PARR Hall has turned 125 so with the help of Culture Warrington we have been digging into the archives to look at the historic building's early years leading up to the First World War.

The Palmyra Square venue launched with an opening concert on September 26, 1895, with contralto singer Clara Butt.

Clara was only 23 when she performed in Warrington but she went on to have a distinguished career and was famous in the early 20th century – performing 110 times at the Royal Albert Hall over the years.

Warrington Guardian:

She also organised concerts during the First World War to raise funds for service charities and one of these events saw her return to the Parr Hall on April 26, 1915 – almost 20 years after the opening concert.

In the first few months, the Parr Hall was used for meetings and conferences as much as it was for concerts and dances.

So alongside the likes of a soiree organised for Warrington Women’s Liberal Association on February 11, 1896, there was a Great Conservative Conference on March 21, 1896, and Great Masonic Gathering on September 30, 1896.

But by 1907, the concert hall was attracting international singers such as Ada Jemima Crossley, an Australian contralto.

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Like Clara Butt, she also had a big profile and gave five performances before Queen Victoria during her career.

Going back to wartime, there were historic scenes at the Parr Hall on August 11, 1914, as Warrington men volunteered for active service.

And on December 15, 1914, Horatio Bottomley – known for his inspiring speeches during the conflict – held the 'Great Patriotic Meeting' at the hall.

Then on May 10, 1915, there was an important meeting where women were encouraged to take up war work – either through one of the numerous nursing groups at the time or through the Women's Emergency Corps, Volunteer Reserve, Women's Auxiliary Force or the Woman's Legion.

Warrington Guardian:

The Woman's Legion in particular were very successful and played an important role in persuading the British government to support female war labour in the second half of the First World War.

Another major event that took place amid the backdrop of war was the Infirmary Music Festival on July 5, 1918.

Many decades before Neighbourhood Weekender and Warrington Music Festival, the Parr Hall was the venue for a big concert in aid of Warrington Infirmary, a former hospital in Kendrick Street.

As the infirmary was a charity, until it was taken over by the NHS in 1948, it would have needed to raise funds through public events like this.

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The infirmary closed in the same year that Warrington District General Hospital opened in 1980 as it became surplus to requirements and was demolished.

Following the war, Parr Hall was also the backdrop for marking the end of conflict and remembering those lost and everyone who made sacrifices.

From January 7 to 9, 1919, there was a 'Victory Treats Tea and Concert' for war widows and orphans.

And on January 29, 1919, repatriated prisoners of war from Warrington were honoured with a concert.

Warrington Guardian:

Then on November 14 there was meeting in Warrington about the League of Nations hosted by Harold Smith MP, prominent politician Sir Arthur Crosfield and Bishop of Warrington Rev Martin Linton Smith.

League of Nations went on to become the first worldwide intergovernmental organisation whose principal mission was to maintain world peace.

With special thanks to Craig Sherwood, from Culture Warrington