Royal Hall, Harrogate
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|Address||Harrogate, North Yorkshire|
|Designation||Grade II* listed|
|Architect||Robert Beale/Frank Matcham|
With local benefactors led by engineering inventor Samson Fox, the building opened in 1903 as the Kursaal. Designed by Robert Beale and Frank Matcham, one of the most prolific theatre architects of his time, it was loosely based on the design of the Ostende Kursall in Belgium. Kursaal is a German language word which translates literally as “Cure Hall,” but was used for grand receptions and special occasions. A popular form of building in late 19th-century European spa destinations, the concept never caught on in the United Kingdom. Hence as World War I began, the theatre was renamed the more patriotic "Royal Hall".
In the 1950s, like many theatres converted into a cinema but looking for alternate uses, the venue helped in the formation and growth of Harrogate as a conference and exhibition centre. The Royal Hall is an important national heritage building, with Harrogate acknowledged as a top UK event destination and home to Harrogate International Centre. By 1997 the Royal Hall needed renovation, and in 2000, English Heritage put the building on the national “buildings at risk” register. The Harrogate Borough Council formed the Royal Hall Restoration Trust to raise funds towards a restoration. Supported by Edward Fox, a great-grandson of Samson Fox, donations were received from the Council, Harrogate International Centre, and the Heritage Lottery Fund, with the trust itself raising £2.7M from local benefactors. This allowed for an authentic interior redecoration and the restoration of the Dress Circle. The patron of the Royal Hall Restoration Trust, Prince Charles, led the Hall’s official re-opening on 22 January 2008.
In 2014, The International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival, an annual three-week theatre festival from the end of July through most of August, moved to Harrogate. In 2013, the Festival had sold more than 25,000 tickets by June. The Festival was held in Buxton from 1994 to 2013. It is an adjudicated competition among a dozen amateur G&S troupes, with professional performances given on the weekends, given in the Hall. There are also dozens of fringe events scheduled for the Harrogate Theatre and other venues.
- "Name: ROYAL HALL List entry Number: 1315842". English Heritage. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
- Martin Wainwright (May 4, 2012). "Fox family actors return to great-grandfather's glittering Yorkshire hall". The Guardian.
- "About the Royal Hall". Royal Hall, Harrogate. Retrieved 9 September 2011.
- Royal Hall history
- "Prince reopens saved Royal Hall". BBC News. 2008-01-22. Retrieved 2010-05-04.
- "Restoration". Royal Hall, Harrogate. Retrieved 9 September 2011.
- "Gilbert and Sullivan festival quits Buxton for Harrogate", BBC News Derby, 19 June 2013
- "The Royal Hall". The International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival Website, September 2010
- Walker, Raymond. "The Venue for Harrogate’s G&S Festival", Seen and Heard International, 8 August 2014
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