First glimpse of redevelopment works released




Coopers' Hall before redevelopment began 
Coopers' Hall today, during redevlopement works.

2016 was one of the most successful years in Bristol Old Vic's 250 year history, heralding the dawn of a new age for the theatre company. Highlights from 2016 included:

  • An acclaimed programme, including eight major productions celebrating the four centuries in which theatre has been produced in the King Street Theatre. It welcomed back great stars of the past including Jeremy Irons, Tim West, Stephanie Cole, Sir Tony Robinson, John Caird and Dame Siân Phillips.
  • Two smash hit transfers to the National Theatre (Peter Pan and Jane Eyre).
  • Bristol Old Vic's Birthday Weekend saw a city-wide take over the theatre - with more than 3000 people participating as either performers or audiences. A further 6000 people joined the spectacular street party - the biggest crowd ever seen in King Street, since the Mod/Rocker turf wars of 1962.
  • Bristol Old Vic's historic Thunder run was heard for the first time since the 1940s in a Theatre production of King Lear.
  • The transfer of three Bristol Old Vic Christmas shows to London; Peter Pan, The Night That Autumn Turned to Winter and Boing!
  • Ferment (Bristol Old Vic's artist development initiative) supported eight shows at the Edinburgh Fringe. Half of those are now embarking on a UK tour.
  • Three major Bristol Old Vic productions on national and international tours (Jane Eyre, Pink Mist, And Then Come the Nightjars).
  • £2.5m HLF grant for a revolutionary articulation of the theatre's extraordinary history, to being in 2018.
  • Giving real creative opportunity to children from every part of the city, Bristol Old Vic's Young Company now - for the first time in its history - includes young people from every single ward in Bristol.
  • 10,246 sessions with young people were delivered by Bristol Old Vic's Engagement team.
  • The creation of an acclaimed and ground-breaking musical, The Grinning Man, heralded nationally as having "the best score in years."


With the momentum created by this extraordinary programme throughout 2016, Bristol Old Vic's fundraising hit 95% of its redevelopment target, allowing the demolition work to start on time.

The company's multi-million pound capital project will celebrate Bristol Old Vic's spectacular past, releasing stories and knowledge hitherto unknown, and secure its future to continue the gold standard of quality and innovation set in the 2016 programme.

Bristol Old Vic revealed the dramatic progress of its redevelopment project for the first time today, showing the work currently underway to improve the Front of House experience for Bristol visitors.

Building contractors Gilbert-Ash began the painstaking work of demolishing the 1970s sections of Bristol Old Vic at the beginning of November. The mezzanine and box office areas have already been removed, ready to begin groundworks for the new Studio theatre and Coopers' Hall function room that will be housed in its place. The old Studio theatre is being dismantled to make way for the new Front of House spaces, bars and box office. Currently, 40 tonnes of rubble are being removed from the site each day.

The specialist job of uncovering the Georgian theatre's exterior wall for the first time is also taking place and is slowly revealing a brick-based history of the building and its various alterations over the centuries. Award-winning architect Steve Tompkins said the revealed brick and stonework, only previously seen through archive images, was "more beautiful than he had dared hope, like a mortar tape-recorder documenting each alteration and change made to the theatre over time, and something that will form the heart and soul of this redevelopment". They now begin the careful job of preserving various elements of this 1766 wall to tell the theatre's historic journey.


Entrance to the dress circle level of the theatre. Render removed, exposing the various alterations across the centuries. Including remnants of old staircaes and windows.

Bristol Old Vic's ambitious 2-phase refurbishment began with the redevelopment of the theatre's historic Georgian auditorium, (completed in 2012), and is now focused on redeveloping the Front of House spaces, creating a new Studio theatre and also includes sharing the theatre's unprecedented 250 year archive collection and architectural history with the public.

The recent Heritage Lottery Award ensures the unique archives of Bristol Old Vic company and its theatre will be digitised, preserved and opened up to the public like never before. Chief Executive Emma Stenning explained:
"Using the latest technology, as well as harnessing the creativity of the theatre team, we will be able to bring the theatre's history to life in a variety of new and exciting ways within the new building. Bristol Old Vic will transform itself into a major heritage destination alongside its role as a dynamic, working theatre."


Artists impresison of redevelopment. Architects Haworth Tompkins

People can donate to the Bristol Old Vic redevelopment in a variety of ways; if you're a large business, a local community groups or an individual, everyone can help us to keep telling the stories of this city.

There are still two prestigious silver tickets available from a total of 50 minted in 2016, a variety of seats in the Theatre and the soon-to-be-built Studio available to be sponsored, alongside individual donations that can be made online or through the box office 0117 987 7877.



For further information, contact the Bristol Old Vic press team: / 0117 949 4901
Amanda Adams, Press Manager
Charlie Coombes, Press Officer