New film documents Thekla’s £1 million renovations

New film documents Thekla’s £1 million renovations

Posted on: 06 Feb 2020

Last summer, beloved Bristol venue Thekla underwent a £1 million renovation. A new film released by its owners, DHP family, documents the process. 


Since its opening in 1983, Thekla (the infamous floating venue in Bristol’s Harbour) has become a beloved facet of Bristol’s music scene.


But in June 2019, the boat was temporarily closed to undergo a £1 million renovation.


Featuring legendary Bristol DJ and producer Roni Size and IDLES bassist Adam Devonshire (aka Dev), the never seen before footage documents life inside the venue, its history and the process behind last summer’s major renovation.


Watch the video below:

The renovation aimed to provide the boat with a new hull, to keep it afloat.


On 6 June 2019, Thekla sailed from its usual spot to Albion Dockyard, where a team worked around the clock, seven days a week, to provide the boat with a brand-new steel hull.


Then, 100 tonnes of steel and three tonnes of weld wire later, the vessel returned to its rightful place in Bristol's Floating Harbour, on Monday 9 September 2019. 

Photo: David Jeffery-Hughes

As part of the new film, both Roni Size and Adam Devonshire discuss what the venue means to them.


In the film, Roni Size, a regular at the venue, shares what Thekla means to him: “I hope it outlives me. Long may it last.”


IDLES’ bassist Adam Devonshire also shares his thoughts on the infamous venue: “it’s lasted in people’s consciousness as a staple of the Bristol music scene.”

Roni Size features in Thekla’s new film

Roni Size (pictured) features in Thekla’s new film


Before its current use as a music venue, Thekla was a cargo ship, built in Germany in 1958.


Thekla carried goods between northern and western European ports before running aground at Gatesend, Norfolk in 1975.


The boat was left to rust seven years in the docks of Sunderland, before being purchased by Vivian Stanshall and Ki Longfellow-Stanshall.  


Then, in 1983, Thekla arrived on Bristol’s Floating Harbour to become an events space.



Speaking about the project, Thekla’s general manager Alex Black said: “A life at sea combined with almost four decades in the music industry had taken its toll on the ship’s hull and it was time to do a little more than just patch it up.


“Manufacturing and installing the new hull was a huge project and a mammoth undertaking for all involved, but it should ensure Thekla’s structural longevity for around 50 years.


“It would be devastating to lose such a prominent venue from the Bristol scene. Like all music venues in the UK, we have a lot of uphill battles to remain operational but fortunately for us, the ship’s integrity is no longer one of them.”

To see what's coming up at Thekla, visit the website. 

Photos: David Jeffery-Hughes 

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Kate Hutchison


Kate Hutchison, Content Editor of

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