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A38/Through Bristol

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Location Map ( geo)
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From:  Kings Head, Highridge, Bristol (ST335492)
To:  Almondsbury Interchange (ST562694)
Distance:  309.8 miles (498.6 km)
Meets:  A4174, A3029, A370, A4, A4044, A4018, B4051, B4054, B4052, B4468, B4469, B4056, B4057, M5
Highway Authorities

Bristol Council



Route outline (key)
North Arrownortheast.jpg Bristol - Gloucester
A38 Bedminster - Almondsbury
Arrowsouthwest.jpg South Highbridge - Bristol

South | North

The A38 route through Bristol has changed a lot over the years, and there is now a long missing section in the middle where the road once passed through the city centre, but has now been cut and is connected via the Inner Circuit Road, the A4044. To try and make sense of the route, we'll look at the current route first, and then at the Historical routes.

Bedminster and Redcliffe

From the Kings Head Roundabout on the southern edge of Bristol, the A38 continues North west up Bridgwater Road into Bedminster. After a slight left kink, it reaches the one way system around Parson Street and Bedminster Road, where it meets the A4174 and A3029 which form the Avon Ring Road in this corner of the city, and the B3122. The A38 continues northwards, along West Street into the middle of Bedminster, where it now turns sharp right and then left, via two sets of traffic lights, to pass along Malago Road around the back of the 'town' centre.

The old line of the A38 is rejoined via the comparatively new Dalby Avenue, which goes round a modern shopping centre. Bedminster Parade is next, one of Bristols historic Arterial routes, radiating out and lined with shops, as it has probably been since medieval times. At the end, the road kinks slightly to meet the roundabout at Bedminster Bridge, although the western bridge still stands at the historic crossing point. The roundabout that uses the old and new bridges here meets the A370 on both sides of the river.

Across the bridge, the A38 becomes a dual carriageway and climbs the gentle gradient of Redcliff Hill, up to the roundabout at St Mary Redcliffe. Here, the old route is abandoned through the city centre, and instead the A38 turns right along Redcliffe Way to meet the A4044 Inner Circuit Road at the Temple Circus Gyratory, a large roundabout junction which sees southbound A38 traffic forced past Temple Meads to Bath Bridge, from where it is easier to use the A370 back to Bedminster Bridge, than double back round Redcliffe.

Montpelier and Horfield

The A38 resumes its journey through Bristol at St James Barton, and immediately passes under '5102', the former Avon House, onetime headquarters of Avon County Council. The road is straight back down to a wide S2, with on street parking, cycle lanes and turning lanes all adding to the clutter of this historic arterial road. The road, called Stokes Croft, is a busy shopping street, and also home to many pubs and clubs, making it a slow drive, where you need to keep your wits about you. Traffic lights control the busies junctions, such as the two with the B4051, after which the road becomes Cheltenham Road and the shops soon give way to houses and churches.

A dramatic steel arch in a stone viaduct carries the railway over the road at Montpelier, after which the road is once more lined with shops as the B4054 forks left. Short bus lanes appear here and there at junctions between marked parking bays as the road winds through Bishopston and continues north towards Horfield, but the road is narrower than it has been, with parked cars on one side only in places. At Horfield Common, the B4469 approaches from the right, quickly followed by the B4468 on the left, the latter without the benefit of traffic lights.

Horfield Common is the first larger green space alongside the A38 since it resumed in the city centre, and marks a change in the character of the route. Beyond Horfield, the long Victorian, or earlier terraces that have lined much of the last couple of miles cease, and instead modern housing estates and industrial development take over. This, then, is the old edge of Bristol, and was once followed by farmland and villages. But, alas, no longer.

Filton and Patchway

Today Filton is contiguous with, and almost indistinguishable from Horfield to the south, but the road is somewhat twistier than it has been lately, and soon reaches the Filton Roundabout. Here, the A38 takes on the role of the Avon Ring Road, with the A4174 terminating, and the B4056 heading south west towards Westbury on Trym. The A38, therefore, is a dual carriageway once more, but remains twisty as it passes the parish church, before leaving old Filton behind to serve the business parks and factories of new Filton.

After crossing the railway, the A38 passes the end of the runway of Filton Airfield, made famous by its associations with Concorde, and continues north to Patchway, where the new Hayes Way link road heads west to Cribbs Causeway. The next junction, incorporating Patchway Roundabout, is the old connection, once part of the B4057 before it was cut by the airfield. Another railway is crossed as the A38 heads into Patchway proper, and then the penultimate roundabout of this section at Aztec West, a locally 'famous' business park. Finally, the A38 reaches the edge of Bristol, development restrained by the presence of the M5 Motorway, and so the dual carriageway section comes to an end at the Almondsbury Interchange.



The relatively short deviation in Bedminster bypasses the old route which used East Street, the main shopping street in Bedminster. Most of it is now one-way heading into Bristol. The old route was still in use as the A38 as recently as the 1990s, although traffic was signed around the current route before the A38 was officially moved.

