Albion Dockyard conservation and future plans

01 November 2023


01 November 2023


The SS Great Britain Trust – the charity that runs the multi award-winning museum, visitor attraction and Brunel Institute in Bristol – has been consulting and listening to local residents, businesses and heritage and conservation experts as ambitious plans for the Albion Dockyard continue to develop.

The Trust values everyone’s support and valuable feedback, and can confirm that relocation of Brunel’s Swivel Bridge has currently been taken out of the project plan. The highest priority for the Trust is the long-term preservation of the ‘at risk’ Swivel Bridge, and its management to the highest conservation standards.

The SS Great Britain Trust – which cares for the National Brunel Collection and the iconic SS Great Britain for the nation – is keen to ensure this significant structure which is a technical tour de force is saved.  The Trust has consulted closely with Historic England who have provided advice on what is best in the interests of the bridge now. Their view is that, if possible, the bridge should stay where it is while there remains a possibility that future redevelopment options could provide the opportunity to save it in situ.

Chair of the SS Great Britain Trust, Jim McKenna commented:

“Public feedback and support for the project has been tremendous and we’re delighted to be taking the Albion Dockyard plans to Bristol City Council planners shortly.”

“Saving Brunel’s Swivel Bridge is incredibly important to the Trust. It is highly significant in terms of its innovative design features, and very likely the earliest and oldest surviving example of a Brunel designed tubular wrought iron structure. Bringing it back to the Albion Dockyard where it was built, where it could be operated and seen by many more people as part of the transformational Albion Dockyard Project was a key part of the plan for the project. However, we have listened closely to Historic England, and if a viable solution can be found to save the bridge in its Cumberland Basin location, then the Trust supports their expert view. Nevertheless, if the redevelopment plans do not provide suitable protection and care for this important structure, then the Trust stands ready to save it and care for it to the highest standards in the future.”

“The Trust will continue to listen to wide-ranging views and areas of expertise as we develop plans that will really benefit Bristol and the West of England region.”

The Albion Dockyard Project is saving the Grade II listed Albion Dry Dock, reinstating and conserving important elements of Bristol’s docks heritage. The Trust’s plans were praised by Historic England in their response to the consultation. They said:

‘The wider proposals for the expansion of the heritage visitor attraction into the Albion Dock building a replica PS Great Western, conserving the dock and providing new opportunities for education and interpretation, are very laudable and welcomed.”

Recreating and interpreting the industrial heritage location for new generations will include the creation of habitats for wildlife enhancing the ecology and biodiversity of Bristol’s Floating Harbour.

This project matters to a great many people. The conservation and renewal of the dock itself will keep the city’s maritime industry alive, along with inspiring and educating future generations. It contributes towards a thriving heritage and mixed-use harbour – a place for employment, cultural exchange and wellbeing.


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