The 3,500-seater concert hall was built with the aim of “drawing people away from beer-houses and other low places, where music, dancing and amusements took place”. It was intended to raise the quality of entertainment and venue for the people of Bradford. Indeed, over the years, many famous names appeared there, including Charles Dickens, Winston Churchill and Harry Houdini.
It is a grand, imposing structure; detached, rectangular on plan, seven bays wide and five storeys high. The walling is ashlar sandstone with matching detailing and deep modillion bracket entablature to the eaves. The roof is hipped, natural slate pitched over the north (principal) portico. Intricately carved details such as ornate garlands adorn the facades.
Time (and the northern climate) took their toll on the Hall. Reactive repair work was carried out at various times throughout the twentieth century but, by 2016, there was widespread defective masonry, where the original surface of the stone had been lost through erosion and decay. The roof was in need or urgent attention, with a significant number of cracked, slipped and previously repaired slate. Roof timbers required repair and replacement. The leadwork needed to be replaced and the rainwater goods were in poor condition. Finally, the building’s timber sash windows had deteriorated as a result of wet rot. It was clear that the future of this important building needed to be safeguarded through appropriate restoration work.