Arthur Lloyd.co.uk
The Music Hall and Theatre History Site
Dedicated to Arthur Lloyd, 1839 - 1904.

 

The Free Trade Hall, Peter Street, Manchester

Later - Manchester Concert Hall / The Radisson Blu Hotel

Manchester Theatres Index

A Google StreetView Image of the former Free Trade Hall, Manchester, today the Radisson Blu Hotel - Click to Interact.

Above - A Google StreetView Image of the former Free Trade Hall, Manchester, today the Radisson Blu Hotel - Click to Interact.

The Free Trade Hall was constructed for the Manchester Corporation between 1853 and 1856, and was situated on Peter Street, Manchester, next door to to the later Alexandra Theatre of 1865 on one side, and the earlier Theatre Royal of 1845 on the other. The Grade II Listed Building today is in use as an Hotel and people staying there may not be aware that the building is in fact situated on the site of St. Peter's Fields, infamous for the Peterloo Massacre of 1819.

An Advertisement for Arthur Lloyd's Comic Concert at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester - From the Guardian of October 13th 1866. The Free Trade Hall was originally constructed as a Public Hall, designed by the architect Edward Walters, and would often be used for musical concerts. Arthur Lloyd and his family performed there regularly during the 1860s, see advertisements on this page and a review below.

Right - An Advertisement for Arthur Lloyd's Comic Concert at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester - From the Guardian of October 13th 1866. The Concert included Arthur's wife Katty King, their son Harry, and Arthur's friend Jolly John Nash.

However, after being bombed during the second world war, in December 1940, the Hall's interior was completely rebuilt to the designs of the architect L. C. Howitt, reopening again as a Concert Hall in 1951. The building was then in use as Manchester's main Concert Hall for many years, staging a variety of live music right up until its closure in 1996. After much debate the building was later reconstructed by the architects Stephenson Bell and reopened as a 263 bedroom Hotel in 2004.

The Building News carried an article entitled 'On Acoustics' in their December 28th 1860 edition, which has some details of the Free Trade Hall when it was first constructed, supplied by its architect Edward Walters, the article says:- 'We will first consider the case of the Free Trade Hall at Manchester, the work of Mr. Walters, who has most obligingly furnished full Information respecting it.

An Advertisement for Arthur Lloyd and his family at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester - From the Guardian of November 2nd 1869.The requirements here, as in most great rooms, embraced fitness for both musical entertainments and public speaking, with accommodation for a very large audience, and good architectural effect. All this has been successfully accomplished.

Left - An Advertisement for Arthur Lloyd and his family at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester - From the Guardian of November 2nd 1869.

The dimensions of this hall are very considerable; they are, as measured from the contract plans - The internal width, 104 feet; length, 176 feet; height, 70 feet; thus bearing very nearly the simple arithmetical relations to one another of 2, 3, and 5. The plan is a parallelogram, with a semicircular sweep at the end, opposite the orchestra. The orchestra is partly in a recess, with a roof curved upwards, but advances into the body of the hall.

The side walls are low, the ceiling coming down on to them, with a cove of unusual height. The side walls are plain below the gallery, the upper part of them being broken only by engaged pilasters, so that they offer no obstacle to conduction, and what reflecting power they exercise will be favorable, but at the remote end, where conduction along the walls would commence, and at the semicircular end, the surface is broken up so as to dissipate or destroy the conducted wave of sound.

An Advertisement for Arthur Lloyd and his family at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester - From the Guardian of November 10th 1869.Columns here take the place of pilasters. Deep open recesses, used as private boxes, are formed, and balconies are thrown out on corbels, while the gallery, which at the sides is shallow, becomes here deeper, so as more effectually to check the sound that might reach the back wall and be echoed.

Right - An Advertisement for Arthur Lloyd and his family at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester - From the Guardian of November 10th 1869.

The doors of entrance are here too, covered with cloth, and lastly the front of the gallery itself has a section of compound curvature, so that it cannot echo. These precautions, coupled with the curved end of the room, arc successful, and there is no echo.

When full, this hall is very successful either for music or for speaking, but when empty the resonance in it amounts to reverberation.

The good result here, it will be remarked, is mainly due to form and proportions; resonant material is not present in an extraordinary quantity, for the walls are plastered, and so is the ceiling; the floor, however, has a space underneath it, and there is a large space above the ceiling. I believe there is a good deal of woodwork about the orchestra - the most important part - and there is a large organ there, which I cannot help believing is likely, even when not played upon, to be a slight auxiliary to sound.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the Building News, December 28th 1860.

Arthur Lloyd performed at the Free Trade Hall on many occasions, a review of one of his performances there, whilst on a tour of the provinces in 1866, comes from the Manchester Examiner of February that year saying:- 'The entertainment provided by Mr. Arthur Lloyd, on Saturday evening last, was, with a very slight exception, a comic one. Himself a singer and composer of popular songs, Mr. Lloyd contributed largely to the amusement of the immense audience which crammed the Free Trade Hall in every part. "The Ballet Girl," "The Policeman," "The Old Woman and her Pig" ( a re-setting of an old North country nursery rhyme), and the last composition of its class, the inexplicable "Kafoozleum," were vociferously encored... Mr. Lloyd's bill of fare, doubled as it was by repetitions, lasted till a late hour, and proved how exacting is the public when its taste is met and its wants generously supplied by performers of great ability and a superabundance of animal spirits.' The Manchester Examiner, February 12th 1866.

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