Demolition of derelict sorting office starts to make way for university campus

Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees and contractors at the start of the demolition of the old sorting office. Image Chris Bahn.

It was a historical milestone today as the demolition of one of Bristol’s prominent derelict buildings got underway – to make way for the University of Bristol’s £300 million campus.

The former sorting office, on Cattle Market Road, next to Bristol Temple Meads Station, has been empty since the Royal Mail moved its operation to Filton in 1997.

Its removal will enable the development of the university’s brand new Enterprise Campus – as part of the transformation of the Temple Quarter district.

The city council purchased the sorting office site in 2015 and it was sold to the university in 2017 – with outline planning permission for the work granted last July.

Contractors Kier have been preparing the site and have now begun a staged demolition – expected to be completed within six months.

Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bristol, said: “The start of demolition is a major historical milestone for both the University and the city. The campus will help transform this previously neglected area into a vibrant new quarter of the city, which will benefit everyone.

“The campus offers an opportunity to connect with our communities in new ways, offering new public spaces, facilities and educational opportunities. We’re looking forward to working with businesses, government, local organisations and communities as plans for the campus take shape.”

To mark the start of the demolition, the University of Bristol has released a film featuring a poem written by Bristol City poet Vanessa Kisuule. Entitled ‘Brick Me’ – the poem captures the history of the site.

Vanessa is one of three artists-in-residence working with local communities on projects to celebrate the regeneration of the Temple Quarter area and document its heritage.

The University plans to create an “open and welcoming campus” on the seven-acre site, which will span both the sorting office land and part of neighbouring Temple Island.

It will provide teaching, research and innovation space for some 800 staff, external partners and 3,000 students – with accommodation for up to 1,500 undergraduates and postgraduates.

The campus aims to welcome its first students in 2022 – and to be at the forefront of digital and management research, education, skills and innovation.

Visual of the proposed campus. Courtesy of University of Bristol.

People will be encouraged to use the new public spaces on the campus, including the waterfront, cafes and shops, and the walking and cycling routes.

Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees said: “This is a really exciting day for Bristol and the Temple Quarter. This eyesore building has been a blight on the landscape for too long – its demolition will be the start of a new chapter for the area.

“The redevelopment of the Temple Quarter will help deliver the gateway the city deserves, as well as regenerating the area with thousands of new homes and jobs…”

Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees marks the start of the demolition. Image Chris Bahn courtesy of University of Bristol.

The demolition works are part of a £16 million investment from the Local Growth Fund – provided by the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and administered by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA).

The prominent site has been a Royal Mail sorting office, a cattle market and a colour works factory – exporting carpets and floor cloths around the world – as well as an 1830s cholera burial ground from the former St Peter’s Workhouse.

For more information about plans for the Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus visit www.bristol.ac.uk/temple-quarter-campus/

To view a video showing shots of the site visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1D8DRAutyU&feature=youtu.be

For information about the regeneration of Bristol Temple Quarter visit www.bristoltemplequarter.com

To view some historical stories about Temple Quarter visit http://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2018/december/temple-quarter-stories-.html