Investing in Bristol’s Infrastructure: Underfall Yard Sluices

A sketched drawing illustrates Underfall Yard Sluices.

Since its construction back in 1809, our city’s historic Floating Harbour has had very little done to maintain it. For most of its life it was a working harbour and a key gateway to Bristol at the height of maritime trade and travel.

Since closing to commercial shipping in 1975, our Floating Harbour has seen a big growth in its role as a residential area, a tourism magnet, and a space for all manner of watersports and activities – all the while remaining a working harbour and home to a diverse ecologically rich community of wildlife.

Continuing the trend of previous administrations of dodging investment in our harbour is not an option. As much as any road, bridge, or cycle path, our floating harbour is a central part of the city’s infrastructure. As a home, a workplace, and a travel route, our harbour plays many roles and we’re taking the steps necessary to ensure its maintenance is prioritised.

We announced in December 2021 that we had bid for £1.25 million of funding to spend on works required to the Underfall Yard sluices. The sluices are an integral part of how our harbour manages itself. They have been providing Bristol with a means of regulating the water levels within our harbour since 1840.

Due to the tidal nature of the River Avon and the high levels of water which flow downstream from it and other main water courses (including the River Frome), these sluices provide our city with a critical flood defence measure.

Since then, we’ve been taking steps to identify further funding for these works and I was delighted, at the most recent cabinet meeting, to approve the receipt of a funding award of £1.75 million from the Environment Agency that fully funds the necessary works.

This additional funding means the sluices, where some of the infrastructure if over 100 years old, will get the refurbishment they need to continue to protect our city for many years to come.

When you add this to the funding of the Capricon Quay project to make 32 more berths for boats, investing in new pontoons and washroom facilities, plus upcoming efforts to progress work on the harbour walls, it’s clear this administration is taking the issue of our harbour’s health seriously.