After months of planning, Ray Davies is to appear at the Hornsey Town Hall June 26th 2016. Putting The Kinks’ frontman back in his old stamping ground has been the wish of many residents, visitors and music lovers for years. And with Hornsey Town Hall left abandoned by Haringey Council for many years, that wish for Ray to grace its stage once more suddenly took on an added urgency. Here was a well-known local figure who could help raise awareness of the Town Hall’s plight, and help concerned residents in their plans to save the building for community use.

Ray Davies and The Imaginary Man

A 2010 documentary about Ray Davies called The Imaginary Man saw him combing the streets and parklands of his familiar north London haunts, Muswell Hill, Fortis Green, Alexandra Palace… but Ray directed the spotlight focus on Hornsey Town Hall. He is filmed wandering along its dusty, forgotten hallways as he chats to a somewhat bemused Alan Yentob, before settling himself down in The Assembly Hall where he plays the rotting piano. “It sounds better out of tune,” he says, wistfully.


Ray Davies: early years at the Town Hall

Ray Davies originally played at Hornsey Town Hall in 1963 with his band, then known as The Ray Davies Quartet, and since that time he has returned and rehearsed there over the years.

Here’s the history bit… 

Hornsey Town Hall is a Grade II listed building, and when it opened in November 1935, it was a victorious monument to civic pride. The building was a focus for providing social services to a nation battered by war. Hornsey Borough was abolished in 1965, and Haringey was formed. Major subsidence caused partial closure in 1958, but it was used sparingly for council offices till 1990s. Finally, in 2007, Haringey Council closed its doors. The building was left, an unloved hulk, where it has lain dark, desolate and falling into decay.

Despite the building’s bad state of repair, it is replete with modernist features which have made it a film maker’s dream.  See Town Hall Gallery. It has been let out to film crews – The Hour is just one of many productions made there.

Recent goings-on at the Town Hall.. the good

Things looked up at at the start of 2015, when three resourceful creatives under the name of ANA Arts Projects Ltd, signed a 12-month lease to run the building as Hornsey Town Hall Arts Centre (this lease has now been extended), see Haringey Council link. ANA worked up a storm, breathing new life into the decaying structure, repairing rooms, cleaning up spaces, all the while programming events: Silent Cinema, exhibitions, plays – plus giving extensive use for local festivals, such as The End festival, reviewed here. Crouch End Festival used the building extensively for their 2015 event. The green at the front thronged with Craft and Food Markets and at the outdoor cinema, Rocky Horror played on a giant screen. The local landmark was bursting with art, people and performances.

And the bad

Just as the festival drew to a close, came the news from Haringey Council of their decision to dispose of the Hornsey Town Hall and surrounding land to a commercial operator. This is now going through, although it is hoped that some of the building will remain for community use. Chris Currer is one of the six-strong team who preside over the Hornsey Town Hall Appreciation Society who initially approached The Kinks’ manager. “I found an old poster of the Ray Davies Quartet and sent it to him. We’ve been talking and we’ve now reached a time when we hope Ray will play again”.

HTH staircase
Hornsey Town Hall staircase

Since then, the expert team at ANA have worked to secure this appearance of Ray Davies In Conversation with Mark Hamill.

Let’s save our venues

London and many other UK cities, are losing their live music venues in droves. The Music Venue Trust have indicated that London has lost 35 per cent of its grassroots music venues since 2007. Martin Townsend, Editor of the Sunday Express wrote about the decline of music venues, paying particular attention to The Kinks, and the wealth of venues the band played in around London during their heyday – The Clissold Arms pub was one of them. To have a substantial venue such as HTH, which has room for around 1,200 (and 800 in the Supper Room) would help redress the decline.

Tickets on sale now: HTH Arts Centre TICKETS NOW SOLD OUT

Staircase photo of Hornsey Town Hall by Sean Azzopardi.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.