Bristol Historic Buildings has been working with some iconic Bristol buildings to restore them and ensure they become lively assets for the wider community. Have a look at the restoration work involved in each here.
St Michaels is a much loved church, now in the centre of Bristol (originally “without” the city walls). Although the clock tower dates back to the 15th century the rest of the church was rebuilt in the mid 18th century. It was boarded up in 1999 and then its roof was almost completely destroyed in an arson attack in 2016. The effects of this fire can be seen preserved on the walls inside to this day.
The diocese asked for bids to save the wonderful church. Norman acquired the building in 2019 and major works were carried out to rebuild the roof, lower the crypt and fully refurbish the interior of the whole building for it to be able to function as a beautiful event space for the community and private functions.
Since the Summer of 2021, the church has been welcoming people inside again to celebrate a wide variety of occasions including weddings, private and community bookings and dance theatre presented by its very own resident dance company, Impermanence Dance Theatre. There is a link for the event booking website opposite.
Kings Weston House was built in 1712 and designed by Sir John Vanbrugh, the designer of Blenheim Palace. It was acquired in 2013 when it was at risk of becoming derelict, and nearly on the Heritage “At Risk” register. The top two floors were converted to residential where the owner currently lives. The basement houses the community vaulted tea rooms and bistro area.
The main ground floor was brought back to its splendour and hosts an incredible variety of events from weddings, wakes and conferences to school and community activities, art and dance shows and even a film set for Poldark, Dr Who and many others.
The gardens have undergone major development with new lawns, flowerbeds, water features and new car park.
The building and gardens are popular with many and have we have a number of volunteers who support this project.
The Lamplighters has served as a hostelry for over 250 years, with first mention in a Bristol journal in 1768. It lies on the bank of the Avon opposite Pill and probably known to seamen from all over the world. It had been lying derelict for five years with major roof leaks, broken windows and pipework being stolen.
It was acquired in 2013 with the aim of bringing this community public house back to life. The project gained a huge amount of support both from the public and also the MP Charlotte Lesley. The work entailed completely gutting the property “top to bottom”. Today the Lamplighters is a lively and successful pub enjoyed by the local residents and many who travel to take in the unique history and surroundings.
The Wesleyan Chapel on the Filton roundabout had been empty for three years and had mushrooms growing in the rear store rooms! It was acquired in 2007 and underwent internal and external renovation. A steal framed mezzanine floor was fitted with the metalwork clad in timber to give a beautiful working environment internally. Today it is home to a thriving business centre.
In addition to the projects mentioned we are constantly on the look-out for heritage buildings that are at-risk of being lost. Some buildings that we have been looking at include:
- Ashton Court Mansion: This building has been run by the council but recently has been struggling to be financially viable. The council are aiming to encourage interested parties to submit plans for how this heritage asset can best be protected for future generations to come. We feel passionately that this iconic Bristol building should be brought back to its glory for the benefit of the people of Bristol and visitors from further afield. Our vision is to refurbish the areas damaged by fire and to support a range of activities to use the building ranging from weddings and conferences to schools and community groups, art shows and potential residential accommodation.
- Hotwells Baths: This lovely building has been neglected for several years and is now suffering from water damage. Our bid to turn it back into a vibrant dance studio failed (it already had a magnificent dance floor). The winning bidder is yet to start work 3 years later. For whatever reason, this is one of the dangers for heritage buildings at risk, and we feel passionate about ensuring our projects deliver for the public.