Streatham, South London, UK info@streathamhilltheatre.org 020 3582 4912

Do you have memories of Streatham Hill Theatre?

The Friends would love to hear any personal memories you have relating to the theatre, which we can publish here on this website.

We are also interested in images and photos, videos, posters, programmes etc. relating to Streatham Hill Theatre to add to our growing archive.

Please get in touch by email or phone, or come to a campaign meeting.

Streatham Theatre Company’s blog has also been collecting memories of Streatham, including a number involving Streatham Hill Theatre.

The Streatham Astoria – a rival venue

The Astoria, a rival to Streatham Hill Theatre opened on Monday June 30th 1930 at 7.30 p.m. with the film Paris. It is currently a multi-screen Odeon.

Geoff Gill (Former Chief Technician) gives an overview of its history on the Odeon Cavalcade website http://www.mawgrim.co.uk/cavalcade/streatham.htm

Letters to The Stage 27th May 2021: Let’s wake our ‘sleeping beauty’

Picking up on two articles in last week’s (May 20) issue (Editor’s View: ‘We should cherish the West End’s long-runners’, p6; David Benedict: ‘In the West End, size may be everything’, p7), can I throw another requirement in the mix: ‘position’, together with a radical suggestion, related to all these issues.

The Theatres Trust maintains a list of venues under threat, the issues concerning the threat to these theatres invariably being size, position and viable product flow.

One of the theatres in the current list is Streatham Hill Theatre, described on the Theatres Trust’s website as “a sleeping beauty”. It is, as anyone who has visited can attest, and is only a few hundred metres from the London South Circular and a little further from the Victoria underground line.

Why not transfer one of the current long-running West End musicals to south London’s very accessible Streatham Hill Theatre, where the show can continue, relieving a currently locked-out theatre by allowing it to stage new productions?

In south London, the arrival of a major proven tourist attraction would be a great ‘regenerator’ initiative, giving a fantastic theatre a new life while also bringing new life to local business, housing and work opportunities. The present owner, a large German leisure company, may even want to take a part in delivering this suggestion. Debate.

Roger Edwards

Trafalgar Entertainment’s planned new Olympia Theatre (Trafalgar to operate London’s largest new theatre in decades, May 20, p3) is probably the largest since the Streatham Hill Theatre was opened in 1929 with a capacity of around 2,800. The theatre is now no longer in use and there’s a campaign to reopen this ‘sleeping beauty’: see streathamhilltheatre.org for more.

David Harvey

Used with permission from the authors.

The Friends AGM to be held online on 16th June 2021

NOTICE is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting of The Friends of Streatham Hill Theatre will be held online at 8pm on Wednesday 16th June 2021. 

This meeting will be held online. Please register at www.streathamhilltheatre.org/events to receive joining instructions. Registration will close 30 minutes prior to the meeting.

Note that this is the last AGM of The Friends of Streatham Hill Theatre as an unincorporated association (under its original Constitution) as it has converted to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) as resolved at the AGM held in June 2020. The next AGM due in 2022 will be the first as a CIO, under its new Constitution.

Agenda
1. Apologies

2. Minutes of Last Meeting(c)

3. Receive reports from Chairman and Committee members(c)

4. Receive financial statements and report from the Treasurer(c)

5. Resolution(a):

That The Friends of Streatham Hill Theatre (having previously resolved to become an incorporated charity through registration as a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO), and to adopt a new constitution based on Charity Commission’s model), shall confirm adoption of the CIO Constitution as approved by the Charity Commission(b).

6. Other business of The Friends

Notes

(a) Requires a two-thirds majority of voting Members present

(b) The CIO Constitution published here: http://resources.streathamhilltheatre.org/friends/The%20Friends%20of%20Streatham%20Hill%20Theatre%20CIO%20Constitution.pdf

(c) Minutes, reports and statements published here: http://resources.streathamhilltheatre.org/friends

(d) There is no election of officers or committee as the existing holders have become the initial CIO Trustees as resolved at the last AGM. There will be elections at the first AGM of the CIO in 2022. 

