The first acts appeared on stage at Bradford’s Grade II listed St George’s Hall this weekend as it re-opened following a major refurbishment, which has been made possible by funding from Bradford Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The extensive refurbishment of this much loved building has included a wide-range of work both to its exterior and interior. As well as major works to the roof, windows, electrics and stonework, the front-of-house areas have been increased, where possible, and have been decorated sympathetically to suit the heritage of the building.
Specialist consultants have also advised on much needed changes to the seating in the auditorium. The aim is to improve sight lines and comfort in the auditorium, whilst ensuring the world class acoustics are unaffected. This means that there is brand new seating and configuration in the venue.
Adam Renton, General Manager Bradford Theatres, comments:
“The restoration is truly first rate and it really does bring the facilities and the venue right up to date. It has taken over 125,000 staff hours from the main contractor to bring us to this point; with 1,000 stones replaced on the exterior of the building; and over 200 archive items, tickets and signed posters have been displayed in front of house areas. We are so looking forward to welcoming artists, performers and the public to our newly refurbished venue throughout the year.”
Multi-million selling recording artist Barbara Dickson OBE was the first artist to perform at the newly refurbished historic hall, on Friday 15 February. The following evening, Saturday 16 February, Britain’s Got Talent Finalist Robert White took his Tank Top Tour to the venue.
On Tuesday 19 February, the international smash hit Spirit of the Dance burst onto stage with a powerful show of Irish Dance to celebrate its record-breaking 20 year anniversary.
This is closely followed by the return of the venue’s resident orchestra, the Hallé, who open Bradford’s 151st International Orchestral Season on Thursday 21 February.
Next month begins with Sing-a-long-a The Greatest Showman on Friday 1 March at 7.30pm, then Dr Michael Mosley talks everything fitness and diet with his new show Trust Fast Health on Friday 8 March at 7.30pm.
The nation’s favourite ballroom couple Anton Du Beke and Erin Boag Dance Those Magical Musicals on Wednesday 13 March at 7.30pm, and the Hallé perform again on Friday 15 March at 7.30pm, while the following evening, Saturday 16 March at 7.30pm, The Dreamboys take centre stage.
St George’s Hall has a rich and fascinating past, and unique displays that weave along all four levels of the venue have been created to showcase key events from the official opening in 1853 to the big rock and roll band concerts of the 1970s and 1980s.
Visitors can spend time enjoying the much-improved front of house areas, and read about the history of the venue, as well as view the impressive re-discovered and renovated mosaic floor in the ground floor café.
Some fascinating objects were found during the refurbishment which will form part of this permanent archive display. These include a handbill from 1871 promoting a programme of Saturday Night Entertainment, the front page of the Daily Express newspaper from 10 January 1928, sweet wrappers and an array of cigarette packets.
This heritage project will make archive materials about the history of St George’s Hall more accessible and develop stronger links with the local community through an outreach and access programme.
The Box Office counter at St George’s Hall opens Monday to Saturday 10am to 6pm. The Café, located on the ground floor of the venue, is open on Monday to Saturday 10am – 3pm, with hot food available 11am – 2pm. On selected days, the Café will be open to serve light meals before an evening show – please check the show listings on the website for details or ask at the Box Office.
Visitors can gain access to St George’s Hall via the new glass foyer on Bridge Street; or on Hall Ings through three new entrance doors; or on show nights, via the ramp on Bridge Street.
There are also improved facilities for customers with disabilities including the installation of a lift (inside the venue from the main bar to stalls level), more wheelchair positions and easy access toilet facilities.
Cllr Sarah Ferriby, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Healthy People and Places, said:
“We are really proud of the refurbishment work that has been carried out on this amazing 165 year old Grade II listed building. The work is to an exceptionally high standard and will ensure the venue can be enjoyed by many future generations.”