Bristol Hippodrome

Bristol Hippodrome

Infobox Historic building

name=Bristol Hippodrome
architect= Frank Matcham

The Bristol Hippodrome (gbmapping|ST590729) is a theatre in the centre of Bristol with seating on three levels giving a capacity of 1951. It frequently features West End theatre shows when they tour the UK as well as the yearly traditional pantomime.


The theatre was designed by Frank Matcham, and opened on 16 December 1912. It has been designated by English Heritage as a grade II listed building. [cite web | title=The Hippodrome | work=Images of England | url= | accessdate=2007-03-21] An important feature of the theatre when it opened was a huge water tank at the front of the stage; which could be filled with 100,000 gallons (454,609.188 litres) of water. Along with the tank was a large protective glass screen which could be raised in order to protect the orchestra and those in the stalls. It also has a dome, which can be opened when necessary; however since air conditioning had been installed it is rarely opened. The theatre survived World War 2, however less than three years after it ended, a fire destroyed the stage— luckily the auditorium was saved. The theatre reopened about 10 months later, and there have been no other disasters as severe.

The theatre now plays host to many top shows, such as "Cats", "Les Misérables", "Blood Brothers" and "The Phantom of the Opera". This is due to the size of its stage, which is one of the largest outside of London [cite web | title=Bristol Hippodrome | publisher=LiveNation | url= | accessdate=2007-06-14] . In addition to large musicals it is also a venue for comedians and 'one night shows' such as Derren Brown, French and Saunders and Russell Brand, as well as children's shows such as "Winnie the Pooh Live". The Bristol Hippodrome has strong links with many shows that frequently appear there, such as the Welsh National Opera and the Scouts' Bristol Gang Show.


The theatre is notable for staging a number of premieres including:
* British premiere of "Guys and Dolls" in 1953
* European premiere "The Music Man" in 1961
* European premiere of "Sail Away" in 1962
* World premiere of "Windy City" in 1982
* World premiere of "The Nutcracker" by the English National Ballet in 2002
* World premiere of the stage musical version of "Mary Poppins" in 2004


External links

* [ Theatre site]
* [ Bristol theatre archive at the University of Bristol Theatre Collection] , University of Bristol

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