Top 10 Interesting Facts About Royal Albert Hall
The Royal Albert Hall is a historic landmark building that is on the northern edge of South Kensington in the city of London.
It was opened in 1871 by Queen Victoria who at the time said it reminded her of the British Constitution. The official welcoming speech during the opening was given by her eldest son Edward- the Prince of Wales.
Named in memory of the queen’s husband Prince Albert who had passed on ten years before its opening, the domed structure sits adjacent to the Albert Memorial in Hyde Park.
It was originally supposed to be called the Central Hall of Arts and Sciences, but the name was changed to the Royal Albert Hall of Arts and Sciences.
The red-brick auditorium has survived two World Wars and has played host to countless concerts, award ceremonies, and banquets.
Here are 10 interesting facts about London’s Royal Albert Hall.
1. Making of The Hall
Prince Albert, the Prince Consort, organized a successful public benefit exhibition in 1851 that was held in London’s Hyde Park. He then proposed the creation of a group of permanent facilities for the event known as Albertopolis.
The proposal was approved and the site was purchased with some of the profits from the Exhibition. The project took off slowly and sadly Prince Albert passed on without having seen his ideas come to life. In his honour, a memorial was created at Hyde Park and the Great Hall just opposite.
The hall’s foundation stone was laid in 1867 and the designers were heavily influenced by ancient amphitheaters. The Hall was constructed mainly of Fareham Red brick with terra cotta block decoration.
The Hall is a Grade I listed building with an ellipse plan. Its external major and minor axes measure 272 and 236 feet (83 and 72 meters), and its internal minor and major axis are 185 and 219 feet (56 and 67 m).
2. The Heavy Roof
The hall’s incredible 135 ft (41 m) high domed roof is extremely heavy. The engineers used 338 Tonnes of iron and 279 Tonnes of glazing.
It was created in Manchester, disassembled, and then transported to London where it was reassembled and placed on top of the concert hall with nothing holding it onto the building.
The heavy roof made the building sink into the ground by almost a centimeter. The doom is strong enough to hold up to 158 Tonnes of snow which is the same weight as a blue whale.
3. The Shape Made It Survive the War
The Royal Albert Hall suffered minor damage from a World War II bomb blast in October 1942. In general, the distinctive structure was left mostly untouched as German bomber pilots used it as a landmark.
4. Terrible Acoustics
The Hall’s acoustic problems became apparent during concerts. A canvas awning was installed below the dome to reduce the echo. It didn’t help much but it sheltered concert-goers from the sun.
Years later, the canvas was removed and replaced with fluted aluminum panels below the glass roof but the problem persisted. The strong echo was cured in 1969 when large fiberglass acoustic diffusing discs that resemble mushrooms or flying saucers were installed below the ceiling.
5. The Prom
The prom is an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts and other events held annually, predominantly in the Royal Albert Hall in central London since 1941.
The ‘Sir Henry Wood Promenade Concerts’ commonly known as Proms are sponsored by the British Broadcasting Corporation.
The proms were designed to make a long-running series of informal and inexpensive concerts designed to make classical music accessible to all.
6. Big Organ
The 9,999-pipe organ, nicknamed ‘the voice of Jupiter’, had four manuals and 111 stops in 1871 making it the largest in the world.
It was rebuilt severally, the last time being in 2002. The current instrument has 147 stops and 9,997 speaking pipes, making it the second-largest of its type in England the largest being one in Liverpool Cathedral which has 10,268 pipes.
7. Lake Beneath and an Interesting Loading Bay
The hall has two huge water tanks containing 4,000 gallons of water each. This water is used for shows that require the floor of the performance area to be flooded. A good example is the performance of Madam Butterfly.
The hall’s loading bay is an art gallery. The walls are an urban canvas featuring an array of famous faces who’ve performed at the venue thanks to the skills of street art collective The Daydream Network. That hidden space has also hosted poetry slams, silent discos, and Chess boxing.
8. The Queen’s Private Washroom
In 1916 when it was originally built, her Majesty’s royal toilet was part of a private entrance and staircase leading directly to the royals’ retiring room and the adjoining Royal Box.
To keep the VVIPs from becoming separated, it was moved into the retiring room in 1932 and updated in the 1990s.
9. The Hall is Ever Busy
The Royal Albert Hall hosts more than 390 events throughout the year. These include concerts, sporting events, ballet performances, film screenings, award ceremonies, charity events, and banquets.
It’s also used for community and school events like graduations. It can seat more than 5,200 people which is less than when it first opened.
It was originally designed to accommodate up to 8,000 people but changes to the layout, seating and safety requirements have caused the maximum capacity to decrease over the years.
10. Guided Tours
The hall offers guided tours. The 1-hour Grand Tour takes place several times a day and provides access to the gallery, the auditorium, and the Royal Retiring Room.
Themed tours are also available. These include architectural tours and secret history tours that take place on select dates.
Packages that include a guided tour, as well as afternoon tea or a meal at the on-site Verdi Restaurant, are also available.
Because of its royal connections, Royal Albert Hall is a frequent inclusion on royal-themed sightseeing tours of London, as are other royal attractions such as Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and Kensington Palace.
Food and drink may not be brought into the building. It is against the law to smoke in the Hall. The use of e-cigarettes is also prohibited.
For most events at the Royal Albert Hall, there is no dress code. If an event has a specific dress code for an event, it is usually specified in the posters and tickets.