Tagged: south norwood

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.


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.

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.

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 ……

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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

Bad Manners maketh this man, but he still wants you to join him

Bad Manners, doesn’t normally pay, unless you are local musician Walter Cardew who wants to entice you to join in him in a bit of debauchery…………

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Walter doing his thang on the drums with The Pasadenas in the mid 1980s.

My name is Walter Cardew and I’ve been involved with music (as a professional and amateur) since a small child, playing all kinds of music. I had a short lived pro career playing drums for groups such as The Pasadenas and Bad Manners but really wasn’t good enough to sustain it and pursued higher musical education to develop my interest in composition. Now I have a part-time job to pay the rent and compose and play music – new classical music, church music, blues, rock ‘n’ roll…all kinds of stuff, mostly on guitar but also on drums. My Very Better Half is a properly trained pianist and piano teacher.

We moved to South Norwood in January 2013 and were amazed to find such a lively musical life here. On my first Friday evening I was drawn into the Victory Club by the sound of someone singing Elvis Presley songs; on entering I was given a warm welcome and found a very good band playing all kinds of music and lots of punters dancing their socks off. When I timidly mentioned I’d heard there might be jamming to be done I was dispatched to fetch my guitar and invited to play a couple of songs with the band. Right next door is St Chads Roman Catholic church that has an active social club which arranges dances in its church hall, and which has three music group/choirs who provide music for masses (featuring – among others – local music teacher and musician extraordinaire Vincent Luu: singer, pianist, guitarist, bassist, saxophonist, clarinetist).

Groovers/Movers/Boppers/Strollers – and a bit of Art Music?

Within two minutes of my new home I’d found lively music-making and enthusiastic dancers and listeners. So, hearing about Stanley Halls made me think there could be opportunities to tap into this wealth of talent and appreciation of music. A neighbour who is sometimes spied shaking a leg for Victory told me he used to go to dances at the Stanley Halls; perhaps locals would do so again provided with a good rockin’ live band and some reasonably priced alcohol?

But maybe there’ll be opportunities to broaden outlooks: why not see if there are local composers writing weird and wonderful new music? Perhaps we can provide the punters with some nutritious vegetables (the virtuous new music) as a starter for their burger and chips (the naughty rock ‘n’ roll)? How about an evening that starts with 20 minutes of new music to sit and listen to with a drink, and then some rock ‘n’ roll for dancing?

Or as above, but with a bluesy/jazzy jamming session to follow instead of the dancing (and devote entire nights to debauched rock ‘n’ rolling?)

Are there any others with a love of performing, composing, jamming, dancing who might have something to contribute?

Please contact me via email: w.cardew@dannydarkrecords.co.uk or on 020 8768 5705

Print the postcards, we have a tourist

Khris Raistrick finds a lost soul in South Norwood and, naturally, directs him to Stanley Halls…

They say August is ‘silly season’ and I confirmed this for myself when I saw what looked to be – wait for it – a tourist in South Norwood earlier last month. A 60-something fellow, in shorts, carrying a camera on Station Road. Clearly, he was lost. Or a little bit….eccentric. A small slice of the latter as it turns out, just a sliver.

I bounded up to him and suggested that he might like to photograph Stanley Halls if he was looking for beauty in our part of the world. He’d even heard of it and had been there once! And when I explained what we had been up to over the last couple of years, he actually understood – nay, empathised (he had helped found the Hackney Tourist Board, after all).


London Overground, putting Norwood Junction on the map

The gentleman’s name is Sandy Craig, and he had come to Norwood Junction station because, well, he’d just come from Northwood Hills. After going to Northwood. And, just before that, Northwick Park. Have you got the picture yet? Mr. Craig, who happens to live up the road from Stanley Halls in Forest Hill, was – is – visiting every tube stop, that’s Underground and Overground, in alphabetical order. All 367 of ’em. In a year. As you do.

One of his stated aims is to ‘exit each station and mooch around the neighbourhood for a few minutes or an hour or two, taking a photo or two, making a random observation or two, perhaps encountering a local or two. And, I guess, knowing Homo Sapiens’ inveterate desire to find patterns even where no pattern exists, trying to extract something meaningful from each visit.’

