Capacity: The auditorium currently seats 745 people. It seems to have once held many more, however. A notice of impending renovations that ran in the Bristol Mirror in 1845 notes that “sufficient sitting-room for about 1,400 persons will be provided” (transcribed in the Kathleen Barker Collection).
Performance Space Description: The Victoria Rooms are housed in an ornate, Neoclassical building on the North East side of Queen’s Road. According to contemporary accounts, the performance space itself was rather large by the mid-1840s; the aforementioned Bristol Mirror piece, for instance, claims that the Rooms would soon boast a new orchestra that could accommodate 170 performers. It also notes audience seating at the sides and end of the room. While the auditorium now measures 25 metres long by 16.6 metres wide, the original hall may have been slightly larger. In the 1855 English Cyclopaedia, Charles Knight gives the following dimensions: 117 feet long (35.7m) by 55 feet (16.8) wide.
Typical Fare: Between 1842 and 1852, a variety of kinds of entertainment were offered at the Rooms, including vocal and instrumental concerts, readings from Shakespeare, exhibitions, and fashionable balls. Particularly popular events included the appearance of Jenny Lind in 1848 and of Charles Dickens 1852.
The Victoria Rooms were designed by Charles Dyer. They opened in 1842, and (according to the University of Bristol website) “for many years served as the most important and lively cultural centre in the West of England”.
The original hall was lost in a fire in 1934.
The venue is currently home to the Department of Music in the University of Bristol.
Please see the 'Bibliographic Sources' link at right for a complete listing of materials (both primary and secondary) from which the above information was compiled.