A pillar of the community

We are incredibly proud to advise that Stanley Halls has been included as a case study in English Heritage’s hugely influential ‘Pillars of the Community’ booklet, or as we think of it, the bible for heritage asset transfer of buildings from councils to communities. 

Concert hall stage, Stanley Halls

The concert hall stage, the image English Heritage thought best represented Stanley Halls (image: Angie Davila).

We are one of only two examples in London, the other being our great friends at Battersea Arts Centre, so we are in good company. Have a look here. (Stanley Halls is on page 32.)

In the meantime, your ever-faithful, if increasingly weary, SPI board continue trudging through negotiations for the management lease for Stanley Halls and surveys with Croydon Council. This once seemingly never-ending stage now appears to be coming to a head with the Council’s Executive Director for Environment and Development now taking an active role in supporting the asset transfer. So things are starting to happen and SPI signing the lease and the community taking management of this wonderful community and historic asset is now on the horizon. A recent change in Council administration has also seen a new focus on arts and the economic development for South Norwood; this should be of great benefit to Stanley Halls and, in turn, we hope the Halls will play a significant role in turning around the fortunes of the area.

Thanks to very many of you for helping to get us this far. We’re so nearly there.

I leave you with a photograph of the freshly painted and stunning gallery at Stanley Halls – painted by 60 local teenagers from The Challenge Organisation, using colours discovered to have been previously used in this room.

Carol Clapperton, Chair, SPI   

Stanley Halls gallery

A photo can’t do it justice. The newly decorated gallery at Stanley Halls.

Stanley hosts Open House


Stanley Halls is at last on the London architecture map. For the first time in recent memory, Stanley Halls will be open for tours as part of London Open House on Saturday 20th September.

Turn up between 10am and 4.45pm to see behind the scenes of this huge, iconic building and learn more about the enigmatic William Ford Stanley. Tours are free.

Refreshments will be on sale and we hope to have some entertainment for parts of the day. 

Find out more about Stanley Halls and other buildings taking part in Open House here.





The comedy kicks off here!

Who’d have thought?

A year ago Stanley Halls was sitting closed and neglected but next Monday it lives again to launch the South Norwood Arts Festival (SNAF to its friends) with an Edinburgh comedy preview – yes, a proper Edinburgh preview in SE25.


Monday 7th July 2014 7.30pm

Comedy Night


An evening of comedy with OLA THE COMEDIAN and KEVIN DAY,
supported by Sunil Patel and Josephine Lacy


TV comedian and Eagles supporter KEVIN DAY brings his unique brand of  humour to SNAF. Known for his long career in stand-up, and being a proud South Londoner, with a regular slot on Match of the Day Two.

OLA THE COMEDIAN gives us a preview of his Edinburgh Fringe show ‘The Comedian and His Future Wife’ which has been playing to rave reviews around London.

Tickets £5 book here 

All funds go to Stanley Halls and SNAF.



 12 South Norwood Hill, London SE25 6AB

SNAF logo © Baker Design

Want to see commitment? Take a trip to SE25

What better way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon than being outside, up to your armpits in dirt? Surprisingly quite a few people from South Norwood thought so and you can understand them feeling smug and virtuous at the end.

A brave team of voluneers turned up to our second Stanley Spruce-Up session on Saturday 10th May. Some were old hands, having done the back-breaking scrub of the gallery floor before Christmas, yet still they came back for more.

They really did make a huge difference. Thanks to them, Stanley Halls now has cleaner, usable Green rooms, significantly fresher toilets, a less dusty assembly room, masses of rubbish tidied and a lighting rig up and ready for use.

All the jobs were heavy going and many pretty foul. A particular shout out goes to the folks who cleaned toilets that looked as if they haven’t seen any bleach in 20 years and those who cleared the rubbish outside in torrential rain. Supreme star of the day goes to Judith who, in a nasty downpour, put her entire arm down a severely blocked external drain to try to stop a major overflow problem.

The works highlighted that the problem with the collapsed drains extends further than we had first anticipated, so, once more, we have to be creative in our facilities management for the forthcoming productions. We are getting to be dab hands at this and tend to find the public quite like a quick tour of bits of Stanley Halls they didn’t know existed to reach a useable WC. Saying that, we will be mightily relieved when Croydon Council does the planned works to rebuild the drains.

A comment that resounded around Stanley Halls all day was the disbelief that this building was ‘managed’ and had a cleaning contract until 18 months ago; Stanley obviously needs us!

For many of us, there was a real thrill of anticipation as the stage lighting rig was painstakingly raised and secured, the modernity of its steel structure seeming somehow at home on the ornately decorated Edwardian stage. It’s now real; after years of volunteers striving to get this together, Stanley Halls will once more see performances on its stage.

So thanks to Audrey, Reisha, Jackie, Renata, Joanna, Rita, Nathan, Kathie, Judith, Ken, Janet, Guy, Charlie, Carol, David and David. You have moved us significantly nearer to these Halls being ready for our community to come and enjoy them.

Stanley goes central, well to Croydon!

Talk on the History and Redevelopment of Stanley Halls

Thursday 27th March, 7pm and Saturday April 12th, 2pm at Croydon Clocktower (Activities Room, lower ground floor)

Join our volunteers when they give a talk on the rich history of Stanley Halls, its designer, William Ford Stanley and the Stanley Lives research and redevelopment project.

To book a place at either talk, please email museum@croydon.gov.uk or phone 020 8253 1022.  www.museumofcroydon.com

The Thursday talk is timed to run before the first film showing in the David Lean Theatre, Croydon Clocktower, by our friends at The Save David Lean Cinema Campaign. The initial film is ‘Basically, Johnny Moped’.