Secretary, The Friends of Streatham Hill Theatre
info@streathamhilltheatre.org   
www.streathamhilltheatre.org
Registered office: 1b Sunnyhill Road, London, SW16 2UG

Auditorium from North side

Report says regenerating Streatham Hill Theatre can kickstart local high street revival

An independent study published today says that restoring the dormant historic building as a centre for arts and culture “could play a major role in leading the post-Covid high-street recovery, developing the 15-minute neighbourhood, increasing localised co-working opportunities and ultimately making a significant economic contribution to the regeneration of this part of London”.

The Viability Study and Economic Impact Assessment was carried out by a team led by renowned arts consultancy, FEI, and supported by the Mayor of London, Lambeth Council, the Theatres Trust and over 400 crowdfunded donations from the local community.

The Streatham Hill Theatre opened in 1929. Designed by eminent theatre architect W G R Sprague, it has a capacity of 2,800 and is on a similar scale to the London Palladium. It presented shows until 1962, and then became a bingo club until 2017. Apart from hosting a small slot machine lounge, the rest of the large Grade II listed building now remains inactive. It was added to the Theatres Trust’s Theatres at Risk Register in 2017 in recognition of its architectural significance and potential to return to community use.

The study says that the theatre has the potential to generate footfall, jobs and economic growth, adding over £70m to the local economy over 30 years. It identifies a broad range of economic and social benefits that restoring the theatre for arts and culture could bring. These include: fostering local creative enterprise; supporting the night-time economy; providing access to affordable workspaces; enhancing education and learning for children and young people; enhancing local quality of life and wellbeing; supporting moves in London to 15-minute neighbourhoods; and lowering potential carbon emissions by regenerating rather than redeveloping the site.

The study recommends a phased, incremental and collaborative approach, with the immediate focus on making meanwhile use of parts of the building. Following on from this, a ‘minimal refurbishment’ of the theatre could be implemented as a sustainable operating model in the medium term, while longer term plans are developed for full refurbishment and operation as a fully commercial theatre.

The study carried out extensive work on mapping competitors, audiences and users, financial and operating models, and an economic impact assessment. Its report (of which a summary is published today) makes clear there will be challenges to restoring the theatre, including uncertainty due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and ownership issues. However, with the right circumstances, and a significant level of third-party capital investment in retro-fitting and refurbishment, the ongoing operation of the theatre as a leisure and entertainment venue promoting arts and culture, is a viable long-term proposition.

Responses to the Study:

“Time and again, it’s been demonstrated how arts and heritage can be a catalyst to regeneration. This study shows that here in Streatham it can be done, it should be done and it needs to be done, and quickly.”

David Harvey, Chair, The Friends of Streatham Hill Theatre

“I’m so excited at the idea of the West End of South London coming back to life. The pandemic has made us all cherish our neighbourhood assets and think about them as community hubs for inclusive art and culture. As we’re all so much more conscious of celebrating our history, Streatham Hill Theatre feels like it’s been biding its time ready to spread its wings again. A phoenix rising.”

Samira Ahmed, Arts & News Presenter
and Theatres Trust Ambassador

“To dream, to imagine, to dare to hope that Streatham might once again have this beautiful theatre up and running – is like a breath of warm, exciting fresh air that could ignite the whole community with a sense of real future promise.”

Catherine Russell, Actress

“Looking at the viability details just makes you realise what a huge asset the theatre could become for the community as a whole. Brilliant.”

Robert Glenister, Actor

“I am so thrilled to read the unequivocal outcome of the Viability Study and Economic Impact Assessment. It is a vital catalyst project to regenerate Streatham, securing long term benefits for the community and businesses. By preserving such a spectacular Theatre and utmost example of Lambeth’s historical and cultural heritage, we build a brighter future for Streatham and South London.”

