks Railway

Contact 45 joined a Guided walk 2014 at 14:00 from SS Great Britain to the Swivel Bridge


The SWIVEL BRIDGE is Brunel's first large wrought iron opening bridge, it is far older than the Suspension Bridge, and is Bristol's only abandoned Brunel structure. The Bridge is listed Grade 2* and is on English Heritage's Buildings at Risk Register. The bridge rotates on four fixed wheels in contact with a solid ring under the bridge. The bridge was turned by a hydraulic mechanism of twin rams located in pits that are connected to a turning ring under the bridge via a substantial wire cable. The original turning mechanism prior to conversion to hydraulic machinery was a hand turned crank similar to that used on old train turntables. The pistons and chains are still in position. The original hydraulic system ran on fresh water supplied from a pressurised water system sited in Underfall Yard.

Key historical points may be summarised as follows:

This project has been supported by CHIS for many years. We now have BIAS, AIBT and the Hotwells and Cliftonwood Society to help as well and do some dirty work. The initial refurbishment project is being led by Geoff Wallis of Dorothea Restorations (

Work for 2014

Brunel's Other Bridge holds the latest photos
Brunel Swivel Bridge
Brunel Swivel Bridge getting lifted higher and higher

Work PHASE A Preparation and Basic Conservation by Volunteers

May 2013:
Aims: Draft Schedule of WorkIt is estimated this will take a work-party of six volunteers 5-6 days to complete. Contact Maggie Shapland ( if you wish to help.


Progress before 2013

More information

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