Clifton Suspension Bridge


Clifton Suspension Bridge Steamship Wall 3

The Clifton Suspension Bridge must be one of the most famous and photographed bridges in the world.

It was planned as early as 1753 and was the subject of a number of design competitions.

William Turner c1790 Hotwells
Hotwells by William Turner c1790
Francis Danby 1822
A painting by Francis Danby in 1822 shows the Avon Gorge from Ashton Meadows before the bridge.
The View from Clifton Down back down the Gorge before the bridge – Painting by Francis Danby

Building of Brunel’s design started  on 12th June 1831 but was halted by the Bristol Riots later the same year. The building stopped again in 1840 this time because of lack of funds.

Suspension Bridge Towers 1851 Dr Brittan Reece Wistone
The two towers in circa 1851 – Dr Brittan/Reece Winstone

Suspension Bridge Construction

Clifton Suspension Bridge 8 Dec 1864
Nearing completion 8th December 1864 – Reece Winstone


A modified Brunel design was then finally built and the bridge opened in 1864. Sadly Brunel was no longer with us as he had died in 1859.




Clifton Rocks Railway

Opened in 11 March 1893 The Clifton Rocks Railway enabled people arriving by train or paddle steamer at the Hotwells Landing Stages to travel up to Clifton.

Hotwells Halt by Samuel Loxton 1919 – Bristol Railway Stations, 1840-2005 by Mike Oakley,
Port and Pier Railway 1870s R W
Port and Pier Railway 1870s – Reece Winston
Port and Pier Railway Station pre 1922 R W
Port and Pier Railway Station 1922 – Reece Winston
Hotwells Rail Station 1890s
Hotwells Railway Station in the 1890s
Port and Pier Railway Station pre 1922 R W
Port and Pier Railway Station pre 1921 – Reece Winston


Site of Hotwells Railway Station in 2018
Site of Hotwells Railway Station in 2018

Hotwells Railway Station (originally called Clifton ) opened in 1865 and was connected to the port railway to Avonmouth. In 1871 it was taken over by Great Western Railway who connected it to Temple Meads via the tunnel under the Clifton Downs. The station was removed in 1921 to enable the building of the Portway Road.

Hotwells Landing Stages
Hotwells Landing Stages in 2016
Hotwells Landing Stage C1880
Hotwell Landing Stage c 1880 – Reece Winstone
Rownham Ferry c 1875 R W
Clifton Suspension Bridge from Rownham Ferry c 1875 – Reece Winston
Clifton c1920
Clifton c1920
Hotwells Paddle Steamer 2
Paddle Steamer at Hotwells Landing Stages

P & A Campbell Passenger Steamer

Bristol - The Clifton Suspension Bridge over the Avon Gorge


The Grand Spa Pump Room was opened on the rock above in Clifton in 1894.

Grand Spa Pump Room opened 1894

Grand Spa Ballroom 1894 s
Grand Spa Ballroom 1894
Clifton Rock Railway s
Clifton Rock Railway – Clifton Entrance
Clifton Bridge Railway Staion
Clifton Bridge Railway Station opened in 1867

Alternatively you could arrive at Clifton Bridge Railway Station at Rownham on the Portishead line, opened in 1866, and get the Rownham Ferry across to Hotwells.

Rownham Ferry by William Henry Bartlett 1841

The Rownham Ferry is known to have operated in 1200.

Old Station Bridge by Steve Daniels