Bristol visitor attraction reopens year after devastating fire

Bristol visitor attraction Underfall Yard has re-opened its gates welcoming visitors to the working boatyard after a fire damaged five historic buildings and destroyed six boats last year.

Walkers of the Harbourside circuit can now pass through the yard on the route, following 11 months of closure.

As a result, visitors are returning to the site in increasing numbers with the café experiencing its busiest week since the fire last week.

The first part of the recovery and reinstatement on site is complete. Contractors have cleared the damage caused by the fire and completed necessary structural work across the three buildings most severely affected – the Big Shed and two workshops.

Sarah Murray, director at Underfall Yard said: “It feels like we have our character back. Whilst it may have appeared shut, work has continued without halt behind closed doors and we have been making plans to re-build with a renewed sense for the future. Opening up the Underfall Yard section of the Harbourside Walk and welcoming the public back in is a huge milestone on our journey to recovery.

“Now that the walkway is open, we’re looking forward to even more people popping in, taking a look at what’s going on in the yard, or simply stopping for a coffee on their trip around the harbour. We have a long road ahead, but this is a real step in the right direction, and we look forward to welcoming more of the public and yard businesses back.”

Recovery and reinstatement work has been ongoing throughout the year including clearance and the retrieval of architectural elements of the building, sensitively handled by Wring Group.

The yard has remained open to its businesses as much as possible since the fire, with the team working hard to provide alternative workshop space to yard businesses that need it, where available.

One of the yard businesses is the award-winning boat building company, Star Yachts.  Will Raffety, Director of Star Yachts, said: “Underfall Yard has been through a traumatic year, and we are pleased to be part of its road to recovery. The Trust have supported us at every stage and helped us to continue working as much as possible under very difficult circumstances. I thank them for their efforts and look forward to the future.”

Barriers remain in place along the line of damaged buildings, but the walkway is open and safe to use. As a working site, the walkway will be closed if there are hazardous works taking place, for example if a boat is being slipped or the Harbour Master team are carrying out essential operations. Gates will be open between 9am and 4.30pm.