The £132 million Bristol Beacon already has a leaky roof

The Lantern foyer area of the new Bristol Beacon building - pictured in September 2023, around ten weeks before the venue opened, and the leaky roof after heavy rain on Friday, July 5, 2024.
-Credit: (Image: Jen Smith)


Gig goers at the Bristol Beacon, which reopened less than eight months ago after a £132 million rebuild, say they were shocked to discover the roof leaking during the interval of a comedy show.

A group attending a Sarah Millican show on Friday evening went out into the Lantern foyer area and noticed water dripping constantly through the ceiling. Bosses at the Bristol Beacon said they were working on fixing the leaky roof.

One person in the group, Jen Smith, filmed the scene and said she thought it was ‘wild’, given the venue was effectively completely rebuilt in a project that went £80 million over budget, in part because the building needed completely new roofs.

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The Bristol Beacon - formerly the Colston Hall when it closed for the refit back in 2017 - reopened amid great fanfare at the end of November 2023. The project to refurbish and rebuild it was supposed to cost around £45 million, but ended up costing £132 million - the bulk of which will be paid by the council taxpayer after the then Labour regime running Bristol City Council took out loans to pay for it to be completed.

The work included restoring the old entrance foyer area with new staircases around the original Victorian architecture. And it was on the mezzanine level there that Jen Smith and her friends saw the roof leaking. There had been heavy rain outside on Friday.

An area of the Lantern Foyer at the Bristol Beacon during what management are calling 'a minor leak', just eight months after reopening following a £132 million refit -Credit:Jen Smith
An area of the Lantern Foyer at the Bristol Beacon during what management are calling 'a minor leak', just eight months after reopening following a £132 million refit -Credit:Jen Smith

“In the interval, a friend sat down on a seat outside of the auditorium,” she said. “I noticed something flash by her and realised there was water coming through the ceiling.

“I think the Beacon knew it was leaking because there was a table and two chairs perfectly positioned either side of where the water was coming in. It looked like it was an attempt to disguise it.

“My friend went over to alert a member of the front-of-house team. I started filming it because it’s wild isn’t it. - all that money, open seven months and water is coming in the roof. You expect it from old theatres, but not a newly refurbished top-of-the-range concert hall that’s just had £132 million spent on it,” she added.

Sarah Robertson, the director of communications at Bristol Beacon said: “After a period of heavy rain on Friday night, there was a minor leak in the flat roof above the Lantern foyer. Our teams responded promptly to the issue and it is being fixed. We are dedicated to maintaining the highest standards of safety and comfort for everyone who visits the Beacon.”