Bridgewater Hall

Last updated
The Bridgewater Hall
The Bridgewater
Bridgewater Hall in 2008.jpg
AddressThe Bridgewater Hall
Lower Mosley Street
M2 3WS
Location Manchester, England
Operator SMG Europe [1]
Type Concert hall
Capacity 2,355 (+16 wheelchair spaces)
Opened11 September 1996

The Bridgewater Hall is a concert venue in Manchester city centre, England. It cost around £42 million [2] to build and currently hosts over 250 performances a year.


The hall is home to The Hallé orchestra and the Hallé Youth Orchestra and Choir, and is the primary concert venue for the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. The building sits on a bed of 280 springs, which help reduce external noise.

The venue is named after the Third Duke of Bridgewater who commissioned the eponymous Bridgewater Canal that crosses Manchester, although the hall is situated on a specially constructed arm of the Rochdale Canal. [3]


Proposals to replace the concert venue in the Free Trade Hall existed since it was damaged in the Second World War [4] but the hall, which was home to The Hallé orchestra was repaired and renovated. Despite being a popular venue, the Free Trade Hall, built in the 1850s, had poor acoustics. Throughout the 1970s and 80s several schemes to replace it were considered but the project became more likely in 1988 after the creation of the Central Manchester Development Corporation. [4]

In the 1990s, land east of Lower Mosley Street and north of Great Bridgewater Street adjacent to the G-Mex exhibition centre (now Manchester Central Convention Complex) which was occupied by a former bus station and car park near the Rochdale Canal was identified as the site for a new hall. A competition inviting architects to present designs for the new concert hall was launched and a proposal by Renton Howard Wood Levin (RHWL) architects was chosen. [4] The development included the construction of a basin on a specially built short arm of the Rochdale Canal and part of the Manchester & Salford Junction Canal providing a waterfront setting for the hall. [5] [6]

The Bridgewater Hall held its first concert on 11 September 1996 and was officially opened on 4 December by Queen Elizabeth II, alongside the Duke of Edinburgh. The Bridgewater Hall was one of a number of structures built in the 1990s that symbolised the transition to a new and modern Manchester following de-industrialisation and the 1996 bombing. [4]

The Bridgewater was well received and won a number of awards. In November 1996, only months after opening, the concert hall won the RIBA North West award. [7] In 1998 the Hall won the Civic Trust Special Award, [8] which is given to a building which enhanced the appearance of a city centre.


Bridgewater Hall overlooks the Rochdale Canal Bridgewater Hall Basin Manchester 4618.JPG
Bridgewater Hall overlooks the Rochdale Canal
Interior Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, September 2016 (02).JPG
Main auditorium interior, showing the pipe organ. Manchester-hidden-spaces-workshop 06.09.2014 0738.jpg
Main auditorium interior, showing the pipe organ.
Vibration dampers / isolation bearings underneath the main auditorium. Manchester-hidden-spaces-workshop 06.09.2014 0773.jpg
Vibration dampers / isolation bearings underneath the main auditorium.

Construction of the hall was a joint venture between Manchester City Council and the Central Manchester Development Corporation who obtained funding from the European Regional Development Fund [5] The architects were RHWL and the builders were John Laing. [9] The acoustics were designed by Rob Harris of Arup Acoustics; his colleagues at Arup were the building engineers. [7] The Bridgewater Hall can seat 2341 people over four tiers in the auditorium: the stalls, choir circle, circle, and gallery. [10]

The main auditorium sits on a foundation of earthquake-proof isolation bearings that insulate it from noise and vibration from the adjacent road and Metrolink line. [11] The hall's 26,500 tonne superstructure rests on 280 GERB isolation bearings consisting of rows of steel springs between concrete piers. Bridgewater Hall is the first concert hall built with this technology. [5]

The structure is mostly formed from solid, reinforced concrete, moulded and cast like a vast sculpture. [4] The auditorium has a double-skinned roof with a stainless steel outer shell. [5] The lower part of the hall is built of deep red sandstone from Corsehill Quarry in Annan, the upper walls are clad in aluminium and glass. The interior uses Jura limestone.


Inside the hall, the focal point is a £1.2 million [1] pipe organ with 5500 pipes and four manuals, [12] built by Marcussen & Son, which dominates the auditorium, covering the rear wall with wood and burnished metal. At the time of construction, the organ was the largest instrument to be installed in the UK for a century. [13]

Barbirolli Square

On the plaza outside is the "Ishinki Touchstone", a sculpture by Kan Yasuda made of polished Italian Carrara marble which is white streaked with bluish-grey. The stone weighs 18 tonnes and was installed in August 1996. Its £200,000 cost was financed by the Arts Council, Lottery Fund, Manchester Airport and Manchester City Council. To prevent vandalism, the stone is coated with an anti-graffiti solution. [14] [15] [16]

Beside the main entrance is a sculpture of Sir John Barbirolli by Byron Howard (2000). [17]


Since its opening on 11 September 1996, it has been the home of the Hallé Orchestra, the Hallé Choir and the Manchester Boys Choir, and is a regular venue for concerts by the BBC Philharmonic and Manchester Camerata. From September 2002 it has been home to the Hallé Youth Orchestra and Youth Choir, founded for musicians under the age of nineteen who are not in full-time musical education.

