EXCLUSIVE: First look inside the revamped Gloucester Guildhall

Gloucester Guildhall is due to reopen for its first performance after a major refurbishment and SoGlos got to take a look inside before it opens its doors to the public.

By Chloe Gorman  |  Published

Gloucester Guildhall is set to reopen its doors after a major refurbishment on Saturday 1 October 2022.

The Arts Council and Gloucester City Council jointly funded the £270,000 refurbishment, which includes a variety of projects to modernise the Grade II listed building, while restoring and protecting its heritage. 

One of the biggest projects in the refurbishment saw Gloucester Guildhall staff painstakingly expose and restore the building's original Victorian flooring, which was first laid in 1890. Previously covered over with screed and carpet, the colourful mosaic floor is now proudly on display when visitors reach the top of the stairs from the box office. 

In Gloucester Guildhall's main hall, the original sprung dance floor has been restored, with the hope of hosting more dance-based events in the space; a new 4K projector has been installed with an almost full-width retractable screen, providing the capability to host live screenings and gaming events, as well as stage projections; and a new, fully programmable LED lighting rig is being installed, giving the Gloucester city centre venue the ability to cater for larger-scale touring artists and shows without the need to bring in additional equipment, as well as further increasing energy efficiency. 

The bar inside the main hall is also being doubled in size, to help serve Gloucester's gig-goers faster and stop them needing to leave the main hall and go into the café bar.

There is also new lighting, as well as improvements for visually impaired customers to improve accessibility throughout the building. 

One of the biggest changes can't necessarily be seen but it will certainly be felt. Despite the huge challenges of upgrading the internet capabilities within the Grade II listed building, Gloucester Guildhall now has superfast full fibre broadband throughout, with the ability to increase capacity to meet future demand, which it hopes will make a huge difference to the overall customer experience.

As well as facilitating faster card payments at its bar, café, cinema and box office, customers can also enjoy quicker WiFi while visiting - and its newly refurbished upstairs meeting rooms, which are also equipped with media screens, can make full use of the new connectivity, making them ideal for businesses looking for space to hire. 

One of the meeting rooms also has a new sprung dance floor, mirrored wall and fixed PA, so it can be used as a dance studio, rehearsal room and even an intimate performance space, as well as doubling up as a meeting room.

The top floor also connects directly to the roof of the King's Walk car park, providing easy access for meeting room users travelling by car.

For a larger space, the Blue Coat Room and former Mayor's chamber, the George Hunt room, on the lower floor are also available for hire, providing an impressive venue for conferences and meetings. 

While the Guildhall Cinema and café bar were both refurbished in 2020, further improvements have been made, with the café bar now having speakers and spotlights, giving it the flexibility to be used as a performance space in its own right, with hopes that small-scale live music performances can take place there in the future.

With the extended bar in the main hall, Gloucester Guildhall also plans to shift the focus of the café bar to primarily servicing cinema customers with drinks and a small food offering during showtimes, acting as an overflow bar for the main hall if necessary. 

Flexibility is a key part of the refurbishment, allowing Gloucester Guildhall to welcome even more diverse shows and performances, as well as improving its offering for local businesses and customers and making the venue more sustainable. 

While some works are currently ongoing, such as the installation of the new main hall bar and laying new carpets, Gloucester Guildhall reopens to the public for the Open Art Surgery Gloucester on Saturday 1 October 2022, followed by a performance from hard rock band, Inglorious, on Sunday 2 October 2022. The Gloucester Guildhall Cinema then reopens on Wednesday 5 October 2022 with a screening of National Theatre Live: Prima Facie starring Jodie Comer.

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