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The Anvil


The Anvil is a model modern concert hall which can be used for a range of other entertainment. The Anvil is a striking modern building. In external views the impression is one of interlocking solid geometrical forms - cylinder, prism, cube and plane - finished with contrasting metallic and boldly coloured surfaces. It is located within the hub of the old town, at the opposite end of the main street from the Haymarket, but sharing with it booking facilities and policies. It was designed to cater for classical music, pop, rock, dance, sport, light entertainment, exhibitions and conferences. Ballet, Opera and major drama were excluded from the brief because of the prohibitive cost of building a fly-tower, wings etc. It was also felt that these could be catered for either at the newly-refurbished Haymarket up the road, or at the New Victoria 1350 seat touring theatre at Woking. Above all, it was designed to re-evaluate the function space of the Town Hall, for modern times.

The Anvil also has a smaller rehearsal/auditorium, The Forge, with a movable stage, which can be used for functions and which seats 80/100, and can also be adapted for art-house cinema. The smaller and unusually-designed, circular Linden room over the box-office area can be used for meetings or small functions. All the dressing-rooms are designed to double as meeting rooms, in order to enhance conference use. The box office is situated on the large attractive ground floor foyer, which offers ample exhibition space, and a shop, bar and café. These are open during the day, and have access to an outside terrace overlooking the Glebe Gardens.

The auditorium is versatile and well equipped. An irregular polygon capable of quickly being adapted to proscenium (with optional orchestra pit), platform, arena, cinema and flat floor formats. It has an open roof space with lighting bridges. The design was governed by an emphasis on acoustic quality, and it is cunningly cocooned against external noise. For concert use, soft furnishings retract into recesses which are closed by doors. All 1400 seats have good sightlines.

On the proscenium is a metal design, reminiscent of forge-work, which continues in the house tabs. A roller screen can be installed within the proscenium frame for films or, farther back, as a cyclorama. There are 7 motorised bars, and 20 hemp sets for scenic use. A shallow orchestra pit can be formed by lowering the auditorium elevator.

The auditorium consists of fixed banks of rear and side balcony seats, with similar retractable seating in the main body of the hall. Seats at the back of the stage can be used for a choir. Seating on the auditorium elevator comprises loose chairs which can be used for other functions. A large flat floor is obtained in a matter of minutes by raising this elevator, and retracting the seating under the balcony. The auditorium is cleverly and attractively lit with blue above, where the steel trusses reflect the quality of that colour, and with reds and oranges lower down, which is picked up by the pine wood. Seating fabric is dark blue. The back of the stage area can be seated, when required, for a choir.

The get-in at the side makes the hall accessible for large sound equipment. Ventilation and heating plant are installed on the outside of the building well away from the auditorium walls.

A very attractive venue of the highest quality and value for the £12.5 million spent.

Built / Converted
Dates of use
  • 1994 : Music venue, continuing
Current state
Current use
Music venue (Concert and entertainment centre)
Churchill Way, Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG21 7QR, England
Further details
Other names
  • Owner/Management: Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council, owners
  • Owner/Management: The Anvil Trust, lessees
  • 1994 Design/Construction:
    - Architect
  • 1994 Use: Music venue, continuing
  • Capacity
    1400 maximum
  • Capacity
    1400 concert format
    990-1060 pros
  • Capacity
    990-1060 (1400 concert format)
  • Listing
    Not listed
Stage type
Building dimensions: -
Stage dimensions: Depth: 11.5m Width SL: 8.5m SR: 8.5m
Proscenium width: Demountable proscenium: 10m x 7m
Height to grid: Varies 16m downstage, 10m upstage. 8
Inside proscenium: -
Orchestra pit: Flexible 18m x 3m