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The Philharmonic Hall, Hope Street, Liverpool

Liverpool Theatres Index

A Google StreetView Image of the Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool - Click to Interact

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool - Click to Interact

A Bill for 'Used Up' and Mr. Nightingale's Diary' at the Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool whilst under the Management of Charles Dickens in September 1852 - From 'Dickens and the Drama' by S. J. Adair Fitzgerald, published in 1910.The Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool's Hope Street was originally built by John Cunningham and opened on the 27th of August 1849. Some images of the original building's exterior and interior can be seen further down on this page.

In the mid 1850s the Portsmouth born, and highly respected and prolific playwright, Charles Dickens became the Manager of the Philharmonic Hall, and performed in some of the productions there, such as 'Used Up' and Mr. Nightingale's Diary', a Bill for which can be seen right, and a painting of Dickens in 'Used Up' can be seen below.

Right - A Bill for 'Used Up' and Mr. Nightingale's Diary' at the Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool whilst under the Management of Charles Dickens in September 1852 - From 'Dickens and the Drama' by S. J. Adair Fitzgerald, published in 1910.

Charles Dickens as Sir Charles Coldstream in 'Used Up', from a painting by Augustus Egg, R.A. - From 'Dickens and the Drama' by S. J. Adair Fitzgerald, published in 1910.Sadly the building was destroyed by fire in 1933, however it was subsequently rebuilt on the same site to the designs of the architect Herbert Rowse the same year.

Left - Charles Dickens as Sir Charles Coldstream in 'Used Up', from a painting by Augustus Egg, R.A. - From 'Dickens and the Drama' by S. J. Adair Fitzgerald, published in 1910.

In 1995 the Hall was refurbished and altered at a cost of £10.3 million by Peter Carmichael and is now a Grade II Listed Concert Hall and Cinema which can accommodate 1,700 people in its single level auditorium and 22 boxes. More information on the 1995 refurbishment can be seen below.

The Hall is unusual in that it has an electrically driven disappearing proscenium structure with fitted cinema screen, apparently the only one of its type left in the world, and also still retains its rising and revolving Organ console, see here.

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

MIRACLE ON HOPE STREET

An edited and enhanced version by Roger Fox of an article in the September 1995 re-opening gala programme originally written by Andrew Bentley, along with some images of the original building from the Illustrated London News of 1849

The Exterior of the original Liverpool Philharmonic Hall in 1849 - From the Illustrated London News, September 1st 1849.

Above - The Exterior of the original Liverpool Philharmonic Hall in 1849 - From the Illustrated London News of September the 1st 1849.

The cover of the reopening programme for the Philharmonic Hall in 1995 - Courtesy Roger Fox.The all-new Philharmonic hall is equipped with the very best facilities for artists and customers with sumptuous restaurants, bars, seats, foyers, ventilation and backstage facilities. All this alongside massive improvements to acoustics, technical facilities, including Dolby surround sound, and a much bigger stage.

Right - The cover of the reopening programme for the Philharmonic Hall in 1995 - Courtesy Roger Fox.

The Liverpool Philharmonic Hall auditorium in 2013 showing the ceiling flaps which allow FOH lighting to be used - Courtesy Roger Fox.A large part of the challenge has been to make significant acoustic, technical and operating improvements to the hall without making a huge impact on the architectural heritage of the building. Attention to detail was key so when it came to, for instance, removing the hall's six famous Art Deco "nude ladies" murals, full-size rubbings were taken to ensure the originals could be taken down, protected and reinstated with no damage.

Left - The Liverpool Philharmonic Hall auditorium in 2013 showing the ceiling flaps which allow FOH lighting to be used - Courtesy Roger Fox.

Within the new ceilings a completely up-to-date and comprehensive sound and lighting system has been inserted with as little visual effect as possible. A full set of theatre lighting gantries have been concealed in the ceiling above the seating area behind 17 steel framed flaps, each weighing half a ton.

'HALL' ENGINEERING At the Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool

From a 1950s Hall Stage Equipment catalogue

The Interior of the original Liverpool Philharmonic Hall in 1849 - From the Illustrated London News, September 1st 1849.

Above - The Interior of the original Liverpool Philharmonic Hall in 1849 - From the Illustrated London News of September the 1st 1849.