Renato Balsadonna, Opera and Symphonic Conductor

“Historically Lambeth has an established landmark of theatres and a community of dedicated theatre goers.  The Council recognises this much-loved community asset that is the ‘Streatham Hill Theatre’ and fully supports the community’s commitment to deliver a diverse and much needed theatre at the heart of Streatham.”

Cllr Sonia Winifred, Cabinet Member for Equalities and Culture, Lambeth Council

There is strong local support to regenerate this historic building and reintegrate it into the local community.

“Creating a local hub for culture, live arts and entertainment wouldn’t just enrich Streatham’s cultural offering, it would also bring important benefits to our local economy at a time when the High Street has taken an even deeper hit.”

Bell Ribeiro-Addy, MP for Streatham

“Theatres Trust firmly believes that Streatham Hill Theatre can play a valuable role at the heart of its high street and are pleased to see this borne out by the results of the Viability Study, which we supported through our Theatres at Risk Capacity Building Programme. Returning empty theatres to use is often a long and difficult process, but as we have seen with other theatres we work with, the incremental approach suggested by this report is a practical achievable route to revival.”

Claire Appleby, Architecture Adviser, Theatres Trust

Streatham’s long-term sustainability absolutely depends on the sort of intervention that the regeneration of Streatham Hill Theatre could bring. We need more diverse leisure provision, increased co-working opportunities and community spaces that can build on and enhance the local pride. The Streatham Hill Theatre is a beautiful and historical building that really could be the jewel in the crown of Streatham’s renaissance.”

Louise Abbotts, BID Manager,
InStreatham Business Improvement District (BID)

The press release is here.

The report summary is here.

A statement of heritage significance is here.

Theatre to be relocated from Streatham Hill to Thornton?

The Boundary Commission has proposed changes to local ward boundaries, meaning that Streatham Hill Theatre would now be in Thornton! We are objecting to this change, as described below.

Have your say on the Boundary Commission web site by April 12th.

The Friends of Streatham Hill Theatre, a registered charity with 1,100 members, object strongly to the Boundary Commission’s proposals which we regard as damaging to the community and businesses in Streatham Hill.

The proposals fail to meet the central requirement to “reflect community identity”, which should not be given less weight than other considerations.

The identity of the area would be fractured by splitting Streatham Hill ward into four component parts.

Worst of all for the aspirations to revive the Streatham Hill Theatre is the proposal to move it and the adjacent community into a ward which will not identify with Streatham.  This is evidenced by Thornton Ward not even being included in the section of the proposals dealing with Streatham (paragraphs 160 to 189).

The current focus of Streatham Hill Ward and its community is the A23 Streatham Hill.  The current boundaries of the ward, straddling the road, recognise that and the history of the area.  Streatham gets its name from being the ‘village’ on the ‘street’  (Streat ham). Its whole history and development reflect that.

To split the area up, using Streatham Hill as a boundary completely negates that historic reality, reflected for example in the long-standing SaferA23 campaign uniting community concerns east and west of the road and major proposals by Transport for London to transform that section of the A23 into a safer place for pedestrians and cyclists, and overcome the severance produced by the current dual carriageway layout. Residents on both sides of the road are united by common concerns, whether they be about highway safety or retail and commercial development, and community safety.

The area has been treated as an entity in council proposals and policies, and the council supports the campaign to revive the 2,800 capacity Streatham Hill Theatre, on the west side of the A23 at Streatham Hill, into a thriving cultural hub as a key driver to the regeneration of the area.

The Draft Revised Lambeth Local Plans states: “The Council will support the regeneration of the former Streatham Hill Theatre to become a major leisure and entertainment venue alongside workspace for creative and cultural industries” . The Streatham Investment and Growth Strategy 2019-30 sets out as a priority exploring the feasibility of refurbishing and rejuvenating the theatre, and says that “successfully restoring this building would bring significant improvements to the public realm and historic/cultural fabric of the area, as well as delivering against a number of other objectives presented in this strategy (e.g. Strengthening and Diversifying the Town Centre).