Congratulations to the group on this milestone, and we understand there may also be an appearance from South Norwood boy, Captain Sensible! Tickets are going fast. See here for information on forthcoming films.

We’ve gone legit!

The people of South Norwood take a bow. All those years of voluntary work have been recognised and the Charity Commission has granted SPI charitable status (yippee).

This month, SPI was registered as a charitable incorporated organisation – a new form of charity particularly suited to the type of structure needed to run major projects such as these extensive public halls. It removes a cumbersome level of bureaucracy and allows organisations to focus on the task in hand – making a project like this one live and breathe!

Carol Clapperton is the Chair of our trustees’ board:

“We are all thrilled that we have obtained charitable status – and were really pleased it came through so quickly. We have to thank the officers at Croydon Council for working closely with us to get our charity registered, and the Commission for its timely response.”

The new status means we will be able to sign the lease agreement after a few final negotiations and some essential works to the Halls by the council. Anyone who came along to fabulous Steve Knightley gig a few weeks back will be aware of the problem of the collapsed drains limiting toilet facilities, but the works are now in hand.

We and the council are eager to transfer the lease on the Halls and get them fully open to the public so they can become a vibrant hub in the area. Until the handover there will be occasional public events, which we are managing, this is a great way for us volunteers get valuable experience of how the Halls tick. Stanley Halls will open to regular hirers when we formally take on the lease and can provide a full management service. This should be during the Summer.

“Now it really feels as if the community is going to take management of Stanley Halls. It may have looked to outsiders as bit of a pipe dream, but it is finally going to happen. We just need the Halls to be in a fit enough state for us to open the doors to the public, and the council has those works in hand. We owe a huge thanks to our large band of supporters; together we have built this community-led charity from nothing and soon Stanley Halls will once more fulfil its potential.

The Charity Commission is rigorous in its scrutiny so our board is delighted that the new status was agreed so quickly. Unusually, and due to a historical quirk, we  have formed the second charitable trust in relation to Stanley Halls, which could have slowed the application down. The initial trust was set up in 1905 by Halls founder, William Ford Stanley, and is currently administered by Croydon Council. Council officers, worked closely us  and supported the Commission with its enquiries to show how the two trusts could work together and would be of benefit to the local community.

Now we need to hear from hirers. Tell us what you want to do in the Halls and we can start scheduling events. Contact us here.

We make a great team

We asked for help and you gave it. Thanks to our ‘Friends of SPI’ coming forward to volunteer help for our first professional performance at Stanley Halls, we, together, put on a great show.

Of course, it was the Steve Knightley ‘Grow Your Own Gig’ tour at Stanley Halls last Wednesday night. It was wonderful. Great music, great crowd, stunning building, good beer, and if we say so ourselves, friendly staff.

So if you didn’t get there, here is a taster. But we can’t replicate the wonderful ‘feel’ of the event.

Just before the gig, Steve made a little film about Stanley Halls click here to see it.


Steve Knightley


Capacity crowd for our first professional performance


Anticipation before the start. Steve preferred to perform in the auditorium rather than on the stage, so it had an intimate feel to the concert.


The bar, and local Clarence and Frederick beer, was a huge hit.  A surprisingly large amount of red wine drunk that night!

Want to know more about the night? Then click here to an account of the evening in Inside Croydon.

Steve Knightley Live at Stanley Halls; we gotta gig!

Yes, it’s true. You asked and we give, here is the first, professional music concert at Stanley Halls for goodness knows how many years.

Steve Knightley, one half of prominent folk duo, Show of Hands, is doing a solo acoustic set in his Grow Your Own Gig tour. More used to frequenting venues such as the Royal Albert Hall, Steve wants this tour to be a bit more intimate, so where better than Stanley Halls? Find out more about Steve and the tour here.

8pm Wednesday 5th February at Stanley Halls, 12 South Norwood Hill, London SE25 6AB.

Also, the bar will be open and beer will be from local brewer, Clarence and Frederick.

Tickets in advance via www.ticketsource.co.uk/stanleyhalls

Steve Knightley

Stanley’s out on tour

William Ford Stanley was a well travelled man, so it seems fitting that The Lives of Stanley Halls exhibition, following in the footsteps of that eminent Victorian gent, is just about to embark on its own grand tour……

If you were among the 50 or so that attended its grand unveiling on 4th December, you will know that the exhibition, The Lives of Stanley Halls: Theatricals, Community and Entertainment was anticipated with great excitement…and the excitement did not go unfulfilled! Curated by volunteer researchers and oral historians, the display offers a thoughtful and fascinating insight into the history and heritage of Stanley Halls and explores the various ways that it has been enjoyed by the community since its opening.

The exhibition comprises 8 panels which focus on diverse topics such as the building of the Halls, its opening and its various uses such as for educational, communal and theatrical purposes. Teeming with detail, it also includes a huge number of memories given by members of the South Norwood community. If you have yet to see it, over the forthcoming weeks there will be many opportunities to catch the exhibition starting with the Stanley Halls Open Day on Saturday 18th January (12.30pm – 6.30pm). And for those of you that just can’t wait that long, here are a few pictures to whet your appetite ……

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 19.50.11

One of our volunteer curators installing the exhibition

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The exhibition in its current home, the gallery at Stanley Halls, before going out on tour.











After the Stanley Halls Open Day the exhibition will be visiting a number of venues including South Norwood Library from 20th January. A full exhibition schedule will be revealed in due course but, in the meantime, if you have any suggestions of venues which might like to host the exhibition, please let us know on stanleyhalllives@gmail.com

Phillippa Heath

The Lives of Stanley Halls Project Coordinator