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A painting of three people dressed in blue on stage bowing to a seated audience

A Place For Everyone

An aural exhibition of Bristol Beacon’s historic place in the community 

Since 1867, Bristol Beacon has been a focal point in the lives of Bristolians, showcasing big musical acts and local talent in equal measure, alongside an eclectic program of other events including wrestling, political rallies, beauty pageants, and community events.

In 2019, oral historian Tot Foster met and spoke with Bristol’s communities who gave voice to very individual and personal stories of their memories of Bristol Beacon. Alongside 40 specially commissioned illustrations by artist Matt Booker, the exhibition “A Place for Everyone” provided a snap shot of the unique role the Hall has played in people’s lives over the years.

Listen to the stories

The Show Goes On

For 152 years Bristol Beacon has been a civic centre at the heart of life in Bristol. Music has always been important, but beyond the big names the Hall has been a place for everything from cricket club fundraisers, cookery demonstrations, dog shows, job fairs and blood donation collection.

Performers, trustees, sponsors, organisers, and of course the staff at Bristol Beacon; it takes many people to make this a Place for Everyone. This collection includes recollections and personal musical memories from the people that make sure the show goes on.

Of course, no show is complete without an audience and on this track you will also hear from the people of Bristol about why they’ve visited Bristol Beacon, and the many experiences they’ve had here.

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Spectacular Storytelling

Until the 1980’s what is now the Lantern was known as the Little Theatre, putting on regular and accessible theatre six days a week in partnership with Bristol Old Vic and the repertory theatre company the Rapier Players. With new stories added every week seats were available on subscription in the pre-television era, with members of the public eager to find out what happens next. We hear from actors who trod the boards, and the communities that were built around this unique theatre.

In the main hall, wrestling was one of the biggest nights of the week. Big names such as Giant Haystacks and Big Daddy would go head to head in nail-biting shows, attracting audiences from around Bristol for regularly sold out bouts from 1950s to 2004. In this collection wrestlers, audience and staff recount their stories of the golden days of wrestling.

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Bristol Takes A Bow

For Bristolians there have been many opportunities to get on the stage at Bristol Beacon. Many people’s first memory of the Hall is actually as a performer rather than an audience member.

Whether it was part of a school Christmas concert, dancing as part of the annual Stages festival or working with world renowned conductors. On this track we hear from those who have sung, danced, and even paraded on the main stage in front of proud parents, teachers and friends.

Interviewees also explore the influence that these formative experiences have had on their lives, and the impact that the continuing education work of Bristol Beacon is still having today.

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Creative Team

Illustrations Matt Booker
Sound Tot Foster 
Project Assistant Phoebe Graham 
Community Learning and Volunteers Senior Officer Julia Roderick/ Ella Kenny



People in the streets and parks of Bristol
Residents, staff and visitors at Deerhurst Care Home

Louise Anderson, Frank Cullen, Chris Daniels, Cheryl Lindell, Jan de Gay, Michael Evans, Ruby Fleming, Sheila Fudge, Nigel Hanmore, Theresa Harris, Cherry Kraus, Bob LLoyd, Clare McKeown, Gillie McKeown, Joshua McKeown Davies, Nicky Monroe, Andrew Nisbet, Geoffrey Norman, Vera Norman, Chris Pockett, Margaret Pymm, Michelle Rochester, Basil Russell, Lloyd Ryan, John Short, Ken Sowden, Jonah Stein, John Telfer, Timothy West, Daniel Wood

Thanks also to Eugene Byrne, Lesley Hobbs, Ann Sell and Jane Talbot for their valuable input.