Bristol Beacon – the concert venue formerly known as Colston Hall – has been undergoing a major refurbishment project since 2017, and it has now been announced that the reopening has been delayed until October 2023.
The costs of refurbishing Bristol’s largest concert hall has doubled to almost £107 million. Bristol City Council announced this week that the increase in cost was down to ‘a number of unforeseen structural and heritage issues… including asbestos, hidden arches within the walls and Elizabethan wells in the building’s basement. These discoveries, alongside the COVID-19 pandemic, delayed the project and added further cost.’
The project was initially anticipated to cost £48.8 million in 2018, a sum which was revised to £52.2 million a year later. The overall estimate cost of the project is now £106.9 million. These additional costs will be mostly paid for by Bristol City Council, which owns Bristol Beacon.
Bristol’s city mayor Marvin Rees said he agreed it was right to continue work on the venue, and that mothballing the project was out of the question. ‘Pausing or abandoning the project would be an irretrievable loss to the city, its arts and culture organisations and citizens,’ he said.
The building was previously known as Colston Hall, before its name was changed in last year as part of its redevelopment project. The venue’s statement at the time acknowledged the connotations of being named after one of Bristol’s major slave traders. ‘We know that our current name, that of the slave trader Edward Colston, means that not everyone has felt welcome or that they belong in their city’s concert hall. And if we can’t share the joy of live music with everyone, something must change.’
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