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Best Buildings Bedminster The Unlisted Guide

April 11th/12th 2014

Written and researched by Daniel Kimberley Designed by Francisco Marrero Exhibition organised by Jaoine Cerrato, Lu Chen and Nelson Holtz



ot many people know that Bedminster predates Bristol. A Roman

settlement once existed where Bedminster’s retail hub sits today. A busy inner city suburb, it is perhaps best known for its success in the tobacco trade at the turn of the twentieth century. The tobacco industry shaped Bedminster’s architectural identity. Growing trade meant the need for bigger factories, thus creating more jobs. The increase in population was met with a very Victorian rebuilding of Bedminster, much of which can still be seen today. Some of Bedminster’s most significant buildings have been listed, but a greater number of equally important buildings remain unlisted. These structures tell a story, but their architectural and historical integrity is by no means guaranteed. Best Buildings Bedminster’s objective is to raise awareness through the identification of these unlisted buildings. This guide introduces the buildings we think should be listed.


Industrial Buildings


oal-mining was first reported in the 1670s and by 1808, there

were eighteen operational coal pits in the area. On the cusp of the industrial revolution, there had never been such demand for coal - situated by the city docks, Bedminster happened to be in the right


Best Buildings Bedminster: The Unlisted Guide

place, at the right time. By the 1880s the population had increased from 3,000 in 1801 to almost eighty thousand; then Wills’ tobacco business moved into the area. Bedminster reached its peak in prosperity and economy at the beginning of the nineteenth century, decline followed after the Second World War.

Raleigh Road

The Tobacco Factory

Built in 1912, it was originally named the Franklyn Davey & Co. building - after one of the companies incorporated into the Wills’ Imperial Tobacco brand. Designed by Sir Frank Wills, the architect behind the City Museum and Art Gallery, it was saved from demolition in 1994. The Tobacco Factory has since become a symbol of urban regeneration, but remains unlisted.


Upton Road


Best Buildings Bedminster: The Unlisted Guide

Imperial Tobacco

Occupied by Imperial Tobacco for over 110 years, this now former factory was sold to Bristol City Council last year. They plan to open it as a school in September 2015. Another distinctive red brick building, if plans to use it as an educational institution go ahead, it will become another example of urban regeneration.

St John’s Street

Cameron Balloons

Built in 1887 as Robinson’s paper bag and printing factory, it is now used by the hot-air balloon manufacturers: Cameron Balloons. The building’s red brick façade is like that of the tobacco factories. Robinson’s brought another lucrative industry to the area and the building’s subsequent reuse has so far ensured its survival.


Dumford Street


Best Buildings Bedminster: The Unlisted Guide

The Old Brewery

Brewing flourished in Bedminster and can be dated back to the 1820s on this site in particular. By the 1950s, the building was being used for a different purpose. In 2004, Bristol Beer Factory moved in and set up a ten barrel micro brewery – returning the building back to its original use, but also celebrating its history by running bookable tours.

Lydstep Terrace

Former ITO Factory

This building sits at the end of a residential cul de sac. An ITO factory (circuit board manufacturer) until 2003, the building has garnered much interest from developers. It dates back to 1916 and was originally a munitions factory built to support the war effort.

Raleigh Road

Vector Seating

Along from the Tobacco Factory on Raleigh Road is the building that is now used by Vector Seating - manufacturers of office chairs. The red brick factory was designed by Sir Frank Wills and is architecturally similar to the Tobacco Factory.


Religious Buildings


he Victorians re-established Christianity through the Oxford

movement. They rebuilt and remodeled churches, and built a number of new churches in the Gothic style to reinstate lost Christian traditions. Bedminster’s oldest church, St John’s, was significantly


Best Buildings Bedminster: The Unlisted Guide

altered during the nineteenth century, but was blitzed in WW2. Bedminster thrived as a religious and charitable community with well-attended services in both churches and relief chapels. Today churches are closing down and developers are struggling to find uses for such large and uncompromising buildings, but Bedminster has proven regeneration is possible.

