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.

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