Diary of a Sutton Councillor

A fond farewell to Wallington Public Hall

wallington-public-hall - oldWallington public hall

Wallington Public Hall will close its doors for the final time on 31st March. Built in 1934 with Art Deco features, the venue has hosted a wide range of events.

A potted history

It was originally a cinema, but soon evolved into a theatre hosting a range of productions and performances, including musical theatre and classical concerts. In the 1960s and 70s bands toured a large range of local venues such as Wallington, and in that period nearly every nationally known group appeared. Famous names who appeared here include: Jeff Beck (who was born in Wallington), Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Manfred Mann, Joe Brown, Billy Fury, Status Quo, The Kinks, David Bowie, and the Rolling Stones.

Since the late 70s when bands started to perform at larger concert venues and arenas the usage of the hall changed and more recently it hosted Short Mat Bowling, the Evangelical Church, exercise and dance classes, Antiques Fairs, wedding celebrations and the beer festival.  The Hall was also a location for the Blood Transfusion Service and the base for Meals on Wheels.

Reasons for closure

The building has been a poor state for some time.  In 1998 the Council reported:  ‘Hall is outdated, old fashioned and in need of refurbishment’.   Attempts were made to raise funding from the National Lottery.  The Council maintained the hall as best it can in recent years, with the lighting renewed, the kitchen refurbished, and  some redecoration, but its basic condition has been getting worse.  There are currently problems with water coming in, and damp, impacting on the structure.  The Council identified £1.25 million of works that would be needed to update the building.

The Council does not have the funds for the major refurbishment it needs, and without that refurbishment it will decline until it is no longer safe to use.  There is also the recognition that there is no longer a need for the kind of use for which the hall was built and for which it became renowned. Closing the hall will save the council the £75,000 a year it costs to maintain.

The decision was taken by the Environment & Neighbourhoods Committee on 4th September 2014 to close the Hall and this was agreed by Full Council on 3rd November 2014.

The future

The businesses occupying the units at the front of the Hall will be able to continue to trade from these premises until the site is either sold or redeveloped. The Meal on Wheels service will now be provided from the Sutton Inclusion Centre where the kitchens are being enlarged to accommodate it. The Blood Transfusion Service will be provided at the Phoenix Centre. Until demolished the premises are to be secured against illegal entry or occupation through the use of “Guardians” who will live in the building.

There are a range of potential future options for the site including market sale or redevelopment by the council. These are under review to determine the best outcomes for the borough.

The car park

The car park has been reviewed independently of the Hall itself to take account of any impact on Wallington town centre in respect of parking availability. A parking assessment study showed that whilst under-utilised as a short stay car park there was still some need for parking spaces to provide additional capacity for town centre parking at peak times and on Saturdays. It is therefore being proposed to close half of the car park. This will retain 40 spaces for current and future use, with the rest of the car park included with the Hall as a potential development site and will help make it more viable. This will also mean removal of the neighbourhood recycling centre currently in the car park. The final decision will be made at a future Environment & Neighbourhoods Committee meeting.

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March 25, 2015 - Posted by | Information | , ,

2 Comments »

  1. It is with sadness and memories that the hall is now closed. True it had deteriorated over time but lack of investment over the years had sealed its fate. I worked there for about 13 years with the hallkeeper Alan, who was truly a part of that fine old building.

    Comment by Gerry dunne | April 28, 2015 | Reply

  2. Just found this after Rick Parfitt died today. Didn’t realise Andy Bown is in Status Quo. We used to come and see The Herd at the Public Halls together with many other groups in 1964 -1966. Is there a publication anywhere showing the history of this place together with which musicians made appearances?

    Comment by Kathryn Hurle | December 24, 2016 | Reply


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