THE HISTORY OF THE BUILDING

OUR HOME HAS BEEN PART OF LOCAL HISTORY FOR OVER 200 YEARS'

The building Battersea Arts Centre calls home was originally built to be the Town Hall for Battersea in 1893 by E.W Mountford. Since that time the building has seen history unravel, becoming a centre for politics and protest, community and now creativity. In 1965, the building was decommissioned as the Town Hall and became Battersea Arts Centre, a space for culture and the community.

History SLIDER

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TIMELINE


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2007

Tony Blair raises the possibility of Wandsworth Borough Council closing Battersea Arts Centre down in 2007 at the House of Commons during Prime Ministers Question Time
When questioned about the threat to Battersea Arts Centre, Prime Minister Tony Blair replied: “Battersea Arts Centre does a fantastic job. They should do everything they can to keep it open. It should be kept open.”



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2007

David Micklem joins David Jubb as Joint Artistic Director

Coming from six years as a Theatre Strategy Officer at Arts Council England, David Micklem was appointed Joint Artistic Director alongside David Jubb in 2007 to enable the organisation to realise the burgeoning ideas on developing the building. Together they restructured the internal and external workings of the organisation to enable these changes to take place. Following five years of inspirational leadership, David Micklem stepped down as Joint Artistic Director in 2012. His contribution to Battersea Arts Centre and The Playground Project cannot be understated.

‘For five and a half years until November of 2012 I was, with David Jubb, Joint Artistic Director and CEO of Battersea Arts Centre. Together we worked hard to develop the building; to create a more sustainable business model; to flex our producing muscle; to improve Battersea Arts Centre’s profile; and to raise the funds needed to meet the ambitions of the organsiation.

When I look at the programme and I see the breadth of work and artists that Battersea Arts Centre develops and presents I feel incredible pride. Throughout our partnership, David and I worked hard to encourage the broadest range of practice and the broadest audience for this work. And in that time we significantly professionalised the organsiation that supports this work. To see such a diversity of artists responding to the building as it is transformed is inspiring.’

David Micklem, Ex-Joint Artistic Director, Battersea Arts Centre


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2006

Battersea Arts Centre Playground Projects began

Timeline 17 (2004)

2004

David Jubb replaces Tom Morris as Artistic Director of BATTERSEA ARTS CENTRE

David Jubb came to Battersea Arts Centre as the first Development Producer. His role was to support the creative development of work by particular artists and together with Tom Morris he developed ‘Scratch’ . Seeking greater authorship, he became an independent producer, taking on the full range of responsibilities to the artists with whom he worked. In 2004 he took on the role of Artistic Director and since that time has redefined how the organisation defines theatre.

‘Over the past fifteen years I have directed and produced my own new work, run theatre spaces for artists, and managed and produced independent artists and companies. Much of my work has been characterised by an interest in facilitating conversations to develop new ideas; in making things happen from scratch. I am particularly passionate about work that is participatory, that encourages an active and engaged audience. I have spent several years teaching in schools and universities and I get excited about learning opportunities in theatre. But producing new work, making it happen, is what I like doing best.

I have enjoyed working with several organisations that embrace development: Central School of Speech and Drama where I was Venue Director; Your Imagination, an independent producing company which I founded; Battersea Arts Centre where I was Development Producer and where I have been Artistic Director since 2004, Joint Artistic Director and Chief Executive since 2008. In 2009 Battersea Arts Centre devised and ran a programme called The Independents in partnership with CLP. The aim of the programme was to focus support and dialogue around the independent artist and practitioner. I am also Chair of Kneehigh Theatre from Cornwall, a company who represent everything that is exciting and is possible in theatre.’
David Jubb, Artistic Director and CEO, Battersea Arts Centre

Timeline 16 (2002)2002

Jerry Springer: The Opera becomes a hit at Battersea Arts Centre.

Timeline 14 Festival21995

Tom Morris becomes Artistic Director of Battersea Arts Centre.

Tango and Crash perform on corde lisse as part of the British Festival of Visual Theatre. This was one of the many seasons and festivals of devised theatre overseen by Tom Morris, Artistic Director at Battersea Arts Centre between 1996 – 2004. During these innovative festivals artists explored how every part of the building could be used for performance.

Timeline 13 005

1980

Battersea Arts Centre is established as an independent theatre under the artistic directorship of Jude Kelly. The opening weekend was on the 13th and 14th of December.

Renovations of the interior were made, most notably turning the Council Chamber into a ‘black-box’ theatre and the Members’ Library into a gallery space.

