|Location Map ( geo)
|St James Barton (ST589735)
|1.2 miles (1.9 km)
|A38, B4051, A4032, A420, B4053, A4, A38
|Route outline (key)
The A4044 is part of the Bristol Inner Circuit road. It was never called a ring road, partially because it actually runs through the centre of Bristol, rather than around it. For many years, the road was a complete ring, but in the late 1990s, the section through Queen Square was closed and so today the Inner Circuit goes three-quarters of the way around. The north-west corner is classified as the A38, whilst the rest of the road is the A4044.
Bristol Inner Circuit
At the northern end, the A4044 starts at St James Barton roundabout, which is the junction with the A38 and one of the many sections of the B4051. Proceeding clockwise around Bristol, the A4044 heads westwards as Bond Street to a large traffic-light-controlled junction with the A4032, which provides access to the M32. Heading in this direction, you are unable to carry on around the A4044 as the road feeds straight into the A4032. After 100 yards or so, you can loop around Newfoundland Circus and rejoin the A4044 Bond Street South.
The road now carries on southwards as Temple Way, through the Old Market underpass with a grade-separated junction with the A420 and access into the city centre. Temple Way crosses the River Avon and you come to the Temple Circus gyratory system. The first part is a roundabout, which is the junction with the B4053 and the A4. Once again, you are unable to proceed directly on the A4044 (although in this case you may not want to) and instead have to follow the A4 past Temple Meads railway station and then around Bath Bridge roundabout, the junction with the A370, past Temple Meads again and along the other side of the Gyratory, before finally rejoining the A4044 Redcliff Way.
The final section of the A4044 is the Redcliff Way past the magnificent St Mary Redcliffe church, and finishing on Redcliff roundabout, the junction with the A38, which appears here unexpectedly following the declassification of its route through the city centre.
The A4044 is entirely dual carriageway, but with many traffic lights and roundabouts. In the clockwise direction - with the 2 diversions off the road - the distance is 1.8 miles, whilst in the anti-clockwise direction, the road is 1.2 miles long. In line with Bristol City Council's policy of not displaying the numbers of city roads, the A4044 number is only used on maps and so on the ground, there is no reference to it on any of the road signs.
The Bristol Inner Circuit was originally envisaged in the 1930s as relief to the very busy Bristol Bridge, which was then the only crossing of the River Avon in Bristol and had the A4, A37, A38 and A420 all converging on it. The Inner Circuit was to provide additional crossings east and west of Bristol Bridge and a loop around the eastern side of the city. The first sections of the road were built in the late 1930s and following huge damage to Bristol during the second world war, a revised Inner Circuit was completed in 1968, although a couple of upgrades followed in later years.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the M32 was built into Bristol, which linked into the Inner Circuit at its north-east corner via the A4032. In the 1960s, there were also plans for an Outer Circuit road which started at the end of the M32 and ran through Easton, Totterdown, Bedminster, Clifton, Montpelier and back to the M32, although only the Easton section was actually built, though work started in Totterdown with the demolition of 500 houses. Finally, the A4174 Avon ring road was designed in the 1970s to provide a eastern and southern loop around Bristol, with the M4 and M5 providing the northern and western sides.
The A4044 starts at St James Barton roundabout, but this used to be a cobbled square until the it was rebuilt in the last 1950s as a large roundabout with subways and a pedestrian area in the middle - known locally as the Bearpit. The A4044 heads east as Bond Street; built at the same time as the new roundabout, this road provides the north-east corner of the Inner Circuit, as halfway along it turns sharp right and heads south to join up with the Old Market interchange and Temple Way. At the corner Newfoundland Road carried straight on, out of the city, which at the time of building, was just a local B road. In 1971, the last section of the M32 was built and Newfoundland Road was massively upgraded to the A4032 Newfoundland Way, to provide the link road onto the Inner Circuit.
In 2007, the A4044/A4032 junction was moved 200 yards eastwards to provide space for the huge Cabot Circus shopping development. Bond Street took over 200 yards of Newfoundland Way and a new road built to loop back to Old Market junction, renamed as Bond Street South. One result of this change was the loss of a direct connection between Bond Street and Bond Street South - instead traffic going around the Inner Circuit now have to use a new gyratory system, called Newfoundland Circus, on the A4032.
Temple Way starts at the Old Market Interchange, which is a roundabout junction for the A420 with an underpass for the A4044. This junction was opened in 1968 and was built through the heart of the Old Market part of Bristol, involving the demolition of numerous properties and a cinema. A huge trench was dug through the ridge of land here to provide the underpass.
After Old Market, the road crosses the River Avon on a Temple Bridge, which was built in the 1930s as the first of the two new crossings to relieve Bristol Bridge. The original 1930s bridge was built as S4, which meant for many years the wide dual carriageway from Old Market was squeezed onto the narrower bridge. In 1984, a second bridge was built on the western side and the whole road widened down to Temple Gate.
At what is now Temple Circus, the A4 crossed on its way through the city in messy group of junctions with the Great Western Railway Docks branch going over the top. In 1968, a single-lane flyover was built to connect Temple Way with Redcliff Way, providing some relief from the congestion at the junctions. Supposedly a temporary structure, the flyover lasted until 1997, when it was demolished and the area remodelled as the present gyratory system. The downside of the remodelling was the loss of the direct connection from Temple Way to Redcliff Way - a surprising change bearing in mind that this was previously the only free flow route through the junction. Also in 1968, the A4 section through the city was downgraded to the B4053, so that traffic used the newly completed Inner Circuit.
Redcliff Way was built in the 1930s as part of the original Inner Circuit road, and then widened in the 1970s after the railway goods yard closed. In the late 1990s, the eastbound (anti-clockwise) side had one lane converted to a bus lane.
At the Redcliff roundabout, beside St Mary Redcliffe church, the A38 crossed on its way to Bristol Bridge, but the northern section was declassified in 1968 after the Inner Circuit was completed. After then the A38 formed a (unnecessary) multiplex with the A4044 across Queen Square, before taking over the Inner Circuit at Colston Avenue.
After Redcliff roundabout, the A4044 once carried on over the River Avon on a lifting bridge - the second of the two new crossings - and across Queen Square. When the Queen Square section was closed, this section of Redcliff Way was declassified.
Queen Square is a Georgian square, a grassed open space surrounded by terraces. By the 1930s the area had fallen on hard times (the square was used for grazing sheep) and so in 1938, a dual-carriageway road was built diagonally across the square as the city engineers considered the link road more important than the historical significance of the square. After the fortunes of the area improved in the 1970s and 1980s, the road was closed in 1993 as an experiment and all traffic was routed around the edge of square with serious congestion. Nevertheless, the closure was deemed successful and so in 1997, the traffic was rerouted away from the square entirely and the road across the square was removed, returning the square to its former glory.
After Queen Square, the road carried on up Broad Quay to the St Augustine's Reach section of the River Frome, which was covered over and a large oval roundabout built linking the Inner Circuit with the Anchor Road (the A4) and Colston Avenue (the A38). Following the closure of the Queens Square section of road, this roundabout was removed and the area pedestrianised and landscaped.
In the early 1970s, plans were drawn up to extend the M32 as an elevated road along Temple Way, past Temple Meads station and onto the A4/A37 junction, to join with the A4320 Outer Circuit road. If successful, the next plan was to create another elevated motorway along Bond Street, and then head up the hill towards the downs. In 1974, the reorganisation of local government and the oil crises meant the money ran out and plans were shelved.