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Page last updated at 15:25 GMT, Monday, 2 August 2010 16:25 UK
Watford Colosseum Refurbishment
Watford Colosseum
The current main hall in the Colosseum

Work starts today on the refurbishment of a Hertfordshire concert venue, known for its acoustic qualities.

Watford Colosseum which has been used to record the soundtrack for many films including Lord of The Rings and the Star Wars Trilogy is currently closed.

Its hoped the former Old Town Hall will unveil it's new modern look in Summer 2011.

Watford Borough Council, who own the Colosseum are paying for the five and a half million pound project.

Former Glory

HQ Theatres who manage the Colosseum hope the refurbishment will mean it will become known for much more than just a music venue.

I'm hoping, when people walk through the doors, they'll go wow!
Dorothy Thornhill, Watford Mayor

They will offer nights of live comedy and the opportunity for people to use the facilities for conferences and weddings.

Liberal Democrat and elected Mayor of Watford, Dorothy Thornhill spoke to BBC Three Counties presenter, Ernie Almond.

She said she is excited about the work getting underway:

"We want to bring it back to it's former glory and give it one last go to really make it the concert hall it was built to be and was.

"I'm hoping, when people walk through the doors, they'll go wow!"

Acoustics

The architect working on the project, Julian Middleton said the project is split into two parts:

"We have to look after and preserving the hall while improving the audience's experience.

"Being a hall from the 1930's we need to add things like better toilets and services but also preserve the acoustics.

"It's in incredibly good condition. I think it was one of the last 1930 buildings that was built to last."

Julian described how the new-look building on Rickmansworth Road will differ:

"In the hall there will be more seats, there will be retractable seating so the flat floor is retained but other seats with a better view can be added for other performances.

"The front of house facilities will change radically, " he explained.

Once opened, the main hall will have 1398 seats.

A new additional box office and spacious foyer offering refreshments will be built.

There will be new bars and kitchens offering pre-show meals and drinks.

A small hall, which can run fully independently of the main hall has been improved.

The whole venue will be accessible.

There will be step free access to the balcony and lifts to reach the first floor bars and upper circle.

There will also be stage access for wheelchair users, plus improved toilets throughout.

The sound and lighting rigs will all be upgraded to handle larger shows.

Visual improvements to the stage and dressing rooms and an improved load-in area will also be introduced.

History

The Assembly Hall was opened in 1940 and over the years became known as Watford Town Hall Assembly Halls.

The design of the hall resulted in acoustics which still have a reputation for being some of the finest in the UK.

Sir Thomas Beecham was of the opinion that "it was one of the finest venues outside London for recording".

Watford Colosseum

In 1994 the venue changed it's name to Watford Colosseum as the result of a joint venture between Watford Borough Council and a management team formerly at London's Town and Country club.

Over the years the Colosseum has hosted performances from world renowned performers as such as Genesis, Elton John, The Kinks, The Who, Slade, Robbie Williams, Oasis, Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo.

Soundtrack recordings made at the venue include The Sound of Music and Sleepy Hollow.

Famous classical recordings include Julian Lloyd Webber's performance of Elgar's Cello Concerto, conducted by Yehudi Menuhin and it has regularly hosted concerts by the BBC Concert Orchestra, in particular the long-running Friday Night is Music Night.

Watford Colosseum closed in May 2010 for refurbishment and extension and should re-open in Summer of 2011.




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