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Royal Albert Hall Events Collection

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 2000 RAH EV
Held at: Royal Albert Hall Archive - click here to see details of the physical location of collection
Full title: Royal Albert Hall Events Collection
Date(s): 1871-
Level of description: Collection level
Extent: 100 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Royal Albert Hall of Arts and Sciences

Context

Administrative/Biographical history:

Following the 1851 Great Exhibition (May 1-Oct 15 1851), the Commissioners of the Exhibition spent the bulk of the profits together with money from the government to buy the Kensington Gore Estate, in South Kensington, which lay opposite the Exhibition's location in Hyde Park. Prince Albert, the Prince Consort, proposed that a permanent series of facilities be built on the site for the enlightenment of the public including a 'music hall' . Progress on the scheme was slow and sadly in 1861 Prince Albert died without having seen his ideas come to fruition. The following year, Sir Henry Cole was given H.M. Queen Victoria's blessing to build the music hall if built in conjunction with a memorial to Albert. Sir Henry Cole directed the project and Captain Francis Fowke's drew up the Hall's designs, but unfortunately died in December 1865 leaving the design work to Colonel Henry Scott R.E. In 1867 the Commissioners granted the lease of 999 years on the site of the Hall at an annual rental of one shilling. To fund the Hall's construction private investors could buy seats at 100 pounds each - two of the first buyers were Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales. In April Queen Victoria signed the Royal Charter under which the Hall operates and Lucas Brothers began building the foundations of the Hall. In April Queen Victoria laid the Hall's foundation stone and declared the building would from then on be known as the Royal Albert Hall of Arts and Sciences. The Hall's official opening ceremony was on 29 March 1871, at which the Hall's aim was described as, to be the 'finest in Europe for seeing, hearing and convenience', which its still aims to be today.

The list of famous performers, sports people, and world figures who have appeared at the Royal Albert Hall since it opened in 1871 is unrivalled. Wagner, Verdi and Elgar conducted the first UK performance of their own works on its concert platform, Rachmaninov played his own compositions and nearly every major classical solo artist and leading orchestra has performed at the Hall. The list of popular music artists includes Frank Sinatra, Liza Minnelli, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Oscar Peterson, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, Sting and Elton John and from a younger generation Adele, Jay Z, Kaiser Chiefs and the Killers. Sports men and women from a wide array of disciplines including boxing legend Mohammed Ali, tennis player John McEnroe and Sumo grand champions have entertained the Hall's audiences. Among leading world figures who have spoken at the Hall are Her Majesty The Queen, Sir Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, His Holiness The Dalai Lama and former President of the United States of America, Bill Clinton. The Hall hosts several annual events including Cirque du Soleil, Teenage Cancer Trust concerts, the Royal Bristish Legion Festival of Remembrance, English National Ballet and the Henry Wood Promenade concerts every summer.

Content

Scope and content/abstract:

Programmes (20,000+), posters, tickets and handbills, event records, props and souvenirs.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

English

System of arrangement:

The collection is uncatalogued

Conditions governing access:

The collection is available to the public by appointment only

Conditions governing reproduction:

Reproduction is at the discretion of the Archivist and in accordance with Copyright and Data Protection legislation

Finding aids:

Finding aids exist for the collection

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Royal Albert Hall

Allied Materials

Related material:

London Metropolitan Archives holds The Royal Choral Society archives (GB 0074 LMA/4058), which began its life as the Royal Albert Hall Choral Society, and was formed towards the end of 1871. In 1888 Queen Victoria became patron of the society, allowing it to change its name to the Royal Choral Society. During the 1920's and 1930's the Royal Choral Society became famous for its performances of Coleridge-Taylor's 'Hiawatha', performed in the Royal Albert Hall. Records include; LMA/4058/A: Administration; LMA/4058/B: Finance; LMA/4058/C: Legal papers; LMA/4058/D: Concert files; LMA/4058/E: Hiawatha; LMA/4058/F: Friends; LMA/4058/G: Photographs; LMA/4058/H: Music; LMA/4058/I: Printed Material; LMA/4058/J: Printing Blocks; LMA/4058/K: Recordings; LMA/4058/L: Programmes; LMA/4058/M: Ephemera; LMA/4058/N: Historical papers; LMA/4058/O: Artifacts. The Royal College of Music (GB 1249) holds various early events programmes.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:

Date(s) of descriptions:
February 2012