This person is on display in the Contributing Wrap in the People Gallery


John Ward Girdlestone was born in Clifton 1840, and was Bristol's docks engineer from 1882 to 1890.

Under the management of Girdlestone, former buildings around the docks were replaced with new offices, workshops and other types of new buildings. The largest of these buildings was a corporation-owned granary which became a local landmark until destroyed in the Blitz. The site is now occupied by M Shed (the museum of Bristol people and landscape), and the adjoining L Shed (now used as the museum’s stores). He also developed the Underfall Dockyard and installed electricity around the docks, while maintaining existing dock equipment developed by predecessors such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Despite Girdlestone’s notable work, he has been largely overlooked in the city’s history books perhaps because he overspent his budget and was fired. Thankfully, because of his tireless work and passion the buildings he created can be seen and appreciated today.