Venue In Focus: The 1865


The 1865 is Southampton’s youngest major live entertainment venue. With a capacity of 750 standing for live shows and 200-300 seated for comedy/cabaret acts, it quickly attracted the attention of Southampton locals and national, even international, talents in the entertainment world as an intimate, medium-sized venue.

The 1865 opened in early 2014 on Brunswick Square, just a five minute walk from the bars and restaurants of Oxford Street and a stone’s throw away from the Town Quay. The venue advertised itself as a place not just for live music but also for comedy and cabaret acts as well as live acoustic sessions and private functions, and before long the offers came flooding in.

During it’s early months The 1865 played host to several open mic sessions and independent shows organised by Southampton Solent University, in which undergraduate Music and Music Technology students showcased their original compositions to their peers and to the public. The venue also hosted award winning comedian Sean Hughes in July of that year and a disco/soul/funk night called SHAFT.

By May 2014 the heavy hitters were being put on the roster. The announcement that hard rock veterans SOiL, along with the equally popular American Head Charge and Hed PE, would be stopping off at The 1865 on their autumn 2014 tour was cause for a ripple of excitement through Southampton’s alternative music community. Not long after this it was advertised that The Blackout would play a show at the venue, then folk metal giants Alestorm were put on the calendar of events as well.

As the New Year rolled over the list of acts got larger and more exciting. Comedian Gina Yashere, Funeral For A Friend, Viking metal pioneers Amon Amarth and Trevor Nelson were just some of the names to be seen on The 1865’s billboards in early 2015, and the venue hosted a score of independent acoustic sessions, genre-themed DJ sets and tribute bands in between.

In recent months The 1865 has hosted yet more popular and well-known artists including Chicago Blues singer Mud Morganfield and pop punk group State Champs. Acts to look forward to for the rest of this year include The Story So Far, Motionless In White, Ghostpoet and Dr. Feelgood.

There is little to criticise about The 1865. It’s the perfect size for a live gig, large enough for the atmosphere to really be felt but not so large that you get lost in the action. Ample seating on the walls mean it’s easy to take a break and watch the show without feeling disconnected, whilst easily accessible toilets add to the convenience and the drinks prices are fairly reasonable compared to other venues of this size.

It couldn’t be easier to find – just walk down the old High Street until you reach the intersection with Bernard Street, turn left and you’ll be queuing up for your favourite band or comedian in no time.



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MA English student at the University of Southampton and alternative music correspondent for The Edge.

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