Gaol Ferry Bridge: Bristol landmark reopens today with huge party and free pints

The bridge’s lengthy closure for repairs had a huge impact on Wapping Wharf businesses
Traders at Wapping Wharf saw a fall in footfall during the closure of Gaol Ferry Bridge and are having a party to celebrate it reopeningTraders at Wapping Wharf saw a fall in footfall during the closure of Gaol Ferry Bridge and are having a party to celebrate it reopening
Traders at Wapping Wharf saw a fall in footfall during the closure of Gaol Ferry Bridge and are having a party to celebrate it reopening

Wapping Wharf traders will be offering deals and offers to celebrate the long-awaited reopening of Gaol Ferry Bridge today.

The bridge is the main route from Bedminster and Southville into central Bristol for pedestrians and cyclists and its lengthy closure for repairs had a huge impact on Wapping Wharf’s bars, restaurants and shops.

To mark the occasion they’ll be throwing a party to celebrate today at 5pm. There will also be live music from local brass band The Ambling Band.

Junction bar will be offering a free pint to the first 100 people who show the team a selfie of themselves crossing the bridge, and Better Food will also be offering a free coffee to their first 50 customers who visit on Saturday (September 9) and Sunday (September 10).

The bridge repairs, which were due to be completed by the end of 2022, have taken considerably longer to complete due to the 90-year-old bridge being in a worse state of repair than expected. The closure has meant that commuters have had to take a detour over Bedminster Bridge or Vauxhall Bridge, which has resulted in a decreased footfall through Wapping Wharf.

This has had an impact on all of the independent businesses in the area, however, with a date for opening set for 5pm on Friday 8th September, a celebration is now being planned.

Many of the retailers will be offering deals, specials and offers on the evening as well as across the opening weekend.

Speaking about the bridge reopening, Stuart Hatton, managing director at Umberslade, said: “We’ve always known that the closure of Gaol Ferry Bridge for repairs was absolutely necessary, but nobody anticipated that it would be closed for so long. The impact has been felt by so many across the city - none more so than the retailers at Wapping Wharf.

“The closure definitely affected footfall, which alongside a cost of living crisis and rising energy bills has put our retailers under immense pressure, but they’ve been so resilient and positive about the whole situation throughout.

“We’ve been waiting for a reopening date for a long time, so we’re absolutely thrilled to finally have confirmation that this essential route will be back open from the 8th September, so it felt only fitting to throw a celebration to welcome everyone back to our amazing independent community and to say thank you to the people of Bristol for all of their continued support!”

Gaol Ferry Bridge will reopen at 5pm on Friday, September 8, and businesses at Wapping Wharf will be open for food, drink and shopping throughout the day and into the evening, with live music from the Ambling Band from 6.45pm.