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  • Ed Hunter


The Winchester Gate, Salisbury is, or was until COVID struck one of the cities premier live music venues. Upon reopening in late summer 2020 the pub needed an outdoor solution to both operate as an all weather pub and live performance venue. With funding from the Here for Culture campaign the stage was set for us to roll in.

With a retired band room fit for maybe 10 people (with social distancing) and an under utilised garden there was a golden opportunity for a really creative concept here.

I met with Abi and Rob almost by accident, had a beer and threw my ideas at them. They had ideas of Victorian grandeur and yesteryear. From this; Circus and Theatre became inspiration.

Almost immediately I saw the tiered garden and thought we have excellent line of sight to incorporate a proper outdoor stage with proscenium arch. A key usability aspect was for the venue to have maximum undercover capacity during the winter but to get the sunny west facing top terrace of the garden back during the summer. The solution was to have a tented cover that can partly be removed for the summer months and be reinstalled for the winter.

For grandeur we rigged the tent on 5m centre poles with up to 3.6m high solid wooden walls, complete with doors and our semi rigid window system. A stage was positioned in the corner with line of site to every seated position in the house, true to word we built a proscenium arch in the style of the golden age. Even the varied height tables created the raked effect of tiered seating. Festoon and controllable wash lighting finished off the look and ambience.

Dare I say it but The Winnie Gate was a venue brought to its knees that has heroically risen from the ashes and stands to become a legendary destination on par with offerings from Bristol, London and beyond.

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