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One of the most famous and diverse venues in London, the Royal Albert Hall was an idea conceived by its namesake, Prince Albert. Following the success of the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace in 1851, the profits were used to buy up the ‘Gore Estates’ opposite so a “permanent exhibition” could be built. Although Prince Albert never got to see his idea blossom into reality, his wife Queen Victoria attended the opening in 1871, which included a 500-piece orchestra, a 1000-member choir and the largest organ in the world at the time. This glorious space and its facilities were unfortunately plagued for years with terrible acoustics that caused an unpleasant echo – a problem that took roughly 100 years to solve.
But even with this significant obstacle, the extraordinary hall attracted an eclectic mixture of events, ranging from a Wagner-conducted Wagner festival to a display of Greco-Roman wrestling. It also witnessed some of the most historic moments in British history, including suffragette protests, an indoor marathon, 5 years of the Ford Motor Show in the 1930s and an Albert Einstein speech advocating the benefits of freedom.
The diversity of the venue never wavered in the 20th century, with less than forty years separating the last mass baptisms and a Miss World pageant, as well as the first sumo tournament outside of Japan being within 15 years of the 5th Harry Potter book launch. Most famous today for its annual BBC Proms, The Royal Albert Hall recently underwent a total renovation, transforming it into a perfect modern venue that preserves its Victorian roots.