New Cut shipping

In Quay Notes for September 2006 Jan Walsh posed the question “Why does one never see any boats on the New Cut?” The answer is “Because nowadays no-one (except Chris) wants to go there”. But it was not always so.

When excavated in 1809 Bristol was a major port with large numbers of ships using it. Creation of the Floating Harbour meant that ships had to pass through entrance locks to gain access. Two parallel locks into Cumberland Basin were provided but these were not going to be adequate for the large numbers of ships wishing to use the port so a secondary entrance for smaller craft was provided at Bathurst Basin. These travelled along the Cut and both Ashton Swing Bridge and Vauxhall Bridge could be swung to permit this. Also, as noted in the September 2006 issue of Quay notes, there was a regular passenger ferry from the Bathurst Basin entrance to Cardiff. By not entering the harbour no harbour dues were paid.

Then there was a third entrance to the harbour at Totterdown where Feeder canal and the New Cut crossed the route of the original river Avon. This was for small craft servicing the industrial area on the banks of the Feeder and trading directly to Bath. Remember, no railways at that time. This lock was filled in during 1940 as a single bomb on it would have resulted in the destruction of the whole of Bristol’s harbour. Finally there was within the last thirty years a commercial boat yard on the banks of the Avon just off the Bath Road by Totterdown Bridge. Barges built or repaired there were towed along the Cut. Your author is old enough to have seen this.

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