Who designed and built the Royal Albert Hall?

He may not be a common name in books of musical history, but Henry Darracott Scott created the Royal Albert Hall's iconic dome

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 08: General view outside ahead of the Last Night Of The Proms at Royal Albert Hall on September 8, 2012 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Christie Goodwin/Redferns via Getty Images)
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Henry Darracott Scott was the man responsible for designing and building London’s Royal Albert Hall, despite the fact that his name is quite difficult to find in the history books. You will look in vain in most histories of British music to find even a mention of the man who designed the Royal Albert Hall.

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Henry Darracott Scott, designer and builder of the Royal Albert Hall

Who was Henry Darracott Scott and why did he design and build the Royal Albert Hall?

Born in Plymouth, Henry Young Darracott Scott received a military education, and in 1840 was commissioned as second lieutenant in the Royal Engineers. Promoted and eventually appointed in 1855 instructor at the Royal Engineer establishment at Brompton, Chatham, he was in charge of the chemical laboratory there and invented a new form of cement from grey chalk – now known as Scott’s cement. He also perfected a method of representing ground in military maps through the use of hachures.

His resourcefulness led to his employment in 1865 with the commission of the Great Exhibition at South Kensington. By the following year, he had been entrusted with the design and building of the Royal Albert Hall. Such was his confidence in his ambitious design of its famous dome, that when it was time to remove the scaffolding Scott himself knocked away its final support. He is also said to be responsible for founding the Wine Society in 1874, as a means to sell excess wine stocks unsold during the Great Exhibition.

Find out more about the Royal Albert Hall’s organ here.

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Learn more about the history of the Royal Albert Hall in the August 2021 issue of BBC Music Magazine, in which we celebrate the 150th anniversary of London’s iconic venue.