Bristol is packed with buildings that have intriguing back stories and that’s especially true of some of our most coveted event venues. We dig into the past life of some of them here, uncovering their place in the city’s history and how they’ve been turned into unforgettable event spaces, which you can hire out today.  

Brunel's SS Great Britain

The former life of Brunel’s SS Great Britain is long and varied! It was history-making from the very start, being the first ever iron ship as well as the first to use a screw propeller. During its active years in the 19th and early 20th century, the ‘world’s first great ocean liner’ went on to be an emigrant ship and then a cargo ship. In 1970, the ship was returned to Bristol by an expert salvage team and restored to its former glory.

Today, Brunel’s SS Great Britain is a favourite venue for event planners after an immersive experience. Spaces available to hire on and off the ship include the Weather Deck, First Class Dining Saloon and Dockyard Café and up to 250 guests can be accommodated. Delegates can explore the ship and even take part in themed team building activities such as a Victorian detective challenge.

First Class Dining Saloon event space on Brunel's SS Great Britain

Image credit: Brunel's SS Great Britain

Watershed and M Shed

Both Watershed and M Shed were once old transit sheds, which formed part of Bristol’s working docks. They fell into disrepair for many years but major regeneration in the Harbourside area included giving them a new lease of life. Now each is an innovative event space, with the added bonus of views over the Harbour and you can plan events for up to 200 people at Watershed or 230 at M Shed.

Hotel du Vin Bristol City Centre

In the 18th century, sugar was a principal commodity traded through Bristol. Hotel du Vin is situated in the former warehouse buildings of a sugar factory, which dates all the way back to the 1700s. When it was functioning, the refining process would have taken place here, with impurities removed from the sugar and various grades of white crystalline sugar produced. It’s the only remaining sugar house in the city and is now Grade II listed, highlighting its significance as a piece of industrial archaeology.

A sensitive reconstruction transformed the building into a fabulous hotel, with four rooms for private events, each quirky in character and full of history. There is space for up to 72 delegates, theatre style.

Private hire event room at Hotel du Vin Bristol city centre

Image credit: Hotel du Vin Bristol City Centre

Bristol Harbour Hotel

What today is an elegant event space inside the luxury Harbour Hotel on Corn Street was once a banking hall owned by Lloyds Bank. Part of a Grade II listed building and featuring grand high ceilings and period features, Sansovino Hall’s design was inspired by Jacopo Sansovino’s 16th century Venetian library. Since its heyday, it has been beautifully restored and is now the ideal place for dinner and events in impressing surroundings, seating up to 400 guests theatre style.  

Sansovino Suite at Bristol Harbour Hotel

Image credit: Bristol Harbour Hotel 

Bristol Old Vic

Bristol Old Vic is famously the oldest continuously working theatre in the English speaking world, built in 1766. But there’s a piece of the theatre that is even older – Coopers’ Hall was constructed in 1743 and had an enormous variety of uses over the years. Originally a Georgian banqueting hall, it’s also been a courthouse, a Baptist chapel, offices, an auction room, a fruit warehouse and a performance space.

Architect Peter Moro incorporated Coopers’ Hall into the entrance of the theatre in 1972. More recently, the Grade I listed building been restored into an event space for up to 120 people, with green and gold décor in traditional Georgian style and original chandeliers.

Former courthouse Coopers' Hall at Bristol Old Vic

Image credit: Bristol Old Vic

Passenger Shed

Another of Brunel’s wondrous designs, the Passenger Shed was an original part of his Old Station, adjoining to Temple Meads. The building was considered a masterpiece in its time, similar in size to a cathedral. Today it’s Grade I listed and a nominated World Heritage Site. Ideal for large events thanks to space for up to 600 guests for dining or 800 theatre style, the venue delivers an atmospheric experience.

The New Room, John Wesley’s Chapel

The New Room is the oldest Methodist building in the world. It was here in 1739 that John Wesley began a ministry and ever since then it’s remained a place to meet as well as worship and learning. The Chapel seats up to 400 people and has been used for all kinds of conferences, concerts and performances and has served as a filming location for many TV shows too, such as Poldark. There are also smaller event spaces such as the Horsefair Room, suited to more intimate meetings or training days.

The Chapel at The New Room, John Wesley's Chapel Bristol

Image credit: The New Room, John Wesley's Chapel

The Station

The Station is located in the Old Fire Station (hence the name!), which was completed in 1928. The grand Grade II listed building is a vast space, now run by the Creative Youth Network, who combine high quality arts with youth services. They have a selection of rooms for event hire, including the Performance Space, which has capacity for up to 352 delegates in theatre style or 600 standing.

The Station event space in Bristol

Image credit: Eileen Long

Thornbury Castle

We’ve saved the oldest for last – Thornbury Castle was built over 500 years ago and was in the hands of royalty when Henry VIII owned it. The 16th century castle was made into a country house hotel surrounded by 15 acres vineyards and Tudor garden. With space for up to 75 people, inspire guests by inviting them to this historic building where once upon a time Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn would have spent time.  

Baron's Sitting Room at Thornbury Castle

Image credit: Thornbury Castle

Interested in holding your next event in one of these characterful venues? Make an enquiry and we’ll pair you up with options that meet all your requirements.

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