Living in Portishead

Brief History

The name Portishead derives from the "port at the head of the river". The town's recorded history dates back to Roman times, although there is also evidence of prehistoric settlement. Iron Age settlements have also been uncovered in the area, of which Cadbury Camp was the largest. The settlement has been called Portshead and Portschute at times in its history and was recorded as Portesheve in the Domesday Book.

The town was built on the mouth of a small tributary of the Severn Estuary near the mouth of the River Avon. Its position meant Portishead was used to guard the "King Road", as the waters around the headland are called. In 1497 it was the departure point for John Cabot on the Matthew. A fort was built on Battery Point and was used during the English Civil War when the town supported the Royalists but surrendered to Fairfax in 1645. The King Road was the site of a naval action in 1758 when HMS Antelope captured HMS Belliqueux, one of a French squadron returning from Quebec.

The town's dominant architecture is early Victorian, with some buildings maintaining their original features. The expansion in residential property coincided with the construction of the dock, pier and the rail link to Bristol. The Royal Hotel by the pier was built in a Tudor Gothic style in 1830, to provide accommodation and catering for travellers on the steamers from Bristol, Wales and Ireland. Around the 1860s, a pier and dock were built by the Bristol & Portishead Pier and Railway to accommodate the large ships that had difficulty in reaching Bristol Harbour. They brought valuable cargoes from across the globe and exported local products overseas.

In the early 20th century, two coal-fed power stations were built on the dock. In 1951, Albright and Wilson built a chemical works on the opposite side of the dock. The onset of new generating capacity in the mid-1970s brought about the closure of the older, less efficient Stations. With the closure of the power stations, industrial activities ceased at the dock. The Port of Bristol Authority finally closed the dock in 1992.

Much of the growth of Portishead's population can be attributed to the development of the former docks into a vibrant community. The former dock has been fully redeveloped into a modern marina with 250 pontoon berths. Also, the land formerly occupied by the two power stations and chemical plant have been redeveloped to provide a wide range of housing. Development has also completed on the Portbury Ashlands to the east of the harbour, extending the area of the town further towards Portbury. This waterfront development is now known as Port Marine and makes living in Portishead great for a range of different lifestyles.

Portishead in Facts

  • Area: 8 sq miles
  • Population: 23,699
  • Postcode: BS20
  • Area codes: 01275
  • Airport: Bristol
  • Train station: Bristol Temple Meads
  • Local Council: North Somerset
  • Average property price: £325,455

All facts use 2016 data

Discover Portishead


The town's Victorian High Street is full of unique local shops as well as well-known chain shops and is perfect for an afternoon spent shopping.

After shopping, the recently redeveloped Portishead Marina is home to a great variety of bars, restaurants and cafes, and is ideal for catching up with friends or for grabbing something to eat.


The A369 links the town to the M5 motorway (J19) and Bristol (10.4 miles).

In spite of much local campaigning, the nearest train station is Bristol Temple Meads, which provides services to Bath, London as well as other major towns and cities across the UK.

Bristol Airport (10.7 miles) provides both regular commercial flights as well as a private business terminal.

Portishead property
Live in Portishead


While Portishead has no independent schools, the town is home to a number of state pre and primary schools as well as three state secondary school. Many of which are well regarded and produce excellent results.

Lifestyle and Culture

The town has an active collection of social societies including the Gordano society that is involved in history, conservation, environment, planning and wildlife issues. There's is also a horticultural society, an annual carnival, and a choral society, which was formed in 1955.

Seafarer's Sculpture (108 pillars in Portland stone) by Michael Dan Archer is situated near the marina. Also located around the marina and Ashlands development; is an art trail formed of 28 public artworks.

Portishead Lifestyle and Culture
Sports Portishead


Portishead offers many sporting activities and clubs, from Football Clubs for all ages to Hockey Clubs and more. Plus, the Portishead Yacht & Sailing Club is active throughout the year on the Bristol Channel.

The town's cricket club dates back to the 19th century and is still very active. And the local Football team, Portishead Town F.C. play in the Western League with some success.

Property in Portishead

While recent developments have reinvigorated the town and provided a wealth of apartment and modern family homes, property in Portishead encompasses every type imaginable. From large historic estates to excellent family homes to apartments that are perfectly suited for use as a holiday or weekend retreat.

By living in Portishead, you choose to pause the modern world's hectic pace and rediscover family time and long walks on the beach.

Discover Portishead Property