On April 27, 1959, a near-capacity audience attended a charity concert ( pictured ) to celebrate the opening of the new Brisbane Festival Hall. Situated on the corner of Albert and Charlotte streets, the new £ 300,000 entertainment venue was built on the site of the old Brisbane Stadium. Construction took 15 months, including six weeks lost to a carpenters’ strike.
The hall was carefully designed and constructed to fit its purpose. The stage was large enough to hold 120 musicians, with room for another 20-odd in the orchestra pit. The Telegraph newspaper reported that £12,000 had been spent on the acoustic design and construction: “the rippled canopy over the stage, made of moulded fibrous plaster, is designed to project sound equally to every seat in the auditorium”. A special ventilation system that changed the air 25 times each hour had been installed. The hall also boasted a boxing ring that could be assembled in an hour and dismantled in 45 minutes. With its audience capacity of close to 6000, manager Bert Potts boasted that Festival Hall could host anything from a canary show to a ball.
Premier Frank Nicklin officially opened the concert, describing Festival Hall as “a splendid building [for] the new age”. He also mentioned it was almost 112 years to the day since Brisbane’s first theatre had opened (George Croft’s amphitheatre in South Brisbane on April 24, 1847).
Festival Hall would become an important landmark in Brisbane’s CBD, hosting a multitude of local and international acts. Sadly it closed on August 29, 2003, and was later demolished, replaced with an apartment block, Festival Towers.