Bristol’s Old Vic has been awarded £2.4 million by the Heritage Lottery Fund and is set to become a ‘major heritage destination.’

In an official press release sent out on Thursday 13th October, the company detailed how the grant will help to fund the architectural conservation and restoration of the theatre.  Additionally, the award is to provide for a digital cataloguing of the theatre’s archives in a joint effort between the University of Bristol and Bristol Record Office.

Credit: Jon Craig
Credit: Jon Craig

Emma Stenning, Chief Executive of the Old Vic, said “Bristol Old Vic has long cherished the very special place that it holds in the hearts of Bristolians far and wide – thousands of whom flocked to King Street this May to celebrate the building’s 250th birthday. ”

“It’s a feeling that has inspired our heritage project, and we hope that in protecting and sharing the architecture and archives of the theatre in new and exciting ways, we are in fact creating a celebration of the people of this city, who have cared for it, without fail, for so many years.”

The award is one of eight projects across England sharing a £48 million investment from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) which seeks create jobs, boost tourism and save some of the nation’s most significant heritage.

Nerys Watts, Head of HLF South West, said: “Today’s investment, which would not have been possible without National Lottery players, will secure the future of fascinating archives, open up historic and characterful spaces and reveal its incredible story as the world’s oldest theatre.”

The Theatre Royal originally opened in 1766 however the first production by the Bristol Old Vic Company would not open until 1946.  The theatre’s stage has since featured many famous actors including Daniel Day Lewis, Naomi Harris, Jeremy Irons and the late Gene Wilder.  Bristol Old Vic is now the longest continuously-running theatre in the United Kingdom.


By Conchúr Dowds