In 1949, Prime Minister Clement Atlee proposed the building of a new concert hall to be a permanent outpost for London’s musical life. He ended up laying down the first stone of the building, which opened a year and a half later in 1951.
The Royal Festival Hall grew into a veritable arts hub in the 1960s, namely the South Bank Centre which incorporated the new Hayward Gallery and Queen Elizabeth Hall. By the 1980s, it introduced an ‘open foyer’ policy, which meant that its foyers would be open every day regardless of whether any performances were being put on.
The Royal Festival Hall became colloquially referred to as ‘London’s third opera house’ thanks to award-winning operas and the residence of the London Philharmonic Orchestra.