Did Mr. Craig find anything meaningful in South Norwood? He certainly was complimentary about Stanley Halls, and offered some sage words for us lot running it. And, after about 250 tube stops so far, elevated Norwood Junction to the exalted company of Eastcote and Alperton, amongst others, in his top 15 station places.

Read all about it (and, even better, subscribe to his blog) at:


Livingstone I presume? No, 0208

Roy Shepard shares some fascinating memories of Stanley Halls of an idyllic childhood in South Norwood and yes, a Stanley link with Dr Livingstone……

The first time that I went to Stanley Halls was probably about 1951 at the age of four and a half.

I started to attend a small, mixed private primary school – the Park School – which was situated at the then large Victorian property which stood two doors up from from the corner of the road that leads down to South Norwood Lake from the junction of Auckland Road with Lancaster Road.  The school used the Stanley Halls for their P.E. sessions and we had a very bronzed, rather tall woman with bare feet, who wore khaki shorts and a short-sleeved top. She had short grey hair. I used to wonder how she didn’t get splinters in her feet from the wooden floor!

My sister, Ann attended Miss Ashe’s School of Ballet, Speech and Drama which was in the large property at the corner of the entrance to the present day school playing fields. The house was on the left as you face the entrance.
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Ann James (nee Shepard) as Alice in Wonderland at Stanley Halls

The playing fields were at that time a derelict 9-hole golf course which, before the Second World War, was constructed by the then South Norwood Sports and Social Club. The club was based in or near the Waterside Centre, by the  gates to the South Norwood Lake.  The golf course had been utilised as an anti-aircraft emplacement and the concrete and steel constructions had ruined the course permanently.

Miss Ashe’s school used to stage their drama productions in the theatre at the Stanley Halls and Ann, appeared as Alice in “Alice Through the Looking Glass”.  Much later, as a member of the amateur dramatic group run by the local St. John’s Youth Club, my sister took a leading part in a play called “Rain on the Just” and appeared opposite a chap called David Williams.

I have attended dances and socials at the Stanley Halls and I have been with my late mother to the Victorian Music Hall staged by the Croydon Stagers. I have also seen other people’s plays there. I was living in Upper Norwood at the time at number 22, High View Close, off Auckland Road.

01-07-2013 21;58;04-3One of my most vivid impressions of Stanley Halls was of the art gallery of rather quaint bucolic scenes of cattle grazing, rivers and trees. The marble pillars and Victorian decoration, especially the brass/copper flowers in vases on the roof edge and the cartouches, (profile plaster reliefs) of members of the Stanley family which adorned the right side flank wall, were lovely.

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Perhaps Roy was recalling ‘Cattle’ by Thomas Sidney Cooper, one of many paintings that graced Stanley Halls’ art gallery.
Image curtesy of Croydon Museum and Archives.

The whole building is redolent of a bygone age and with the Station Road Clock Tower presented to Mr and Mrs Stanley to commemorate their Golden Wedding Anniversary it stands as a memorial of a time when South Norwood was such a different place. Not better, just different.

The surrounding area was replete with small and medium sized shops selling everything from fishing tackle for anglers at South Norwood Lake, to shops selling meat, fish, bread, groceries, ironmongery, menswear, discs, flowers, confectionery, newspapers, books, magazines, model construction kits, stamps and cigarette cards for collectors, an estate agency and a chemist’s. There was also a private library run by a Mrs. Withy.

Willam Stanley lived at Cumberlow Lodge, which  was a secure unit for unusual offenders. That of course was after the Stanleys were dead and gone!

The family were related to Henry Morton Stanley, the American explorer who famously “found” David Livingstone in the heart of Africa. He wrote a book entitled “How I Found Livingstone” which was a bestseller. “Dr. Livingstone I presume” were his famous words on meeting with the explorer/missionary. That is the reason why our telephone exchange prior to Subscriber Trunk Dialling was Livingstone.


