Page last updated at 18:26 GMT, Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Prince reopens saved Royal Hall

The prince addresses the crowd at the Royal Hall reopening
The prince likened the hall to an "elegant and lovely old lady"

The Prince of Wales has reopened Harrogate's Royal Hall after a 10.7m restoration of the historic theatre.

The grade II listed building was forced to close in 2002 because of structural problems but has been returned to its original splendour.

Prince Charles is patron of the Royal Hall Restoration Trust, which was set up to raise funds for the work.

A crowd applauded as he switched on the lights to the Royal Hall, illuminating the grand facade of the building.

To the rousing sound of Harrogate Brass Band, Charles waved to the hundreds of people who had been waiting in the cold to see him.

I cannot possibly tell you how thrilled I am to be here to see for myself the complete transformation that has been brought about in this magnificent building
Prince of Wales

The prince met members of the Royal Hall Restoration Trust and was then shown around the hall.

Phil Willis, Liberal Democrat MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, said the royal visit was the "icing on the cake" for the project.

Mr Willis said: "The fact that this is a building restored to its Victorian glory in the 20th Century is just fantastic."

'Quite breathtaking'

The prince was welcomed by more than 80 young musicians into the grand auditorium.

He was then treated to performances from Tewit Youth Band, St Aidan's School Choir and two young solo choristers - Emma Whiteley and William Dutton.

Speaking to the 200-strong audience, the prince congratulated the team of craftsmen and builders who had refurbished the hall.

The prince at Hill Top Farm, Spaunton
Earlier the prince met farmers on the North York Moors

"I cannot possibly tell you how thrilled I am to be here to see for myself the complete transformation that has been brought about in this magnificent building," he said.

"I came here in July and although there was a lot of activity all over the place, it was little more than a shell."

Before unveiling a plaque, he added: "I likened the Royal Hall to an elegant and lovely old lady who had fallen on somewhat hard times.

"I see she has being taken back in time to the beauty and splendour of her youth. The result is simply quite breathtaking."

The hall will hold its first public performance in April this year.

Earlier, the prince joined supporters of the Mutton Renaissance Campaign at Grange Farm in Levisham, on the North York Moors.

He also visited an organic flour mill at Hill Top Farm in Spaunton.

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