By the 1960s, containerisation meant that ships were now able to carry large cargo in standardized containers that were easier to load and store. This was a welcome development for shipping merchants, who could carry more goods in fewer loads, but the larger vessels carrying cargo in these great shipping containers were unable to navigate the hairpin bend in the approach to the City Docks. Instead, they docked at Avonmouth or, after its construction in 1977, at the larger Royal Portbury Docks.


In November 1974, the last trading ship sailed out of the Bristol City Docks. For many men, this marked the end of the only working life they had known. Some found work in Avonmouth, while others changed jobs completely.


These memories of the closure of the docks, and recollections of how this enormous change was managed, help us to understand what a huge impact the closure of the City Docks had on Bristol and its dockers.


Avonmouth Docks: imports of canned goods and dried fruit sorted on pallets in warehouse 'E'

Photo credit: Bristol Archives: 40826/DOC/48


Avontmouth Docks, 1960s

Photo credit: Bristol Archives: 40826/DOC/56