Wolverhampton Civic Hall
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Exterior of venue
|Owner||Wolverhampton City Council|
|Capacity||3,000 (Civic Hall)|
1,134 (Wulfrun Hall)
550 (Slade Rooms)
|Opened||16 May 1938|
The Wolverhampton Civic Hall is a music venue in Wolverhampton, West Midlands, England. It has been one of the most notable live music venues in the county for several decades. It is part of a complex also including Wulfrun Hall and the Slade Rooms (previously known as The Little Civic). The complex is owned and managed by Wolverhampton City Council and is a Grade II listed building.
Construction and developmentEdit
The hall was built in 1938 following a design competition in 1934 won by Lyons and Israel to build a large concert hall and the smaller Wulfrun Hall, for theatre and chamber performances. Construction commenced in April 1936 and the Halls were officially opened on 12 May 1938.
The original halls were refitted and reorganised in 2001 to increase the capacity to over 3,000 and provide new backstage areas and public facilities. In 2001, a third, smaller venue, The Little Civic was opened, but this was replaced by the Slade Rooms on Friday 12 March 2010 at 11:30am.
Wolverhampton City Council announced plans for a £10.4 million revamp of the Civic Halls in March 2015. The halls were due to reopen by November 2016. The halls closed in December 2015. By then the cost had risen to £14.4 million. Structural problems meant the reopening was pushed back to October 2018. The original plan was scrapped in November 2017 and the cost of the project had risen to £36 million. The halls are now expected to reopen in autumn 2021 at a cost of £38.1 million. During temporary reopenings the halls have hosted events such as the Grand Slam of Darts and a concert by Robert Plant.
A Compton Organ was specially designed for the Civic Hall and it is said that the console was designed by the architects. The organ was made up of over 5,500 pipes and contained an early electronic division known as a Melotone. G. D. Cunningham, then Birmingham City Organist, had the distinction of being the first musician to play there to invited guests. However, the first organist to play in public was BBC Broadcasting Organist Reginald New at the Opening dance with Jack Hylton and his band. Two Borough Organists have served Wolverhampton at the Civic Hall, Arnold Richardson (1938–1973) and Steve Tovey (1991–2016), the latter becoming City Organist in 2001.
The Organ was re-built and enlarged in 2001, and was capable of being played as a concert organ or theatre organ. Regular classical and theatre organ concerts were held until 2015.
In September 2016 it was announced that the organ would be removed and would not return to the Civic Hall. In February 2019 it was revealed that the pipes had been scrapped, despite several offers to restore them, free of charge.
The hall has hosted a variety of events since its opening, although they are now mostly popular music based. In recent years the venue has been in competition for many of the bigger acts with Birmingham's O2 Academy, among others.
Despite this, the venue has attracted many mid-sized acts that have stopped at the venue on UK tours.
It has also staged some sports events. Throughout much of the 1980s professional wrestling was broadcast live from the venue on Saturday afternoons. This became a noted part of English culture until American wrestling became more popular in the 1990s. British Wrestling returned to the venue in the 2000s. On Thursday March 16, 2006 the venue was first utilized by the PDC (Professional Darts Corporation) as it hosted Week 4 of the 2006 Premier League Darts. From 2007 the venue has staged the Grand Slam of Darts. However the tournament in 2018 was moved to Aldersley Leisure Village due to on going refurbishments at the Civic Hall. Gary Anderson, having competed every year in tournament since its conception, says he prefers the Civic Hall over the new venue. "The Civic Hall - that was the Grand Slam of Darts."
Two long running club nights, 'Cheeky Monkey' and 'Blast Off' were held on Friday and Saturday respectively. Promoters decided to no longer run the indie-rock themed Blast Off in March 2014, citing low attendance numbers.
Friday afternoons see one of the largest ballroom and sequence dances in the UK. The hall has hosted dances since 1938, originally on Saturday evenings, when many top dance bands and orchestras have played to capacity audiences.
The Wolverhampton Youth Orchestra/Youth Wind Orchestra play their annual pre-tour concert here.
Morrissey played his first solo performance at the Civic Hall on 22 December 1988. Admission was said to be free to anyone wearing a The Smiths T-shirt. Nearly 20,000 fans were reported to attempt to gain entry to the show many of whom had queued for days.
Slipknot's performance at the Civic Hall in 2000 was noted for turntablist Sid Wilson stagediving from the 20 ft high balcony onto the crowd, as per his trademark. This injured a young woman breaking her leg, she later recovered.
- "Civic Halls reopening delayed to 2021".
- Averty, Jack. "'No alternative': Wolverhampton Council defends decision to scrap historic organ pipes". Express and Star. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
- Averty, Jack. "Revealed: Wolverhampton Council dumped Civic Hall organ pipes without 'full asbestos checks'". Express and Star. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
- Parkes, Thomas. "GALLERY: Grand Slam of Darts returns to Wolverhampton". www.expressandstar.com. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
- TungstenTales (10 November 2018), Grand Slam of Darts 2018 - Gary Anderson believes the Grand Slam should return to the Civic Hall!, retrieved 15 November 2018
- "Louise Redknapp Setlists". setlists.fm. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
- "Marillion Weekend UK 12-14 April 2013". Marillion Weekend. Retrieved 24 March 2013.