As well as concerts, the Bridgewater Hall hosts conferences and events for external parties such as annual presentation evenings. Manchester Metropolitan University has held its graduation ceremony in the hall in July each year since the early 2000s. The Open University also holds one of its Graduate Ceremonies at the hall each year.

See also

Related Research Articles

John Barbirolli British conductor and cellist

Sir John Barbirolli, CH, Giovanni Battista Barbirolli, was a British conductor and cellist. He is remembered above all as conductor of the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester, which he helped save from dissolution in 1943 and conducted for the rest of his life. Earlier in his career he was Arturo Toscanini's successor as music director of the New York Philharmonic, serving from 1936 to 1943. He was also chief conductor of the Houston Symphony from 1961 to 1967, and was a guest conductor of many other orchestras, including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia, the Berlin Philharmonic and the Vienna Philharmonic, with all of which he made recordings.

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra based in Liverpool

The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society is a British society based in Liverpool, England, that manages a professional symphony orchestra, a concert venue, and extensive programmes of learning through music. The society is the second oldest of its type in the United Kingdom. Its orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, is the country's longest-surviving professional orchestra. The RLPO is the UK's only orchestra that has its own hall. In addition to the orchestra, the society administers the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir, the Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and other choirs and ensembles. It is involved in educational and community projects in Liverpool and its surrounding region. It is based in the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, an Art Deco concert hall built in the late 1930s.

Charles Hallé pianist and conductor, founder of the Hallé orchestra

Sir Charles Hallé was an Anglo-German pianist and conductor, and founder of The Hallé orchestra in 1858.

Royal Festival Hall concert hall in London, England

The Royal Festival Hall is a 2,900-seat concert, dance and talks venue within Southbank Centre in London. It is situated on the South Bank of the River Thames, not far from Hungerford Bridge, in the London Borough of Lambeth. It is a Grade I listed building, the first post-war building to become so protected. The London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment are resident in the hall.

Free Trade Hall public hall constructed in 1853–6 on St Peters Fields, the site of the Peterloo Massacre and is now a Radisson hotel

The Free Trade Hall on Peter Street, Manchester, England, was a public hall, constructed in 1853–56 on St Peter’s Fields, the site of the Peterloo Massacre. It is now a Radisson hotel.

Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool Concert hall in Liverpool, England

Liverpool Philharmonic Hall is a concert hall in Hope Street, in Liverpool, England. It is the home of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society and is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade II* listed building. It is not the original concert hall on the present site; its predecessor was destroyed by fire in 1933 and the present hall was opened in 1939.

Hill Auditorium theater and auditorium on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States

Hill Auditorium is the largest performance venue on the University of Michigan campus, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The auditorium was named in honor of Arthur Hill (1847-1909), who served as a regent of the university from 1901 to 1909. He bequeathed $200,000 to the university for the construction of a venue for lectures, musical performances, and other large productions. Opened in 1913, the auditorium was designed by Albert Kahn and Associates. It was recently renovated by the same firm beginning in 2002 and was re-opened in 2004.

Glasgow City Halls concert hall in Glasgow City, Scotland, UK

Glasgow's City Halls and Old Fruitmarket is a concert hall and former market located on Candleriggs, in the Merchant City, Glasgow, Scotland.

Cultureshock was the 2002 Commonwealth Games Cultural Programme which ran alongside the Games themselves. The events ranged from images of the athlete as hero in sculpture and photography (Go! Freeze, which ran at Turton Tower in Bolton to a Zulu performance at The Lowry. There was an exhibition at the Whitworth Art Gallery called Tales of Power: West African Textiles, and a performance of the film Monsoon Wedding at Clwyd Theatr Cymru. The geographical range was from Cheshire in the south to Blackburn and Cumbria in the north, and included that year the various Melas that take place around the region.

Perth Concert Hall (Western Australia) concert hall in Perth, Western Australia

The Perth Concert Hall is a concert hall located in Perth, the capital of the Australian state of Western Australia. Owned by the City of Perth, the hall is the main venue of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, and also hosts a number of other events and performances. The building itself is located in Perth's central business district, adjacent to the Supreme Court Gardens and Government House. The building has two façades: facing north over St Georges Terrace, and facing south over the Swan River.

