University of Bristol Computer Centre

There’s a fantastic Facebook group called Bristol – Then and Now Photographs. For ages I’ve wanted to contribute something but I haven’t had a suitable “then” photo to recreate.

Recently, I came across a picture of the Computer Centre at the University of Bristol. This unremarkable structure on Tyndall Avenue was completed in the early 1980s to house the university’s computer (singular) and the staff required to maintain it. I don’t know the photographer or the date of this picture, but the building has only just been completed – the skip is still outside and the trees haven’t yet been planted.

University of Bristol Computer Centre - 1980s
University of Bristol Computer Centre – 1980s

These days, the building still houses the university’s data centre but also contains a 24-hour computer room for students, an IT service desk, offices for many of the IT staff, the Careers department and a service counter for the students’ union.

Unlike many other buildings on and around the university campus, the Computer Centre has had no significant external modification. A few rooms have been moved around internally but the building has never been extended. The trees are now grown, and the roof is also sporting some moss.

University of Bristol Computer Centre - 2014
University of Bristol Computer Centre – 2014

Immediately to the left of the Computer Centre now stands the Centre for Sport, Exercise and Health, which was completed in 2002.

Both of these pictures were taken from the roof of the H H Wills Physics Laboratory which is the highest point in the city, with the exception of the white chimney on Southwell Street. Note – there are taller buildings than the Physics department but none that are more elevated. The church of St Mary Redcliffe, the tallest building in Bristol, stands almost at sea level near Redcliffe Wharf.

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