Colston Hall: almost 140 years of music…

Photo: Miss Charity on Flickr

This is our first large-scale collaboration with Colston Hall, and their first ever Christmas theatre show.  And so while we use our current refurbishment to unearth stories and memories from the past, let’s have a look at the history of another Bristol institution. 

The site has been occupied by four buildings named Colston Hall since the 1860s. In the thirteenth century, the site was occupied by a friary, known as Whitefriars. It was replaced by a large Tudor mansion used by Queen Elizabeth I in 1574 on a visit to the city. In 1707, Edward Colston established the Colston Boys’ School in this building, which was acquired by the Colston Hall Company in 1861. Colston Hall opened as a concert venue on September 20, 1867.

In 1898 there was a huge fire at the hall, and the interior was more or less destroyed.  The new hall opened in 1901 and in 1919 it was bought by the Corporation of Bristol.

In December 1936, the third hall was opened. This survived the Luftwaffe air raids of the Second World War, but was burned down in 1945 after a discarded cigarette started a fire. The hall was rebuilt once more, and the fourth reopened in 1951 to mark the Festival of Britain.

From 2007 to 2009, the Colston Hall underwent extensive refurbishment with the construction of a new foyer alongside the present building, topped by a wind turbine.

Colston Hall have an excellent history section on their website, which you can view here.


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