New £11.5m exhibition hall opens at Harrogate showground

The Yorkshire Agricultural Society's new exhibition hall at the Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate, is now open for business.  Pictures: Gary Longbottom (GL1010/36a)
The Yorkshire Agricultural Society's new exhibition hall at the Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate, is now open for business. Pictures: Gary Longbottom (GL1010/36a)

It cost £11.5m and is the size of three-and-a-half Olympic-sized swimming pools, making it the largest single events space in the whole of Yorkshire and the North East of England.

The new exhibition hall at the Great Yorkshire Showground in Harrogate has been officially opened and as the modern facility was unveiled, its sheer size made an impression.

Gone are the rows of supporting pillars and the lower ceiling that restricted the capacity of the old hall - a building that had stood on the very same site since the 1960s - and in its place is a bright, airy, state-of-the-art space that is designed to attract some of the biggest national events to Yorkshire.

The project is the largest in the Yorkshire Agricultural Society’s 179-year history and has been masterminded by its deputy chief executive, Heather Parry.

The Bishop of Leeds, Nick Baines, carried out the unveiling duties earlier today when he helped pull loose a 30-metre red ribbon spanning the main entrance way in front of invited guests.

From the outside, the new building is a distinctive landmark. It has a 36-metre glass front, flanked by both an eight-metre high Yorkshire stone wall and a copper wall of the same height.

Heather Parry, deputy chief executive of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, pulls a red ribbon with the Bishop of Leeds, Nick Baines, to officially open the new hall. (GL1010/36h)

Heather Parry, deputy chief executive of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, pulls a red ribbon with the Bishop of Leeds, Nick Baines, to officially open the new hall. (GL1010/36h)

Inside, and to demonstrate the hall’s versatility, ‘live rooms’ were set up for today’s opening event, including a 400-seat conference, dinner set up for 400 guests and an exhibition set, plus a sporting area with table tennis, football, snooker and dodgems.

During the ceremony, a five-tier Yorkshire pork pie cake made by Chime and Hock of Barnsley was cut, while musical accompaniment was provided by Aurous, a Leeds College of Music saxophone quartet.

The hall was constructed for the Yorkshire Agricultural Society by Yorkshire-based Clugston Construction and for next month’s Great Yorkshire Show - on July 12-14 - it will be transformed into a food emporium, featuring the Great Yorkshire Cheese and Dairy Show, a food theatre, trade stands and a ‘Journey of Food’ exhibition.

Nigel Pulling, the Yorkshire Agricultural Society’s chief executive, said he was excited about the sort of events the hall could now host.

The first images from inside the Yorkshire Agricultural Society's new exhibition hall. (GL1010/36k)

The first images from inside the Yorkshire Agricultural Society's new exhibition hall. (GL1010/36k)

Mr Pulling said: “It’s a huge leap forward from the old hall which served us well for many years. Like all organisations we have to keep up to date and this is a huge step in doing so and putting us at the forefront.

“The range of things it can be used for is almost limitless. In the past it has had a fairly low roof so we couldn’t have showjumping and other sports in there, now we have a huge space to use. We can do anything from enormous dinners to all sorts of exhibitions and conferences and hopefully some big events that are southern-based will think about using the hall as an additional base or will move up here, which will boost the local economy.”

Current events held at the showground generate £47m annually for the local economy and Mr Pulling expects this figure to increase significantly.

“The sort of events we hope to attract create bed nights and spend outside of the showground. We are talking about national events that will not only be good for Harrogate and district but for the whole of Yorkshire as well.”

The main exhibition space was split up into 'live rooms' featuring different uses of the hall at today's opening ceremony. (GL1010/36m)

The main exhibition space was split up into 'live rooms' featuring different uses of the hall at today's opening ceremony. (GL1010/36m)

As well as the main exhibition space, the hall has a café, a large foyer, offices and a seminar-cum- workshop space.

SCALE OF HALL IN NUMBERS
The new exhibition hall boasts 4,320 sq m of single span space and its construction involved 43,000 metres of cable, 2,059 litres of paint, and installing 953 lights and 465 glass panels.

The roof is fitted with 960 solar panels which will annually generate the equivalent of 47 homes’ yearly electricity consumption.

The steelwork in the frame is more than double the weight of the famous Angel of the North sculpture at Gateshead and the exterior copper cladding comprises of enough to cover some 56 table tennis tables.

The stone walling would cover two tennis courts and the roof is equal to 27 tennis courts.

Its architects are P+HS of Stokesley and Leeds.

An example of how the hall could be set up to accommodate conferences. (GL1010/36d)

An example of how the hall could be set up to accommodate conferences. (GL1010/36d)