History of 74-78 Avon St, Bristol BS2 0PX

This page contains a history of the property at 74-78 Avon St, Bristol BS2 0PX.


Pre 19th Century

Before the 1800s the site would have been a marshy bank on the edge of The River Avon.

19th Century

Early 19th Century

In 1809 the floating harbour was completed [1]. It is possible that the land was first build upon around this time since it was no longer the bank of The River Avon.

In the early 19th century the site was used as a vitriol works. Vitriol is an historic name for a sulphate. This may have been operated by James Gibbs' Vitriol Works [2].

The vitriol works can be seen on this 1828 Ashmead map of the area.

Source: Ashmead Map of Bristol, 1828 | Full Size Image

Mid 19th Century

In the mid 19th century the site may have been used as an alkali works.

The alkali works can be seen on this 1855 Ashmead map of the area.

Source: Ashmead Map of Bristol, 1855 | Full Size Image

Late 19th Century

The building which now stands on 74-78 Avon Street was constructed some time in the late 19th century. The building was owned by the Bristol Gas Light Company and was used as a Retort House for the gasworks.

The gasworks were opened in 1818, built to better serve the city's need for more gas to meet the requirements for the gas street lighting that was being installed across the city [3]. The gas works out grew their initial site at Temple Back, so a larger site was opened on Avon Street in 1821. Most of the operations of the gasworks were on the opposite side of Avon Street.

When built, the building was four stories tall.

The lock to the west of the site was constructed at a similar time to the building which currently stands on the site.

The gasworks building can be seen in this 1874 Ashmead map of the area. The lock can be seen to the west of the building.

Source: Ashmead Map of Bristol, 1874 | Full Size Image

On July 8th 1853 the Bristol United Gaslight Company was incorporated[4], merging the two previously competing gas companies in Bristol, the Bristol Gas Light Company which operated the site at Avon Street, and The Bristol and Clifton Oil Gas Company which operated a site at Canons' Marsh.

In 1891 the company was renamed to The Bristol Gas Company.

The retort house and surrounding buildings can be seen in this insurance map. Image dated 1896.

Source: Insurance Plan of Bristol Vol II: sheet 52, 1896 | Published under license from The British Library
© British Library Board [Maps 145.b.9.(2.)]

20th Century

In the early 1900s the site was still operated by The Bristol Gas Company.

74-78 Avon Street can be seen in the left of the image. This image shows the building before the height was reduced. The other gasworks buildings can be seen on the right. c1920s-1930s

Source: Bristol Archives Ref: 44819/3/6 Published under license from: Bristol Archives

74-78 Avon Street. The original 4 stories can be clearly seen in this image. Image dated October 1926.

Source: Britain From Above Ref: EPW016970 Published under license from: Britain From Above

Mid 20th Century

In the King's Speech in October 1947, King George VI announced that the government planned to nationalise the gas industry. [5]

On April 30th 1949 The Bristol Gas Company held its final meeting before the operations were moved to public ownership. [6]

After nationalisation, the site was operated by South Western Gas Board.

In the 1950s the Avon Street gas works closed.

In 1959 a planning application was approved for changes to the building for The Marble Mosaic Company. These changes included re-roofing and reducing the height of the building. [7]

The Marble Mosaic Company factory manager Peter Maddalena can be seen in the centre of this image along with other factory employees. This photo was taken while rubble was being cleared after the buildings height was reduced. This photo is taken in front of the eastern warehouse. Image dated 1959/1960.

Source: Marble Mosaic Company | Full Size Image

In 1960 The Marble Mosaic Company moved in to the building [8].

Before the move in to the property on Avon Street, The Marble Mosaic Company were primarily focused on producing terrazzo floor tiles in a small factory on Wade Street, Bristol. [9]

The move in to the property on Avon Street allowed The Marble Mosaic Company to start producing architectural precast concrete wall cladding panels.

While at the site at Avon Street, The Marble Mosaic Company worked on a number of projects, including The Dickenson Robinson Building at 1 Redcliffe Street.

