In September 2000, Harrogate Borough Council embarked on a Development Study to provide a detailed restoration plan for the Royal Hall. The £800,000 cost of the Study was jointly met by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Council.
In September 2003, the results of the Study were submitted to HLF for grant approval. Unfortunately, the full restoration project was costed at £13.7 million whereas there was only £8 million immediately available – £6 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £2 million matching funds from the Council.
In July 2004, the Council’s project management team embarked on a second, supplemental study to determine exactly what was achievable within the available funding. After a three month study, the team recommended that a phased programme could be achieved with an initial phase costing £8 million. The initial phase would carry out the necessary structural repairs; enable public access and usage, and provide a basis for future restoration work as and when further funds became available. However, there would no funding available under the core scheme to provide a theatre bar; new dressing rooms; new soft furnishings such as carpets and drapes and, very importantly, to restore the interior décor which, at this stage, had become extremely dilapidated. Another major shortcoming of the core programme was that it was envisaged that no restorative work would be carried out to the Dress Circle with the result that the capacity of the Royal hall would be reduced by some 250 seats – an obvious problem from the standpoint of operational and financial viability. A major requirement was that the work should be undertaken in such a way as to contain the risk and possibility of the contract costs over-running.
Following the appointment of the main contractor (HBG Construction Ltd) in October 2005, restoration work started in June 2006 to carry out the core building works. This was a 61 week contract which was due to be completed on 27th June 2007. However, the success of the Trust’s fund-raising campaign meant that additional works were reinstated as additional funds became available and the contract end-date was put back to 28th January 2008. The entire restoration programme was completed on budget and on time – so much so it can justly be described to be an exemplar for this type of project.
The Royal Hall formally opened to the public with a Grand Opening spread over three nights.
The Royal Hall was formally opened by the Trust’s Patron, HRH The Prince of Wales, on 22nd January 2008. There then followed a ten week period for fitting-out and commissioning and the building re-opened to the public on 27th April 2008 with a Gala Concert by the Halle Orchestra followed by a grand banquet for 500 VIPs and supporters of the fund-raising effort.
The Trust’s initial target was to raise £1.8 million but the support was so overwhelming that £2.7 million was eventually raised. This enabled the full restoration to be completed, something few thought possible at the outset of the project. The Trust’s additional funding enabled the following crucial works to be included in the restoration:
|Authentic period re-decoration of the auditorium and circulation areas||£1.5 million|
|Refurbished of the green and dressing rooms||£50,000|
|New soft architecture and furnishings||£150,000|
|Complete restoration of the Dress Circle||£800,000|
|New period bar and associated construction works||£200,000|
Details of the project management team and key players are shown here.
More details of the core programme are available “Preferred Strategy: Key Characteristics”.