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Armada House History

Baldwin Street Bristol

Armada House was built in the early Edwardian period in 1903, as the head office of the Bristol Water Company. The “BW” initials can be still be seen as a central crest of the wrought iron art nouveau style railings leading up from the lobby. 

In this year Edward VII is on the throne, proclaimed Emperor of India, and the first West-East transatlantic radio broadcast is made from the United States to England; and Orville Wright flies an aircraft with a petrol engine in North Carolina in the first documented, powered, heavier-than-air flight.

Armada House, which was originally named Avon House and previously Nova House, was designed by local and well known architect Henry Williams who also designed the impressive Everards Printing Works building in 1901 in Broad Street, famous for its stunning Byzantine style tiled façade.

The fireplace situated in the lobby has been dated at around c.1550 and bears the rose of the house of Tudor and the coat of arms of Bristol. On the first floor the Elton Room has a Jacobean style stone fireplace from around 1650, complimented by a strapwork ceiling and oak wood panelled walls.

   Edward Everard building on Small street Bristol.  Designed by Henry Williams    The fireplace in the Elton Room came from umber 6 Small Street.  Both fireplaces at Armada House were moved from the Elton premises Small Street    

Both fireplaces came from numbers 6 and 7 Small Street. The fireplace in the lobby came from number 6, and the fireplace now in our Elton room came from number 7 which was also home to the Elton family for its convenient closeness to the docklands. Armada House is built on an area of land believed to have been used by the Elton’s for their copper trade ventures, significant for its involvement at the height of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. 

The Elton room contains many original features and is believed to be styled to match the fireplace. The room is named after the Elton Baronetcy of Bristol, which was created on 31st October 1717 for Abraham Elton, being former Mayor (1710) and Member of Parliament for Bristol (1722 – 1727). The seat of the Elton family is Clevedon Court in Somerset where they still reside but is now owned by the National Trust.

Latterly the Elton’s leased number 7 to the Bristol Water Company for their offices until around the turn of the century. Numbers 6, 7 & 8 Small Street were demolished to make way for a post office and the new purpose built premises for the water company were built here just off of Baldwin Street. 

At the turn of the century Telephone Avenue was constructed for the British Telephone Exchange and Armada House was built soon after.  Telephone Avenue became famous in 1958 when the first non-operator call was made by the Queen to Edinburgh.  This was what became the Subscriber Trunk Dialling system (introduction to area codes).

British Telecom owned the building from the 1970’s to the late 1990’s due to its proximity to the Bristol Telephone Exchange directly opposite. After this the building came back into private ownership and was comprehensively refurbished during 1998 for the benefit of the people & business’s of the city of Bristol. It was re-opened on 5th of February 1999 by Admiral Sir Jock Slater GCB LVO (Former First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff). 

Armada House is Bristol city centres only dedicated conference and events venue. Since 2006, when our present management team acquired the business, we have seen the company expand by 60%. We now offer a complete event solutions service, including being a civil wedding venue, a party venue, private dining, outside catering and event management.  

For more information about organising conferences & events visit the conference office on the 1st floor or visit our website or call 0117 9152600

  • "Your venue is charming and with such a good team I do wish you every success for the future. The next time we organise such an event we will certainly be in touch."
    - Justin Ryan, Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust
  • "Thank you for a fantastic evening on Saturday for our end of season awards evening. The food was absolutely delicious and the wine was also spot on! "
    - Firebrands Hockey Club
  • "Your team were very attentive and did a fantastic job- thank you!"
    - Vanessa Freund, McKinsey and Company
  • "We had a lovely time and the food was excellent. "
    - Debbie Burunou
  • "Thank you - it was a great event, the staff, venue and food were excellent. "
    - Thomas Dewey- Ovation
  • "The Armada House team were fantastic. They were great at facilitating us, and made the experience stress-free and smooth. From the warm welcome, to the very delicious catering, everything was thought of and no request was too much"
    - Fran - Talking Money
  • ""With its central location, beautiful building and friendly and professional staff, Armada House is the perfect venue for your event." "
    - Mel Hackett, University of London
  • ""Thank you all for a fantastic day... You were tremendously helpful and flexible over all the arrangements and everything went according to plan. The (organic) food and wine was delicious and everyone commented on the surroundings .Thank you all again for your help." "
    - Bee West, Green Books (Green, environmental and cultural publisher)