settlement of Portishead was established at the mouth
of a small tributary in Roman times. Its name is derived
from 'port at the head of the river'.
High Street once met the top of the river and its stone walls
still retain iron rings indicating where fishing boats tied
1860s a pier and deep-water dock were built here by the Bristol
& Portishead Pier and Railway to handle ships too large to
travel up the River Avon to the Port of Bristol.
mid-20th century two coal-fired power stations were built
beside the dock and a chemical works later was constructed
beside them. Both power stations were closed by the early-1980s
and with their demise all industrial activity ceased on the
has been well preserved and in the past few years has become
the centre of a substantial new marina development. This
has also incorporated a wide variety of housing and commercial
Portishead has become a dormitory town for Bristol. Because
of the availability of flat land surrounding the town suitable
is set to become one of the largest towns in North Somerset
and one of the fastest growing in Europe.
stony and muddy, Portishead's coastline is of geological and
environmental interest. The deep-water channel on the Bristol
Channel passes by the dock and visitors can regularly watch
large ocean-going vessels and coasters sailing past.
Lake Grounds, constructed in the early 20th century around
an artificial lake, is Portishead's main park. Beside this
is a open-air swimming pool, one of the few surviving outdoor
pools in the UK. Overlooking the Lake Grounds is Battery
Point, where guns were positioned here to protect the Severn
Estuary from enemy attack and today this landmark offers views
towards Wales and the Severn Crossings. Crowds often gather
here to watch unusual vessels (such as The Matthew of Bristol)
negotiating the Bristol Channel.
band Portishead are named after this North Somerset