The Royal Albert Hall is a concert hall in South Kensington, London. The hall is one of the most well-known venues in the United Kingdom that is famous for the widely varying performances that have taken place there since its opening by Queen Victoria in 1871. The hall is so popular that events take place almost every day of the week, often with multiple events taking place on the same day.
The history of the Royal Albert Hall dates back to 1851, when Prince Albert visited the Great Exhibition. Being impressed with the science on display, the prince wished to create a permanent facility where science could be displayed all the year round. The Royal Albert Hall was the end result of this, and although it is not as often used for scientific displays today, it remains an important part of London culture and nightlife.
Although the Royal Albert Hall is today recognised for its acoustics, this was not the case when the hall was first opened. During the earliest performances a noticeable echo was observed by all listeners, leading to a joke that suggested that the Royal Albert Hall was the only location where a British composer could ensure that their work was heard twice. The issue was eventually solved with the installation of fluted panels and acoustic diffusing discs.
A number of notable musicians have performed at the hall over the years, such as Russian pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff performed as part of the London Ballad Concert. Alongside musical performances, the hall as hosted speaking events, such as in 1933 when German physicist Albert Einstein led a meeting at the hall for the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics, a British charity at the time.
The hall served an unfortunate role during World War II as German pilots would avoid bombing the hall in order to use it as a landmark by which they could navigate during the notorious blackout, a time when nearly every light in London was extinguished as an attempt to thwart German pilots from being able to find important targets. It is not known to what extend this was successful, however the hall was slightly damaged by a bomb.
One of the more major changes to be made to the hall was performed in the early 2000s, when a new porch was added to the south side of the building, adding a first floor restaurant, a loading bay below ground, and a new box office on the ground floor. Although the exterior of the building was largely unchanged, the steps that led down to Prince Consort Road were demolished to allow for the building of the loading zone. The project received a reward for the new development.