Friday 12 January 2018

Queen's Court, 1930's elegance in Bristol

Queen's Court in Bristol's Clifton neighbourhood was the first large scale luxury block of flats to be built in the city. Designed by architect Alec F. French, it was built in 1937 at a time when the area boasted cafes restaurants and department stores frequented by the wealthy and the fashionable. Queen's Court was intended to attract residents from amongst these people as well as artists, writers and media types working in the BBC's Broadcasting House in the city centre.

The building stands eight storeys tall and has 74 one, two and three bedroom flats and a penthouse. The block's shape reflects the art deco ocean liner motif so popular in the 1930's. The relatively simple exterior is enhanced  by the beautiful red bricks, Crittall windows and balconies that rise above each of the entrances and on the "arrow head" tower. 

During this period many apartment blocks offered special services to residents and Queen's Court was no exception. The flats had access to liveried porters who were available to collect shopping and carry out a range of tasks at the whim of the residents who also benefited from a restaurant and underground parking space for 26 cars. The restaurant was also open to non-residents offering luncheons, teas and grills until 10 p.m. as well as the option of a separate room for small parties. Modern conveniences in the flats included fitted kitchens, refrigerators, electric lifts and refuse chutes whilst Wells Coates of Lawn Road Flats fame designed a range of furniture for the new homes. This was reflected in the original rental charge of £150-200 per annum and £350 for the penthouse.

The ground floor was given over to retail. This is still the case and the units currently include a hairdressers, a fast food restaurant and a seemingly abandoned costume hire shop. The hairdressers occupies the former Brunner's cake shop which I understand once sold legendary chocolate cream buns.  Brunner's closed many years ago which is a shame as I am partial to a nice cake. During the Second World War the roof was used as an air raid lookout post and a basement shelter was installed for the protection of the residents. Although Bristol was heavily bombed and much damage was done in the vicinity, Queen's Court survived unscathed.

During the 1960's and 70's the building began to attract students as well as actors and artists. The film Some People was made here in 1962. A musical set in Bristol about juvenile delinquent bikers, it starred Kenneth More as a social worker trying to keep them out of trouble. Harry H. Corbett of Steptoe and Son fame played the father of one of the youngsters. Actress Beryl Reed and musician Russ Conway were visitors to Queen's Court during the 60's but the biggest names by far to be connected with the building were the Beatles who owned it for a short time as part of their Apple Company portfolio. It is not known if they ever visited.

During the 1980's the building deteriorated and began to attract criminal activity including drug dealing. In more recent years the flats have undergone some refurbishment in an effort to attract young professionals. I visited on a grey January day but despite the bleakness of an English winter, Queen's Court's retains a certain elegance and is no doubt a desirable address. Evidence of this includes a three bedroom flat offered for rent at £975 per month back in 2013. A snip.


  1. Great looking place! I know the Lawn Rd flats well, but not this Bristol block. The cities may be distant from each other, but the intended function sounded similar - small, well located living facilities for smart, single, city professionals. So who would have rented flats with 3 bedroom?

  2. I am much enjoyed this article. Would be great if I can be able to see decoration of some rooms in this flat.