The Hallé Choir is a large symphonic chorus of around 170 singers based in Manchester, England. It was founded as Manchester Choral Society alongside the Hallé Orchestra in 1858 by Sir Charles Hallé. The choir gives around twenty concerts a year with The Hallé at The Bridgewater Hall and other venues across the UK. Appearing with international conductors and soloists in concert and recordings, the choir performs a repertoire of major choral and operatic works ranging from mainstream pieces to more esoteric pieces and commissions.

Wayne Marshall (classical musician) British pianist, organist and conductor

Wayne Marshall is an English pianist, organist, and conductor. He is Chief Conductor of WDR Funkhausorchester in Cologne, Germany, and Organist and Associate Artist of the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester. He became Principal Guest Conductor of Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi in 2007, and is a celebrated interpreter of George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein, and other 20th-century American composers.

Leeds Philharmonic Chorus is a leading choir in Europe, regularly performing to professional standards with internationally renowned soloists, orchestras and conductors.

The Anvil, Basingstoke concert hall and performing arts centre in Basingstoke, England

The Anvil is a concert hall and a performing arts centre in the town of Basingstoke in Hampshire, UK.

National Auditorium of Music

The Auditorio Nacional de Música is a complex of concert venues located in Madrid, Spain and the main concert hall in the Madrid metropolitan area. It comprises two main concert rooms: a symphonic hall and a chamber music hall.

Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus

Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus is a large choir based in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England. The chorus consists of about 190 members from Sheffield and the surrounding area and performs between 5 and 10 concerts each season. A regular venue is Sheffield City Hall, although the choir also performs concerts in the Bridgewater Hall and Leeds Town Hall as well as other national and international venues. The current musical director of the chorus is Darius Battiwalla who has held the post since 1997.

The Hallé English symphony orchestra based in Manchester

The Hallé is an English symphony orchestra based in Manchester, England. It supports a choir, youth choir, youth training choir, children's choir and a youth orchestra, and releases its recordings on its own record label, though it has occasionally released recordings on Angel Records and EMI. Since 1996 the orchestra has been resident at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester.

Orchestra United was a four-part British television series that followed a youth orchestra from its creation to a final, full-scale concert. The series was broadcast on Channel 4 during summer 2010.

RHWL Architects was a British architecture practice based in London, Berlin and Qatar. It was established by Andrew Renton, Peter Howard, Humphrey Wood and Gerald Levin following the establishment of Andrew Renton & Associates in 1961. It was well known for projects undertaken by its Arts Team division. RHWL Architects, Arts Team and RHWL Interiors are part of Renton Howard Wood Levin LLP, a Limited Liability Partnership. RHWL and Arts Team were acquired by Aedas on 26 January 2015.

Alexander Hall (Princeton University) assembly and concert hall at Princeton University

Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall is a historic 900-seat Richardsonian Romanesque performance hall at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey. It is home to both the Princeton University Orchestra and the Princeton Symphony Orchestra.


  1. 1 2 "The Bridgewater Hall". SMG Europe. Archived from the original on 1 February 2013. Retrieved 2011-10-11.
  2. "Bridgewater Hall: 10 Years, Page 1". BBC News. Retrieved 2011-10-11.
  3. Welch, Adrian (17 April 2010). "Bridgewater Hall Manchester". e-architect. Archived from the original on 26 June 2019. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 "The Bridgewater Hall – History and Architecture". Bridgewater Hall. Archived from the original on 2011-09-25. Retrieved 2011-10-11.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Bridgewater Hall, Manchester University, archived from the original on 2009-03-06, retrieved 2011-10-13
  6. Hartwell, Clare (2001). Manchester. Pevsner Architectural Guides. London: Penguin. pp. 145, 147. ISBN   0 14 071131 7.
  7. 1 2 "Arup – Bridgewater Hall". Arup. Retrieved 2011-10-11.
  8. "RHWL architectsBridgewater Hall", Bridgewater Hall, archived from the original on 2011-04-25, retrieved 2011-10-13
  9. Ritchie, p. 180
  10. "Bridgewater Hall: 10 Years – Page 2". BBC. Retrieved 2011-10-11.
  11. "The quietest room in the world". BBC News. 27 August 2009. Retrieved 2011-10-11.
  12. "The Bridgewater Hall Organ". YouTube . Bridgewater for All. 23 September 2013. Retrieved 1 February 2017.
  13. "Bridgewater Hall: 10 Years – Page 5". BBC. Retrieved 2011-10-11.
  14. Bridgewater Hall, Manchester Metropolitan University, archived from the original on 12 March 2012, retrieved 12 December 2011
  15. Ishinki Touchstone, Manchester Art Gallery, retrieved 4 January 2012
  16. Ishinki-Touchstone, Public Monument and Sculpture Association, archived from the original on 23 June 2007, retrieved 4 January 2012
  17. John Barbirolli, Manchester Art Gallery, retrieved 28 April 2012


Coordinates: 53°28′31″N2°14′45″W / 53.47528°N 2.24583°W / 53.47528; -2.24583