The Mud Dock story

The idea for the concept and values of Mud Dock came easily to its founders Jerry Arron and Beverly Newman. As keen cyclists, they had been consistently disappointed by their experiences in British bike shops and felt it time to do something about it…


Back in the early 1990s…

… bicycle retail was an uninspiring experience at best, and seemed years behind the exciting and inventive retail spaces emerging on the high street. The presentation of bikes, components and accessories in no way reflected the quality, style and innovation of the products.

The lifestyle concept of a bicycle shop combined with a bar/restaurant was a natural progression from this, combined with the love of good coffee, beer, food and wine. Frequent trips to Spain encouraged this, where the cycling and dining were both inspiring. Arron, having worked initially in magazine publishing, on titles such as NME and Melody Maker, was now running his own business, De Facto, with clients including Polydor, StreetSounds, Next and Cannondale. But with a love of cycling, Arron and Newman found London apathetic, and, in 1992, the search for the ideal city for the new proposed business began.

The start of the building workThe South West of England, where the superb countryside and rolling moors offer some of the best cycling in Europe, was the obvious choice. The perfect location would be near the water, away from the High Street and with plenty of parking.

When, some months later, an empty dockside warehouse on Bristol’s Floating Harbour was identified, work began to transform the empty brick box that was in a previously undesirable part of the city, into a business that soon became known throughout the region.

Since then, the Floating Harbour has become central to Bristol’s thriving economy, with many more bars and restaurants appearing in quick succession.

In 1994…

… Mud Dock opened its door for the first time. The ground floor was dedicated to bikes, with a speciality in high-end mountain bikes and accessories. Half of the first floor was taken up with clothing and shoes, and the remainder formed the café. Just six tables and two dozen chairs sat quirkily among the Lycra. But the tables were almost always full so more and more were bought. The clothing gradually retreated downstairs.

The concept and industrial lo-tech design of Mud Dock soon attracted the attention of the national press. Suddenly the small café above a bike shop was being compared to more serious restaurants of note, and so the menu and service was forced to move up a gear.

By 1996…

…. Mud Dock had grown and developed consistently since its quiet opening. The café was always full so its opening hours increased and a new balcony was completed in time for that year’s Bristol Festival of the Sea.

The accolades continued to roll in including the title of UK Café of the Year in Roy Ackerman’s Café’s of Europe. Development continued in the shop too, with a new Mud Dock MTB team, sponsored by San Miguel, competing and winning National Championships, and the trophy of UK’s Best Bike Shop in GQ Active.

In 2002…

… the first plans were laid for expanding the scope of the Mud Dock offer through the creation of the Bike Shed. For too long people cycling to work had to be content with locking their bikes to lamp-posts and changing in the toilet or stationery cupboard.

With support from Bristol City Council and the Department of Transport, work eventually began and the new extension took shape. Bespoke locker, shower and changing facilities were an integral part of the plan. The mechanics finally got to move out of the window-less workshop that had been their home for almost ten years and into the daylight at the front of the new building.

The changes were rung in the café as well. The terrace was extended on to the roof of the Bike Shed. The bar was doubled in length and, most importantly, the previously wardrobe-sized kitchen was extended to add more cooking facilities, storage areas and cellar space.

In 2011…

… we commeced work on a new venture, just across the harbourside. Converting the former workshop of what was Bristol jail, we created Mud Dock Deli – a faster-paced place where people would drop in for people for breakfast, lunch and supper, either eating in or taking away.

The Deli opened in 2012 and soon enjoyed a popular following. It also became the venue for our regular bike-themed Film Nights. The disruption caused by the development of the vast Wapping Wharf site adjacent to the Deli forced its temporary hibernation in late 2013, but we look forward to re-opening it in due course.

In 2014…

… we celebrated our 20th Anniversary. The original passion and values the business was founded upon are as strong as ever, and Mud Dock continues to grow and develop. The rest of the story starts here…