Pubs & clubs


LGBT people have met and socialised in dozens of pubs and clubs in Bristol over the years. We’ve listed known venues by approximate date of opening (up to circa 2000 – more recent venues will be added later).

Click on names for more details.

You can help with additions and corrections. Tell us about the places you visited. When did you go? (precise years if you can). Who managed them? Did they have cabaret, live music, DJ, karaoke, pub quizzes? Who were the regulars – gay men, lesbians, TV/TS? Tell us amusing anecdotes and about the characters who propped up the bar. Do you have old photos we can beg or borrow?

Gay clubs
  • Moulin Rouge:  72 Worrall Road, Clifton, BS8. Circa 1970 – October 1976.
    First openly gay club in Bristol following the legalization of male homosexuality in England & Wales in 1967.
  • King’s:  17 Prince Street. 1975 – c. late 1970s?
    Large club on three floors. Sold and reopened as Smith’s in about 1978.
  • Oasis:  14-16 Park Row, Bristol, BS.  1973 – 1991.
    Bristol’s major gay club for men until the 1990s.
  • 49 Club (later the Top Deck):  20 Christmas Steps, central Bristol, BS1.  c. 1977 – c. 1996/7.
    Small upstairs bar at the bottom of Christmas Steps.
  • Chantelle’s:  135 Whiteladies Road, Clifton, BS8. 1977-1982?
    A lesbian club from about 1977 to 1982.
  • The Scarlet Coat: 19a Union Street (basement entrance at 1 Fiennes Court off Fairfax Street), BS1.  c. 1984-90
    Small lesbian club near Broadmead shopping centre.
  • Queen’s Shilling: 9 Frogmore Street, BS1. 1992 – present.
    Opening in 1992 the Queen’s Shilling quickly attracted a new crowd of gay teens and 20s.
  • Flamingo Joe’s / Club Leo:  28 St Nicholas Street, BS1. 1993 – c.1998?
    A big dance club situated in the gap between two former gay venues, the Radnor Hotel and the Elephant.
  • Just:  19a Union Street (basement entrance at 1 Fiennes Court off Fairfax Street), BS1.  1994-9
    Gay men’s club in the former Scarlet Coat premises.
  • Winn’s: 23-25 West Street, Old Market, Bristol, BS2.  1999- ?
    Opened in Autumn 1999 in former bank premises, one of the first clubs in the newly gay Old Market area.
  • Vibes: Vibes, 1 Frog Lane. 2001 – c.2009.
    A big club and popular from the start, attracting mixed age groups. Later re-opened as OMG.
  • Flamingos: 23-25 West Street, Old Market, Bristol, BS2. 2007-?
    Located in the same building as the earlier Winn’s, Flamingos was the principal night club in Bristol’s Old Market quarter.

Jane recalls lesbian discos in the 1980s:

Until the Scarlet Coat opened in the mid/late 1980s, there were various venues where women’s discos were held. Sometimes they were once a week or month – or they were occasional. The first I remember was on Wednesday nights at Roxy’s in Fairfax Street (see above). I remember another after a ‘Reclaim the Night’ march at a back room behind the Coach and Horses pub on Stapleton Rd. Some were held at St Werburgh’s Community Centre on Horley Rd. The Folk House was a regular venue for a spell. Then there was ‘The Rockpile’ at Temple Quay – before the building it was in was demolished to make way for the office blocks and flats there now. The discos were organised and run by the Women’s Disco Collective – Alison, Jenny and Julia. When they decided to pack it in, they gave all their records to two younger women who took it over when a new venue was found at the Parkside Hotel on Bath Road.

Gay pubs
  • Radnor Hotel:  30 St Nicholas Street, BS1. c. 1925? – c. 1976.
    Known to have been gay in 1938 and possibly much earlier. The only gay pub in Bristol we know of before the 1970s.
  • Ship: Redcliffe Hill c. 1965-8.
    Peggy Hancock’s regulars from the Radnor Hotel followed her to the The Ship when she opened the disused rear snug as a cocktail bar about 1965.
  • Ship Inn: 7-8 Lower Park Row, Bristol, BS1 5BJ.  c. 1973-7?
    A popular gay pub during the 1970s.
  • Elephant: 20 St Nicholas Street. May 1973 – 2006.
    For many years the principal pub for gay men and lesbians.
  • Griffin: 41 Colston Street, BS1. 1987 – 2010.
    Small Victorian pub on a quirky triangular site; gay from 1987 to 2010.
  • Pineapple: 37 St George’s Road, BS1. 1997 – present.
    The third gay pub in the Frogmore Street area, opening in Spring 1997.
  • Velindra, Commercial Road, BS1 6TH (early 1980s – mid 1990s?)
    A small Victorian pub next door to Bristol General Hospital and Bathurst Basin, it attracted a mixed crowd when it was run by Shirley and later by a lesbian couple.
Other gay and gay-friendly  venues

There have been many gay-friendly/mixed pubs, short-lived pubs, and straight clubs which ran occasional gay one-nighters.