William Stanley’s relative, Henry Morton Stanley.
Image Creative Commons – Smithsonian Institute Library

The Stanley family manufactured mathematical, navigational, and all manner of precision instruments for Her Majesty Queen Victoria’s Civil and Government Services which, with the British Empire at the time was an enormous department of state. The factory was next to Norwood Junction railway station.

William Stanley was a very clever entrepreneur and was a local benefactor. I think that he would most certainly have approved of what SPI is trying to do as it is a truly community enhancing project.

It has been a great pleasure writing this.

Meet the management

As SPI celebrates its second birthday certain changes are needed to see us through to our third. SPI Chair, Carol Clapperton, introduces you to people guiding Stanley Halls’ future……

The final meeting of the SPI Steering Group in July 2013, held in a room that will soon be part of the new Enterprise Centre at Stanley Halls. Photo: Ken Baker

Happy birthday SPI, you’ve done a heck of a lot in your short life. From starting life as a group of interested local residents with a passion to take on Stanley Halls but no idea of what to do, to being on the verge of forming a charity which will open the Halls to the public later this year.

That takes a lot of commitment and hard slog. If nothing else, this project has shown the streak of bloody-mindedness in the people of South Norwood to get Stanley Halls open.

I want to thank all the 170 or so Friends of SPI supporting this project, and in particular the  20 of them who have sweated blood and tears to get it to this stage – the Steering Group.

It’s also a poignant time for us. With more than a few sobs we have just disbanded the Steering Group. Having 20 feisty folk making decisions on how to get Stanley Halls up and running is good at first, but for a business moving forward we now need a tighter board of 11. Fear not, we don’t lose all the skills of the former Steering Group; we have working parties galore and there’s too much talent there to let it slip through our fingers.

So, on one of the  first extremely hot days of this Summer we invited the Friends of SPI to vote for 10 of the places on a new Board. In a few weeks time this Board will become the first trustees in our new Charitable Incorporated Organisation which will run the Halls.  We had a fantastic 20 candidates, some new, some old hands. Let me introduce you to your new SPI board as elected by the Friends group:

Orlene Allen

I am an Accountant who has lived in South Norwood over 20 years. I am currently Deputy Chair of TEPERA (230 households) in addition to being its Social Secretary and Environmental Officer for the last 10 years.  I am also on the Steering Committee.  I have a passion for the Arts and bringing people together.  Stanley Halls represent the heart of a diverse Community which I passionately believe it can continue in an increasing capacity.

 Judith Burden (Secretary and  Cafe/Social Hub Leader)

Moving to South Norwood in 1970, I remember the Halls as a thriving venue. I have been secretary of SPI since its beginning, done research into some of Stanley’s paintings and I am working to bring the Gallery alive with Café,Bar, art exhibitions and lunchtime concerts. Before retirement, I taught music, lectured in Music Education, and was school governor for 10 years. I have been secretary of TEPERA for 20 years and established an No Cold Calling Zone for members. 

 Debbie Challis (Fund Raising Officer)

When I moved to South Norwood two years ago, I was immediately attracted to Stanley Halls and the potential that it has to be the heart of this community. I am a museum professional and academic (specializing in visual culture during the 19thC) and feel I have many skills to offer SPI. Since January 2013 I have been fundraising officer bidding for small grants and working hard towards getting substantial money from major funders.

Carol Clapperton (Chair and Enterprise Hub Leader)

I have chaired SPI from its beginnings as a keen interest group to where it is forming a charitable business and bidding for millions. I have lived in SE25 for over 20 years, for a couple of which I worked developing local business. So I want to see new enterprises in the Halls bringing money to the area. I’m experienced in project management, staff management, community engagement and developing community-led businesses.

Joanna Corbin

I have volunteered in South Norwood for sometime, which has given me insight into the aspiration of our community. I will work hard to engage and support the development of the Charity. I have been an avid volunteer with SPI. I have practical experience as a Trustee of Waterloo Action Centre and Holy Innocents Church.  I hope to add to the diverse melting pot of the Board as I am a Charity Solicitor.

