Prince Consort Road during the State Opening of the Royal College of Music Copyright: Royal College of Music
Ticket to the State Opening of the Royal College of Music, 2 May 1894
Copyright: Royal College of Music
The Royal College of Music (RCM) on Prince Consort Road was formally opened by the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), on 2 May 1894. It was a very grand, ticketed affair, and the entire street was decorated with musical instruments, garlands and bunting, reminiscent of Jubilee celebrations.
The Royal College of Music building
The building was designed by the architect Sir Arthur Blomfield (Vice President of the RIBA in 1886). His challenge was an imposing, north facing site, south of the Albert Hall, and at the time two large blocks of flats were planned to be built either side. Blomfield therefore needed to produce something tall and grand, to compete with its neighbours.
The result was a red brick and stone dressed building in the French Baronial style. Blomfield had insisted his design for the main façade must wait until the plan had been completely decided upon. However, in the end he had to provide a façade for a tall building consisting mainly of small rooms in storeys of nearly equal and modest height. The resultant façade with its small-scale subdivisions was criticised for its lack of monumentality and interest.
Later expansion of the college
Blomfield faced further disappointment in that he had intended to develop the building backwards in two quadrangles, but this was put off until later, and ultimately was not built by Blomfield. The college underwent several extensions in the 1960s, including one to the south side of Blomfield's building, by the architects of the new Imperial College, Norman and Dawbarn.
More of the RCM's collections of images and archives are available from the Centre for Performance History.