  • The Greyhound, 32 Princess Victoria Street, Clifton, BS8 4BZ
    Home in the 1960s and ‘70s to an extrovert crowd of theatrical queens and their friends who would gather in the back bar for some fairly drunken parties. The friends included a young (straight) restaurateur then cooking up a storm in Clifton, by the name of Keith Floyd.
  • The Old Duke, King Street, Bristol, BS1 4ER
    Bristol’s most famous jazz pub. For a couple of years c. 1973-5 it became a popular gay venue when the Radnor ceased to be gay.
  • Bristol’s, 4 Broad Quay, BS1 4DA  (city centre).
    Held on the first floor of Dunlop’s pub (near the Baldwin Street corner and the Sedan Chair pub). Bristol’s began as an experimental gay night on Tuesdays. After a hugely successful gay New Year’s Eve party (1974/5) it ran as a full-time gay club for a short time.
  • The British Queen, Wilson Street, St Paul’s, Bristol.
    A short-lived Thursday night spot for women during the 1970s called the BQ Bar Club.
  • The Bunch of Grapes, St Nicholas Street, BS1 1UE
    Now named Seamus O’Donnells. Reputedly gay friendly during the 1970s or 1980s.
  • Roxy’s, Fairfax Street, Bristol.
    A straight club which ran a gay one-nighter on Wednesdays for women during the early 1980s. The door was in the part of Fairfax Street which is now in the tunnel under the Galleries car park. Inside there were stairs leading to a big room with a bar, disco and large dance floor. These discos were women only, and although the majority who went were lesbians, straight women went too as it was somewhere they could have a dance without being pestered.
  • The Bridge Inn, Passage Street, St Philip’s, Bristol, BS2 0JF. (c. 1980s)
    Run by Wilf and Philip after they left the Ship Inn. The pub was never overtly gay and the majority of customers were locals tolerant of the occasional more obviously gay drinker. Wilf, the older, was in a wheelchair by the late 1980s. His partner Philip, who was probably in his late 40s, contracted cancer and died fairly quickly. Wilf gave up the pub and retired.
  • Princess of Wales, British Road/Westbourne Grove, Bedminster, BS3 3LQ
    Listed as gay-friendly in Gay Times, 1980s.
  • Arnos Court Hotel / Parkside Hotel (now Arnos Manor Hotel), 470 Bath Road, Arnos Vale, Bristol, BS4 3HQ.
    Held occasional (monthly?) women’s discos in the 1990s. It also once ran Sunday night gay discos called ‘Poppers’ in the Cabaret Room.
  • The Quadrant, 2 Princess Victoria Street, Clifton, BS8 4BP
    Discreetly mixed/gay for awhile (late 1990s?) – thought to have been run by a gay landlord.
  • Eldon House, 6 Lower Clifton Hill, Clifton, BS8 1BT.
    This charming small pub just off Jacob Well Road was gay run for a time (early 2000s?) and had popular weekly quizzes.
  • Wonky was a monthly disco that was marketed as an alternative to the established Bristol scene. It started in November 2003. In May 2011 it moved to Basement 45 Club, 8 Frogmore St, BS1 5NA. It ceased circa 2014.
Gay saunas and sex clubs
Oil painting of almost naked men in outdoor pool with medieval castle in background

Domenico Cresti: Bathers at San Niccolò, 1600

Saunas that were run as places where men could have sex with other men are known to have existed in the Bristol region since the 1970s. For legal reasons they usually operated as private clubs and membership would be bought on arrival for a fee.

Up until the end of the 1980s gay saunas in Britain were routinely raided by police under public decency laws. With less concern about victimless crime during the 1990s, police increasingly ‘turned a blind eye’. They preferred sexual activity to take place in a contained environment rather than outdoors even though technically users were still committing the offence of gross indecency.

Sex between adults in non-public spaces ceased to be an offence under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and a variety of sex venues and fetish events developed. They differ from brothels in that they provide a place where patrons have sex with each other and, apart from an entrance fee, no money changes hands.

