A close up of Battersea Arts Centre

News at Eden Harper | 24/04/2014

Battersea is fast becoming one of the most sought-after locations south of the river to live. With the ongoing regeneration of the area, plus excellent transport links; Battersea has a variety of properties for sale, this area is full of great restaurants, culture and has a lively atmosphere. There's no better example of this than Battersea Arts Centre! Located in a stunning Grade II listed former Town Hall, this hub of activity offers a wealth of things to do and see in Battersea. From home-made food and drink, to weddings and dances and creative learning opportunities; there's something for everyone. The great thing is that locals can also play a key role in inventing the future of theatre by getting involved, performing and promoting their ideas.

Here's a closer look at this exciting, eclectic venue:

Political radicalism

Battersea Arts Centre was built in in 1893 by Edward Mountford. Its vast archive shows how during the last century, the building has hosted interesting people and thrived with its eccentric characters, radical political activity, explorative plays and edgy performances. The centre was the focal point in the early days of the Trade Union movement, last century. The campaign for Women's Suffrage got well underway here, with Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst coordinating meetings in the Town Hall, as it was at the time. John Archer, the UK capital's first black Mayor was also elected here in 1913 and the local council commissioned a housing estate and reduced working hours to 1948. At the time such activism was ground breaking and set the terms of the debate for much of the 20th century.

Escaped demolition

It was a close shave for the building in 1965 after Battersea Borough merged with Wandsworth and demolition plans were afoot. The council planned to build a library and a swimming pool instead! However, a local campaign ensured that the Town Hall was saved and it was listed as a Grade II building five years later.

The Arts Centre

In 1979, the building was again nearly closed. However, it instead became an independent Arts Centre, no longer run by the council. Jude Kelly became the first Artistic Director in 1981 and the Centre has continued to be radical – plus ca change, as they say! It remained pioneering in terms of supporting new ideas in contemporary theatre and key artists in the UK. These include international theatre company Kneehigh; award-winning theatre company founded in 1992 Ridiculusmus; Sheffield-based experimental theatre company Forced Entertainment – and many more.

Scratch Bar

The theatre bar was introduced in 2000 and is open six days a week to the public. The bar has period features and serves home-made food and the chefs change the menu on a daily basis. As the only arts cafe in the area, it's very popular, with delights such as tasty cupcakes, fantastic coffee from and a range of beverages. There's also great atmosphere, top service and vibe and wifi of course! In the evening the bar comes alive, with many local artists frequenting the venue. There are nights such as Bar de la Muse on Friday and Saturday (11 April to 17th May - excluding 18th and 19th of April) as well as Fine Chisel, which offers folk music with a 'theatrical twist' on the 4th, 11th and 18th of June.