The Ultimate Bristol Suburb Guide: Totterdown & Windmill Hill
Totterdown and Windmill Hill have both been growing in popularity as places to both live and visit in recent years, with significant gentrification having taken place since the turn of the century. Both places are community-driven and host to a variety of thriving local businesses.
Technically, Totterdown is an inner suburb of Bristol, while Windmill Hill is a council ward that incorporates part of neighbouring Bedminster as well as Totterdown itself. Totterdown occupies the eastern half of the council ward and is known for a steep gradient as the land rises from the riverbank up to the residential area mostly featuring Victorian terraced housing.
The decor of many of the houses here are notable as they have been painted in bright colours which are visible from quite some distance away. The northern part of Totterdown is particularly steep, with the area’s Vale Street laying claim to the title of steepest residential road in England.
Windmill Hill is sometimes referred to as being part of Bedminster and is a predominantly residential location. Since around the 1990s, the rented accommodation available here has been a popular location for students, artists and environmentalists which has produced a very friendly and creative community.
Totterdown and Windmill Hill Location in Bristol
Totterdown and Windmill Hill are located adjacent to each other just south of the River Avon near the centre of Bristol city. They are both within walking distance of the city centre and are also close to the city’s hub station Temple Meads, as well as Bedminster train stations.
Bath Road runs north to east along the northern end of Totterdown, eventually leading to Bath, although it splits off within Totterdown into Wells Road (or the A37) that leads directly south towards Yeovil.
Windmill Hill mostly consists of small residential streets, although the larger connecting St. John’s Lane runs across its southern end.
The History of Totterdown and Windmill Hill
The area around Totterdown and Windmill Hill started being developed about 150 years or so ago having been purposefully built in the latter half of the nineteenth century to create housing for the people working for the local railway industry.
Most of the original buildings were thus of Victorian style, although many of these were demolished during the 1970s in anticipation of the construction of a major junction which never actually materialised.
Totterdown was voted ‘fifth hippest place to live in the UK’ by The Times newspaper in 2016 thanks to the influx of students and artists over the last couple of decades.
Shopping in Totterdown and Windmill Hill
While Windmill Hill is primarily residential with the shopping there restricted to a local convenience store, Totterdown has a lot of excellent shopping potential. Piglets Vintage on St. John’s Lane is an interesting antiques and oddities store run by friendly staff who always ensure there is a wealth of interesting items on display for your perusal.
Fox and West is a popular neighbourhood food shop featuring an amazing selection of fresh produce including plenty of health food as well as vegetarian and vegan options. They also do a fine line in craft beer, wine, coffee and cakes.
There is the artisanal florist Floriography on Wells Road who offer beautiful bouquets of classic flowers at good prices. Down the way also on Wells Road is the Bristol Upholstery Collective who make high-end, traditionally upholstered chairs and provide a bespoke re-upholstery service. They also provide courses for people who would like to learn the art of upholstery themselves.
There is also a pet shop, computer software shop and a domestic appliances shop in the close vicinity, as well as a couple of general convenience stores and the Broadwalk Shopping Centre which is a basic mall featuring budget stores, food outlets, a pharmacy and a children’s soft play facility.
Totterdown and Windmill Hill Bars and Restaurants
The main venue in Windmill Hill is The Windmill which is a lively pub and music venue that also provides homemade pies and tasty cocktails. If pies aren’t your thing then Shang Hai just a few yards down the road is a cheap and cheerful Chinese takeaway. Also nearby is The Rising Sun which is a traditional pub offering great beer and coffee as well as a selection of cakes.
The Star and Dove is another option that has a garden as well as a dedicated restaurant upstairs away from the main bar area. Victoria Park rounds off the group of popular pubs in Windmill Hill and features a beer garden and a nice spacious interior. They serve traditional British food and small plates.
Totterdown has even more pubs and restaurants to choose from, starting with traditional pubs The Shakespeare and The New Found Out. The former has received a lot of positive reviews for the food they serve as well as the selection of drinks, while the latter is often praised for its great atmosphere.
There is a concentration of bars and restaurants worth exploring around the junction of Oxford Street and Cheapside Street. First, there is The Oxford which boasts a great selection of real ales, ciders and fine wines, as well as hosting live music and themed event nights. Just round the corner is the equally popular Cambridge.
Just Ryte is nearby and serves a variety of tasty Jamaican dishes, while just across the road is food from the other side of the planet at the Asia Garden where they serve a fine variety of Chinese food. If cuisine of a more European nature better suits your palate, then the Florence Restaurant serves excellent Italian food that has received rave reviews. If you are in this area but just want some standard fast-food fare of a Friday evening after the pub, then the nearby Oxford Grill serves kebabs, burgers, chips and pizza.
Other Totterdown and Windmill Hill Places of Interest
Right next to Totterdown and at the very heart of Windmill Hill is Victoria Park, which is a rolling Victorian-era neighbourhood park with city views, a children’s play areas, tennis courts, bowls and a café to relax at. The park is popular with families, dog walkers and joggers, and there is always a general sense of fun and friendliness around the place.