Letters Live coming to the Royal Albert Hall has inspired us to take a look through the Royal Albert Hall’s extensive archive for any letters of note that could be hiding within it.
1913: Pankhurst urges show of strength
A number of suffragette rallies were held at the Hall between 1908 and 1918, with the venue playing an important role in the women’s suffrage movement.
Naturally Emmeline Pankhurst was closely involved and wrote this letter to supporters ahead of a meeting at the Hall in 1913. At a key point for the W.S.P.U., her wish was for their 10 April meeting to be a huge show of strength regardless of her likely absence:
1941: A new home for the Proms?
Following the destruction of the Queen’s Hall in May 1941 by an incendiary bomb, the Proms were left without a home. Classic ‘Blitz Spirit’ ensured that the annual event wouldn’t come to an end, and at short notice the 1941 season was relocated to the Royal Albert Hall.
Here, conductor and Proms founder Sir Henry Wood wrote to us asking if the Hall could be a regular home
1971: Behaviour of all the young dudes
This 1971 exchange between the Hall and Mott The Hoople’s promoter gets to the heart of a fascinating part of our history. The jubilant and rampant fans of modern rock and pop music were proving to be a challenge for a venue built in 1871, with a management very sensitive to potential damage and unruly behaviour:
Unfortunately, the behaviour did indeed turn out to be on the unruly side, and a second concert was cancelled.
Incidents at gigs from the likes of Pink Floyd and The Who, as well as at this gig, led to a subsequent venue ban on rock and pop acts, affecting a number of huge artists’ hopes to play here. Bizarrely, this ban has never formally been formally lifted, although we’ve been ignoring it for several decades now!
1977: Getting to the bottom of it
Back to the Proms, the music controller of the BBC, Robert Ponsonby, was far from impressed by the behaviour of one audience member here in 1977.
Whilst the speculation that the guilty party was an American was hard to prove, our stewarding approach was well truly and put in its place.
… and one that we made up
Correspondence between the Hall and The Beatles at the time of the release of their single A Day In The Life, which saw the venue complain about the song’s lyrics and John Lennon offer a cheeky rebuttal, have been widely shared online and in the media.
Unfortunately, these letters were invented by a cheeky Royal Albert Hall Marketing team for April Fools’ Day prank back in 2015, but here they are anyway: