Located in Watford, Hertfordshire, Watford Colosseum is a well-known venue for entertainment. It was founded as the Watford Town Hall's Assembly Rooms in 1938. Decades later in 2011, the venue underwent improvements including adding new spaces along with a new bar and a restaurant.
Husband and wife Nick and Sandra Thomas own the venue, while Qdos Entertainment runs it. The pipe organ's design and construction are the work of John Compton, which is held in high regard by The Cinema Organ Society. Spread across 949 square metres, the building can accommodate 1,392 seated and 2,000 standing audience members, becoming one of the largest of its kind.
Numerous famous names have performed at the Colosseum. In September 1954, soprano Maria Callas appeared here, and tenor Luciano Pavarotti in June 1995. Popular icons like Oasis, The Who and Robbie Williams have performed on its stage. The venue is the regular stage for BBC Concert Orchestra concerts like Friday Night Is Music Night. It was also used to record soundtracks for films like Sleepy Hollow, The Sound of Music, and The Lord Of The Rings. The Watford Colosseum serves as a boxing match venue as well. In 2009, the renowned heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury earned his reputation here after he went professional, by knocking out Scott Belshaw in a match.
The theatre also holds regular charitable events and stages many popular plays. Hardcore punk band Gallows performed in February 2010 to raise money for a local health facility named Peace Hospice. In October 2011, the venues hosted a charity event that involved Masai cultural dancers, Ghanaian acrobats, and Zulu warriors, following the 2011 East Africa drought. Recently between 20th and 23rd February 2020, the professional snooker game, The 2020 Snooker Shoot Out tournament took place at the venue.
In 1919, the council bought the site for Watford Colosseum, which was once 'The Elms' - an old 18th-century mansion. Architect Charles Cowles-Voysey and acoustician Hope Bagenal took on the task of designing the theatre, and it cost approximately £186,000. Its high-quality acoustics made it famous all around the world. It was used for recordings and concerts by famous artists and groups throughout the latter half of the 20th century.
The theatre closed in 1994 due to the diminishing audience numbers and rising costs. However, it reopened a year later as the Colosseum. In 2010, it closed again; this time for a £5.5 million renovation. Upon reopening, Qdos Entertainment took control, and the theatre has been running successfully since then. The refurbishment followed a design by RHWL, which led to the inclusion of grey brick facades in contrast to its original look. Apart from a significant facelift, the venue's interiors received changes too. Along with the addition of new spaces for meetings, a new bar and modern restaurant facilities, the auditorium also underwent a renovation. Arup gave the improvement recommendations, keeping in mind not to disturb the building's acoustic properties.
Watford Colosseum, Rickmansworth Road, Watford, HertfordshireWatfordUKWD17 3JN
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