Heritage grant to breathe new life into Royal Hall

Refurbished Royal Hall, Harrogate
Refurbished Royal Hall, Harrogate

A LOTTERY grant of £45,000 is set ot breathe new life into Harrogate’s Royal Hall.

The cash injection from the Heritage Lottery Fund will be used to create a ‘Heritage Lounge’ on the second floor of the Royal Hall, allowing the building to take on a new role as a visitor and heritage centre for the town and district.

Featuring displays and items tracing the history of the building and Harrogate’s heritage over the generations, the new centre, expected to be completed by May of this year, will also provide an archive and resource for students and scholars wishing to research aspects of the town’s past.

Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for Yorkshire and the Humber, Fiona Spiers, said: “This project will mean that one of the most beautifully restored buildings in Yorkshire will be brought alive with the introduction of new and exciting historic interpretation aimed to capture the imagination of all ages.”

The centre will house a state-of-the-art interactive audio-visual system which will explore the Royal Hall’s £10.7m restoration project, Harrogate’s spa heritage and the personalities, performers and musicians associated with Harrogate and the Royal Hall, which have over the years, helped to shape the town.

A spokesman for Harrogate Borough Council said the new facility would be located upstairs in the current Heritage Room and open while other events were on at the Hall, as well as being an element in proposed ‘prime-time tours’.

She added there were plans to open up the facility on special occasions for educational visits and tours, providing a valuable resource for schools, colleges and universities as well as local and national historical societies and community groups.

Chairman of the Royal Hall Restoration Trust, Russell Davidson said he hoped the project would be completed in time for the annual conference of the Masons of the Province of Yorkshire West Riding who donated £10,000 towards the cost of the works adding that the Trust also had plans to implement further developments such as additional dressing rooms and acoustic improvements to the stage area.

The £45,000 grant is in addition to the £6m the Heritage Lottery Fund gave to support the restoration scheme at its outset.

Council leader and chairman of Harrogate International Centre’s board, praised the contribution of the Fund as well as that of the Royal Hall Restoration Trust for their efforts to enhance the Roayl Hall for the benefit of the community.

“Both sides have worked closely together on this project, and the success is there for everyone to see,” he said.