City Centre

There are at least two historic routes through Bristol City Centre. The original 1922 route was slightly tortuous, with the later route somewhat controversial.

Starting, therefore, in 1922, the road continued north from St Mary Redcliffe up Redcliffe Street to Bristol Bridge. After crossing the bridge, it followed Baldwin Street to Colston Avenue, where it turned north. Rupert Street came next, then Bond Street into the old St James Barton, from where the A38 turned north again into North Street and so Stokes Croft.

After the bombing of Bristol in World War Two, there was massive reconstruction of the city centre through the 1950s and 60s, and so the A38 was rerouted. However, some of the process had started in Queen Square in 1937. In part it followed the old route, but the whole length was widened out to dual carriageway to form the south western side of the Inner Circuit Road. This process was slow, and there is some doubt as to how quickly the A4044 number came into use for the ring road, and indeed how much of the ring it officially related too.

Starting again at St Mary Redcliffe, the new line of the A38 turned west to cross a new bridge over the floating harbour, and with the demolition of a couple of buildings it squeezed into Queen Square. Here, the controversial bit, it crossed diagonally, with a bulge between the carriageways to avoid the central statue. The Square was restored in 2000, much to the relief of many Bristolians. At the far side of the square, the route cut across to Broad Quay, where the quay itself was covered and a new gyratory, eventually including Colston Avenue, was created. Again, much of this was restored in 2000.

From Colston Avenue, the A38 picked up the old route north on Rupert Street, but following reconstruction, Lewins Mead was used as the clockwise carriageway, whilst Rupert Street was the anti clockwise carriageway. With Bond Street rebuilt as the Haymarket, the road reached St James Barton, and so the new North Street to reach Stokes Croft, and the historic & current route once more.

Filton and Patchway

As the A38 heads north out of Bristol, there is very little deviation from the 1922 route. Through Filton, the dualling of the road has led to many roadside buildings being removed, and at Patchway there is a new bridge under the railway, with a slightly new alignment immediately to the north. Otherwise, the road is an online upgrade, or even the same road it has always been!

South | North

Alfreton Interchange • Almondsbury Roundabout • Aztec West • Barrow Tanks • Barton Turn • Bassetts Pole • Bedminster Bridge • Belgrave Interchange • Birches Green • Branston Junction • Callywith Junction • Carkeel Roundabout • Carminow Cross • Chelston Interchange • Chelston Roundabout • Chudleigh Station Junction • Churchill Gate Crossroads • Clay Lane Junction • Clay Mills • Cole Avenue Junction • Coombe Hill • Cornhill (Highbridge) • Coxbench Interchange • Creech Castle • Cross Keys Roundabout • Cross Rifles Roundabout • Cullompton Interchange • Dart Bridge Interchange • Dartmouth Circus • Deep Lane Interchange • Drumbridges Junction • Drybridge Junction • Dunball Roundabout • East Brent Roundabout • Edithmead Interchange • Filton Roundabout • Findern Interchange • Forder Valley Interchange • Goodstone Cross Junction • Gravelly Hill • Gupshill Roundabout • Splatford Junction • Haldon Junction • Harcombe Junction • Hartshay Interchange • Harvester Island • Holloway Circus • Huntworth Interchange • Island Shop Interchange • Kennford Junction • Ketch Roundabout • Kingsway Roundabout • Lancaster Circus • Langley Mill Interchange • Latchbrook Junction • Lean Quarry Junction • Lee Mill • Lime Kiln Roundabout • Linhay Hill Junction • Little Eaton Roundabout • Longbridge Island (Birmingham) • Looe Mills Junction • Lower Dean Junction • Lydiate Ash • Maiden Down • Manadon Interchange • Markeaton Island • Marley Head Interchange • Marsh Mills Interchange • Menheniot Junction • Minworth Island • Moorswater Junction • Palm Court Island • Park Circus • Pearce's Hill • Peartree Junction • Perry Elm Roundabout • Pinxton Interchange • Rashwood Interchange • Saltash Town Junction • Slideshow Island • St Budeaux Interchange • St Chads Circus • St James Barton • Stoketon Cross Junction • Hillards Cross • Streethay • Swinfen Interchange • The Black Horse Junction • The Isaac Tongue Junction • The Norton Crossroads • Tiverton Parkway Interchange • Toll Gate House • Toyota Island • Trerulefoot Roundabout • Turfdown Roundabout • Twelvewoods Roundabout • Twyning Interchange • Tyburn House Island • Walford Cross • Wall's Roundabout • Watchorn Roundabout • Waterloo Cross • Waterwells Roundabout • Weeford Interchange • Weston Mill Interchange • Westover Junction • Wickes Roundabout • Wobbly Wheel • Woodpecker Junction (South Brent) • Wrangaton Cross
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