#WeARe230 - celebrating 230 years of Assembly Rooms

Usher Hall exterior

2017 was a year worth celebrating as it was our 230th anniversary as a venue!

It was 1781 when a competition was launched to design a new Assembly Rooms for Edinburgh’s New Town, that itself celebrates its 250th Anniversary. Architect John Henderson was selected as winner of the competition and in 1783 the foundations of his revised designs were laid.

The official opening of the Assembly Rooms was of course in 1787, 230 years ago this month. Since then the building has evolved with the times, with major extensions, renovations and technology advances, but has always retained its impressive Georgian grandeur and hospitality.

We want to take the opportunity to thank all the staff, clients, partners, contributors and guests (we estimate over 30million!) for their part in our 230 year history. Ensuring the venues iconic presence in Edinburgh.

Now we look to the future, beginning this year and look forward to the many events and projects we have lined up. Further afield, we wonder what the next 230 years will hold and what our peers will be saying in the year 2247 (and what medium the will be communicating in!). Perhaps virtual reality will allow visitors from across the globe and beyond, and the invention of time-travel will allow us to revisit our opening in 1781!

Exciting times ahead.

5 moments (there are many, many more) in Assembly Rooms’ 230 years of Entertaining Edinburgh

1. Hosting King George IV at the Peers Ball and the birthplace of modern tartan (1822)

The Peers Ball at Assembly Rooms was the showcase celebration event for the King’s visit. Sir Walter Scott himself was the organiser and planned to “revive ancient dresses” stating that “no Gentleman is to be allowed to appear in anything but the ancient Highland costume”.

2. Red Cross depot during First World War (1914-18)

We took on a medical role during the First World War as a Central Red Cross Depot, where volunteers and staff collected aid for the frontline.

3. The Simpsons Came to Visit (2000)

As part of the Edinburgh Festival the cast of The Simpsons performed a live script reading at Assembly Rooms, only the second live reading the cast had performed at the time.

4. The £9.3 million refurbishment (2011)

A little spruce-up is required here and there - we are 230 years old after all! The 2011 refurbishment returned our A-listed building to its 18th century splendour, but with the inclusion of modern technical infrastructure.

5. Awarding Sir Chris Hoy Freedom of the City (2012)

Scotland’s most decorated Olympian and 11-time world champion Sir Chris Hoy is a shining example to all in sport and beyond. A son of Edinburgh, he was awarded Freedom of the City at Assembly Rooms in recognition of is achievement and contribution.