In the 1970s The Marble Mosaic Company worked on William Penn House for Pheonix Assurance at Redcliffe Hill, Bristol. The building is now The Mercure Bristol Holland House Hotel & Spa. The company also worked on the Greyfriars office block in Lewin's Mead, Bristol. In 2017 Greyfriars was converted in to an appartment block, and renamed Number One Bristol. The company worked on Castlemead in the center of Bristol. Castlemead is the tallest high-rise building in Bristol. The company also worked Clifton Cathedral.

Two precast conrete wall panels for Clifton Cathedral being loaded on to a lorry. Image dated early 1970s.

Source: Marble Mosaic Company | Full Size Image

In 1983 The Marble Mosaic Company completed a phased move to a new factory in Weston-super-Mare. The property was then leased to Billy Ware Ltd, a car spares business.

Asphaltic Roofing Supplies and St. Phillips Spares occupying the eastern and middle warehouses. Image dated September 1989.

Source: English Heritage Ref: BB92/25706 Published under license from Historic England

1990s

On 30th December 1994 the building was listed as a Grade II listed building. [10]

On Wednesday 17th April 1996 a planning application was approved to allow a change of use of the site to a skate park. The skate park subsequently constructed was named Motion[11].


21st Century

On Wednesday 28th May 2003 a planning application was submitted, requesting a change of use from a skate park, to a dual use venue as a skate park and night club. No decision was made before the application was withdrawn [12].

In April 2006 the venue hosted its first night club event. 250 tickets were pre-sold, and 100 tickets were paid for on the door. For the first event the venue was kept secret. Revelers were told to meet near Thekla, a music venue on a boat in the Mud Dock area of Bristol's Floating Harbour. From Thekla, boats were arranged to take the club-goers to the terrace at the Motion skate park. [13]

In the summer of 2006 further night club events were hosted at the venue. At the time the venue did not have a license to hold this type of event, and as such the venue was shut down for hosting illegal raves. [14]

In early 2007 the night club events started again. During this time the night club events were being held inside the skate park. Ramps were still in place while club-goers danced to the music.

The Motion Ramp Park can be seen at the furthest warehouse in this image. At this time other businesses were occupying the other two warehouses. Image dated 5th April 2007.

Source: Wikipedia | Full Size Image
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.

In the summer of 2008 the skate park ramps were removed from the western warehouse.

In October 2008 the venue hosted its first event with 1500 people attending.

On Wednesday 15th October 2008 a planning complaint was raised, claiming that the venue was being used as a nightclub, despite not having planning approved for the change of use. The venue acquired a license for running night club events, and ultimately the change of use was recognised and the complaint was closed on Wednesday 15th July 2009 [15].

In 2010 the music events became popular enough that the skate park was removed from the middle warehouse, leaving only the estern warehouse with any skate park ramps. The middle warehouse was converted to another smaller music venue, The Marble Factory. Some events held at the venue would see both Motion, in the western warehouse and surrounding buildings, and The Marble Factory, in the middle warehouse, open together. The skate park in the eastern warehouse would be used as a cloak room.

The Motion Ramp Park skate park ramps in the eastern warehouse.

Date unknown

In 2016 the east most warehouse was converted to another stage for The Marble Factory venue. This saw the closure of the skate park.

A smaller warehouse in the main courtyard was removed in 2017. The area that the demolished warehouse stood upon became an outdoor bar for the venue.

The two venues are now primarily used as night clubs for underground music events. The two clubs, Motion and The Marble Factory host music events in different genres, including 'Drum and Bass', 'House', 'Garage', 'Trance', 'Techno' and non-dance genres such as 'Metal' and 'Acoustic'.

The venues are increasingly being used for daytime events, including daytime music events and other festivals.

Each year the venue hosts its Bristol In:Motion series. Between September and January the venue hosts multiple club events each week, seeing some of the largest names in UK dance music perform at the venue.

