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Our History

Shining a light on unsung heroes and hidden stories

Bristol Beacon first opened its doors on 20 September 1867. For over 150 years our walls have reverberated with the magical sights and sounds of orchestras, activists, acrobats, wrestlers, filmmakers and entertainers of every description.

In 2020, we started a new chapter, changing our name from Colston Hall to Bristol Beacon. With our new name we have sought to shine a light on the unsung heroes and hidden stories of our past, and to provide an open and welcoming home for the voices of the future.

On these pages you’ll find:

  • BSL video guide to Bristol Beacon

  • Our Story Wall – an illustrated interpretation of our history

  • Sound and visual art that recontextualises our history

  • Articles that dive into the untold stories from our past and uncover their relevance today

BSL Video Guide

David Ellington and Rebecca Vaughan welcome you to Bristol Beacon with a BSL signed tour of our venue.

They’ll introduce some fascinating features of our building and our musical and cultural heritage following our major restoration and redesign project.

Join them as they introduce you to our centre for music in the heart of Bristol.

Story Wall

This artwork by Mel Northover captures the excitement and energy of performance through the drawn line, connecting and transforming as it explores the Bristol Beacon’s story.

Over 400 artists are featured. Their stories are interwoven with the musical movements and world events that shaped and influenced the Beacon’s history.

Seek out famous rock stars. Discover new and previously forgotten artists. Learn surprising facts. Be inspired by our story and let the music, light and power of our artists’ messages inspire you to create new music of your own.

Audio Description

Margo Cargill and Michael Achtman describe the Story Wall for people who are blind or partially sighted.

Where is the Story Wall?

The Story Wall is a wall mural with 13 panels. You can find it in the Lantern Foyer and Simons’ Bar on Ground Level. The entrance to Lantern Foyer is to the right of our Box Office in Bridgehouse on the Ground Floor.

Art at the Beacon

Social history, sonic poems and audio visual art