The unseen Colston Hall – Backstage Photos
Stepping backstage at Colston Hall is like stepping back in time. Amongst the heavy smell of dust and damp you feel a weight of memory. From the great artists that have walked the corridors towards the stage, to the technicians that have climbed the ladders to the heights of the lighting rig, they have all left their lasting mark (often on the walls with permanent markers).
Many of these areas have been available to view on popular backstage tours over the years, and the stories of Colston Hall’s history have been told to eager ears. But there are some areas that have been left to such extreme levels of decay they have never been shown to the public.
Above The Lantern there is a Victorian apartment, once the residence of the caretaker and his family, that has been left vacant since the 1950s. Derelict and dangerously close to collapse, we sent in a brave an inquisitive photographer to capture these spaces, along with many others throughout the building complex, before we commence our project to transform the hall.
The Caretaker’s Flat
From inside The Lantern and within the walls of Colston Hall we’ve tried hard to keep things looking as presentable as we can. But the truth is the building is in urgent need of redevelopment and repair. Viewing the same spaces from outside it is apparent how overdue this restoration is.
Used originally as a bonded warehouse when the Bristol docks camp up as far as St Mary on the Quay church, our cellars stretch across the entire length and breadth of the main auditorium above over two levels. They have been used for filming appearing in Skins, Sherlock, Casualty and many others. Bristol Old Vic even used it as a costume department in the 1970s and 1980s.
Soon they will be transformed into a new performance venue and a new suite of education facilities to inspire the next generation of music makers.
Always a favourite feature for audiences who have taken a moment to look up at the balcony, the cherubs have been looking down upon patrons since the auditorium was completed in 1951.
Fans of these cheeky cherubs can rest easy – they will be preserved and incorporated into the new building so that all can enjoy them for many more years to come.
Our history is written on the walls
Over the signs, walls and doors of Colston Hall’s backstage areas there lies the humorous and mischievous scribblings from countless artists and staff. Here’s just a sample of some of the voices immortalised in Sharpie on our walls including 1950s organ schematics, some makeshift safety notices and some classic backstage building signage.
All photography by ShotAway.