11 June 2015, Manchester Albert Hall
Rosie Mayes continued on her journey of visiting gigs in the north when she went to see Damien Rice at the Albert Hall in Manchester in early June. Unfortunately, this was an unusually bad experience for Rosie due to the unsuitability of the stair climbing lift, on which she felt unsafe, uncomfortable and debilitated.
The Albert Hall is an old listed building and only partially renovated after only opening its doors back to the public as a concert hall last year. The state of access, particularly the stair-climber lift, was very poor and completely unsuitable for wheelchair users, but Rosie was led to believe that a properly equipped elevator style lift will be installed by next year.
Rosie couldn’t access the balcony from where she intended to watch the show due to the unsuitability of the lift, so she had to watch the gig from the floor beside the stage. However, she couldn’t see Damien Rice from this position.
Although Rosie was able to reach the bar to order drinks she didn’t look for a merchandise stand due to the general difficulties in access throughout the whole of the venue. Disabled toilets were available on the upper level but there were none on the lower level close to where Rosie was watching the concert from.
One positive aspect of the venue was that many members of staff were available and were very helpful. Rosie commented: “I would wish to thank the staff for their efforts in attempting to help me gain access to the venue despite the fact that this did not prove to be possible. The staff did their best to help me and were very friendly but the lift and facilities were completely unsuitable for my needs.”
Obviously, accessing older venues is always going to be a problem for disabled users if the venues themselves haven’t totally focused on making it a positive experience for all of their visitors from day one.