  • Sauna Services:  St Paul Street, off Portland Square, Bristol, BS2. Mid 1970s to mid 1980s.
    First gay sauna in Bristol.
  • The Pump House, 1 Pump Street, Newport, Gwent.  Approx 1977 to 1982.
    Popular sauna for gay men from Bristol and much further afield.

 Last updated: 30/7/2023

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  23 Responses to “Pubs & clubs”

  1. Did Michael originally work at the Radnor? Also I remember the Moulin Rouge very well. Great venue. I can picture the guy who ran it but can’t remember his name.

  2. Hey this site is looking really good, re pictures I have inside shots of the 49 club and the QS. Also got my Winns and Just membership card. Noticed on the club listing your are missing Vadims this opened for about 6 months whilst the Oasis was having a refit. You had to join as a member. Once the Oasis re-opened in its new form Vadims closed but the membership was valid at the Oasis.

    Cheers Martyn

  3. Mention is made here of the Parkside Hotel, Bath Road. This welcomed gay men on Sunday evenings, but I couldn’t give a date. I remember the room being accessed by external stairs. I also remember some gay nights on the Thekla, or another boat nearby.

  4. Bristol’s was not in the former Garrick’s Head, which was 22 Broad Quay, but on a first floor nearer Baldwin Street, and if your address of 4 Broad Quay is right, this was Dunlop’s pub, which sounds right. I would say the building is still there. You sat at tables placed down one side of a rectangular room. I can’t remember much more about it, except that it often went on long after licensing hours. An almighty fight broke out once to which I was a witness. The case went to the magistrates court, where it was with great relish that I tore the defence solicitor to pieces, to repeated laughter from the packed gallery.

    • yes, it was Dunlops. Tony Ford “Irma”, who had been DJ at The Moulin Rouge moved onto Dunlops and brought a following with him. Tony pictures is on The Moulin Rouge page.

  5. Thanks Mike – the listing is now corrected to remove the Garrick’s Head reference… you’re right, that was clearly too near Prince Street for No. 4

    • The Garrick’s Head was very much a gay venue but in Bath not Bristol. I met my partner there 26 years ago! The pub was run very successfully by Andrewhind his partner ( so sorry, name gone!)Until they moved away from the area. It reverted to an eatery/ theatre pub.etc. As you walked in the left bar was traditionally ‘The gay side’. It had a long history and many regulars Inc some great characters. I’ve no photos & would love to see some, particularly any from the early to mid 90’s?

      • Hi Sal – you’re absolutely right about the Garrick’s Head being in Bath – I was also a regular in the late 80s/ early 90s. I think the confusion arises that there was also a Garrick’s Head on the Centre in Bristol (not a gay pub) which gets a mention on the page because I briefly confused it with another pub on the Centre. Long story! Anyway we hope you’re enjoying the site – check out the new online map which has just gone live.

  6. The Radnor, changed it’s name in the 1980’s to The Porcupine. I was the Landlady from 1992 to 1996. It had become ‘straight’ by then. The Elephant, was the main gay bar and Queen Shilling.
    The Club Leo’s opened during that time.
    We had so many laughs in there, the street was like a little village.
    Though, on a Saturday night, you would see the Police riot van parked nearby, due to some Gay Bashing, that unfortunately, still went on.
    I have such amazing memories from that time, which I will always cherish. x

    • Hi Karin, did you still have Marlene in the kitchen with you whilst you were there. Her partners name was Jack who also drank there ?
      Where are they now ? Richard.

  7. I recall a pub or bar called ‘The Lavingtons’ in Bath opp the Theatre in the 60’s and possibly the early 70’s.

    Bristol pubs used to close at 10.30 (11.00 in Bath) so on a Friday and Saturday night dozens of us would drive over from the Radnor to Bath just to gain an extra 30 mins drinking time! How sad was that. There was a basement drinking room with a very steep ladder down from the ground floor.The landlady/manager issued small visiting cards. On the front it read ‘Want to get a man – pin this to your door’. When you opened the card the one word that was printed was ‘GENTLEMEN’. I still have it somewhere in seventy years of accumulated STUFF!

    • There was a pub opposite the Theatre Royal in Bath in the 1970s called The Regency. This building, in Saw Close, to the right of a garage, jutted out (currently Century Casino). There was a ground floor bar and upstairs bar where a friend tells me he first saw Hinge and Bracket perform.
      As has been noted, the left hand bar of the more established Garrick’s Head was the gay bar, which I visited often back then. A woman regular (can’t recall her name) seemed to be a permanent fixture on an end stool at the bar. I think it was run by a straight couple. As today, a theatre bell rang in the bar. The large triangle of development outside the front door right down to Sainsbury’s is relatively new: in those days it was entirely a surface car park at the lower level.

