Photos of Croydon

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Today I had to wear a jumper to go out. I would say summer is now over.

If you wander around Croydon in September you’ll see several Warhol-inspired pieces of art, as part of ‘Warhol Croydon’.

Photo of a women with a bag and a man looking at artwork on the side of a 1960s church building
A tourist couple walk past ‘Jagger’ by Dan Cimmerman
Photo of artwork on the side of a building
‘Love Letters Only’ on the side of the old Nestlé building

Fairfield Halls is currently undergoing £30m of development. More space is being added, capacity increased, and much work is being done to make the Halls more commercially useful. As part of Open House London, the Fairfield Halls was opened to a few tour groups. Asbestos has been removed, anything that needed restoring has been removed, and much of the fittings have been removed. The work of revamping the halls is just about to begin.

Photo of the front of the Fairfield Halls
The front of the Fairfield Halls, the future concept on the fence
Photo of a starcase in a large foyer
The staircase in the main foyer

The original design of the Fairfield Halls was inspired by 1950s Scandinavian design, and its a sister building to the famous Royal Festival Hall. Much of the original vision has been lost over the years, with various addons and changes.

The main foyer was originally designed to be bathed in natural light. As part of the refurbishment, the box office which sits either side of the staircase will be narrowed to the same width as the stair case, and the doors will have their frames removed. The whole space will feel much bigger.

Photo from a glass-covered balcony looking into a foyer
Looking into the foyer from one of the windows – is this carpet back in fashion yet?

When I was a boy visiting the Fairfield in the 1990s, these little boxes on each side of the foyer were used as offices. Magnus Wills, an architect at Rick Mather Architects, who was giving us the tour, explained that their original purpose was just for the sheer joy of looking back down to the foyer – a return to more glamorous era of going to the theatre to be seen.

Photo of a triple-height foyer with large floor-to-ceiling windows
The triple-height ‘Sun Lounge’, missing its chandlers

New highly-insulated glass will be added to the windows at the front of the Halls, keeping the building cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Photo looking into a large gallery, with no floor and piles of rubbish
Looking into the Arnham Gallery, the non-original light fittings were added later

More spaces are being added to the Halls, including a roof terrace and new studio above the Arnham Gallery. The existing structure can’t take the weight of another floor above it, so the whole structure is being replaced.

The new Arnham Gallery will be a ‘black-box’ style studio, so that it can be more functional for gigs and theatre.

No Smoking sign hidden under a façade for years in the Ashcroft Theatre
Photo of a theatre being refurbished
The stage in the Ashcroft Theatre, seats removed for refurbishment

On the north side of the Halls, the Ashcroft Theatre is gaining increased capacity up to 800 seats from 750, and changes made to back-of-house to allow for easier access. The loading bay will have capacity for two articulated lorries to load at the same time.

Photo from the back of a concert hall, chairs covered in plastic
The 1,800-capacity Concert Hall, seats covered ready to be removed

In classical circles, the Concert Hall at the Fairfield Halls is highly-regarded. However, it’s not so suitable for amplified music. A great deal of work is going to be done to give more access above the stage for a more sophisticated rig (and somewhere to hide the cinema screen when not in use).

All but the last two rows of the choir stalls are being removed and replace with a height-adjustable floor, so that the stage can be dramatically increased in size when required, or back to tiered choir seating.

The original 1964 organ has been removed for refurbishment back to Harrison & Harrison, the Durham-based manufacturer who made it and the organ in the Royal Festival Hall.

Photo of a balcony overlooking a town hall
View from the cocktail bar above the Concert Hall
Photo of television monitors and cladding pilled up outside a building
CRT monitors and old cladding

On the outside, the listed building will remain mostly the same, but things that have been added on such as the external walkways will be removed or replaced.

Photo of overgrown grass behind a wooden fence
College Green, looking very green

Behind the purple fence is College Green, which will be completely redesigned and spaces made for restaurants and shops to open onto the Green. Better access from East Croydon and 220 new homes replacing the multi-story car park will bring more people into the area and stop making it feel like such a wasteland.

Artistic impression of a building with people walking in a square outside
The future – © Rick Mather Architects

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