Posted Dec 6 2023 | By Thomas Böhringer

Inside Bristol Beacon: The Weston Stage - Deeper Underground

Beneath the main Beacon Hall lie two levels of cellars, originally used as bonded warehouses, which can be accessed through the original hauling arch located in the northern corner of the new Foyer Piazza.

Both upper and lower cellars were extended north in 1900, but the cellars were under utilised and mostly used as storage space for the old Hall. The Lower Cellar is particularly intriguing and was an under exploited historic asset. Although its name might imply a degree of inaccessibility, it is in fact level with the Colston Street entrance to the foyer building.

The cellar is a series of intersecting vaulted brick structures, dug into the sloping hill of Trenchard Street. During the construction a medieval well was discovered which extended approximately 14.6m down below the cellar level, which required extensive hydrotechnical and structural works.

The existing vaulted brickwork was extensively cleaned, damp proofed to the rear of the space and protected with breathable mineral paint. New flooring, built in bench seating and side tables are provided along a new bar, to create a flexible performance space. Absorbing fabric linings and acoustic timber lining now create the Weston Stage, which is suitable for rehearsal, education work, conference dining and breakout, or late night clubbing.

The unusual form of this hall and associated new programming opportunities will help attract new audiences to the Bristol Beacon and inspire innovative educational programmes.