A page from a 1950s Hall Stage Equipment catalogue showing the screen installation at the Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool - Courtesy Roger Fox.A different problem in the auxiliary uses of Concert Halls was encountered at the Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, when the problem was to provide a cinema screen for film shows and lectures and to dispose of the organ console when not in use.

Right - A page from a 1950s Hall Stage Equipment catalogue showing the screen installation at the Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool - Courtesy Roger Fox.

To accomplish this we provided a complete proscenium structure containing the screen frame, electrically-operated curtains and loudspeakers.

This entire structure was carried on an electrically-operated lift, allowing the transformation from a Concert Hall to a Cinema to be achieved at the touch of a button.

The organ console is carried on a 'HALL' lift and is provided with a sliding trap mechanism to close the hole left in the stage by the lift platform when in its lowered position.

The above article is from a 1950s Hall Stage Equipment catalogue - Courtesy Roger Fox.

The Liverpool Philharmonic Hall from the back of the stage in 2013 - Courtesy Roger Fox.The unique rising proscenium with its cinema screen, curtains and sound system remains in a larger stage which also includes the organ console lift and a new piano lift linking the stage to a storage area below.'

Left - The Liverpool Philharmonic Hall from the back of the stage in 2013 - Courtesy Roger Fox.

The organ console on its original lift under the stage at the Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool in 2013 - Courtesy Roger Fox.When it was built more than 55 years ago the Phil's acoustics were renowned nation-wide and on re-opening its acoustics will once again rival the best in Europe. To help the team in the challenge, Chicago-based Larry Kirkegaard, one of the world's leading acoustic consultants, was appointed at the earliest stages of the project development.

Right - The organ console on its original lift under the stage at the Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool in 2013 - Courtesy Roger Fox.

In addressing the problems of weak bass response, insufficient reverberation and poor sound distribution, the design team opted to replace the vast majority of the plaster with 100mm (4") of dense concrete, with the walls' profiles being slightly changed to improve sound reflection. Although more than 400 tons of concrete went into the project, the new walls and ceiling appear virtually unchanged.

For sound reflection, much of the auditorium's floor is now maple strip, with carpet on the stairs and aisles. All the seats have been refurbished with timber backs, under-seats and arm rests and the new fabric has been laboratory tested for its acoustic qualities.

The Liverpool Philharmonic Hall from the back of the auditorium in 2013 - Courtesy Roger Fox.A dramatic change will be behind the concert platform. Illustrations from the 1930s make it clear that it was Herbert Rowse's intention to commission a mural for behind the stage but, probably for reasons of cost, wood panelling was put up in its place. When the new Phil opens there will be a magnificent new permanent piece of art as a background. British artist Marianne Forrest was commissioned and has now created an exciting work of art to complement the auditorium. She has called the work, Adagio.

Left - The Liverpool Philharmonic Hall from the back of the auditorium in 2013 - Courtesy Roger Fox.

Access and facilities for the disabled have always been high on the list of our priorities and facilities for wheelchairs are dramatically improved, including a new passenger lift. Toilets hove been remodelled and refitted, twice as many ladies toilets and 50 per cent more for the men.

This control panel was originally installed to control the ventilation fans at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. It was left in place at the time of the renovation. - Courtesy Roger Fox.All this is in addition to the complete refurbishment of all public areas, very highest modern standards of comfort and convenience, including completely new bars and a restaurant on the lower ground level.

What sets Philharmonic Hall apart from all other modern concert halls?

Right - This control panel was originally installed to control the ventilation fans at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. It was left in place at the time of the renovation, also see image below - Courtesy Roger Fox.

It combines the elegance of Art Deco with the ultimate in modern performance facilities. In an era when audiences are becoming rightly choosy and look for an evening out to be a complete experience, the ambience and sheer sense of special occasion and style that Philharmonic displays will continue to be cherished.

The above text is an edited and enhanced version by Roger Fox of an article in the September 1995 re-opening gala programme originally written by Andrew Bentley. Roger Fox was involved with the 1995 renovation scheme.

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

The control panel originally installed to control the ventilation fans at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. From the 1939 opening brochure - Courtesy Tim Hatcher.

Above - The control panel originally installed to control the ventilation fans at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. From the 1939 opening brochure - Courtesy Tim Hatcher.

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