St George's Hall, Bradford
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|Designation||Listed Building Grade II*|
|Capacity||1,672 Orchestral Format|
|Opened||29 August 1853|
|Architect||Henry Francis Lockwood and William Mawson|
St George's Hall is a strategic grade II* listed Victorian building located in the centre of Bradford, West Yorkshire, England. Originally designed with a seating capacity of 3,500, the hall seats 1,500 people. It is the oldest concert hall still in use in the United Kingdom and the third oldest in the whole of Europe. German Jewish wool merchants who had moved to Bradford because of its textile industry financed the building of St George's Hall, Jacob Moser being instrumental in its construction.
The building's design, by Henry Francis Lockwood and William Mawson, was chosen from more than twenty-two designs submitted during an 1849 competition. Built of ashlar sandstone masonry in neoclassical style, the building was opened on 29 August 1853. The architectural sculpture, including all the exterior swags and keystone heads, was executed by Robert Mawer. The interior underwent extensive remodelling after the Second World War and again after fires in the 1980s. In March 2016 an £8.5 million pound restoration scheme was started, St George's Hall will open again in early 2019 once the renovations and interior refurbishment is complete.
In the early nineteenth century, as Bradford grew in size, it became clear there was a need in the city for a venue for public meetings and concerts. The buildings that were in use for this purpose - the Exchange Buildings and Mechanics' Institute - were proving insufficient for the city's needs. As a result, a group of shareholders was brought together by the city's mayor, Samuel Smith, in 1849 for the purpose of building a music hall. £16,000 of capital was raised, in £10 shares. The site on the corner of Bridge Street and Hall Ings was chosen as the location and the foundation stone was laid in 1851 by the Earl of Zetland.
The venue has hosted many of the world's top performers over the years including Charles Dickens, the Hallé Orchestra, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Free, David Bowie, Genesis, INXS, Bon Jovi, Kiss amongst others. For a time in the 1980s and early 1990s it was a major venue for touring international bands before the development of the Sheffield Arena.
In March 2016, the hall closed its doors to undergo a £8.5 million refurbishment plan after securing funding from both the Heritage Lottery Fund and Bradford Council. As part of the plans, the sandstone exterior will undergo a full restoration and internal improvements will be made to both the front of house areas and the auditorium. As well as this, the original entrance will be reinstated on Hall Ings and current colonnade will be glazed to create a draught lobby.
- Historic England. "St George's Hall (336529)". Images of England. Retrieved 4 October 2009.
- "St George's Hall". Bradford Theatres. Archived from the original on 30 August 2009. Retrieved 4 October 2009.
- Bradford Observer, Thursday 1 September 1853 p6: "Opening of st George's Hall. Description of the hall"
- "VIDEO: Decision given on council's £1.5 million lottery cash bid to help St George's Hall restoration project". The Telegraph and Argus. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
- James 1866, p. 123.
- "St George's Hall Refurbishment". Bradford Theatres. 2016. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
- James, John (1866). The History of Bradford and Its Parish: With Additions and Continuation to the Time. 1. Bradford: Longman, Green, Reader and Dyer.
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