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Cambridge's Unbuilt Concert Hall

7:30pm-8:30pm on Wednesday 14 September

Lecture Theatre A - University of Cambridge Admissions Office, New Museums site, Bene't Street, CB2 3PT

The largest indoor hall in Cambridge today is the Cambridge Corn Exchange which seats up to 1,681 people. This was completed in 1875, 13 years after the partial completion of a greatly simplified assembly hall design on the Guildhall site. This was all that councillors would allow of the designs commissioned by Cambridge Town Clerk, Charles Henry Cooper in the late 1850s.

Over a century later, The Vice Chancellor Sir Ivor Jennings, in presenting the University's proposals for the redevelopment of Cambridge in 1962 stated that the University had a duty to the people of Cambridge to see that the city was improved. He made a bold offer for the University to cover half of the cost of a new joint town-gown concert hall.

By 1970 the champions of the scheme, Cambridge City Council’s architect Gordon Logie had retired due to ill health, and Sir Ivor had passed away. The Lion Yard shopping centre was built, but with no concert hall. In the end, a revamped Cambridge Corn Exchange was re-opened in the mid-1980s with its smaller, present capacity. The building celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2025.

Is the Corn Exchange too small for the demands of a rapidly-growing population to serve as a venue not just for town and gown, but for county and region? At a workshop at Anglia Ruskin University in 2013, analysis of anonymised postcode data for The Junction revealed the significant distances customers travel to see shows in Cambridge.

Can University, City, and County unite to create a splendid new concert hall for our city - no matter what their background and wealth – as the former Mayor of Cambridge declared of the Corn Exchange at its opening in 1875?

Could it provide an awe-inspiring setting for first class performances – as Gordon Logie wrote in his 1966 proposals? One that can commemorate the people who, over the centuries have sought to bring town and gown together to make our city greater than the sum of our parts?

There will also be a local hisotry exhibition available to view before and after the talk from local museums.

Booking Information

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Additional Information

Young Adults 12 – 18, Adults, Talk, In person, Free
Event capacity: TBC