Designs drawn up for historic boat yard which was badly damaged in fire

Images showing what Underfall Yard on Bristol’s historic harbourside could look like once the restoration has been complete have been released.

Plans to repair and restore the boatyard have been drawn up after it was badly damaged in a fire.

An artist’s impression shows what the Big Shed, the largest building on the site which displayed the iconic Underfall Yard signage, could look like once work to restore the building and its two neighbouring workshops complete.

Following a devastating fire in May 2023, work is well underway to rebuild the historic boatyard.

The new designs aim to preserve the historical fabric of the buildings, whilst bringing them up to modern standards, returning the site to a fully functioning working boatyard as soon as is practical.

The images form part of a detailed planning application to Bristol City Council to restore the building and workshop facilities. The damaged area covers 840 m² of the 8460m² site.

Plans include the addition of doors to the Big Shed and roof repairs across the damaged portion of the site. Scheduled Monument Consent will be required for all repair works, to be agreed with Historic England. Discussion have begun to support this.

Sarah Murray, director at Underfall Yard, said: “This is an important next step in our journey to recovery and we are pleased to share our plans for a restored Underfall Yard as we progress through the planning process.

“It is important for us to respect the site’s heritage and keep the true spirit of Underfall Yard alive, but at the same time bring it into the 21st century to create an historic yard for a modern, thriving industry. We look forward to being here for many years to come.”

Residential neighbours of Underfall Yard have been kept informed at every stage with regular letters dropped through their doors.

The first part of the recovery and reinstatement work is now complete, with contractors clearing the damage caused by the fire and completing structural work across the three buildings most severely affected.

The walkway reopened in April this year, once again allowing walkers of the Harbourside circuit to pass through the yard or to visit the Visitor Centre and café (Tuesdays to Sundays, plus Bank Holidays).

Designed by Alec French Architects, it is intended that all materials used in the repair and rebuild will be appropriate to the historic context and in-keeping with those that exist throughout the yard.

Sensitively handled by Wring Group, several historical assets have been retained for re-use during the recovery work, including cast iron columns, bargeboard bricks for the roof facia, downpipes and guttering.

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.