The Underfall yard at the Western end of Bristol's Floating Harbour

The cold weather took a welcome break and the sun shone in Bristol on 11th May for our meet-up at the Underfall Yard in the Bristol Floating Harbour.  There was a pretty unanimous view that it was a great day at a pretty special place.  Twenty or so of us met travelling from the West, East and South. Food and refreshments, history, engineering and then more food and refreshment. A typical AOA outing!
For those that couldn’t make it I would heartily recommend you visit and if you can get on a group tour.

It was great to see everyone and particularly two faces from our past in Mike and Pauline Rowe. Mike edited the Annual Bulletin for many years as well as owning Titania ‘Nyeri’ in the late 1970s and 1980s.

We started with lunch in the Pickles cafe overlooking the docks. Time to catch up on all things Atalanta, plans for the year and to reflect on the wonderful weather! Refreshed and re-acquainted we turned our attention to Bristol…..

Underfalls Yard Tour

We then started an excellent private guided tour of the Underfall Yard. This tour is highly recommended to those who have not already been, allowing access to areas not open to general visitors. I had expected a boatyard but in practice Underfall was, and is, much more.  It includes the pump house which powered hydraulic lock gates, cranes and other equipment throughout the extensive ‘Bristol Floating Harbour’, and the workshops that were used to maintain that equipment.  This pump house was a great, and simple, piece of engineering. Three waterpumps (electric for 100 years or so, steam prior to that) pump water into a vertical pipe to raise a 107 ton weight in the air. This generated sufficient pressure in that vertical pipe to operate the equipment around the docks.  The yard also houses the underwater sluices which control the water level in the Floating Harbour. Indeed the yard gets its name from these ‘Underfall’ sluices which replaced the earlier ‘Overfall’ weir.

(Click on a photo to open a slideshow)

Underdalls is operated by a charitable Trust. A number of traditional businesses lease space in the yard, including shipwrights, riggers, kayak builders and more.  And the Trust are slowly restoring the workshop and plant of the yard. The workshop includes some amazing working machinery including an enormous metal plane and a similarly impressive lathe.

(Click on a photo to open a slideshow)

After the yard tour we took a brief trip around the harbour on rather crowded ferries before settling in to the Cottage Inn on the waterside for an excellent supper.

(Click on a photo to open a slideshow)

Bristol Floating Harbour

These photos were taken during a stroll around the harbour. Click on a photo to view the gallery.
You can read more about the history of the harbour on Wikipedia.

Pyronaut - an aptly named fire-boat

Pyronaut is one of a group of historic vessels open to the public in the harbour. Click on a photo to view the gallery.

(Click on a photo to open a slideshow)

(Click on a photo to open a slideshow)

Noble Masts - historic spar makers

Noble masts make hollow spars from their barge-based workshops in the harbour. Click on a photo to view the gallery.

One thought on “2019 Atalanta Owners in Bristol 11th May

  1. Superb article on the Underfall Yard event in Bristol. It was a fabulous day out. Thank you for organising it all, and shepherding us all around the docks and restaurant safely. The harbour trip was excellent and securing the tables in the busy pub, together with the food orders and settlements was much appreciated. I have also had a look at the new videos added to the site, and found them very interesting. Many thanks, and keep up the excellent work.

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