Pub of the week: The Ostrich Inn

“The Ostrich is a splendid place to take a summertime drink amid granite setts, interesting dockside furniture and newly planted trees. This once dockland pub is now a smart quayside inn, playing its part in Bristol’s waterfront revival.”

Not my words, but the words of the book Historic Bristol Inns, published in 1961. Not much around here has changed since then, other than that the Ostrich is now a freehouse and not owned by Courage, there is a new footbridge linking Lower Guinea Street with Trin Mills opposite, and Crest Nicholson have dictated that we must call the waterfront the harbourside, after their Lego-style housing development.

The Ostrich remains one of the most sought-after outside drinking spots in Bristol, with picnic tables stretching for several hundred yards from Bathurst Basin to just over the water from Banksy’s paddling grim reaper on the waterline of the Thekla.

Bristol’s maritime history can be closely related to the Ostrich, built circa 1745, and the pub is not backward about coming forward with its connections to trading, smuggling and pirating.

In one corner of the lounge, there is an old cave, backing onto the Redcliffe caves, a series of honeycomb networks which are thought to have used by smugglers to hide their contraband.

Among many theories and legends, it is believed that the cave in the Ostrich, which is blocked up and no longer connects to the main system, was once used as a gaol for French and Spanish prisoners in the eighteenth century in times of war.

For added authenticity value, look closely inside the cave today and you will see a skeleton of a prisoner who may well have been forgotten for centuries.

History may be a strong point in the Ostrich, but its beers are not. When I visited over the recent Bank Holiday weekend, the only ale on tap was St Austell Tribute, with room for two others but both pump clips unoccupied.

This Ostrich doesn’t stick its head in the sand about its connection to Bristol’s history, and after almost three centuries, it remains a splendid place.

The Ostrich, Lower Guinea Street, Redcliffe, Bristol, BS1 6TJ

2 Responses so far.

  1. Keeno says:

    ah good old Ostrich. Exactly in the middle of my trip from Temple Meads back home, and often a spot to partake in a Doombar or other tasty ale, sat by the harbourside.
    it’s a shame you only had one ale to try because normally they’re much better than that, but perhaps they’ve been slipping a bit…
    deffo worth a visit in the sunshine I’d say!

  2. Mike says:

    A potentially lovely pub let down by appalling management. A warm Saturday night in July @ 9pm – “we’ve run out of ice – sorry”. Sunday evening 8 pm “We’ve only one beer left” (despite having at least six different draft beers on tap).

    Crap, boring food and a landlady who would rather talk to her colleagues when pulling pints than to the people she is serving. And a huge queue to buy drinks; God knows how long you would have to wait if a booze cruise had just docked.

    Can someone who knows how to run a pub and make the most of the Ostrich’s glorious location and architecture please take it over?

Leave a Reply