Bristol Beacon Restoration Project

January 24 2024

When Bristol City Council embarked on a journey to revitalise the iconic Bristol Beacon, they turned to the expertise of Mon Timber, a branch of Premier Forest Products.

Bristol Beacon, a historic Grade 2 listed site that bore the scars of war, was poised for a remarkable renewal in 2018, thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Mon Timber team and contractors Ian Williams Carpentry (IWC) and Willmott Dixon.

The project commenced with a comprehensive vision aiming not only to restore but to redefine the Bristol Beacon experience. Mon Timber, appointed as the principal timber contractor, supplied all first-fix materials, playing a crucial role in shaping the project from the outset.

Once structurally sound, the team moved on to the next phase of the project, utilising American black walnut as the principal timber for the 2nd fix joinery package. One of the standout features was the meticulous engineering of acoustic reflectors and panels throughout the venue. These panels, not only vital to achieving the desired aesthetic but also integral to ensuring an exceptional acoustic experience, served as a nod to the building’s history and also a testament to modern design. The attention to detail extended to the fireproofing process, with each panel coated to meet British standards, ensuring the safety of all occupants.

The ceiling reflectors, a focal point of the redesign, emerged as a true masterpiece. Drawing inspiration from the shape of a sail, in homage to Bristol’s maritime heritage, each of the 64 panels were backed with 450 small MDF blocks, creating an acoustically rich environment with a substantial weight of 130kg per panel. Mon Timber drew on the expertise of Premier Processing and Fabrication, part of the wider Premier Forest Group, for this element.

In the creation of the 240 balcony shields, the team experimented with various materials for acoustic enhancement, ultimately finding success with a plaster-type material. Each shield, filled with this material, received approval from an external acoustic expert.

The grille covering Beacon Hall’s focal 14 foot concert hall organ was too restored by the Mon Timber team, with more than half of the original materials salvaged and restored and the rest carefully replicated.

Another key element of the renovation was the introduction of engineered oak flooring. Over 2,800 meters of unfinished European oak flooring was carefully laid; the choice of materials reflecting a commitment to quality and longevity, ensuring the Beacon would stand the test of time. IFL18 cladding also features heavily in the building’s redesign providing not only a sleek and modern aesthetic but also enhancing the structure’s resilience and fire safety standards.

The Mon Timber team was entrusted not only with the completion of Beacon Hall but also with the comprehensive restoration of timber in the entire 156-year-old building. The internal lantern, with its intricate dental detailing, became a symbol of the project’s dedication to both form and function and stands as a focal point in the Lantern lobby.

Lantern Hall was also completely redeveloped, with old flooring replaced with solid sapele, and new door arches replicated. The Beacon’s internal windows and large internal doors were too replaced throughout, enhancing both the functionality and visual appeal of the space.

Andrew Davies, Contracts Manager, IWC, said:

“Having worked with Mon Timber on numerous projects before, we just knew that they were the right people to take on this mammoth task.

“The skill, thought and craftmanship that they have shown throughout the project has been remarkable. From creating dozens of prototypes for the acoustic panels, to painstakingly restoring doors, window frames, wall panelling and much more, nothing has been too much trouble or above their skill set. They should be incredibly proud of what they have delivered.”

Richard Wadley, Hardwood and Specialities Manager at Mon Timber, said:

“This venture stands as the most extensive undertaking in our portfolio to date, and it fills us with immense pride. Stepping into the venue, knowing that every piece of wood has been supplied and meticulously crafted by our team, instils a genuine sense of accomplishment.

“We’ve encountered numerous challenges, and our dedication is evident in the multitude of cutters and prototypes we’ve brought to life. Each iteration was a crucial step in ensuring that every material not only seamlessly fitted into the grand design but was also tailored for its intended purpose.

“This attention to detail defines our role in this project. It’s not just about delivering wood; it’s about contributing to a project that encapsulates the spirit of Bristol Beacon’s restoration journey.”

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