Redcliffe Caves


Useful Information

Location: Bristol. Behind warehouses adjacent to Floating Harbour. From Redcliffe Hill turn into Redcliffe Parade.
Open: All year round after prior arrangement with the Harbour Master's Office and the guide. See webpage below for more informations.
Also on Bristol Doors open day, normally a Saturday around 11th September.
Fee: per group GBP 25 plus GBP 1 per person.
Classification: artificial sandstone caverns.
Light: none, bring electric torch.
Dimension:  
Guided tours:  
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography:  
Address: Mr. Richard Smith, City Docks Manager, Harbour Master's Office, Underfall Yard, Cumberland Road, Bristol BS1 6XG
Axbridge Caving Group, E-mail: contact
Alan Gray, guide, Tel: +44-1761-452288, E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1186 reference to St John's Hospital.
1665 Dutchmen held as prisoners in the crypt of St. Mary Redcliffe Church.
1741 Spanish prisoners held in the caves.
1744 French prisoners held in the caves.
1784 reference about using the caves for storage by the owner Glassworks - Vigors.
1938 small parts used as air raid shelters during the Second World War.
1995 first visited by the Axbridge Caving Group (ACG).
1997 start of tours by the Axbridge Caving Group (ACG)

Description

A region near the river Avon, famous for its red sandstone cliffs, was called Redcliffe when this area became part of Bristol. This part of the river is called Floating Harbour. The name of Redcliffe Caves is derived from the name of the quarter.

The sandstone is soft enough, to allow the construction of cellars, but hard enough to be stable. So during several centuries numerous cellars, dungeons and subterranean storage rooms were built. The quarried sandstone was used to manufacture cheap dark green bottles and to make a slip for glazing pottery.

The owner of the Redcliffe Caves is the City Council, and there are no regular open hours despite the Bristol Doors Open Day. But in the last years, the Axbridge Caving Group (ACG) started to explore the caves an to make tours by special appointment. The times of the hurricane lamps - as described by Tony Oldham in 1972 (see below) - are over, everybody has to bring his own light!