Park Road

St David’s Church

Built as a mission church in 1908, its history is checkered and linked to that of St Paul’s on Southville Road. Out-of-use before WW2, the congregation of St Paul’s moved here for a while after their church sustained bomb damage during the blitz. More recently, it has been repurposed into flats.


Dean Lane


Best Buildings Bedminster: The Unlisted Guide

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army was established in 1865. In Bedminster, they are located in the very same building that was erected for them back in 1909. Striking in red brick with carved stone decorations, it is the most interesting building on the street, but somehow remains unlisted.

Southville Road

St Paul’s Church

The tower is listed and is all that remains of the original 1820s church following the Bristol blitz of 1941. The remainder of the church is unlisted and was rebuilt in 1950s reusing rubble from the bomb damage, allowing the church to remain open today. The outcome is sympathetic and barely noticeable to a passing eye.

William Street

St Luke’s Hall

Known as St Luke’s Mission Hall Ragged School in 1885. Schools like this one were charitable institutions providing free education to poor children; they were commonly developed in working class industrial districts. The building now sits with its story little known to the local community.


Dean Lane

Holy Cross RC Church

This church was built in 1922 on the same site as an 1854 church. Still in use, the building is a very simple, but large, red brick structure. It reveals how Bedminster’s success in industry influenced religious


Best Buildings Bedminster: The Unlisted Guide

architecture in the area.

Philip Street

Philip Street Chapel

This chapel gave the name to the street it sits on. It differs greatly to much of Bedminster’s red brick buildings with its rough stone façade, simple freestone dressings and Romanesque sculpted doorway. The Philip Street Chapel was known locally for arranging annual seaside visits.

Commercial Buildings


edminster remains a popular retail hub with locals and passers

by, as it was a century ago. East, West and North Street were lined with shops in a world where the shopkeeper and his family lived upstairs.


The High Street has undoubtedly changed: local businesses have struggled to survive - while ‘chains’ have moved in, modernising shop fronts and changing consumer habits. Bedminster’s main thoroughfares feature a range of architectural styles and eras, much of which is hidden and in need of attention.


Bedminster Parade


Best Buildings Bedminster: The Unlisted Guide


Next to the listed National Westminster bank is Dominos takeaway. The pizza franchise recently set up shop in this blue and white neoclassical retail unit dated 1892. It sits beautifully next to its Edwardian Baroque neighbour and is an important aesthetic feature of Bedminster Parade.

Bedminster Parade

Nelson Parade

Nelson Parade is a row of shops to the right as you approach Bedminster from the Bedminster Bridge roundabout. The buildings date back to the mid-nineteenth century and are a pleasant introduction to the suburb, though many units sit empty with some in a poor state of repair.

East Street


A broken terrace of late Victorian shops; all of which are red brick with decorative limestone dressings. Seven of the original ten are still standing: one has a decorative pet shop sign of unknown date which is of great aesthetic value, and another has a rare art nouveau shop front, currently hidden by a modern security grille.


Other Buildings York Road

The Old Fire Station


Best Buildings Bedminster: The Unlisted Guide

Breaking a handsome Georgian terrace on York Road is The Old Fire Station. Built in 1911, its name states one of its purposes, but it has also been used as an automobile garage and biscuit factory. It is now occupied by a creative agency.

Willway Street

The Old Jail

This foreboding stone jail dates back to 1740 and is currently in use as a music venue. A substantial prison for its time, it is likely to have been squalid, overcrowded and driven to issuing punishment through hard labour. As one of Bedminster’s oldest surviving buildings, its story is yet to be told and preserved.

Cannon Street

The London Inn

By the mid-nineteenth century, Bedminster’s miners were well provided for with public houses, many of which predate Bedminster’s red brick era. Still in use today, The London Inn was rebuilt in 1895, but a picture inside the pub reveals its early-nineteenth century predecessor.


Exhibition Address:

Elephant House Bedminster BS3 5PW

Best Buildings Bedminster: The Unlisted Guide  
Best Buildings Bedminster: The Unlisted Guide