The original crown courts built as part of a much larger Bridwell island complex that featured a police station, cells, court room + waiting cells, the main bristol headquarters for the police and central bristol fire station.  The court rooms ceased to be used around the early 1980’s with the only operational part of the site being the police station which closed around 2005. The entire site was sold to Urban Splash for a reputed £15m.  At the time it was said to be the most expensive property deal to have occurred in Bristol.   Since the sale the site has remained undeveloped.  Several bars have opened and closed in the site of the former fire station which the police station and headquarters are used as art space.  The courts have and still are used for air soft.

I first visited this site way back in 2008 and covered the entire site – this time I wanted to get back to the court rooms to take some better photos.

The Island was built in 1928, on a triangular patch of land known as Bridwell Island. It opened, alongside the old fire station next door, in 1930, and was named Bristol Central Police Station. Better known by its local moniker The Old Bridwell, it served as the city’s main police station for 75 years. The police headquarters was vacated in the mid 1970’s with the merger of various parts of the Avon and Somerset police force. The crown court was relocated to a new purpose-built building at the other end of Nelson Street.  This building has since been knocked down and another new court built at Redcliffe Street.   The police station that closed in 2005 moved most of its operations over to the ‘new Bridwell police station’ directly opposite.  Again this has since been replaced with another building adjacent the two.


  • tumbles, February 10, 2019 @ 17:48

    Urban Splash paid about £20m for the site. Even with inflation I bet it turned a profit!

  • Edward, February 8, 2019 @ 19:54

    Shame that these magnificent buildings were abandoned, but then if it’s the taxpayers’ Money, it doesn’t matter at all!

  • tumbles, January 18, 2017 @ 16:39

    Would suggest speaking to the office at the gate and then the guys who run the airsoft as they look after the courts. However its quite often in use.

  • Matt, January 17, 2017 @ 17:15


    I’m interested in filming in this location.

    Where can I get permission?



  • tumbles, December 28, 2016 @ 22:43

    Contact the airsoft guya

  • Neil, December 27, 2016 @ 22:23

    Hello how would I get into this place who would I contact please

  • tumbles, May 9, 2016 @ 14:11

    This was a permission visit, the courts are generally used most of the time for airsoft.

  • Harry Arnold, May 9, 2016 @ 13:43

    Hello what was this place like to get into? im doing a photography project and i need to do a shoot and this place looks amazing

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