In June 2019 Motion announced on Facebook an objection to plans for development of the land opposite the site. In the objection, Motion claim that construction of the development following the initially proposed plans will pose a risk to the business due to the likelihood of noise complaints. [16] [17]

Following the release of the planning objection, Motion announced that they would be ending the Bristol In:Motion club night series, ending on their 10th year. [18]

In October 2019 Motion submitted a Community Right to Bid application to Bristol City Council. If granted, this would give Motion six months of exclusivity to purchase the site, in the event that it were put up for sale by the owners, The Marble Mosaic Company. [19] [20]

On 19th March 2020 the nightclub announced that it would close the venue until further notice, due to the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 (Coronavirus, COVID-19). All of the upcoming events were either postponed or canceled. [21] [22]

On August 5th 2020 a planning committee met to discuss the development of the land opposite the Avon Street site. As a result of the discussions, a Deed of easement was recognised as a condition of the planning application. This means that a certain level of noise is permitted by the Motion venue, protecting the venue from noise complaints from residents of the development. This was the first time in the United Kingdom that a Deed of easement was recognised as a planning condition. [23]

The venue re-opened after 16 months of closure when government restrictions were lifted on Monday 19th July 2021. The first event was a "Triple Cooked Garden Party" held outside in the 'Container Yard' and 'Lock Yard'. Entry requirements due to COVID were in place, with guests having to show results of a negative lateral flow test upon entry. [24]

Some events in 2021 were cancelled due to staff shortages caused by government isolation requirements for individuals that have contracted COVID, and for those that were in close contact with people that contracted COVID. [25]

During the summer of 2021 the venue received multiple sound level complaints. A statement released by the club blames new developments for changing how the sound carries around the local area. [26] [27]


74-78 Avon Street imagery from Google Earth 2019. Image dated 15th August 2017.

Source: Google Earth | Full Size Image

Sources (27)

1. Archive - FARVIS.COM - Brunel's Locks 2. Historic England Listings - Warehouse, Former premises of Marble Mosaic Company 3. Grace Guides - Bristol Gas Light Co | Archive 4. The Bristol Gas Industry - 1815-1949 (Harold Nabb) [Page 18] 5. THE KING'S SPEECH - 21 October 1947 | Archive 6. The Bristol Gas Industry - 1815-1949 (Harold Nabb) [Page 47] 7. Alterations to existing building and change of use from retort house to factory for the production of terrazo and mosaic products. Ref. No: 59/00197/U_U 8. Marble and Mosaic Co - Heritage | Archive (Website not suitable for accurate archive) 9. Email correspondence with Marble Mosaic Co Ltd 10. WAREHOUSE, FORMER PREMISES OF MARBLE MOSIAC COMPANY | Archive 11. Bristol Planning - 96/00768/F - Change of use to Indoor Skatepark | Archive 12. Bristol Planning - 03/01927/F - Change of use of 74 Avon Street from Skate Park to dual use as Skate Park (Sui Generis) and nightclub (Class D2) | Archive 13. Epigram - Rag sets the wheels in motion 14. In:Motion, an oral history of Bristol's most beloved club | Archive 15. Bristol Planning - 08/30624/COU - Possible change of use - premises being used as a nightclub | Archive 16. Open letter to Developers for the site on Silverthorn – Objection to planning Permission | Archive 17. Motion nightclub 'in jeopardy' due to plan for flats | Archive 18. Bristol Post - Bristol's Motion announces end of In:Motion series amid uncertainty over future | Archive 19. Motion Development Update | Archive 20. Bristol nightclub Motion makes 'positive move' amid uncertain future | Archive 21. Motion closed due to COVID-19 outbreak | Archive 22. Motion closed due to COVID-19 outbreak (Motion Website Archive) 23. Planning committee approves development on opposite site | Archive 24. Facebook - WE ARE BACK! | Image 25. Facebook - WEEKEND CLOSURE DUE TO COVID-19 | Image 26. Facebook - Dear Bristol | Image 27. Facebook - Dear Bristol - Response | Image

Contact

If you have any information about the site at 74-78 Avon Street, I would love hear from you! You can email me at avon@ryan-j.co.uk

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