Historic Harrogate venue reopens its doors for the first time in 15 months

The Royal in Harrogate in its first early golden era before the First World War when it was known as the Kursaal.The Royal in Harrogate in its first early golden era before the First World War when it was known as the Kursaal.
The Royal in Harrogate in its first early golden era before the First World War when it was known as the Kursaal.
The summer revival of Harrogate's visitor economy has been boosted by an announcement that its most historic venue is to bring back its popular open days.

The Royal Hall Restoration Trust said it was delighted to announce that the Royal Hall in Harrogate - now the only surviving Kursaal in mainland Britain - will open its doors to the public after a gap of 15 months for a new series of open days starting next week.

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But the first visitors returning to the Edwardian Grade II* listed performance hall and theatre hailed as "Harrogate’s Glittering Palace of Gold" on Wednesday, July 7 from 10am to 4pm are being warned they will be expected to follow extensive Covid safety guidelines.

In addition, there will be no guided tours on the 7th and 27th July in order to comply with Government guidelines.

Open Day co-ordinator Gay Steel said: "In response to the ongoing pandemic our visitor experience will, of necessity, be different until government guidelines permit us to resume ‘normal service’

"The changes made are due to the measures we have put in place to ensure the safety of our visitors and volunteers

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"The safety of visitors and volunteers remains our priority so we will be limiting numbers to support social distancing.

"Please check on our website (royalhallrestorationtrust.org.uk ) and book if necessary before visiting on an Open Day.

"We are unable to guarantee entry for non-pre-booked tickets dependent on numbers in the building."

The Royal Hall was first opened in 1903 as the Kursaal with financial support from Harrogate mayor and engineering inventor Samson Fox.

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Designed by Robert Beale and Frank Matcham, two of of the most famous theatre architects of the time, over the decades the venue has hosted everyone from The Beatles, The Who, Gene Vincent, Ronnie Scott, Joe Loss, Pentangle and Cliff Richard to Sarah Bernhardt, Lily Langtry, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Lauder, Paul Robeson, Yehudi Menuhin, Tony Hancock, Jimmy Carr, Henry Hall, Sir Hubert Parry and the Harrogate Symphony Orchestra.

When in 2001, English Heritage put the building on the national “buildings at risk” register, the Royal Hall Restoration Trust sprung into action with the support of Harrogate Borough Council.

In total, the goal was to raise the £10.7 million needed for restoration.

With the backing of renowned actor Edward Fox, a great-grandson of Samson Fox, the Trust raised £2.7 million from local supporters, bolstered by donations from Harrogate council, Harrogate International Centre,and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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As a result, an extensive and authentic interior redecoration and the restoration of the dress circle was carried out.

The patron of the Royal Hall Restoration Trust, Prince Charles carried out the official re-opening of the Royal Hall on January 2008.

As well as concerts and live shows, since 2014 the venue has been the home of the annual International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival but, until now, it has been closed since the pandemic began while the exhibitions halls next to it at Harrogate Convention Centre served as an NHS Nightingale Hospital.

It has also over the decades hosted many events for Harrogate International Festivals.

Royal Hall Restoration Trust Open Days: Info

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Visitors will be asked to follow the Royal Hall's guidelines on the following:

Maintaining social distancing

Follow one-way systems, signage, capacity limits and guidance from our volunteer stewards

Use the hand sanitiser stations

Wear a face covering inside the building unless exempt

Pay via contactless payment wherever possible – contactless card readers will be available for donations and merchandise

When entering the Royal Hall, it will be essential to provide your personal details for Test and Trace purposes if you are over the age of 16

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Visitors MUST check into the building using the QR code provided or provide details using a form on entry

Visitors must provide your full name and telephone number or email address for every member of your party over 16 years of age

If you provide your details manually your data will be handled in accordance with Government regulations. It will be stored securely for 21 days and only shared with the NHS if requested by the Test and Trace service

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