31 March 2019
Posted by Julien Boast
We were delighted to welcome up to 2,000 people to our Open Day at the end of March. As well as giving people the opportunity to look around the redevelopment site, the Open Day also marked the official launch of our Heritage Funded project Revealing City Hall which will celebrate the rich history and heritage of the Grade II* City Hall building.
The past six months have seen dramatic changes inside the building as Kier have stripped out the interior of the auditorium and removed the fixtures and fittings in the bar area, the dressing rooms, the Boscawen foyer and Back Quay. The redevelopment has now moved into the construction phase, with work currently taking place to - quite literally - raise the roof by 2.5 metres.
This is an incredibly exciting time for Hall For Cornwall. Our new large-scale theatre, built on the site of our existing building, will have 300 more seats within a new three-tiered auditorium, paving the way for larger scale shows to be premiered in Cornwall for the first time. It will also include lively bars and cafés and an ERDF and LEP funded creative digital hub with vibrant work and social spaces.
City Hall has had various incarnations over the past 175 years, ranging from a Market house, Stannary Court and jail, a fire and police station to a skating rink, concert and cinema and, more recently, the home of the City Council. Hundreds of people shared their memories of the building during the Open Day, many bringing in posters, flyers, ticket stubs, programmes and photos to show to members of our heritage team. All items are being copied to create a unique digital archive for Truro and Cornwall.
Among those sharing their stories was Gillian Hall. Gillian previously worked for Roberts of Truro, Truro’s own department store in Boscawen Street. While at work she was picked to model at a City Hall fashion show as the only non-professional model in the event. She bought in four photos showing her on the runway in the 1950s, with the old barrel-vaulted ceiling in the background. These have now been copied to include in the archive.
One person spoke of her joy at being chosen to sing on the stage as part of the Truro Choral Society on the opening night of Hall For Cornwall, while another played second trumpet in the pit orchestra. Others remembered being back stage sewing dancers from Duchy Ballet into their costumes and photographing Boy George, Dionne Warwick and other performers while one couple explained how they announced their engagement during a performance of Robin Hood on the HFC stage. Some younger people recounted stories told to them by their parents and grandparents, including one person who recalled her grandmother talking about staffing the cloakroom area during Saturday evenings dances and a man whose grandfather worked in a café at City Hall during the war.
Other people recalled attending balls and dances, fatstock shows, dog shows, beer and jazz festivals, antiques and flea markets, performances from artists ranging from Morrissey, Suzanne Vega and Justin Hayward, to Elbow, Wizard, Radiohead, the Proclaimers, Hawkwind; pantomimes, classical concerts, plays, musicals, opera and dance extravaganzas, comedy acts, and even a Star wars tour and a breakdancing convention.
Our heritage team are keen to hear more memories and stories about the history and heritage of the theatre and the City Hall building. We are also looking for volunteers to support our historical fact finding and collection activities over the next 12 months. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have stories to share with us or are interested in becoming a volunteer.