The Underfall Yard was built between 1880 and 1890 for the maintenance of Bristol Docks and to service the dock machinery. it includes the dock sluices, a hydraulic system for operating the lock systems together with a pump house, a vessel slipway and a complex of late Victorian dock buildings. The Pump House and workshops survive largely intact, together with the original machinery. It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and possibly the only surviving working water hydraulic system in the world.
The Underfall Yard Trust, which was formed in 1997, took over what was then the derelict parts of the Yard with support from Bristol City Council, the Heirtage Lottery Fund, the South West Regional Development Authority and volunteers.
Following the restoration, the yard was set up as a working boatyard with individual tenants and small businesses which now thrives and has developed a national reputation for the quality of its work in classic boats and in high tech applications. The workshops are unique and include a largely intact Victorian engineering workshop.
The Yard continues to serve its original purpose and is currently occupied by two organisations - Bristol City Council's Harbour Management which combines docks and maintenance and operation with management of the harbour area, and the Underfall Yard Trust to develop sustainable uses for parts of the Yard which had already fallen into disuse. This part of the area is now a thriving boat yard run by the Trust.
The arrival of a new Visitor Centre at the Underfall Yard has made Bristol's Floating Harbour even more interesting to visit – and admission is free.
Features to the centre include displays about the history of the Yard and of the Floating Harbour, as well as a number of fun interactive displays to play with.
The centrepiece is a huge interactive map of the waterways in and around Bristol, but there's other fun stuff for children (and adults) to play with.
The Visitor Centre at the Underfall Yard is now open every day from 10am-5pm