The Albert Hall
The old Albert Hall, in Edinburgh's West End.
Albert Hall (from this link):
The Chapel rented the Albert Hall at 22 Shandwick Place for various activities between 1908 and 1911, when the building in Rose Street was either unavailable, through a clash of events, or inadequate for the numbers expected. After 1911, the Synod Hall in Castle Terrace was the preferred venue. For the use that the Chapel made of the Albert Hall, see the sections on the ‘West End Brotherhood’, ‘Children’s’ Meetings’ and the ‘White House’.
The Albert Hall was built in 1876 and was known for a few years as the Albert Institute of Fine Arts, whose object was the advancement of art in general and Scottish art in particular.
There was more to the building than just the Albert Hall, because the Edinburgh School of Cookery, which had opened in 1875, moved to the Albert Buildings, in Shandwick Place, in 1877. From Shandwick Place, the School expanded in 1891 to Atholl Crescent. Over many years, students from its residences attended the Chapel on Sundays, so it is mentioned, with a photograph, in chapter 11 of the book.
By the end of 1880, the Albert Hall had ceased to be an Art Institute and an advertisement appeared in The Scotsman on Saturday 22 January 1881:
‘ALBERT HALL – SHANDWICK PLACE, WEST PRINCES STREET. Splendid Hall to Let, suitable for Stores, Wine Merchants, or others requiring large accommodation. Capital entrance and extensive storage. Also Large Front Shop, if desired.’
No one took it and so a similar advertisement appeared in The Scotsman on Saturday, September 24 1881. From February 1882 it was used intermittently for a variety of theatrical entertainments and for a Japanese Village Fair in 1886 (‘Japan Transferred to Edinburgh’) and for an exhibition about New Zealand in September 1886. From November 1888 to 1890, the Edinburgh Methodists used the Albert Hall for one day a week, and their ‘West End Mission’ went ‘from success to success’. (These Methodists, incidentally, had previously been meeting in the hall at 5 Queen Street, which the followers of Christopher Anderson had used for a decade after 1851). The success of the Methodist Mission required them to move in 1890 from the Albert Hall to become tenants of the Synod Hall in Castle Terrace until, in September 1901, they acquired their own permanent accommodation in the New Methodist Central Halls in Tollcross.
The Albert Hall was used as a Picture House (cinema) from September 1908, although it continued to have a variety of occasional tenants, for example the Chapel for its Sunday ‘West End Brotherhood’ from 1908 to 1911. It was again a Picture House in 1913, after being closed ‘for a considerable period’ – a common feature of the Albert Hall throughout its history. The seats in the Hall were described by Edinburgh citizens as ‘mere benches’, so the Hall was capable of multi-purpose use. In December 1915 it was re-named the West End Cinema, seating 800, and the title Albert Hall has not been used since. In 1930 it became the West End Restaurant (others remember it as the Strand Cafe) and until 2006, as so often in its history, it lay unoccupied and looking forlorn. A major renovation is under way as this book goes to the printer in August 2007.