The Three Blackbirds
Stapleton Road


From Mathews’s Bristol Guide 1819


Sign of Black-birds, Stapleton road, pleasantly situated, about one mile and a half eastward from Bristol, kept by Mr. Job Guy.  Here are excellent accomodations for persons inclined to spend an hour in this desirable retreat, particularly in the summer season. The gardens are about three acres in extent, laid out with shaded walks and shrubberies, boxes and seats for tea or drinking parties. there has been several grand galas at these gardens; the illuminations exhibited were very elegant, and fire-works not inferior to those at Bath and London. Wines and draught and bottled liquors of every description may be had at the above gardens, of good quality, on moderate terms.


July 18 1814

A dinner was given by the officers of the late Royal Bristol Volunteers to every member of that respectable corps, at Wellington Gardens, (Black Birds), Stapleton Road. The fete on the occasion was attended with the most convivial scenes. The sacrifices to Bacchus were large; yet good will and harmony were the features of the whole.

An extract from ‘Early music Hall In Bristol’
by Kathleen Barker

There were a number of attempts between about 1740 and 1778 to set up an equivalent of London’s Vauxhall or Cremorne Gardens as adjuncts to the then popular spa at Hotwells.  Unfortunately all such attempts foundered either on West Country weather or artistic temperment or a blend of both.

With the decline of the Hotwells at the turn of the century, no more Pleasure Gardens were opened on that side of the city, but from 1813 the owner of the Three Blackbirds Tavern began to let his gardens for Grand Gala Fetes, usually to celebrate Royal birthdays.  Over the next twenty years there were fetes, concerts and balloon ascents in what became known as Wellington Gardens.  In 1828, Andrew Loder, of the famous Bath musical family, was in charge of the concerts, and the entertainments included tight-rope walkers.

In March 1837, when William Johnson took over the Three Blackbirds, he decided to discontinue the Galas, and not long after the land was sold for building; but during that very year the newly established Clifton Zoological Society began its fund raising fetes in the Gardens (modestly enough, with fireworks and a band).