The restoration and revival of  the theatre, which has been designated an Asset of Community Value, have the active support of the Mayor of London, the GLA, the Theatres Trust, and leading professionals.  An independent Viability Study and Economic Impact Assessment, which has been crowd-funded with additional contributions from the GLA, the Theatres Trust and Lambeth Council, has been looking at options for the venue.  The Friends were recently registered as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation and are driving  moves to restore and reuse the theatre, a campaign which has huge local buy-in and support.

The theatre, together with surrounding residents and that part of the Streatham Business Community, would end up under the commission’s draft proposals in a ward represented by just two councillors whose clear focus would be on a community which identifies with Balham and Clapham.  The draft proposals are based on the consideration that the Hyde Farm area “looks towards Balham” and part of Streatham Hill is being hived off to make up the numbers.

The theatre belongs at the heart of the Streatham Hill area, as it is currently, in a strong three-member ward.  It shouldn’t be put on the periphery of a non-Streatham ward.  This would be hugely damaging both to the project itself and the regeneration and development of the wider area.

Have your say on the Boundary Commission web site by April 12th.

The full press release is here.

We are now on the Arts Map

The Friends of Streatham Hill Theatre has been included on the Arts Map, published by The Public Campaign for the Arts:

“Tens of thousands of people have joined the Public Campaign for the Arts, from every one of the UK’s 650 constituencies, coming together to urge a rescue package for our cultural sector.

“54 million people – over 80% of the population – engage with the arts in the UK every year. Imagine what we can achieve, if we all link up for the arts.”

Find us on the map here:

https://www.campaignforthearts.org/companies/the-friends-of-streatham-hill-theatre/

The Friends is now a registered charity

We have received confirmation from the Charity Commission that we have been recognised as a Charity.

We are now registered in England as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) Number CE024993 and  Registered Charity Number 1193643.

Our approved objectives are:

(A) TO PROTECT, PRESERVE AND RESTORE FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE PEOPLE OF STREATHAM, OF SOUTH LONDON, AND OF THE NATION AT LARGE, THE BUILDING KNOWN AS STREATHAM HILL THEATRE AND SITUATED IN STREATHAM HILL, LONDON SW2, ITS HISTORICAL, ARCHITECTURAL AND CONSTRUCTIONAL FEATURES, AND ITS ENVIRONS;AND (B) TO PROMOTE, MAINTAIN, IMPROVE, ASSIST AND ADVANCE PUBLIC ACCESS, PARTICIPATION, APPRECIATION AND UNDERSTANDING IN ALL ASPECTS OF THE ARTS AND CULTURE INCLUDING (BUT NOT LIMITED TO) DESIGN, ARCHITECTURE, DRAMA, THEATRE, POETRY, THE SPOKEN WORD, LITERATURE, MIME, CIRCUS, MAGIC, OPERA, MUSIC, DANCE, SINGING, ART, PHOTOGRAPHY AND CINEMATOGRAPHY;

Campaign overview presentation launched

On our YouTube channel we now have an illustrated presentation of our campaign to date, created by our creative supporters team. Find out more about the theatre, its history and heritage and our campaign to save it.

Video presentation

Statement of Heritage Significance on Streatham Hill Theatre released, giving a remarkable look inside the dormant building

Today we have released information to the press:

  • The Statement of Heritage Significance by a leading international architecture firm brings together over 100 pictures and drawings to show that the 1920’s building is a potentially well preserved time capsule, but the clock is ticking
  • The statement says that its significant architectural heritage value must be taken into account in any plans for the 2,500 seat theatre
  • Also launched today, the Theatres Trust ‘Theatres at Risk’ register 2021 includes the theatre on its list of buildings at greatest risk
  • Multi award-winning choreographer and dancer, Akram Khan, announced as a Patron of the Friends of Streatham Hill Theatre campaign to save the building for public use

See the full press release online.

Note: the Statement of Heritage Significance has been updated since initial publication.