Bathurst Basin takes its name from a Bristol MP in the early 19th century, Charles Bragg, who changed his name to Bathurst in 1804. It was built on an area of an old mill pond, the Treen (or Trin) Mill Pond. The pond was supplied by the River Malago, from Bedminster to the South. It lost its water supply as the New Cut was created in 1809, running to the south of the enlarged Floating Harbour and catching the flow of the Malago.
Access to the basin was through two sets of locks: one between the Floating Harbour and the second into the New Cut. The second connection enabled smaller vessels to bypass the main entrance locks in Cumberland Basin. From 1865 a deep water dock with a stone quay front was built. The basin used to be an industrial dock with warehouses and numerous shipyards at the adjoining Wapping Shipyard and Docks, including Hilhouse, William Scott & Sons and William Patterson. The 1934 aerial photograph of the Basin on the right is courtesy of Britain from Above.
On its north-western quay, Bathurst Parade is part of the Merchants Landing estate, built in the early 1980s. Number 3 Bathurst Parade is named ‘Steam Packet House’, and it once was a Georges & Co pub called the Steam Packet Tavern. When the Bristol General Hospital (on the eastern side of the Basin) closed its doors in 2012, City and Country converted it into residences. The ground floor of the General now houses a Michelin-star tapas restaurant. In addition to the hospital renovation, City and Country built The Iron Works, named after the Acraman Iron Works that occupied this site in the 19th century. The ground floor of the Iron Works houses a dental practice and gym.
The night before the 1831 Queen Square riots, hundreds of sledge hammers were ‘borrowed’ from the Acraman’s Iron Foundry, situated on the eastern quay of the Basin. These hammers were used during the riots to break down the doors of the four prisons in Bristol. The day after the riots, all but two of these hammers were returned. This fact, at the time, was used as evidence of prior planning by the ‘mob’.