Cabot Tower, Bristol

Coordinates: 51°27′14″N 2°36′24″W / 51.4540°N 2.6068°W / 51.4540; -2.6068
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Cabot Tower
The tower, viewed from Brandon Hill park.
Cabot Tower, Bristol is located in Bristol
Cabot Tower, Bristol
Location within Bristol
General information
Architectural styleNeo-Gothic
Town or cityBristol
Coordinates51°27′14″N 2°36′24″W / 51.4540°N 2.6068°W / 51.4540; -2.6068
Construction startedJune 1897
CompletedJuly 1898
Height105 feet (32 m)
Technical details
Structural systemRed sandstone, Bath Stone
Design and construction
Architect(s)William Venn Gough
Main contractorLove & Waite

Cabot Tower is a tower in Bristol, England, situated in a public park on Brandon Hill, between the city centre, Clifton and Hotwells. It is a grade II listed building.[1][2]

The tower was built in the 1890s to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the journey of John Cabot from Bristol to land which later became Canada. Public access to the viewing platforms at the top of the tower was suspended from 2007 to 2011 for repairs.


The site of the tower was occupied in the Middle Ages by a chapel which may have belonged to St James' Priory. During the 16th century the chapel was replaced by a windmill.[3]

The tower was constructed in memory of John Cabot, 400 years after he set sail in Matthew from Bristol and landed in what was later to become Canada. It was paid for by public subscription. The foundation stone was laid on 24 June 1897 by the Marquis of Dufferin and Ava and the tower was completed in July 1898.[4] The architect was William Venn Gough and it was built by Love and Waite[5] of Bristol. A lift was originally planned but never installed.[6]

The tower gives its name to the area and Council ward of Cabot.


After closure to the public in 2006, the tower reopened on 16 August 2011 following completion of repair works costing an estimated £420,000 to cracked stonework caused by corroded reinforcing steel, which had made the tower unsafe.[7][8][9]

The final stage of the restoration was completed in 2014 with the reinstatement of a light flashing "Cabot Tower, Brandon Hill, Bristol" in Morse code, which had been turned off in 2001 after developing a technical problem.[10]


Aerial video of the tower

The tower is 105 feet (32 m) high and built from red sandstone with cream Bath Stone for ornamentation and emphasis. It consists of a spiral staircase and two viewing platforms where balconies with wrought iron railings overlook the city, the higher of which is approximately 334 feet (102 m) above sea level. The tower is supported by diagonal buttresses and its top by flying buttresses; it is surmounted by an octagonal spirelet topped with a ball finial and a carved winged figure representing commerce.[2][6]

On three sides of the base of the tower are commemorative plaques. They read as follows:

The foundation stone of this tower was laid by the Marquess of Dufferin & Ava on the 24 June 1897, And the completed tower was opened by the same nobleman on the 6 September 1898.
W.Howell Davies, Chairman of the executive committee
E.G.Clarke, J.W.Arrowsmith Hon. Secretaries

This tablet is placed here by the Bristol branch of the Peace Society in the earnest hope that peace and friendship may ever continue between the kindred peoples of this country and America

'Glory to God in the highest and on Earth, peace, good will towards men' Luke 2.14

This tower was erected by public subscription in the 61st year of the reign of Queen Victoria to commemorate the fourth centenary of the discovery of the continent of North America, on June 24, 1497, by John Cabot.
Who sailed from this port in the Bristol ship Matthew, with a Bristol crew, under letters patent granted by King Henry VII to that navigator and his sons Lewis, Sebastian and Sanctus

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Cabot Tower". Retrieved 13 March 2007.
  2. ^ a b Historic England. "Cabot Tower (1202009)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  3. ^ "Cabot Memorial Tower". Pastscape. English Heritage. Archived from the original on 4 May 2014. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  4. ^ "Cabot Tower". About Bristol. Archived from the original on 3 May 2014. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  5. ^ "Cabot Tower Builders". The Cabots and the Discovery of America. Retrieved 20 July 2011.
  6. ^ "Bristol's Cabot Tower repairs get £200,000 boost". BBC News. 23 March 2010. Retrieved 2 February 2010.
  7. ^ "Minutes of the meeting of the conservation advisory panel held on Monday 15 November 2010" (PDF). Bristol City Council. 15 November 2010. Retrieved 2 February 2011.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "Cabot Tower in Bristol reopens after £420,000 of work". BBC. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  9. ^ Emanuel, Louis (4 February 2014). "Bristol's Cabot Tower to send out Morse code message again". Bristol Post. Archived from the original on 3 May 2014. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
A photographic panorama of Bristol taken from the top of the Cabot Tower. The picture shows an urban environment with densely packed offices and older buildings. Hills can be seen in the distance.
Panorama over Bristol from the Cabot Tower, 2011.

External links[edit]

Media related to Cabot Tower, Bristol at Wikimedia Commons