back­story 1959

The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - TIMEOUT - Myles Sin­na­mon

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.

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