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1982: Queen opens Barbican Centre

The Queen has opened the new 153m Barbican Centre for Arts and Conferences in the City of London.

The centre, which has been 15 years in the making, is the largest arts centre in western Europe and covers five-and-a-half acres of Cripplegate, which was destroyed by Nazi bombers in World War II.

The new multi-million pound building will provide a new home for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the London Symphony Orchestra.

Both have performed inaugural concerts for the Queen this evening.

The centre also houses a concert hall for 2,000 people, two theatres, a cinema, a library, a conference centre and several galleries.

'Wonder of the modern world'

The Queen was welcomed by the administrator of the centre, Henry Wrong.

As she unveiled a plaque commemorating the opening of the Barbican, the Queen said: "What has been created here must be one of the wonders of the modern world."

More than 3,500 people arrived for the opening night celebrations which culminated in a spectacular fireworks display over the centre's lake.

Plans for a new arts centre at the Barbican were originally given the go-ahead in 1971 when it was proposed that construction would cost 17m and would take six years to complete.

In Context
By the 20th anniversary of its opening, the Barbican had welcomed more than 27 million visitors.

It has become a leading venue for classical music and was home to the Royal Shakespeare Company until May 2001.

In 2003 a survey commissioned by advertising agency Grey London, named the Barbican as the city's ugliest building.


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