Bridewell Police & Fire Station, Bristol, UK

Ivor Jones & Sir Percy Thomas
Date Built
Bridewell Street, Silver Street & Nelson Street
These former fire station and police station buildings occupy a triangular site in Bristol's city centre defined by Bridewell Street, Silver Street and Nelson Street. 

The four-storey fire station is clad in limestone ashlar and is made up of two wings, one on Silver Street and the other on Bridewell Street.  In all there are 14 garage entrances. 

The two wings of the building come together at Rupert Street with a tower-like curved corner.

Today the old fire station is occupied by "The Station" which describes itself as, "... a place where you can try new things, get away from the pressure, meet people, discover your talent, and get the advice and support you need."  They add that it includes: 
  • "a chillout area where members can hang out for free
  • a Kitchen where you can buy food at affordable prices, eat and relax
  • free drop-in evening sessions where you can learn things like street dance and DJing
  • a set of rehearsal, studio and performance spaces for hire by organisations or individuals (if you want to start a band or a dance group, for example, you can hire a space)
  • gigs and shows for young people throughout the year
  • advice and support from experienced professionals
  • a range of other organisations offering services to young people
  • and loads more – this is a centre for cool and exciting stuff for young people in the Bristol area"

English Heritage describe the police station as having an, "Axial plan with wings at each end. Stripped Neo-Georgian style with Mannerist detail. 2 storeys; 12-window range. A near-symmetrical front has curved ends and short returns, with a fluted frieze and parapet, .....

... the centre raised and set forward with a central scroll inscribed Bristol Police Station. Large central Mannerist doorway set in a semicircular-arched recess, has a moulded architrave with Gibbs blocks and 5 massive stepped keys, to double 24-panel studded doors, with a fanlight above."


As the sign above the entrance indicates, the old police station is home (in January of 2014) to "The Island" which describes itself as, "... a multi use arts facility with various spaces and a wide range of activities of all artistic disciplines. It's a purely self funded project and has developed links with many local art organisations and contributed to the regeneration of the heart of Bristol City Centre."

An Urban Splash notice board sits high up on the wall of the police station promising "A new mixed use development."  A search for more information led me back to 2008 when Urban Splash announced the winner of an architectural competition to design a solution for the redevelopment of the fire/police station into a mixed-use project branded the Bridewell Island.  The winner of the competition was Allford Hall Monaghan Morris.  The Bdonline website reported that, "The scheme is phased to allow refurbishment of existing buildings before embarking on the new-build element, which is proposed as a residential block and hotel above the police station and a hotel above the fire station. The former cells at basement level are transformed into Frome Spa, named after the River Frome that runs through the site, and there are retail units along Nelson Street."  When I took these photographs in the autumn of 2013 there were no signs of progress towards this vision.

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