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The Royal Albert Hall London

English: Royal Albert Hall, London, England.
 
The Royal Albert Hall is a concert hall on the northern edge of South Kensington, in the City of Westminster, London, England, best known for holding the annual summer Proms concerts since 1941.
 
Since its opening by Queen Victoria in 1871, the world's leading artists from several performance genres have appeared on its stage and it has become one of the UK's most treasured and distinctive buildings. Each year it hosts more than 350 events including classical concerts, rock and pop, ballet and opera, sports, award ceremonies, school and community events, charity performances and banquets.
 
The Hall was originally supposed to have been called The Central Hall of Arts and Sciences, but the name was changed by Queen Victoria to Royal Albert Hall of Arts and Sciences when laying the foundation stone, as a dedication to her deceased husband and consort Prince Albert. It forms the practical part of a national memorial to the Prince Consort – the decorative part is the Albert Memorial directly to the north in Kensington Gardens, now separated from the Hall by the road Kensington Gore.
History
 
In 1851, the Great Exhibition was held in Hyde Park, London, for which the Crystal Palace was built. The exhibition was a great success and led Prince Albert, the Prince Consort, to propose the creation of a permanent series of facilities for the enlightenment of the public in the area, which came to be known as Albertopolis. The Exhibition's Royal Commission bought Gore House and its grounds (on which the Hall now stands) on the advice of the Prince. Progress on the scheme was slow and in 1861 Prince Albert died, without having seen his ideas come to fruition. However, a memorial was proposed for Hyde Park, with a Great Hall opposite.
 
The proposal was approved and the site was purchased with some of the profits from the Exhibition. Once the remaining funds had been raised, in April 1867 Queen Victoria signed the Royal Charter of the Corporation of the Hall of Arts and Sciences which was to operate the Hall and on 20 May, laid the foundation stone.[1] The Hall was designed by civil engineers Captain Francis Fowke and Major-General Henry Y.D. Scott of the Royal Engineers and built by Lucas Brothers.[2] The designers were heavily influenced by ancient amphitheatres, but had also been exposed to the ideas of Gottfried Semper while he was working at the South Kensington Museum. The recently opened Cirque d'Hiver in Paris was seen in the contemporary press as the design to outdo. The Hall was constructed mainly of Fareham Red brick, with terra cotta block decoration made by Gibbs and Canning Limited of Tamworth. The dome (designed by Rowland Mason Ordish) on top was made of wrought iron and glazed. There was a trial assembly made of the iron framework of the dome in Manchester, then it was taken apart again and transported to London via horse and cart. When the time came for the supporting structure to be removed from the dome after re-assembly in situ, only volunteers remained on site in case the structure dropped. It did drop – but only by five-sixteenths of an inch.[3] The Hall was scheduled to be completed by Christmas Day 1870 and the Queen visited a few weeks beforehand to inspect.[4]
 
The official opening ceremony of the Hall was on 29 March 1871. A welcoming speech was given by Edward, the Prince of Wales; Queen Victoria was too overcome to speak although she did comment that it reminded her of the British constitution.Renovation and redevelopment
 
Between 1996 and 2004 the Hall underwent a programme of renovation and development supported by a £20 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to enable it to meet the demands of the next century of events and performances. Thirty "discrete projects" were designed and supervised by architecture and engineering firm BDP without disrupting events.[6] These projects included improving ventilation to the auditorium, more bars and restaurants, new improved seating, better technical facilities and more modern backstage areas. The largest project was the building of a new south porch – door 12, accommodating a restaurant, new box office and below a new delivery area. Although the exterior of the building was largely unchanged, the south steps leading down to Prince Consort Road were demolished to allow construction of an underground vehicle access and accommodation for 3 HGVs carrying all the equipment brought by shows. The steps were then reconstructed around a new south porch on the same scale and in the same style as the three pre-existing porches: these works were undertaken by Taylor Woodrow Construction.[7] The original steps featured in early scenes of 1965 film The Ipcress File. On 4 June 2004, the project received the Europa Nostra Award for remarkable achievement.[8] The East and West porches were glazed and new bars opened along with ramps to improve disabled access.
 
Internally the Circle was rebuilt in four weeks in June 1996 providing more leg room, better access and improved sight lines. The Stalls were rebuilt in a four-week period in 2000 using steel supports allowing more space underneath for two new bars. 1534 unique pivoting seats were laid – with an addition of 180 prime seats. The Choirs were rebuilt at the same time. The whole building was redecorated in a style that reinforces its Victorian identity. New carpets were laid in the corridors – specially woven with a border that follows the elliptic curve of the building in the largest single woven design in the world.
 
The works included a major rebuilding of the great organ, built by "Father" Henry Willis in 1871 and rebuilt by Harrison & Harrison in 1924 and 1933. The current work was performed by Mander Organs between 2002 and 2004[9] and the organ is now again the second largest pipe organ in the British Isles with 9,999 pipes in 147 stops. The largest is the Grand Organ in Liverpool Cathedral which has 10,268 pipes.[10][1]
 
 
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