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Life on the water in Portishead - The jewel in the crown

PUBLISHED: 09:00 27 January 2014 | UPDATED: 10:08 27 January 2014

The Matthew coming into the marina

The Matthew coming into the marina


Commercial shipping stopped at the historic Portishead docks in 1992 and the derelict site became the location for an exciting new Port Marine development of town houses and luxury apartments.

Art trail

Portishead’s stylish marina is home to some striking art work. Follow the trail of sculptures by using the map at

The Port Marine Public Art Programme, begun in November 1999 was a groundbreaking initiative for Crest Nicholson and Persimmon Homes and North Somerset Council.

Commercial shipping stopped at the historic Portishead docks in 1992 and the derelict site became the location for an exciting new Port Marine development of town houses and luxury apartments.

Today the £400 million waterside project is nearing completion, and at the hub of the regeneration is the Marina, which opened in 2001.

With pontoon berthing for 250 boats and plans to expand further, it is owned by Quay Marinas Ltd and Portishead Quays Marina Manager is Keith Berry.

He says from its opening 12 years ago the site has gone from strength to strength.

A bird’s eye view

Don Cameron, founder of world-renowned Cameron Balloons, has lived in Portishead since 1980 and he is a town councillor. On occasions he has taken off in a balloon from his garden, giving him a good view of the area!

“The lake grounds are the jewel in Portishead’s crown, but the marina is quite interesting” he says.

“I have a little trailer-sailer boat, which I have launched there a few times.

“Portishead is a great place to live. It is small enough to be free of congestion most of the time, yet close enough to Bristol when we need things that a bigger town can offer.”

“We are currently in discussion with North Somerset Council who are looking for a partner to create a water activities area at the head of the marina, this we hope will be for the benefit of all the community.”

Quay Marinas Ltd operates seven Marinas around the country – predominantly on the West Coast – and the vision is for Portishead to be the jewel in the company’s crown.

Keith explains: “This is because of its quality and location - we have excellent access to the sea and the motorway network, not forgetting that we are only 25 minutes from an airport so we draw customers from a large area.

“We have staff on duty 24 / 7, 365 days a year to provide a secure location to berth their boat. We also offer a fully serviced boatyard with storage and lifting facilities for most boats up to a weight of 35 tons. The boatyard facility is not restricted to marina berth holders, any suitable vessel can be launched or recovered here – a service frequently used by the RNLI for moving Lifeboats around the country, we also have a local boat builder that uses it for commissioning newly built vessels.

“Although we are a coastal marina, we also offer berths for narrow boats so they can stay in a safe environment before continuing their passage. I would say that Portishead has certainly opened up the country’s inland waterway circuits and we probably see between 40 and 50 visiting narrow boats a year.”

The famous Matthew, a replica of the English ship that discovered North America in 1497, can often be seen in the marina while she’s waiting for a tide to go to Bristol.

Keith adds: “The marina’s primary role is to cater for people on the water but with its variety of eating places and local nature reserve, Portishead Quays Marina has become a magnet for visitors all year round. It’s a nice place to visit and watch – it’s almost like an inland pier.

“The lock fence on a nice weekend is completely crowded with spectators. For those that want to see a bit more we are happy to arrange group visits because we are proud of what we’ve got here and want to show everyone what we have achieved.”

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