News

Significant progress in works to transform Colston Hall

Today, work on the transformation of Colston Hall shows significant progress with the Main Hall unrecognisable in its stripped back shape.

Work to create the world-class concert hall is well underway, however as works have progressed the team has uncovered the delicate structure of the Victorian building and it has become clear that works will take longer than initially planned. The aim is to now open the new Hall in autumn 2021.

With Willmott Dixon now in place as Colston Hall’s principal contractor, its onsite team has been working alongside its demolition contractors to progress the construction programme. To date the stage and balcony have been removed, and the final heritage items are being gently stripped out.

Above is a time-lapse video of four months of demolition work from February 2019 – June 2019, showing the removal of the over-hanging balcony and significant changes to the main auditorium.

The last heritage items to be removed include the radio microphone that was used to broadcast shows and performances to the BBC and patients in Bristol hospitals in the mid 1900s, as well as the iconic Bristol crest that adorns the ceiling of the Main Hall.

A time capsule from 1951 has also been removed and although in a dilapidated state, Bristol archivists have managed to salvage some of the original contents.

With the building dating back to 1951 and parts of the building dating back as far as the 1800s, the Hall is steeped in history and the city’s cultural heritage. Therefore the works to transform the Hall include complex plans to remove, remodel, reinstate and transform existing heritage artefacts and the architecture of the original building to deliver the music venue that Bristol deserves.

The transformation of Colston Hall will create one of the best arts and learning facilities in the country and includes remodelling and upgrading the Main Hall and The Lantern, opening up the extensive cellars for the first time in 150 years – creating a new intimate performance space and a state-of-the-art education suite – and refurbishing the historic fabric of the building.

The education suites will include new classrooms and a technology lab, providing an inspiring base to educate thousands of children every year and increasing music making sessions at the venue by 75 per cent. It will also house the National Centre for Inclusive Excellence, providing music making opportunities for young people with Special Education Needs and Disabilities.

The transformation of Colston Hall marks Bristol’s biggest-ever redevelopment programme in the arts sector. The first phase of the project involved the construction of the £20 million foyer space which opened in 2009. The rest of the building has not been refurbished for 60 years, making it the only major concert hall in the UK not to have been redeveloped in recent times.

During the £48.8 million transformation, Colston Hall is continuing its live performance programme using the foyer building, which remains open, and other venues and spaces across the city including the upcoming River Town programme and sold out one-off Harbourside gigs featuring New Order and The Specials.

Further information on the transformation of the Hall can be found online at www.colstonhall.org/transform-the-hall or by following #transformthehall on social media channels.

Photos: ShotAway
Photo captions:
Top (l to r): Cllr Craig Cheney; Richard David, Director Willmott Dixon; Louise Mitchell, CEO Bristol Music Trust
Middle: Demolished main auditorium with birdcage scaffold being erected
Bottom: The Lantern being prepared for further demolition