Brunel Swivel BridgeBrunel's Other Bridge

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The SWIVEL BRIDGE is Brunel's first large wrought iron opening bridge, it is far older than the Suspension Bridge, and is Bristol's only abandoned Brunel structure. The Bridge is listed Grade 2* and is on English Heritage's Buildings at Risk Register. The bridge rotates on four fixed wheels in contact with a solid ring under the bridge. The bridge was turned by a hydraulic mechanism of twin rams located in pits that are connected to a turning ring under the bridge via a substantial wire cable. The original turning mechanism prior to conversion to hydraulic machinery was a hand turned crank similar to that used on old train turntables. The pistons and chains are still in position. The original hydraulic system ran on fresh water supplied from a pressurised water system sited in Underfall Yard.

Key historical points may be summarised as follows:


This project has been supported by CHIS for many years. We now have BIAS, AIBT and the Hotwells and Cliftonwood Society to help as well and do some dirty work. The initial refurbishment project is being led by Geoff Wallis of Dorothea Restorations (


We have two videos showing some of the work so far. The first 'The New Wheel' is a film about casting the news wheel for the bridge, and the second is a summary of the restoration work so far. exhibition. This was intended originally to be shown without sound on a loop at a public exhibition. Click on the links to see the films on vimeo. Our thanks to Julian Baldwin for sharing them.
The New Wheel
Summary Film
Brunel Swivel Bridge
Brunel Swivel Bridge in 1906
Brunel Swivel Bridge
1849 Tubular Bridge with wheels on circular track under the A370 Plimsoll Bridge.
Brunel Swivel Bridge
Aerial view
Brunel Swivel Bridge
Map showing it crossing the lock!

On this page


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Rusting away

Investigative repairs to save the bridge were successfully done in January 2015 on the base of the beam. We need help to complete the project and stop the rot before it is too late.
Rust on the beam
Bucket of Rust under turntable
Rust in the base of the beam


The latest estimated total costs of restoring the bridge and putting it back into commission is £695,000 and would take 9 months.

You can send a cheque payable to
Avon Industrial Buildings Trust to:
The Treasurer,
24, The Bluebells, Bradley Stoke, Bristol BS32 8BE

Bank details for bank transfer:
Account name: Avon Industrial Buildings Trust
Account address: CAFCASH LTD
Kings Hill
West Malling
Kent ME19 4TA
Sort code: 40-52-40
Account number: 00006720

Funding received each year can be seen on the project reports for individual years

Historic England

We are very greatful for the support given through the years by Historic England by funding the investigative work. They are very keen to get this important grade II* Brunel bridge off the at risk register.

Bristol Visual and Environmental Group

As the treasurer of the BOB project, the AIBT would like to thank the Bristol Visual and Environmental Group for a donation of £10 000 in 2018 in memory of Dorothy Brown (we had already received £4000 in 2017). Dorothy was for many years an indefatigable champion of the heritage in Bristol and its environs. Many historic buildings owe their continuing existence to the battles she fought for the heritage up to her death in 2013.
The organisation she founded, the Bristol Visual and Environmental Group, is now being wound up, and our project is very lucky to benefit from the residual funds being distributed from her trust by the surviving trustees.

Coop Community Fund

21 Sept 2016: The Brunel Swivel Bridge was selected to receive funding from the Co-op Local Community Fund. It meant that we got a contribution of £2,135.16 towards restoring the bridge.
Every time members choose Co-op branded products and services and use their Co-op Membership card (subject to Membership T and Cs) 1% of what they spend will go to their chosen cause. You can see the cause profile on the Coop membership website.

We have also created a project on to also help us fund raise for our HLF bid


Leaflet giving information, asking for support and how to make a donation

Please note that the donation link is now:


Our next work party will be on Saturday 16th October . There's lots to do - Please let us know if you hope to join us - email

No experience needed, all equipment provided, and you'll get really involved in helping to save Brunel's Other Bridge. We need your help

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