Wilton’s Music Hall – A spectacular ‘comeback’
The imaginative and stunning refurbishment of the Grade II* listed Wilton’s Music Hall – the world’s oldest surviving music hall – has won a place on the RICS Awards 2016 shortlist for both the Building Conservation and Tourism categories.
In addition the project won three awards at the RIBA London Awards 2016 – the Building of The Year Award, an Architecture Award and the Conservation Award.
Now run as a multi-arts performance space and situated in Graces Alley in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Wilton’s began life as four separate Georgian houses with a hall built in their back yards. The buildings underwent various alterations and reconstructions over the years, eventually being combined by John Wilton in the 1860s.
Over 180 years the building has evolved from Victorian sailors’ pub to music hall, Methodist mission to a rag warehouse, eventually falling derelict before a phased closure to undergo almost £4m of renovations, then reopening as the exciting venue it is today.
The refurbishment was carried out in two phases, remaining open to the public throughout.
The first phase, involving the refurbishment of the hall, was undertaken by Fullers Builders and was completed in 2012, whilst the second phase, comprising works to the front of house (which was previously the four houses and no. 17 Wellclose Square) was carried out by William Anelay, and was completed in August 2015.
Architects for both phases were Tim Ronalds Architects.
Works to the hall, which has a capacity of around 400, involved the provision of new ventilation, acoustic separation and new technical performance systems.
The front of house refurbishment has opened up 40% of the building which was previously inaccessible, and incorporates new studio and workshop spaces, including a learning and participation studio, as well as offices, reception rooms, a bar, an exhibition room and catering facilities.
Other new facilities include dressing rooms, toilets, showers, a refurbished lift, as well as a new staircase forming an additional compliant means of escape from the building.
In carrying out the building work, a principle of ‘doing no more than essential,’ has been followed, which means ‘retaining all genuine historic fabric and avoiding misleading restoration, so that future generations can interpret the significance for themselves in their own way, based on the physical evidence’.
Project architect Adam Goodfellow of Tim Ronalds Architects said: “The project had to improve the facilities to today’s standards but, in terms of atmosphere, retain a ‘dilapidated, ruinous look’ in keeping with the character of the building. One of the main challenges of the scheme was to conceal the modern interventions to retain the ‘untouched’ look which we wanted to achieve. It was a great project.”
Established in 1991, Salvagedoctor Ltd is a specialist in the high quality refurbishment and sale of original cast iron radiators. The company takes great pride in its work and is passionate about the reinstatement of what is an extremely successfully mass produced product in its day.
Cast iron radiators were produced in huge numbers from the 1920s right through to the 1950s though the modular ‘build to size’ design has been around since the turn of the last century. They lend themselves extremely well to refurbishment even after a 100 years of prior service. The sectional design enables Salvagedoctor Ltd to adjust the length of all its radiators to suit their new application. In fact, most of them were built to size on site by the installer. Such high quality manufacturing enables Salvagedoctor Ltd to guarantee the integrity of the radiators for reuse.
Previous projects include stately homes, castles and many *listed public and private buildings.
David Harcombe, Owner of Salvagedoctor Ltd, said:
“We were delighted to be involved with the Wilton’s Music Hall and fully appreciate the architect’s approach to retaining the historical feel of the building. We supplied the radiators to a fully functioning condition, built to size, internally cleaned and tested whilst maintaining an ‘organic/industrial’ finish without paint, in keeping with the building’s patina. The original style ‘barrel’ iron pipework was used for the installation.
“Projects like this enable us to do what we are passionate about, which is to retain or reinstate a piece of history which has many more years to give. We wish to congratulate the Wilton’s Music Hall Trust and thank them for the invitation to be involved with the project.”