St George's Hall in Bradford celebrating 160 years since 1853 with Heritage open weekend: 14 & 15 September
St George's Hall officially opened its doors 160 years ago on 29 August 1853. The opening was conducted by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, together with the Earl of Harewood. A Music Festival and series of concerts took place at the venue from 31 August to 2 September 1853 to mark the opening.
As part of the 160th celebrations in 2013, St George's Hall will be open to the public between 11am and 5pm on Saturday 14 September and Sunday 15 September. There will be the chance to look around the backstage areas of the venue, take part in family friendly activities, browse through archive material which will be on display, and enjoy refreshments throughout the day.
Backstage tours will take place at 1pm and 3pm on both days and are free to attend. Light refreshments will be available during the day in the Ground Floor Bistro, with Afternoon Teas served from 2pm - 3pm (£5 per person) when you can enjoy delicious cakes, sandwiches and drinks either before or after joining one of the tours.
Families and children can take part in colouring-in competitions, or how about drawing your own picture of St George's Hall or your favourite show you've seen there? Face painting and other activities will be running between 12noon and 2pm.
A small temporary exhibition of programmes, playbills, newspaper clippings, photographs, plans and leaflets will be on display in St George's Hall during the open weekend. Some of these items have kindly and generously been loaned to Bradford Theatres by customers and the general public for this exhibition; others have come from Bradford Council's Museums & Galleries and West Yorkshire Archive Services.
St George's Hall continues to be a favourite for performers and audiences. A programme of regular improvements and maintenance continues each year. In 2011 a state-of-the-art house sound system was installed, combining a range of loudspeaker products with a digital mixing console. Due to the very natural acoustics of the venue, no system equalisation was required at all. It was crucial to install a system which was fully capable of not only covering the space but also of being able to handle the diverse range of productions that come through the venue annually. The new installation has increased the clarity and coverage of sound within the venue to give audiences a more enjoyable experience when they attend shows.
In 2013 a new house lighting system was installed. The system was required to dramatically improve the lighting levels in St George's Hall, whilst meeting the need for efficiency and sustainability expected today. The historical integrity of the building was of paramount importance at every stage of the installation and there was no facility to make any structural or cosmetic alterations to the listed auditorium. The levels of lighting in the Hall have been increased and also the quality of lighting has added a warmth to the venue that it never had before.
Comedian Reginald D Hunter tweeted about the venue:
"... an incredible building, if you haven't seen it, make sure you try and see a show there!"
St George's Hall has been used regularly for filming by the BBC and other broadcasting companies: including Sky 1's Great Little Britons which followed musicians who travel to Bradford and St George's Hall for the annual Yorkshire Brass Band competition; BBC's The Choir with Gareth Malone; the BBC's filming of Bang Goes the Theory Live as part of the British Science Festival which took place in Bradford in 2011; and BBC's Who Do You Think You Are featuring John Bishop.
The venue was originally built as a public performance space for 'notable speakers and performers' and it continues today to serve this purpose, with its exceptional acoustics and intimate atmosphere, offering an increasingly exciting and diverse programme.
For further information on forthcoming events at St George's Hall, please visit bradford-theatres.co.uk or visit the venue over the open weekend, Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 September, 11am to 5pm.
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