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Concert Venues :: Free Trade Hall


Now Known As
Date Opened 1853
Venue Capacity
Venue URL
Venue Address Peter Street
M2 3NQ

Venue Information

Public assembly hall, now concert hall. 1853-6, by Edward Walters; largely reconstructed 1950-51, following war damage, by L.C. Howitt, City Architect. Sandstone ashlar (roof concealed). Trapeziform plan. Renaissance style. Monumental 2-storey 9-bay facade; arcaded ground floor with modillioned cornice, colonnaded upper floor with arcaded tympana, frieze enriched with swags and roundels, prominent dentilled and modillioned cornice with balustraded parapet. The ground floor has rectangular piers with enriched imposts and moulded round-headed arches with richly carved spandrels including shields of the Lancashire towns which took part in the Anti-Corn Law movement. The piano nobile has coupled Ionic columns with corniced entablatures, each bay containing a tall window with pedimented architrave and balustraded ornamental balcony, emblematic carved figures in the tympanum (representing the Arts, Commerce, Manufacture, the Continents, and Free Trade) and richly-carved spandrels with roundels. Plaque attached at left end of ground floor recording that this was the site of the "Peterloo" meeting in 1819. The returned sides have 3 bays in matching style (but blank arches at ground floor), and a continuation of sandstone rubble in much simpler style. The rear wall (rebuilt c.1950-51) has tall pilasters surmounted by relief figures in Portland stone, representing various forms of entertainment which took place in the old Hall. Interior reconstructed and remodelled 1950-51. The Large Hall is in stripped classical style with the decorative features designed to respond to the acoustic requirements. These include sound reflectors over the platform, wall fluting and the coffered ceiling. There is wood panelling and facing in oak, walnut and sycamore. The other interiors ate in a similar style. History: built on land given by Richard Cobden in St Peters Fields, by the Anti-Corn Law League, replacing a simple brick building of 1843 which itself replaced a timber pavilion of 1840. Home of the Halle Orchestra from 1858.

In 1997, the building was sold by Manchester City Council to private developers - despite resistance from local groups such as the Manchester Civic Society, who viewed the idea as inappropriate given the historical significance of the building. After the initial planning application was refused by the Secretary of State, a second and drastically modified planning application was submitted and approved. The reconstructed building retains the original facade but has been otherwise completely rebuilt as the Radisson Edwardian Hotel.

Venue Photos

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