Leigh Woods Vaults: Two Hour Historical Hard Hat Tour. Meet at the Clifton Toll Booth BS8 3NA
When construction of the Clifton Suspension Bridge began in 1831, the eyes of the world were on Isambard Kingdom Brunel and his bold plan to build the highest and longest bridge in the world. The ambitious young engineer encountered many difficulties with the project and many of the bridge’s secrets were lost when he died before the project was complete. In 2002 an intrepid team of engineers and construction workers rediscovered Brunel’s hidden vaults. This is your chance to take a look inside.
Join volunteer guide and historian, Gordon, who will explain how the design of Brunel’s bridge was shaped by the influence of others, and how the young newcomer was able to make his name. With the help of Gordon’s ever-expanding bag of props and artefacts, you’ll hear all about the people who built and rediscovered the vaults before donning a hard hat, descending a ladder and taking a look for yourself.
The tour begins at the Clifton Toll Booth on the Bristol side of the bridge. The first hour is a walking tour of the bridge. After a short stop at the Visitor Centre to collect a hard hat and deposit your bags, you’ll explore two of the twelve chambers inside the Leigh Woods abutment. This tour concludes at the Visitor Centre (Leigh Woods). If using the pay and display parking in Clifton Village, please allow ample time to return to your vehicle.
Also available: Two Hour Engineering Hard Hat Tour and One Hour Excursion. See our website for dates and details.
Before you Book…
Please read the following information before making a booking and ensure that this event will be suitable for all members of your party.
- Visits must be pre-booked online
- Tours are suitable for age 7+ and under 18s must be accompanied by an adult.
- There is a minimum height limit of 1.2m.
- Please wear sturdy shoes with good grip such as hiking boots or trainers. You will not be allowed to join the tour in heels or open-toed shoes.
- This tour includes climbing a vertical ladder and passing through a low corridor. Please ensure that you are physically capable of doing so. Find out more at
- Please ensure that any camera, phone, or device you bring will fit in your pocket or bag so that you have two hands free to climb the ladder.
- Only small rucksack type bags worn over both shoulders or bags with cross-body straps will be permitted inside the vaults. Large bags, handbags, umbrellas and so on can be stored securely at the Visitor Centre during the second part of your tour.
- Be aware that the vaults can be wet and/or muddy inside, particularly after heavy rain. Please wear suitable clothing and ensure that cameras or mobile phones are protected from the calcite saturated water which may fall from the ceiling.
- Please call us on 0117 974 4664 before booking if you are concerned about claustrophobia or vertigo.
All participants will be required to fill in a form prior to taking part in the activity to acknowledge they:
- Are aware of the potential risks involved.
- Confirm they are physically fit.
- Will follow the instructions given by the guide.
Staff and volunteers at CSBT are not medically qualified and so are not in a position to assess the capacity of participants to undertake an activity. It remains your responsibility to undertake such an assessment prior to participation. If you have any of the following medical conditions we strongly recommend you consult your doctor prior to participation: Heart disease or any cardiac condition that may require immediate medical attention; neck or back injuries; recent, reoccurring or existing injuries; severe allergic reactions; haemophilia; epilepsy; asthma; diabetes; currently taking any blood thinning medication.
Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?
No, you do not need to bring a printed ticket to the event.
Is it ok if the name on my ticket or registration doesn't match the person who attends?
It is possible to buy tickets as gifts. Tour attendees just need to give the name of the person who booked when registering at the beginning of a tour.
[Image courtesy of Gerrald Tompsett for Subterranea Britannica]