The Thekla has sailed away


Written by James Ratcliffe
03 Thursday 03rd July 2014

The Thekla has been a fixture in Bristol’s Harbour for over thirty years, during those thirty years she has undergone a number of transformations from her original use as a cargo ship. Artist, musician and one of England’s greatest eccentrics Vivian Stanshall converted her into a theatre before she later became a night club and music venue.

The Thekla was one of the bastions of Bristol’s burgeoning drum and bass scene, most of the major d’n’b stars from Bristol and beyond played there at some point including Mercury award winner Roni Size and Reprazent. Club nights are still very much associated with the boat and regular, in-house nights such as Pop Confessional, Pressure and 51’27 are still packing the crowds in.

Artists and bands who have played the Thekla include Massive Attack, Joss Stone, Franz Ferdinand, Pete Doherty, Chvrches, Jessie J, And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, Frank Turner, Gotye and many, many more. 

The boat has not been into dry dock since she was purchased in 2006 by the DHP Group and earlier this year it was decided that she needed a full refurbishment as she was starting to show her age just a little bit. The refurbishment will include transforming the top bar into a more intimate and relaxed setting with space for dancing should the urge take you.

Despite the Thekla disappearing from view for six weeks, she will still have a presence at the Bristol Harbour Festival in the Grove which will feature a mix of entertainment as well as two music stages. There will be a Thekla stage in front of the Thekla’s berth featuring some of the finest local talent to grace venues in Bristol and beyond.  In 2013 this outdoor stage proved to be a hugely popular destination for Festival goers and team are convinced it will pull in equally impressive crowds this year. The full line up will be released in late June. 

Thekla promotions manager Pat Somers said:

We’re very excited to be starting a new chapter in Thekla’s long and illustrious story, beginning with our first trip to dry dock in over eight years. There we will be checked over by some very knowledgeable nautical types and have a whole load of refurbishment work done at the same time.  

Whilst we’re away, we will be operating a pop-up club space “#THEKLAPOPUP” on dry land at 8 Frogrmore Street, Bristol, where club favourites Pressure on a Thursday, Pop Confessional on a Saturday and some select Friday club events will take place.

The good ship Thekla will sail back through the harbour, to her home back at East Mud Dock in mid-September with a fresh new look, improved facilities and probably the best live music and club programme in the city, if not the entire South West. We hope you’ll join us on our journey.’

Mike Richmond, Managing Director of Richmond Event Management, who organise the Bristol Harbour Festival on behalf of Bristol City Council explains:

“The Thekla is a Bristol icon for music as well as a big part of what makes Bristol’s harbourside  culture so unique. The line up for their music stage as part of the Bristol Harbour Festival will make sure that music audiences have a taste of the Thekla while she is in dry dock with a temporary stage in place for the weekend, in front of one of the city’s finest  backdrops.”

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