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Theatres and Halls in Harrogate, North Yorkshire

The Royal Spa - Empire Theatre / Gaiety Theatre - Harrogate Theatre / Grand Opera House - The Kursaal / Royal Hall

 

The Harrogate Theatre, Oxford Street, Harrogate

Formerly - The Grand Opera House

A Google StreetView Image of the Harrogate Theatre - Click to Interact

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the Harrogate Theatre - Click to Interact

Auditorium of the Grand Opera House, Harrogate in 1986 - Courtesy Ted BottleThe Harrogate Theatre was designed by Frank Tugwell, who also built the Scarborough Opera House. The Theatre opened as the Grand Opera House on the 11th of January 1900.

Right - The Auditorium of the Grand Opera House, Harrogate in 1986 - Courtesy Ted Bottle.

This intimate little Theatre was refurbished in 1972 and currently has a capacity of 500. The Theatre is a Grade II Listed building.

You may like to visit the Theatre's own Website here.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me.

 

The Royal Hall, Ripon Road, Harrogate

Formerly - The Kursaal

A Google StreetView Image of the Royal Hall, Harrogate - Click to Interact

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the Royal Hall, Harrogate - Click to Interact

The Harrogate Royal Hall, as it is known today, was originally opened as the Harrogate Kursaal in 1903 but the name was changed during the first world war as it seemed more patriotic. The Hall was designed by Robert Beale and the renowned Theatre Architect, Frank Matcham. The Building News and Engineering Journal carried a small notice in their August 11th 1899 edition saying:- 'The assessor in the Harrogate Kursaal Competition, Mr. Frank Matcham, architect, 9, Warwick-court, W.C, has given his award, which is as follows:— First premium (£150), Mr. R. J. Beale, Westminster Chambers, 9, Victoria-street, S.W.; second premium (£100), Messrs. Eade and Johns, Ipswich; third premium (£75), Messrs. Crosby and Power 9, St. Martin's-street, W.C.'

The Theatres Trust says of the Hall that it is:- 'an unusual example of Frank Matcham’s architecture of entertainment. It is quite unlike any other piece of extant work by Matcham. He was originally appointed by the Harrogate Corporation to be the judge of an architectural competition to design a new place of entertainment within the town. The winning entry was submitted by Robert Beale, and the designs appeared in The Builder. The Corporation’s expectation could not be realised within their budget figure and the site was drastically reduced before the scheme was developed. The final building bears little resemblance to Beale’s competition drawings and owes much more (especially in the interior) to the direct involvement of Matcham as a notably ‘hands-on’ consulting architect.'

An early Postcard showing the Harrogate Kursaal - Courtesy George Eglese An early Postcard showing the Harrogate Kursaal - Courtesy George Eglese

Above - Two early Postcards showing the Harrogate Kursaal - Courtesy George Eglese

An Early Photograph showing the interior of the Harrogate Kursaal

Above - An Early Photograph showing the interior of the Harrogate Kursaal

The Building was extensively restored between 2006 and 2008 and is today billed as a 'venue for events, arts and entertainment.'

You may like to visit the Royal Hall's own website here.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me.

 

The Empire Theatre, Cheltenham Mount, Harrogate

Later - The Gaiety Theatre / Cardamom Black Restaurant

The Empire Theatre, Harrogate in 1988 - Courtesy Ted Bottle

Above - The Empire Theatre, Harrogate in 1988 - Courtesy Ted Bottle

The Empire Theatre, Harrogate was originally built as a Methodist Chappel in 1872 but was converted into a Theatre in 1910. The Theatre was renamed the Gaiety in 1930 but closed in 1931. The building's history after this was very untheatrical. For a number of years it was used as a garage!

In the 1970s the FOH area was converted to a restaurant and then enlarged in the 1980s to incorporate the auditorium. The Proscenium arch was restored in the 1980s and is unusual in that instead of plaster it is made entirely of wood. Cast Iron balcony fronts were later installed along the line of the original balcony.

The Theatre was damaged by a fire in 1996 caused by a fire bomb in an adjoining shop set by animal rights activists. The fire did significant damage to the stage area. The proscenium and auditorium survived the fire but were water damaged.

The Theatre is today used for dining as the Cardamom Black Restaurant.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me.

The Cardamon Black Restaurant in 2014, situated in the former Empire Theatre, Harrogate - Courtesy Jeff Cousins.

Above - The Cardamon Black Restaurant in 2014, situated in the former Empire Theatre, Harrogate - Courtesy Jeff Cousins.

 

The Royal Spa Concert Rooms

An early photograph of the Concert Rooms, Harrogate - Courtesy George Eglese

Above - An early photograph of the Concert Rooms, Harrogate - Courtesy George Eglese

The Cheltenham Pump Room, later the Royal Spa Concert Rooms, Harrogate Wells - reproduced with kind permission - Harrogate Borough Council Museum & Arts Royal Pump Room MuseumIn 1571 William Slingsby, drinking from a spring near Knaresborough, noticed that the water there tasted like the water of the spas on the Continent. Some years later Timothy Bright, a doctor, made the declaration that the spring's waters could even heal various ailments.

Right - The Cheltenham Pump Room, Later- Royal Spa Concert Rooms, 'Harrogate Wells' - reproduced with kind permission - Harrogate Borough Council, Museum & Arts Royal Pump Room Museum.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, yet more springs were discovered in the area, rich in iron and sulfur, and a town was created around them; Harrogate, which later became one of Britain's most celebrated spa towns. Harrogate was soon offering cures for everything from a bout of gout to cases of nervous tension. Naturally the Spa town blossomed into a very popular place to visit but as the years went by, and science developed more sophisticated medicines and drugs, the use of the Spa waters declined.

 

Site of the Royal Spa Concert Rooms in 2002 - Courtesy Duncan BranleyHarrogate adapted well to this change of values however and transformed itself into a major conference and exhibition centre. The town's architecture is predominantly Victorian, built with Yorkshire stone, and has some of the best examples of Victorian architecture from that period. M.L. 2002.

Left - Site of the Royal Spa Concert Rooms in 2002 - Courtesy Duncan Branley.

Advertisment for Two Hours Of Genuine Fun at the Harrogate Royal Spa Concert Rooms - Harrogate Herald - 3rd September 1879  - Courtesy Harrogate reference library - Click to go to the Two Hours Genuine Fun pageArthur Lloyd is known to have appeared in Harrogate at the Royal Spa Concert Rooms on September 5th 1879. The following week Arthur was to be found performing in Morecambe.

Right - An Advertisement for Two Hours Of Genuine Fun from The Harrogate Herald - 5th September 1879 - Courtesy Harrogate reference library.

I am indebted to Duncan Branley, Stephen Thompson, and Peggy Thompson for their research into, and subsequent images of, The Harrogate Royal Spa Concert Rooms, and Arthur Lloyd's Harrogate press notice advertising his appearance there.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me.

 

You may find the following pages from this site of interest: