The Yorkshire Agricultural Society’s biggest ever investment – a new £11.5m state-of-the-art exhibition hall – was officially opened for business during a ceremony in Harrogate today. (Thursday 9 June 2016)
The opening of the hall represents a significant develop in the events-space offering for Harrogate. It is a further step forward in offering an alternative in using the town centre Harrogate International Centre. Further more, it offers advantages to day visitors in being able to easily park next to the facility at no cost. Attendance of exhibitions has changed over the previous few years with a move from visitors staying overnight to more day visits. The availability of green space next to the hall will also appeal to many exhibitors.
The Bishop of Leeds, the Right Rev Nick Baines, and the Society’s Deputy Chief Executive Heather Parry pulled a 30m giant red ribbon to unveil Hall 1 which is the largest single-span space in the North of England and the size of 3.5 Olympic swimming pools. To acknowledge the importance of Yorkshire food producers and to mark the occasion, Mrs Sarah York, the Society’s President, and Lord-Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, Mr Barry Dodd, cut a celebratory five-tier Yorkshire pork pie cake.
The new building, at the Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate, is the Society’s biggest capital investment and largest project in its 180-year history. It has a 36m glass front elevation, with an 8m high wallof Yorkshire stone wall on one side and a copper wall on the other.
The Society is best known as the organiser of the annual farming showcase, the Great Yorkshire Show, but is involved year round in supporting the farming and rural industry with all profits from the Yorkshire Event Centre – its commercial arm, given back to the Society fund its work.
More than 250 invited guests assembled in the sunshine to hear Miss Parry outline the Society’s vision of creating a building to rival any other exhibition space in the UK.
Heather Parry said:
Our new hall demonstrates our commitment to the farming community, to our existing and future customers, and is a positive contribution to the Yorkshire economy.
The Bishop of Leeds said Hall 1, which provides 4,320m2 of exhibition space, fitted perfectly within its surroundings on the 250-acre showground in Harrogate.
The Bishop of Leeds, the Right Rev Nick Baines said:
Not only is it unique, it is also ambitious and it shows something about Yorkshire: that we want to aim high. It is a fabulous building.
For the opening, the hall was set out to showcase its versatility in staging different events including an exhibition of luxury cars, a dinner for 400, conference seating and even a funfair ride. Guests enjoyed Yorkshire canapes, music from Linus Quartet, a Leeds College of Music ensemble, played table tennis and enjoyed the dodgems.
Nigel Pulling, Chief Executive of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, described the opening of Hall 1 as a “momentous day in the Society’s history”. “Our new hall captures the essence of the Society – innovative and practical, and we’re thrilled with the result of all the hard work.”
Hall 1 replaces the original 1960s building which had come to the end of its natural life. As well as the main exhibition space, it includes a café, large foyer, seminar/workshop space and offices.
The first event being held in the new Hall 1 is the Society’s Countryside Days next week, when 6,000 school children will use it as their base for learning more about farming and where their food comes from. And more than 130,000 visitors will be able to enjoy the building during next month’s Great Yorkshire Show (Tuesday 12 – Thursday 14 July) when it will be transformed into a food emporium.
Builders were Clugston Construction and architects were P + HS of Stokesley and Leeds.