Making a grand entrance at St George’s

Published on: 24 Aug 2017

NATIONAL Lottery funders inspected major works at St George’s in August, including the removal and repair of the concert hall’s 200-year-old pennant steps.

Representatives from Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) met with members of the team from St George’s and Hancock Stone responsible for delivering the restoration elements of the project.

The work is part of a wider initiative to transform St George’s into a world-class creative space for music and ideas, due to relaunch in February 2018. The ‘Building a Sound Future’ project, valued at £6.3million, includes a new extension, with multi-purpose spaces, a café bar and improved access.

Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the HLF’s £775,000 grant is also supporting heritage interpretation, and activities, retelling stories of the many lives of the Great George Street building – from an 1823 ‘Waterloo Church’ to World War 2 air raid shelter and finally as a music venue attracting some of the world’s leading musicians.

The St George’s project, undertaken by Hancock Stone, includes the removal of 140 very heavy, large stones.

Glenn Hancock, managing director of Hancock Stone, explained the scope of the work involved: “The steps were in a very poor state. They were uneven and tipping backwards, meaning a lot of water ingress onto the old mortar beds below. The mortar had turned to a soft soil in most places, which would have continued to deteriorate if left, and would have eventually caused the steps to collapse.“

“Moving each individual step was a task in itself with some weighing in excess of half a tonne. Once the steps were removed, we dug out all of the loose soil and poured a lime concrete, all by hand, to form the shape of the steps. The stones were then refixed to a straight line and slightly tipped forward in order to shed any water.”

Nerys Watts, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said: “We’re delighted to support this project which will ensure the physical heritage of this Grade II building and its decades of cultural heritage remain an integral part of St George’s exciting future. It’s fantastic to see first-hand the hard work being put into this project and we look forward to seeing the benefits it will have for Bristol’s culture and communities.”

St George’s chief executive Suzanne Rolt said: “We are extremely grateful for the support of the National Lottery, which is helping us to create a beautiful grand entrance as well as sharing fascinating, and unexpected, stories of St George’s and the people involved in its history.”

Work on the steps is due for completion in time for St George’s autumn season.

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