Fairfield Halls is an arts, entertainment and conference centre located in Croydon, London. It opened in 1962 and contains a theatre and gallery, and the large concert hall has been regularly used for BBC television, radio and orchestral recordings. Fairfield Halls closed for a £30 million redevelopment in July 2016, and reopened in September 2019. As part of the building's re-opening it was also announced that Talawa Theatre Company would relocate to the building, taking up a 200 seat theatre space and offices.
Fairfield Halls as seen from Queen's Gardens
Location within Croydon
|Address||Park Lane, Croydon CR9|
|Client||County Borough of Croydon|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Robert Atkinson and Partners|
Although the venue has been a major venue for professional music, plays, musicals, stand-up comedy and classical music, a significant proportion of Fairfield's programme has been for community events. It was frequently used by local schools as the venue for their annual choral concerts, as well as being regularly used by local music, opera, amateur dramatic and religious organisations. The Concert Hall features a cinema with Croydon's largest cinema screen.
The halls are built on the site of Croydon's historic "Fair Field", which hosted a well-known fair up until around 1860, and above disused railway cuttings which used to link the main London to Brighton railway to Croydon Central Station in what is now Queen's Gardens. Between 1930 and 1962 the land was home to both a car park and air raid shelters during the war.
The venue was 50 years old in 2012 and an anniversary concert by the London Mozart Players was attended by the Earl of Wessex. A website was also launched to celebrate both the venue's history and to act as an ongoing archive, containing 2,000 digitised images accessed via text and keyword searches. This makes it one of the largest digitised venue archives in Europe.
In the summer of 2014 the council paid for the refurbishment of the Arnhem Gallery, the conversion of the former Green Room into the New Studio and the installation of modern digital projection equipment with Dolby Surround 7.1 in the Concert Hall.
Fairfield was run from 1993 to 2016 by a self-financing charity with a board of trustees. The charity was in receipt of an operating grant from Croydon Council; it was placed into administration in July 2016.
Croydon Council, the freeholder of the land, had various plans to refurbish Fairfield over the years but none of these plans came to fruition. In the spring of 2015 a new set of consultants led by Croydon firm Mott MacDonald was appointed by Croydon Council to deliver a £12m programme on the Fairfield Halls and a separate programme for the remainder of the College Green site. Around £30m would be spent on redeveloping and modernising Fairfield Halls in the period between 2016 and 2018.
In February 2016, it was confirmed that the venue would close for two years for redevelopment starting July 2016 as part of the Croydon council's plan for the cultural and educational quarter in the town centre, with new homes, offices, shops and a building for Croydon College being constructed. Later on the venue was scheduled to re-open by the end of March 2019. It is now due to re-open mid September 2019.
As a venue
The building's concert hall has 1,801 seats (counting the choir stalls), the Ashcroft Theatre has 755, and the Arnhem Gallery is used for standing concerts of up to 400.
Many famous acts have performed at the Fairfield Halls, including David Bowie, Elton John, the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Stevie Wonder, the Who, Queen, Sister Sledge, Morrissey, Status Quo, Chuck Berry, The Dubliners, Kenny Rogers, Canned Heat, Taste, Free, Genesis, Petula Clark, The Stranglers and Shane Filan of Westlife. Delaney & Bonnie & Friends recorded their live album On Tour with Eric Clapton in the halls, with a band that also featured George Harrison. The Nice recorded most of their album Five Bridges live at the concert hall on 17 February 1969, with King Crimson as their opening act for the concert. Free recorded part of their album Free Live! at the venue on 13 September 1970. Rat Scabies and Captain Sensible of the Damned both worked as toilet cleaners at Fairfield Halls, Captain Sensible remarking that he was inspired to take music more seriously after witnessing a T. Rex concert there. Morecambe and Wise's appearance at the halls in 1973 was filmed, the only time that their live stage act was recorded.
Fairfield Halls was also used for British professional wrestling for many years, with various cards having been featured on ITV's World of Sport in the 1970s and 1980s. Fairfield has featured as a location in many films, TV productions and commercials. It was featured in the opening titles of the much loved BBC sitcom Terry and June.
- Gareth_Davies (26 February 2016). "Croydon Council confirms Fairfield Halls will close for two years in July for £30m rebuild". Croydon Advertiser.
- "Fairfield Halls will now fully open in September". Your Local Guardian. Newsquest Media Group. 17 October 2018. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
- O'Byrne Mulligan, Euan (18 July 2019). "Theatre refurb nears the end as shows announced". Croydon Guardian. Newsquest Media Group. p. 3.
- "Fairfield Halls". Croydon London Borough Council. Retrieved 27 September 2019.
- Samantha Booth (18 July 2016). "Fairfield Halls charity cannot afford to pay staff redundancy as trust files for administration". Croydon Advertiser.
- Chris Baynes (7 October 2015). "Major plans to transform Fairfield Halls and 'outdo the South Bank' unveiled". Croydon Guardian.
- "Fairfield Halls set to fully reopen by the end of March 2019". Develop Croydon. 15 March 2018.
- Turpin, Adrian (3 March 1995). "Don't mention the 'C' word". The Independent. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
Ray Burns, of South Norwood (aka Captain Sensible), "joined The Damned after he met the drummer in the Fairfield Hall, where he worked as a toilet cleaner".
- Savage, Jon (4 August 2010). The England's Dreaming Tapes. University of Minnesota Press. pp. 328–329. ISBN 978-0-8166-7292-9.
On Sunday evenings I was an usher, and Marc Bolan came down, and there were all these manic T.Rex fans. It was the policy at the Fairfield Hall not to let anyone get up and have a good time. But I got involved in this rush to the front, swept along with the crowd. I was in with all these sweaty female bodies and looked up at Marc Bolan and thought, that's the job for me. At that point I decided to make an effort, and get practising.
- Sellers, R and Hogg, J (2011), Little Ern: The authorised biography of Ernie Wise, Pan Macmillan, ISBN 9780283071577, p.166
- Kerry McQueeney (17 May 2006). "Tom Hanks leaves cryptic note after finishing filming in Croydon". Croydon Guardian.