Bristol Beacon

  • Client

    Bristol City Council

  • Contractor

  • Value


  • Completion Date

    November 2023

Bristol Beacon had fallen a long way behind comparative venues for audiences, performers, and staff pre-closure in 2018, having had no significant modernisation for 60 years.

The building suffered from serious under investment and a significant maintenance backlog of £2.2m worth of urgent repairs. There was a stark disparity between the standards offered by the new foyer building and the remainder of the complex which was affecting the visitor experience and the quality of performances.

A detailed analysis of the main hall was undertaken in 2004 which identified many major issues with the 1951 interior such as dry rot and leaking roofs, asbestos in need of treatment or removal, inflexible, small stage and tight and uncomfortable seating and poor environmental performance wasting money and energy.

The original budget had increased because of what Willmott Dixon uncovered in the 156-year-old building. This included three Elizabethan wells ten feet deep in the cellars, sinking below the level of the floating harbour, a Victorian heating system, and hollow pillars that they had thought were solid supporting columns.

When the building roof was removed, the 120-tonne birdcage scaffolding put in place to hold the original walls in place was believed to be the largest of its kind on any building project in Europe. Thousands of tonnes of concrete enough to fill 1,280 baths – have been poured in to shore up the foundations.

Bristol City Council were kept updated throughout, to ensure transparency throughout the process.

The Solution

This project is probably one of Europe’s most intricate and complex transformation projects in the last ten years.

The new facilities will work smarter and harder. Efficiencies will include a scene-dock, seating on wheels, fore-stage lift to reduce changeover time from flat-floor to raked-seating, a more appropriate get-in, a desk-controlled lighting rig, quick-pour technology and online pre-ordering.

Backstage areas have been refurbished to a high standard and floor levels have been altered to provide exemplary access for disabled people and equipment.

The Results

Over five years later and with over a million hours of time invested, this once in a lifetime project has transformed Bristol Beacons and it is now described by Arts Council England as ‘one of the greatest cultural icons of modern-day Britain’.

Bristol Beacon now boasts four new world-class performance spaces, allowing it to deliver over 800 events a year and generate an estimated £13m annually to the economy.

As well as having some of the best acoustics of any concert hall in Europe, it will also have some of the highest levels of physical accessibility throughout making it truly accessible to everyone, both artists and audiences.


Weeks of apprenticeships and traineeships experience


SME Spend Achieved

Contractor Performance | Commitments


Regular payments and have payment periods not exceeding 30 days


BREEAM Very Good




Achieved and on-going


Handover & Aftercare Contractor Promise

SCF Framework Manager

Kingsley Clarke


Phone: 07805760622

Contractor Framework Manager

Guy Dawes


Phone: 07989179444