The Redcliffe Capstans

These bollards mark where vessels moored to be loaded with bomb rubble in World War Two. Bristol suffered heavily from the blitz in World War Two, not least here in Redcliffe and Bedminster.

At first the mountains of rubble were taken by barge from here and dumped into the Bristol Channel. Then the American ‘lease lend’ operations started, bringing much needed resources to the UK in ‘Liberty ships’, arriving mostly via Bristol Docks. These ships were so rapidly and poorly built that they were unable to return across the Atlantic without being fully ballasted. The bomb rubble – much of it from just here in Redcliffe and Bedminster – was ideal for ballast. 

It then travelled to New York docks, to the later-named Bristol Basin. The rubble formed the foundations for further building of the East River Drive which, after the death of the President Franklin D Roosevelt, was renamed in his honour. 

In 1974, Bristol-born, Hollywood actor, Cary Grant, who lost members of his family in the 1940 blitz, unveiled a plaque to this important Bristol link with Manhattan. You can see this plaque on a concrete pillar on the end of one of the curved benches in the Centre, opposite Bristol Hippodrome.

More Short Cuts


Look out for large birds – their wings held out open to dry – perched on a sturdy branch or discarded supermarket trolley poking out of the river at low tide.

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This sandstone was formed in the desert conditions of the Triassic period, approximately 200-250 million years ago.

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The Moon and the New Cut

Without the influence of the moon, the Cut would never have been built, nor would it have its intriguing changes of water levels or the unique habitat of brackish water.

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