The Bristol Hippodrome, the city’s very own West End theatre, opened its doors on 16 December 1912 when the curtain rose for the first time on what was generally agreed to be Oswald Stoll’s most magnificent provincial theatre. It is a superb example of the grand architecture of the late Victorian era and is one of the masterpieces of design by Frank Matcham, the most eminent theatre architect of his time.
One of Matcham’s spectacular features included the provision of a huge water tank constructed in front of the stage, which could be filled within one minute by 100,000 gallons of water, allowing the theatre to combine three forms of entertainment – stage, circus and aquatic. To protect the orchestra and those sitting in the front Stalls from the heavy spray which resulted from some of those effects, an enormous glass screen could be raised by the single movement of a lever.
A unique feature within the theatre, which unlike the water tank still survives today, is the dome in the roof above the stalls, which can be opened to reveal the sky above. Now that the auditorium is air-cooled the dome is rarely used, but many audiences have marvelled at this event during intervals and still request its opening, which to our knowledge is the only operating dome still functioning this way in the UK.
Having survived the war unscathed during which time the theatre contributed enormously to the morale of Bristolians with a continuous run of first-rate entertainment, it was a tragic irony when, less than three years after the war ended, a disastrous fire broke out and almost destroyed it in 1948.
The theatre has diversified over the years to encapsulate the full spectrum of live theatrical entertainment. From top West End shows Cats, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, We Will Rock You, Dirty Dancing and Legally Blonde, to name more than a few, through to regular visits from the best in Opera and Ballet, Comedy, Childrens’ Shows, Concerts and even the Circus! They have all thrilled audiences over the years and continue to do so today so get your theatre tickets right here from ATG Tickets!
The world famous Clifton Suspension Bridge was the far-fetched dream of wine merchant William Vick. Hailed as ‘the ornament of Bristol and the Wonder of the age’ when construction began in 1831, it was designed by 23 year old Isambard Kingdom Brunel and took over 30 years to complete, opening in 1864 as a memorial dedicated to the engineer.
Now celebrating its 150th anniversary, the Bridge is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week and can be crossed on foot or by bike free of charge. The brand new Visitor Centre in Leigh Woods is open from 10am to 5pm daily, with free tours at 3pm every Saturday, Sunday and bank holiday from Easter to October. Groups may book private tours at any time for a small fee and a programme of events runs throughout the year for families and adult learners.
The bridge is illuminated each evening, lighting up half an hour before sunset. Photographers may like to visit the viewpoints on Sion Hill or at the Cumberland Basin.
To find out more, visit www.cliftonbridge.org.uk, phone 0117 974 4664 or follow the bridge on Twitter or Facebook as @brunelsbridge.
A concert hall, just off Park Street, with some of the best acoustics in the world. Expect classical, jazz, world and folk artists, plus spoken word and family events. This neo-classical building was designed by Sir Robert Smirke, the architect behind the British Museum.
Hop-on & off our bus and take a tour of Bristol Hippodrome on SATURDAYS or TUESDAY to FRIDAY (no tours on Sunday or Monday). Theatre tours operating from April to September
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