Royal Hall

Ripon Road,
Harrogate, H61 2RD

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Royal Hall

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The Royal Hall Harrogate opened on 27th May 1903, having been designed by Robert J. Beale and Frank Matcham. The original seating capacity was 1,312.

Originally known as the Kursaal, the name was changed during the 1st World War in 1914, to the Royal Hall, as ‘Kursaal’ was considered too ‘German’ for popular taste. It is a multi-purpose hall with a flat, fully sprung dance floor in the front stalls area with a stepped area of rear seating known as the Dress Circle. There is a balcony (known as the Upper Circle) around three sides of the hall. Along each side at a mezzanine level are 6 bow fronted boxes. The ceiling is very richly decorated and contains a central square dome with balustraded sides and windows. Natural light is an unusual feature of such an auditorium, reflecting its multi-purpose design, and the dome recess is augmented by a range of leaded light windows above the side balconies.

The auditorium is completely surrounded by an elegant promanade, which in truth restricts the stage, which for a hall seating nearly 1,300 is of minimal size. The proscenium opening is 30 foot wide and the stage is 36 foot deep.

A projection box was constructed at the rear of the Dress Circle shortly after opening and films were one of the main attractions in the Hall until well into the 1930’s. A lighting and sound control box occupying the same area has now replaced this.

Serious faults were recently found in the Royal Hall ‘principally the concrete in the circles is crumbling. After some debate a rescue package is almost funded to remove and replace the defective concrete and fully refurbish the Hall to its original Splendour. The Hall cost £40,000 back in the Edwardian era’ the restoration works are costed at approx. £11 million!

It is a unique and very beautiful building fully justifying its Grade II* Listed status as a building of special historic interest.

Contributed by Ian Grundy

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

brighton84
brighton84 on March 9, 2004 at 5:33 am

This is a very beautiful venue but, as can be seen from Ian Grundy’s photograph, the stage area is small. Add to this the fact that Harrogate already has a large conference centre for concerts etc, and the Harrogate Theatre for touring and local shows, there would seem to be a problem regarding the use of the theatre (I prefer to call it a ‘theatre’). However, the old Birmingham Repertory Theatre comes to mind. This building is also listed but is occupied year round by performances from amateur and semi-professional companies mounting both large and small productions and who welcome a regular centrally located space for their performances and who pay a market rent for their useage of the theatre. The old Rep is also used for small concerts. Put to a similar usage – though I prefer to conveniently forget how long ago it was – was the old Scala Theatre in London.

AmDram companies from far outside the Harrogate area would, I’m certain, welcome the opportunity of performing at the Royal – even with its small stage area. The only ‘very minor’ matter remaining is getting hold of £11m. Fight like hell for it.

tribecafilm
tribecafilm on March 29, 2004 at 7:58 am

This can not be destroyed! The interior of this theater is one of the most beautiful that I have ever seen. This theater must be saved at all costs! Hopefully someone in the business will do so.

Ian
Ian on October 18, 2007 at 12:07 pm

There is good news, good news and good news regarding the Royal Hall as of October 2007.

Firstly over GBP 8million was found, largely through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Harrogate Borough Council to repair and restore the Royal Hall.

Secondly, although this is scaled down from the initial GBP 11million estimate, the restoration is on a lavish scale.

Thirdly, allowing for delays caused by further faults being found, the restoration is on time and on budget. The Royal Hall should reopen, in pristine condition, early in 2008, after nearly two years of works.

Photographs taken during the restoration can be seen here:–

Exterior:-
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Interior:-
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Ian
Ian on December 4, 2007 at 12:27 am

Six weeks later and the restoration is on schedule for a late January opening. Pictures from December 2007 here:–

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Ian
Ian on January 17, 2008 at 5:03 am

Six weeks later (mid January 2008) and the hall is nearing completion of the building work. Then there is a lengthy period to commission the building, re-equip the stage, and fit out the operating box (on the site of the former projection box) and the first performances are scheduled for around 8 weeks time. This has been a particularly lavish restoration of a beautiful and historic hall.

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AdoraKiaOra
AdoraKiaOra on January 17, 2008 at 5:36 am

My god! How beautiful. Im stunned that such a stunning building was even considered for demolition. Ian, your pictures are fantastic thanks again.

Ian
Ian on November 27, 2008 at 1:42 am

Around a dozen new photos taken well after the re-opening, together with several of the above during refurbishment shots (work-in-progress)can be found in this set:–

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