Bristol Neighbourhood Guide: St Philip’sPosted on: 18 Sep 2023
We’re back, after a short break, with our guide to Bristol’s diverse and vibrant neighbourhoods – with some cherrypicked spots to showcase just how much is going on in each corner of the city.
This edition, we’re taking a deep dive into St Philip’s Marsh and the surrounding area, an industrial inner suburb that is home to some of Bristol’s top breweries/taprooms, as well as three of the city’s top cultural destinations covering music, art and more.
Read on for our guide to all the nightlife, food, lifestyle, cultural and historical highlights of St. Philip’s Marsh…
We’re opening our nightlife rundown with a venue situated on The Marsh itself; situated within an industrial unit, Tapestry by PROPS is a boundary breaking brewery like no other. The city’s first disability focused brewery, it is run by a charity that helps people with learning disabilities to gain employment skills. The popular taproom is a utopia for beer lovers, a well-located spot to enjoy a fresh pint with friends that regularly host exciting events as well as pop up food stalls.
Next up, we have one of Bristol’s most popular clubs/music venues. Avon Street’s Motion is a real dance music institution with a mind-boggling capacity of 4,000 and a UK-wide reputation for killer line-ups, regularly welcoming some of the biggest names in dance music to Bristol. If that wasn’t enough, the in-house live music space Marble Factory is one of the city’s top venues, a frequent stop off for acclaimed live acts from all over the world.
Back to brewery taprooms, Moor have become real South-West favourites in recent times. Named after the Levels and Moors area of Somerset where the brewery originated, they moved to their current home not far from Temple Meads in 2014. Moor’s beers are always natural and vegan friendly with a vibrant selection of brews that are always fully flavoured, hoppy and sometimes a bit too Moor-ish!
Another spot serving top brews is Little Martha. A self-labelled brew pub, this is a tiny little venue opened by three close friends back in 2021. Probably the cosiest spot on this guide, Little Martha is nestled underneath a railway arch not far from the bustling Temple Meads. The various different beers on offer are all brewed onsite, and they host a wide range of events – read our Getting To Know: Little Martha Brewing article, here.
Left Handed Giant are another brewery based in St Philips. Now with two brewery-taprooms, the BS2 venue is a far more intimate space than the newer Finzels Reach brewpub. Boasting one of the largest selections in the city, Bristolian beer lovers can indulge in classics such as Dream House and Sky Above as well as an ever-changing roster of more unusual brews.
This has been a pretty beer-heavy list so far so we thought we’d give Bristol’s signature beverage a mention. The Cider Box tap room, as the name suggests, is a haven for craft and traditional scrumpy and the city’s only cider tap room. This is the perfect place to enjoy their regulars and rotating guest selection, in addition to events including tasting sessions, cheese pairings, Cider Bingo and more.
We’re closing our nightlife rundown with one of the few classic pubs in the St Philips area. A mere five minutes from Old Market and Temple Meads, The Barley Mow is a Bristol Beer Factory venue with a cosy beer garden that serves up both top quality beer and scrumptious grub – including their famous Sunday roast.
As a heavily industrial area, St Philips is not exactly spoilt for choice when it comes to its options for eating out. However, there are still a few hidden gems worth noting if you find yourself in the area!
First up we have The Fox Café and Bar. Formerly a community pub before it was converted to a diner in 2013 (and again to a café-bar in 2019), it has become something of an institution for workers and locals; serving up everything from pizza to fry ups as part of their daytime offering and event hire and music events in the evenings.
Located just across the River Avon from The Marsh, in the Paintworks Central Trading Estate is Bocabar, a wonderful redbrick warehouse restaurant, now in its eighteenth year. Having won awards for its delicious stone-baked pizzas and more, the venue’s interior is filled to the brim with vintage lampshades, artwork from local creatives and a plethora of unique artifacts, giving it a quirky atmosphere that perfectly complements its imaginative menu.
Finally, each of the amazing breweries and taprooms mentioned regularly enlist the help of scrumptious pop-up food vendors from all over Bristol and beyond. Recent examples include Vietnamese specialists Wok ‘n’ Roll at Moor, versatile pop-up favourites Big Mouth at Little Martha and Texas style BBQ kings Payne’s BBQ at Tapestry – keep an eye out for plenty more of your culinary favourites!
@stacked_loaded Yard Dogs available in The Courtyard every weekend. Special shoutout to our friend @bosfinesse for coming down and highlighting all the indie street food we will be hosting in The Courtyard over the summer! #bristolfoodie #bristolstreetfood pic.twitter.com/2tYEfIDq5J— propyardbristol (@propyardbristol) May 25, 2023
Culture & Lifestyle:
Opening our third section is Propyard, a cultural hub located on Feeder Road, right in the heart of St Philips. This former MOD torpedo testing factory has been transformed into a buzzing exhibition and event space bringing world class art and music to Bristol. From current immersive exhibition Beyond Submergence to their popular summer series, Propyard’s massive outdoor and indoor spaces has elevated the city’s cultural makeup since its opening in 2021.
Prepare to be mesmerised ????— BBC Radio Bristol (@BBCRB) June 29, 2023
Thousands of lights have been installed as part of an exhibition called Beyond Submergence in Bristol. pic.twitter.com/Gnsr1bc6h6
If the term immersive exhibition piqued your interest, then you’ll love this next pick. Dubbed the world’s first Amazement Park, Wake The Tiger is an immensely popular St Philips attraction that blurs the lines between experiential art gallery, interactive theme park and intricate film set. Created by the team behind Boomtown, visitors are transported to the parallel world of ‘Meridia’ where they are taken on a journey like no other.
The Paintworks is a Bristol creative quarter on the Bath Road, just across the water from St Philips Marsh. Now providing living/working, studio and restaurant space, The Paintworks originally dates back to 1850 when it was a paint and varnish factory. Today, over 100 small and medium sized businesses are now based there with public art instillations, performances, events and exhibitions all regularly taking place.
Avon Meads is a popular retail park and home to a wide range of useful shops and restaurants. However, the piece de resistance is the beloved Showcase cinema with its iconic retro frontage and 90s foyer featuring colourful carpets, neon decorations and period furniture.
For centuries, St Philip’s Marsh was a flood plain and open grazing land, however, the outbreak of the Industrial Revolution led to the area being taken over by industry and roads. By the mid 1800s a small community was living and working there which continued to grow into the 20th century.
During the 60s, thousands were relocated by Bristol Corporation and many properties were demolished as part of slum clearance schemes. Since then, St Philips has been a largely industrial suburb with little residential space.
However, in recent times, plans have emerged for Bristol Temple Quarter, a future development plan for St Philips and the surrounding area featuring sustainable, mixed-use neighbourhoods that are integrated with their surrounding communities.
So, there it is, 365Bristol’s guide to St Philip’s. Please note that we have had to be loose in terms of neighbourhood borders to fit everything that’s amazing about Bristol into these guides. It’s also impossible to sum up everything that’s great about our city in such a short article, but please get in contact with us here and let us know your favourite neighbourhood highlights.
Stan is a born and bred Bristolian, recently graduated from studying English Literature in Sheffield. His passions are music and literature and he spends the majority of his time in venues all over the city, immersing himself in Bristol’s alternative music scene. A lifelong Bristol City fan, Stan’s Saturdays are spent watching his team both home and away.