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Battersea Arts Centre

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File:Battersea Arts Centre, Lavender Hill, SW11 (3324322940).jpg
Address Lavender Hill
Wandsworth, London

51°27′53″N 0°09′39″W / 51.4648°N 0.1607°W / 51.4648; -0.1607{{#coordinates:51.4648|-0.1607|type:landmark|||||| | |name=

Owner BAC Trust
Designation Grade II* listed
Type Producing house
Capacity 640 (500 Grand Hall; 140 Lower Hall)
Opened 1980 (1980)
Architect EW Mountford
File:Battersea Arts Centre 05.JPG
Battersea Arts Centre

The Battersea Arts Centre ("BAC") is a Grade II* listed building building near Clapham Junction in Battersea, in the London Borough of Wandsworth that operates as a performance space specialising in theatre productions. It was formerly Battersea Town Hall. In March 2015, the building was severely damaged by fire.


The building, designed in 1891 by E. W. Mountford,[1] opened in 1893 as Battersea Town Hall, the administrative headquarters of the Borough of Battersea, shortly after the borough was transferred from the county of Surrey to the newly formed County of London. It is built from Suffolk red brick and Bath stone.[1]

Bertrand Russell's essay Why I Am Not a Christian was originally given as a talk in the hall, on 6 March 1927, under the auspices of the South London Branch of the National Secular Society.

It building was given Grade II* listed protected status in February 1970.[1]


In 1901 a large pipe organ was installed in the Grand Hall by Norman & Beard. This was an unusual instrument designed by Robert Hope-Jones, a pioneering organ builder who invented many aspects of the modern pipe organ. His ideas went on to form the basis of the Wurlitzer theatre organ in the 1920s and 30s. It was said to be the largest Hope-Jones organ to survive, and was partially restored in 2008-2009. A specification of the organ can be found on the National Pipe Organ Register.[2]

Arts centre

The building became a community arts centre in 1974. BAC currently[when?] receives grants towards the building's operating costs from Arts Council England and the London Borough of Wandsworth, among others. The centre is a registered charity.[3]

David Jubb has been the BAC's artistic director since 2004. In 2008 he was joined by David Micklem, with whom he shares the Joint Artistic Directorship of BAC. In October 2012 Micklem announced his decision to step down.[4]

The theatre was founded in 1980.[citation needed]

BAC operates a "scratch" methodology as part of its "ladder of development" for new work. Performances are shown at various stages of development to an outside audience, whose input and criticism guides the further evolution of the work.

Past productions

Use in film

The old Town Hall was used as a location in the 1975 film Slade In Flame featuring rock band Slade. The Town Hall was the location for the 21st birthday party of the character played by Dave Hill. On 8 and 9 October 2012, the pop band McFly used the location to film a video for their single "Love Is Easy".

Beer festival

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Battersea Beer Festival

Every February since 1991, the BAC has hosted the three-day-long Battersea Beer Festival.[5]


On 13 March 2015, during a major renovation programme, a fire broke out in the roof, and engulfed the building, causing severe structural damage, including the collapse of the tower. The Grand Hall and Lower Hall were destroyed.[6] No injuries were reported.[7]

The fire was tackled by about 80 London Fire Brigade firefighters and 12 fire engines.[8]

Jubb launched a fundraising campaign to help the centre soon afterwards.[6]


  1. ^ a b c Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1184293)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 14 March 2015. 
  2. ^ "NPOR N17247". National Pipe Organ Register. British Institute of Organ Studies. 
  3. ^ Battersea Arts Centre, Registered Charity no. 282857 at the Charity Commission
  4. ^ report of Micklem's departure.
  5. ^ "24th Battersea Beer Festival". Battersea Beer Festival. CAMRAswl. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Jubb, David (2015-03-14). "Save Battersea Arts Centre". National Funding Scheme. Retrieved 14 March 2015. 
  7. ^ "Bystanders watch in horror as huge fire breaks out at Battersea Arts Centre". London Evening Standard. 13 March 2015. Retrieved 13 March 2015. 
  8. ^ Walker, Peter; Quinn, Ben; Rawlinson, Kevin (13 March 2015). "Fire severely damages Battersea Arts Centre in London". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 March 2015. 

External links