Bristol's journey to freedom. Stories of oppression and injustice from The Courts presented by young artists. 

A young boy gets incarcerated for being homeless. A cross-dressing man is sentenced to jail. A maid is hung for killing her employer. Locked Up explores the horrific history of The Courts, in stark contrast with the building's bright future. 

This promenade performance is inspired by real stories of Bristolian people experiencing the justice system throughout the ages. Based on research from the UWE History Department, our Creative Youth Network alumni create art works inspired by four stories of injustice.

Wednesday 3rd April. The Station, Silver Street, BS1 2AG. 

Bristol's emerging artists

Emma Hughes presents an art installation based on the story of Frank Pigolet and his criminal homelessness. 

Emily Dunlop and Thomas Stockley are working in collaboration in their edible and interactive artwork inspired by the sentencing of an ‘Uncontrollable Stepson’.

Based on the hanging of Sarah Harriet Thomas, Adele le Gallez and Katie Anderson will be performing a movement piece inspired by the complexity of female relations.

Lastly, Eleanor Hope-Jones and Rachel Eames’s theatre performance based on the criminal sentencing of a cross-dressing man, will focus on gender subversion throughout the ages.

The Courts steering group

Grant and Ryan have been working on The Courts steering group to learn about the history of court proceedings dating back 100 years and more. Researching historical news articles, they are interpreting these incredible stories to highlight the immense change in the youth justice system. 

Grant presents a photography exhibition based on a newspaper article from 1890, highlighting 6 debtors who were examined in The Courts for the debts they owed. Grant presents areas of the city where these debtors were based: St Paul's, Ashley Road and Kings Down area, Lawrence Hill, photographing the houses and areas as they stand today.

Ryan is showcasing a monologue about an article titled 'foolish freak'. An ex-military man was arrested for being drunk and disorderly. Take a leap into the night of debaucheries that ends up in an unfriendly court for any man found wearing women's clothes.

The Future of The Courts

Sketch of future project The Courts with people and a van in the centre

This performance reveals a glimpse into the future of the building. What can The Courts mean to emerging young creatives? Our plan is to throw open the doors to the creative industries to talented young people from all backgrounds.

We are fundraising to transform The Courts into a creative enterprise hub to enable young people to set up their own businesses and develop their opportunities. A place where there are no barriers to their future, where the only things that count are their abilities and talents.

Thanks to the The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Bristol City Council we are developing detailed business and architectural plans to reimagine and redevelop this historic city landmark as a place that will complement Bristol’s renowned and growing creative industries sector.

The national lottery heritage fund logo 

Find out more 


Event details

Wednesday 3rd April 

Performances at: 3-3:45pm, 4:15-5pm, 5:30-6:15pm 

Our 5:30pm show is now sold out.

The Station, Silver Street, BS1 2AG (With the performance taking place in The Courts. We'll accompany you on your journey)

All ages 

Free to everyone



Unfortunately, as The Courts have been in disrepair for the last 50 years, the building is not accessible to everyone. This is a promenade performance and we will be walking up and down stairs; we advise wearing flat shoes. 

After its renovation into a creative enterprise hub, The Courts will be a fully accessible building. 

Book a free ticket