BRUTAL Bristol

Out of all the cities I have recently visited with the aim to photograph the unique and often brutal architecture, Bristol has far out exceed the others. Those that I found varied in function and design greatly, some of which are among the last remaining examples of their kind. After collaborating on BRUTAL Bristol with other contributors I thought it only fitting to compile a collection of my own.

Cheese Lane Shot Tower

One thing that I have enjoyed about photographing brutal architecture is what it can teach you about past history. A time when function was important and industry was very different. Many of the buildings I aim to capture have an important history and use which in recent years has become obsolete.

This isn’t more true than with the Shot Tower on Cheese Lane. For those, like me, that don’t know what a shot tower is or how the production of lead shot takes place. Let me explain.

The molten lead would be passed through a sieve at height and as it fell the droplets would form balls. At the bottom of the tower would be a pool of water that would dramatically reduce the temperature of the lead in their round form

With a change in production there are now only three shot towers left in the country and as well as being Grade II listed the one on Cheese Lane was the last to be built.

Broadmead Car Park

Prince Street Car Park

Prince St Car Park was especially interesting to me because of its similarities to Welbeck St, I don’t think I would be the first to make the comparison between the two facades. Also to be in a city with a surviving Brutalist car park made me think of Portsmouth’s long lost Tricorn.

Broadmead Baptist Church

In my opinion Broadmead Baptist Church would be Bristol’s hidden gem. Unassuming from the outside people walk below without even realising what may be above them. If you are one of the rare people to look up from street level you are teased by the angular roof and glass that leaves little hint to what would be inside. Adding to that is the building is largely home to a Tesco Metro, so many would assume nothing more than a stockroom or offices.


Though Castlemead loomed over the city and was continuously in view as I explored the city, it was late in the afternoon when I walked underneath its bulky form.

Clifton Cathedral

Clifton Cathedral was one of the reasons I wanted to visit Bristol in the first place. Its interior is remarkable. Every corner and detail is different to anything I have seen before. It makes concrete look elegant, detailed and delicate.

Rupert Street Car Park

Plimsoll Swing Bridge

Heading out of Bristol’s centre is Plimsoll Swing Bridge. Though the bridge and its function is unique in itself it was a few of the details that I was interested in, the control booth and staircases in particular. It was also from here where I could get a great view of another, more famous bridge, Clifton.

Further Reading:

This is the third post in my BRUTAL city series which focus on highlighting a particular city and its unique architecture, the previous ones were Hull and Oxford. Where next?

Jo Underhill is a fantastic photographer who has captured a number of brutal car parks across the country including Welbeck Street and Bristol’s Prince Street Car Park, which I would recommend taking a look at.

Many of the buildings here feature in BRUTAL Bristol, a collaborative zine created to showcase the unique architecture of Bristol from the perspective of photographers, writers, creatives and enthusiasts. There are a few copies of the zine left and so far it has helped FareShare SouthWest provide over a thousand meals for families in need!

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