Venue of the month

The UK’S best con­cert halls

BBC Music Magazine - - Reviews Index -

Where: Han­ley, Stoke-on-trent Opened: 1888

Seats: 1,467

Amid the cel­e­bra­tions for Queen Vic­to­ria’s Golden Ju­bilee in 1887, the Stoke Town Hall Com­mit­tee com­mis­sioned ‘a room ca­pa­ble of hold­ing a larger num­ber of peo­ple than any ex­ist­ing build­ing in the district’. The fol­low­ing year the Vic­to­ria Hall was of­fi­cially opened with a two­day fes­ti­val of speeches and recitals on the spec­tac­u­lar or­gan. Orig­i­nally, the room seated 2,800 peo­ple, but when wooden benches were re­placed with seat­ing, the num­ber was re­duced to the 1,467 seats of to­day. Thanks to the tim­ber-framed el­lip­ti­cal ceil­ing, the hall has su­perb acous­tics, of­ten de­scribed as one of the best in the coun­try for a venue of its size.

In 1999 the hall was in­volved in a ma­jor Cul­tural Quar­ter ren­o­va­tion pro­ject which saw a glass ex­ten­sion added, hous­ing a new en­trance with in­for­ma­tion desk and a café. The Vic­to­ria Hall en­joys reg­u­lar vis­its from the Hallé and BBC Phil­har­monic or­ches­tras, and also hosts or­gan proms once a month. Be­yond the clas­si­cal mu­sic world it is also used for one-off events such as the Yam­ato Drum­mers of Japan, pop and com­edy shows, and reg­u­larly for lo­cal school con­certs and youth or­ches­tras.

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