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Exterior with stairs

Exterior from quayside

Sign and flag detail

Flag detail

Sign detail

Location

Phoenix Wharf, below Redcliffe Parade, Lower Guinea Street, Bristol, BS1 6TJ

Dates

1897

Architect

Unknown

Style

Vernacular

Listed Status

No

Materials

Built of timber with a corrugated iron roof

Original Function

Commercial/Storage

Building type

Transport

Visitor Access

The Boathouse is used by the Avon Scouts; there is no public access to view the interior. Access to view the exterior at all reasonable times.

Links

Redcliffe Character Appraisal

Avon Scouts

Bristol Floating Harbour

Know Your Place

Key Facts

  • Great example of a 19th century working dockside building
  • Featured in the 2004 movie, The Truth About Love
  • Interesting adaptation to its current use as an activity centre

The Benjamin Perry Boathouse is typical of buildings that were used on working docks in the 1800s. Like many such buildings, including ones then located close by, the boathouse would originally have been used to store goods unloaded off ships in the floating harbour. It was named after Benjamin Perry, a Victorian entrepreneur and tug and barge owner, who used the building as a base, perhaps for off-loading and onward movement of goods for the Midland Railway company. The building is located next to the water and is built of timber, with two floors and external stairs. It was leased long-term to Avon County Scouts and Avon North Guides in the early 1980s to provide a centre for water-based activities. Among other interesting uses, it featured in the film The Truth About Love (2004), starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, and has been the site for a pop-up restaurant.

The group of buildings to which this boathouse belonged can be seen in maps and photographs from the 1800s. It is possible that they were built by the King family, as Phoenix Wharf was once known as King’s Wharf (and in fairly recent times as Alfred Wharf). The name Phoenix dates from the 1970s and comes from the company Phoenix Assurance, who funded much renovation work here.

 

By the later 20th century the boathouse was in a very poor state and a £30,000 programme of restoration was needed before it could be opened as an activity centre in 1982. It now requires constant upkeep, which is largely done by a dedicated band of volunteers. Today the lower floor is used to store canoes. The floor above includes a large room plus a kitchen, small adjoining room, toilets and showers and can be arranged for overnight accommodation. It is rented out to various groups for activities and for private hire.

 

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