Autumn Talk 2013

The Leigh Woods Annual Autumn Talk 2013 took place in the Vestry of St. Mary’s Church on Tuesday 15th October. Laura Hilton, the Centre Manager, and Helen Jeffrey, the Education and Outreach Officer, from the Clifton Suspension Bridge Visitor’s Centre,  gave us an illustrated talk about the future centre:  the architecture, the interior plans, the aspirations and the organization.

The funding has come from a £595,000 lottery grant and a sum set aside some time ago by the Suspension Bridge Trustees of £700,000.  The architects have designed a building that will fit within the present wall of the Maintenance Yard and they also confirmed that the large lime tree growing adjacent to the wall is to be retained.

The ground floor will have an area for parking buggies etc. within the building, a shop, an open area for exhibitions which will be double height and the toilets. Upstairs there will be a mezzanine area overlooking the ground floor exhibitions and with a window looking out to the Bridge. There will also be a room for education purposes and meetings. This will hold about 30-35 schoolchildren.  The exhibition designers are an internationally known firm called Cod Steaks (yes I have spelt it correctly!) who have worked at M Shed. It is intended to make the exhibition stands moveable and demountable and the exhibitions themselves will be designed to appeal to everyone from young children to serious researchers. There will be 6 main themes that the exhibitions will cover:  Brunel and Bristol, Engineering, The Avon Gorge, the Importance of the River, Social History and the Bridge as an Icon. More information is available at .

They emphasized that it is not intended to try and attract vast numbers to the Centre as a destination in itself as they do not have the room to cope.  It is still the Bridge that will be the focus of attention and that the Centre will there to enhance a visit with additional information.  All visitors will be directed towards the Clifton end of the bridge as now.  They will be encouraging sustainable transport to and from the Bridge: bicycle, walking, bus (not car).  They will not be offering the centre for conferences, parties or social events nor will they have a café.  There will be talks and meetings and will offer the centre to groups such as the Leigh Woods Society for their meetings.

Helen stressed there are opportunities to volunteer, not only manning the centre and taking tours but with research into topics and presentation of the exhibition.

What does this all mean for Leigh Woods?  They would like to exhibit work by local artists; they are happy to have leaflets and posters to advertise local events and are looking to put on free and interesting events.

Hot topics: 

  • should we have a place to tie up dogs and give them water
  • what sort of signage would we prefer
  • how would residents like to use the building
  • would we be interested in knowing in advance what is happening at the Centre

If you wish to get in touch on any of the above, or indeed have any other ideas, the email addresses are:



We would like to thank St Mary’s Church for letting us use their Vestry and Kitchen. Out thanks to Laura and Helen for giving up their evening to give us such an in depth talk about the Visitor’s Centre and for answering the many q


Angela Probyn


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