1979

Public expenditure cuts lead to the threat of closure for the building once again.

A campaign is launched by the Friends of Battersea Arts Centre and Battersea’s Labour MP Martin Linton which eventually succeeds in keeping  Battersea Arts Centre open as an independent theatre organisation.

Timeline 12 1979 01

Timeline 11 (1974)1974

Battersea Town Hall becomes a community arts centre run by Wandsworth Borough Council and becomes known as Battersea Arts Centre.

Timeline 10 (1970)1970

Battersea Town Hall gains Grade II* listed status.

Timeline 9 19671967

Wandsworth Borough Council threaten to demolish the façade of the Old Town Hall in order to facilitate plans for a library and recreation centre. A public campaign and the eventual intervention of the Housing Minister prevent this.

Timeline 8 (1965)1965

Local governance of Battersea transferred to the London Borough of Wandsworth.

Battersea Borough became part of Wandsworth Borough Council. The building was stripped of its role as a borough administration centre. The municipal building became partially unused, with the exception of the Grand and Lower Halls, which continued to hold dances, shows, music, bazaars, wedding receptions and an array of other community events.

Timeline 7 (1957)1957

The Shakespeare Theatre and Opera House demolished following significant damage in The Blitz.

The Grand Hall took over the role of the Shakespeare Theatre. Apart from general music hall entertainment, dances were held – two shillings and sixpence to enter – Glen Miller leading the band on occasion. (It is said that many local people met their sweethearts at a dance in the Grand Hall, later holding their wedding receptions in the same place!)

Timeline 6 (1927)1927

Why I Am Not a Christian

Originally a talk given March 6, 1927 at Battersea Town Hall, under the auspices of the South London Branch of the National Secular Society, it was published that year as a pamphlet and was later published, with other essays, in the book, Why I Am Not a Christian: And Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects. Russell begins by defining what he means by the term Christian and sets out to explain why he does not "believe in God and in immortality" and why he does not "think that Christ was the best and wisest of men", the two things he identifies as "essential to anybody calling himself a Christian". He considers a number of logical arguments for the existence of God, including the cosmological argument, the natural-law argument, the teleological argument and moral arguments following what he describes as "the intellectual descent that the Theists have made in their argumentations". T.S.Eliot ridiculed Russel's speech and said in his review that all the arguments that Russell put forward were know to him since the age of 5!

Timeline 5 (1922)1922

7–8 October Fifth Communist Party of Great Britain Congress

The 5th Party Congress unanimously approved a new set of statutes and rules, which provided for a smaller Executive Committee elected from a single list of candidates nominated by the Congress. Tom Bell was elected unanimously as Political Secretary, Albert Inkpin as Organizing Secretary. The 7 member Executive Committee consisted of R. Palme Dutt, Harry Pollitt, Arthur MacManus, Willie Gallacher, J.T. Murphy, Robert "Bob" Stewart, and George Deacon. The new Executive Committee named Political and Organizational Bureaus. The Political Bureau consisted of Tom Bell (Secretary), R. Palme Dutt, Arthur MacManus, J.T. Murphy, and Bob Stewart. The Organization Bureau consisted of Albert Inkpin (Secretary), George Deacon, Willie Gallacher, and Harry Pollitt.

Timeline 4 (1909)1909

Plays were staged at Battersea Town Hall in 1909 to raise money for Bolingbroke Hospital

Timeline 3 (1906)1906

John Richard Archer, originally of Liverpool, elected as Britain’s first black councillor at Battersea.

John Burns joins the Liberal Government Cabinet as a minister.

Timeline 2 (1891)1893

The Town Hall of then Vestry of St. Mary, opened to the public as Battersea Town Hall in November 1893

It was built in less than two years, at a cost of £42,000, and designed by Edward Mountford, the architect for the Old Bailey. Built in “Modern Renaissance” style, it has red Suffolk brick and Bath stone elevations, green Westmoreland slate roofs and interiors of Portland stone, white Sicilian and red Devonshire marble and mosaic floors.

The Grand and Lower Halls were always used for entertainment and education. The Grand Hall, whose lobby carries the motto of the original Council, “Not for me, Not for You, but for Us”, was often hired for political meetings. Battersea was a politically active area; the Hall was used as the local headquarters during the General Strike of 1926, and on several occasions was the site of the Communist Party National Congress.

Timeline 1 (1891)1891

EW Mountford submits his design, alongside 23 other entrants, in the competition to become architect for Battersea’s proposed ‘Parochial Offices’.