John Coventon (Performance Hub Leader)

I have lived in SE25 for twenty years, after ten years in SE19.  I am a drama teacher, with thirty years in Croydon schools. I worked for eight years at the ILEA Cockpit Theatre & Arts Workshop in NW8. I’m a former chairman of London Drama, director of No Kidding (an integrated performance company) and author of Drama to Inspire. I believe Stanley Halls should be SE25’s community focal point.

Andrew Nelson

I am an accountant with considerable experience working for major financial institutions, mainly in the City of London.  I am also heavily involved in performing arts, film, animation and community work both in the UK and Jamaica.  I am an enthusiastic supporter of the Stanley Halls project. I believe the many benefits it will offer, such as a place for development of local arts and young people, is urgently needed. Since becoming part of the Steering Group in 2011, I have written or contributed to various policy documents.  I have also functioned as the central person compiling budgets and forecasts.

Deborah Russell

I’ve lived in South Norwood for many years.  I’m passionate about preserving history but want this to dovetail with much needed regeneration for the area – Stanley Halls is definitely part of that vision. I bring commitment, together with business development and programme management skills, as well as experience working for an international charity.  I now work for the NHS, where I have lead on a number of projects and programmes aimed at improving services.

Paul Scott (Vice Chair and lead for the Building and Heritage Hub)

As the chair of People for Portland Road I made the initial application to the Council calling for Stanley Halls to be returned to our local community. I’ve been involved ever since as SPI’s vice-chair, using my experience as an architect to design our development proposals and using my position as a local Councillor to secure our permission to go ahead.

David Somner (Marketing Group member)

I joined SPI in February 2012, I have been involved in the performance and marketing hubs; contacting performers that would like to come to the Halls, helping to formulate marketing strategy and helping selecting the box office system. I studied theatre at Rose Bruford College, I used to hire out theatre equipment to the local community, which is how I came to know the Halls. I worked at a similar community centre venue in the past. 

 Also, we have one  board place for a local Councillor standing in that capacity. We asked the 9 Councillors in the SE25 wards (South Norwood, Woodside and Selhurst) to nominate one of their members and Councillor Kathy Bee makes our final board member. Kathy is also SPI’s Treasurer and Leads the Community Hub.

You can email any of the above board members by using this link. We’d like to hear how you would like to use Stanley Halls.

Make your mark on Stanley’s history

We’ve been given Heritage Lottery Funding for an interesting local history project, now we need your help. SPI’s Fundraising Officer, Dr Debbie Challis tells all…..

HLF logoThe Stanley People’s Initiative (SPI) has received a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to find out more about the past of Stanley Halls and put on a touring exhibition around South Norwood. Stanley Halls was donated and designed by the local inventor William Stanley. We want to find out more about the building and the people who used it.

We want to look at three strands of use: theatricals, eg. amateur dramatics and operatics; community, eg: special occasions such as the 1953 coronation; and entertainment, eg: tea dances and bingo. We want to combine researching and making public existing documentation with discovering and recording people’s stories about Stanley Halls.

We Need You!

We are looking for volunteers to help us with this project. There will be fortnightly meetings, early evening / after work, from September to November with training on research techniques, recording oral histories and using digital media as well as time to share knowledge. If you haven’t time to get so involved, we also need your stories and memories of Stanley Halls so please get in touch.

We will share the information gathered through a mobile exhibition on Stanley Halls that would go to local libraries, schools and other enclosed public spaces in the South Norwood area. At the end of the project, the mobile exhibition would be displayed in Stanley Halls when it re-opens.

We will share interesting snippets of research via our twitter feed @StanleyHalls and post stories on our blog. We would also populate the Stanley Halls Channel on History Pin with stories (recordings if possible) and photographs.

We want to find out more about how Stanley Halls has been at the heart of the community in South Norwood. We want to share this information within our community. We also want to use it to persuade funders that this building needs investment and support. By helping Stanley People’s Initiative in this project on the past of Stanley Halls, you would be helping us secure its future.

Contact: 07908 224706 (leave a message) / thestanleypeoplesinitiative@gmail.com