Local Food Economy

Bridging the Gap: Support independent traders at Wapping Wharf!

By Ramona Andrews

We are Bridging the Gap with Wapping Wharf: support local graphic

Bridging the Gap is a new campaign launching today to encourage people to visit Wapping Wharf and support the independent businesses in the area, many of them food businesses, following the closure of Gaol Ferry bridge.

Wapping Wharf will be switching on its Christmas lights with an evening of festivities tonight, Thursday 17 November. The event will feature traditional Christmas carols from Bristol Cathedral Choir as well as plenty of festive food and drink offerings alongside late-night shopping at Wapping Wharf’s many local, independent shops.

Traders will be open until 8pm, folllowed by weekly late-night shopping evenings, every Thursday until 15 December, giving customers a chance to shop locally and support independent Bristol businesses in the harbourside quarter.

Gaol Ferry Bridge was closed in August this year to carry out essential repairs with work ongoing into 2023, meaning usual footfall has been reduced at Wapping Wharf. Gaol Ferry Bridge is a well-used foot and cycle bridge connecting South Bristol to Wapping Wharf’s harbourside shopping quarter.

The Bridging the Gap campaign is about encouraging people to continue to support Wapping Wharf’s independent shops, cafés, restaurants and takeaways by using the alternative routes to the neighbourhood. From Southville, you can cross the river from Coronation Road using Vauxhall Bridge to reach Cumberland Road, and from Bedminster you can cross Bedminster Bridge onto Commercial Road.

Many businesses have said that the closure of the bridge has affected their trade. When Woky Ko restaurant closed last month, owner Larkin Cenc cited the bridge as one of the reasons for closing the site there (as well as the economic downturn), and Better Food’s Phil Haughton told the BBC that trade has been down about 30%.

Christmas at Cargo (photo credit: Jon Craig.)
Christmas at Cargo (photo credit: Jon Craig.)

Stuart Hatton, managing director at Umberslade, the developer of Wapping Wharf, says, “Wapping Wharf’s annual lights switch on is always a great date in our calendar, kicking off the festive season, and this year is even more exciting as it launches the start of our festive late-night Thursday shopping evenings as well as our new initiative, ‘Bridging the Gap’.

“Everyone in the Wapping Wharf community has felt the impact of the closure of Gaol Ferry Bridge, and we want to remind everyone of just how important it is to shop local and support small businesses this Christmas as well as showcasing our amazing community and everything they do, whilst providing plenty of great festive activities for everyone in Bristol.”

The campaign will kick off with the switching on of the Wapping Wharf’s harbourside quarter Christmas lights at 5.30pm this evening. There will be Christmas carols from Bristol Cathedral Choir at 6.30pm. Retailers will be open until 8pm for late night shopping.

In 2020, Stuart Hatton wrote for the “Bristol Bites Back Better” campaign about the importance of retail diversity as part of a series of blog posts looking at how to nuture a more resilient food system. Stuart is managing director of Umberslade, developer behind Wapping Wharf.

Photos credit: Jon Craig.

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