Shoreditch Town Hall
Built in 1865, Shoreditch Town Hall has been an independent arts and events venue since 2004. The landmark property is designated as a Grade II listed building. Located on Old Street, Shoreditch Town Hall is managed by the Shoreditch Town Hall Trust and adjacent to Hoxton Square in the heart of one of East London's cultural centres.
Built on the site of the former Fuller's Hospital, Shoreditch Town Hall is a classic example of a London Vestry Hall or Council Chamber. The elegant building was designed by Caesar Augustus Long. It town hall's façade incorporates many classic architectural elements, including Doric columns. Inside, Shoreditch Town Hall features high-coved ceilings and stained glass windows. From 1866, the building was the civic centre for the borough. In 1888, it was famous for hosting the inquest into the murder of Mary Kelly, the last known victim of Jack the Ripper.
The building represents Shoreditch as a centre for progress, a theme that is immortalised in the motto "More Light, More Power" on the borough's crest. It is also represented by a statue of Progress outside the building. The Shoreditch Vestry, later known as the Metropolitan Borough of Shoreditch from 1899, was known as a forward-thinking local council that helped bring electricity to the area with the construction of the Vestry of St. Leonard Shoreditch Electric Light Station, later known as the Shoreditch Borough Refuse Destructor and Generating Station. Rubbish was burned at the site to generate steam that powered the borough. The generating station is now The Circus Space, home of the UK's only university degree programme in circus performance.
In 1902, the building was expanded by William Hunt. The expansion included the addition of the large Assembly Hall as well as office space, a new tower, and the Caretaker's Cottage. A fire in 1904 damaged the Assembly Hall as well as the Council Chamber's roof. Following repairs, a larger Assembly Hall was completed in 1907. During the 1930s, Shoreditch Town Hall emerged as a venue for entertainment. The Shoreditch Housing Association hosted one of the first events, a Shakespeare Festival in the Assembly Hall in 1933. A further expansion was completed in 1938, which added Committee Rooms and the Red Brick Annexe.
In 1965, the Metropolitan Borough of Shoreditch merged with the Metropolitan Boroughs of Stoke Newington and Hackney to form the London Borough of Hackney. With the merger, Shoreditch Town Hall ceased to be a centre for municipal government and administration in the area. During the 1960s, the building became a premier boxing venue until the sport was banned in Hackney following the death of boxer Ulric Regis. The town hall fell into disuse and was neglected for decades, with the exception of a short-lived revival during the 1990s when the Assembly Hall hosted Whirl-Y-Gig trance nights.
The Shoreditch Town Hall Trust was founded in 1997 with the goal of restoring the building and reviving it as a commercial and community resource. In 2002, the Trust secured a 99-year lease from the London Borough of Hackney. Structural restoration and renovation work followed and the building reopened in 2004. Shoreditch Town Hall emerged as a major entertainment venue following the redevelopment. The building also features creative work space for artists.
Shoreditch Town Hall has eight main spaces in addition to smaller rooms. There are more than 60 individual rooms in the 48,000 square foot building. Spaces range from a maze of raw basement spaces to grand spaces such as the Victorian Assembly Hall. Events at Shoreditch Town Hall range from contemporary theatre and dance performances to corporate events and exhibitions. The venue is also used for film productions and weddings. In addition to providing venue spaces for hire and year-round artistic programmes from affiliates, the venue also has its own in-house artistic programme.