  8. No mention here of the 46 Club, at 46 West Street, Old Market, run by Mod and Phil. It had a bird’s nest DJ box and girls from the pole-dancing club upstairs would come down for a drink, presumably at the end of their shift. I’m told some even danced on the bar now and again.
    I’m not sure when it first opened, but it was certainly open in 1999 because I was there on New Year’s Eve that year. The last night was February 24, 2007.

  9. Not much here about Old Market. More than 20 years ago the city council earmarked it as a gay village in their long-term plans, whether after consultation I’m not sure.
    The Old Market Tavern and Old Castle Green were already part-time gay venues, with a business crowd at lunchtimes and gay clientele at night. The Long Bar had its loyalists. An early, slightly surprising venue, from about 1999, was the former Evening Post social club (the name escapes me) behind the Stag and Hounds. This had a small windowless ground floor bar and bigger area downstairs, previously a skittle alley, where fetish afternoons/evenings were held on Sundays. Had Lord Rothermere of the Daily Mail group (then the Post’s owner) been aware of the cavorting and nudity in one of his leased premises he would have had apoplexy. The OCG went fully gay and added a dark room.
    Castro’s (strictly, Castro), in what is now the Exchange music venue, on three floors, had a certain reputation. (A Pride Weed 666 flag recently spotted in an upper window was no doubt for decorative purposes only).
    Winn’s, or Just-Winn’s, in a former bank in West Street, was the successor to Just in Fairfax Street, which had also been run by Winston. Winn’s too had a dark room and hosted fetish nights, and later acquired a balcony bar. After one member took a girl into the dark room an emphatic notice was posted: “Men only”. The club became Flamingos which opened a spacious lower floor “arena” at the rear, in addition to the main “arena” at ground floor, each with their own music mix, and in total had four bars and VIP lounge, staying open to 5am.
    Opposite, Club 46 was run by Mod and Phil until it closed in 2007. Other erstwhile venues were The Retreat (with downstairs pool table) for a young crowd, and the Lounge, a misnomer given its dining tables, offering karaoke, which became the Rainbow. The dear old Gin Palace with sloping floor and upstairs loo adorned with Womad posters had a recent short-lived revival. The former tenants spent some cash on a smart basement bar and roaming area which was hardly ever used. Girls had the Eagle Tavern.
    Of course today the flag-lined “village” still has the Bristol Bear Bar, Old Market Tavern and Lads Locker Room (The Phoenix, at a stretch) but feels tattered; times have changed. Several factors are to blame: as recently as the 1990s (I say “recently”, forgetting this was before any teenagers were even born) you could queue for 45 minutes on The Centre for a taxi on a Friday or Saturday night; now taxis queue for punters. As drinking out costs spiralled, and supermarket booze got dirt cheap, many saw staying in as the new going out. With greater acceptance, it was now safe to drink in the local pub. The 2007 smoking ban was a further hammer blow to the hard-pressed trade. Social media contact apps were just about the last straw. The bottom fell out of the market (or should that be the market out of the bottom?) Though what I see is now called Bristol’s West End Gay Village (OMG, OMG Bar and Queenshilling) could be thriving, coronavirus permitting.

  10. Please can you tell me what the gay pub was called back in late 90s in Old Market. It was later club creme then Jack of diamonds. When it was a gay bar it had a grows nest with a ladder that went night up to it.

  11. I have very fond memories of Bristol’s night club as listed, Right in the heart of the Centre.

    Owned by a London East ender and his wife (Mr Holland)? who were very gay friendly. It was on the upper floor of the pub.

    A guy called Tony Ford was the DJ there. Tight curly perm even in the mid seventies. He even got me to DJ a few times when he went on holiday. I was the first to play the Gloria Gaynor Megamix – Honey Bee/Reach Out/Never Can Say Goodbye. The first time I played it all through the dance floor was full, and I had to play it again a few minutes later. When Tony came back from his vacation, He tried to fade out after Honey Bee and there was a near riot. LOL.

    The owner brought in some major acts, Jimmy Jones. (London Comedian) Mrs Shufflewick (Old 70’s drag act from London) Magicians and even a very attractive hypnotist.

    The place died very suddenly I think to rumours which really emptied the place and it closed not long after. I recall The Moulin Rouge also died the same way, which was a great pity as it drew in gays from all over the West and South Wales.

    In the seventies Bristol had a great gay scene. It was wonderful to be there at the time.

  12. Club in old market was roosters downstairs club crème was upstairs which was Bristol first lap dancing club .roosters was renamed club 46 when mod and Phil took over the running of the bar

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