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Historic boatyard reopens following devastating fire

Bristol’s historic Underfall Yard has reopened following a fire in May 2023.

The yard has been closed for almost a year while rebuilding work took place.

Throughout the year, recovery and reinstatement progress has been ongoing, including clearance of the damaged buildings and the retrieval of architectural elements.

The first part of the recovery and reinstatement on site is now complete and contractors have cleared the fire damage and carried out the necessary structural work on the buildings most severely affected by the fire – the yard’s Big Shed and two workshops.

“It feels like we have our character back,” said Sarah Murray, Underfell Yard director. “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.

Restoration work has been taking place at Underfall Yard following a fire in May 2023
Restoration work has been taking place at Underfall Yard following a fire in May 2023

“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.”

She added: “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.”

The yard has remained open to businesses as much as possible since the fire, with alternative workshop space provided to onsite businesses where possible.

The yard is managed by the Underfall Yard Trust which safeguards the site as a working boatyard that welcomes visitors.

The Trust has been fundraising to help care for the site, operate a free visitor centre and support its education, community engagement and volunteering programmes.

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