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Friday, 27 May 2011

Wilton’s Music Hall, Or: An Appeal:

One of the many joys a Victorianist can gain from having a passion for that particular period in history is the ability to see and touch the things that the Victorians left behind with relative ease.
We still cross bridges that they built to span rivers, we still live in houses they built for themselves, we own antique furniture they fashioned for their own purposes, read books they wrote, tell time on clocks they made, catch the train at railway stations they erected, and visit the public houses, museums, galleries and other establishments that they gave us.

I walk through London a lot, and take great pleasure in treading on streets that Victorians walked on, visiting bars or pubs they drank in, and generally soaking up any Victorian atmosphere I can find. I’ve visited Stoke-On-Trent a few times too, and found the same thing there, an echo of the things the Victorians left behind that we can still marvel at, appreciate, and sometimes even continue to use. Manchester has the aura of Victorianism still hanging over it like a looming shadow, Sheffield has it also, Birmingham too and many other places where the Victorians left their footprints for us to follow.

To help future Victorianists, or even just people with an interest in our history, The Heritage Lottery Fund, amongst other organizations, work to keep old buildings that represent part of our history alive and standing, so that future generations can enjoy them.

The Heritage Lottery Fund website states:

“Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund gives grants to sustain and transform our heritage. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions we invest in every part of our diverse heritage.”

In 1858, Wilton’s Music Hall opened in the city of London, and is the last of its kind, yet is threatened with closure. I received an email from Frances Mayhew, the current director of Wilton’s, after asking if there was anything I could do to help. There is, and there is something you can do to, but first, let Frances explain the situation a little better than I could:

Dear Reader,

Wilton’s is one of our hidden treasures. The only surviving giant pub music hall in the world, it is now the home of a continuous stream of imaginitive music and drama, like the recent production of Iolanthe or Champagne Charlie or the forthcoming Alina Ibragimova and the Brothers Quay. We combine all this with work with the local community and subsidise ourselves by letting the hall for weddings and parties. It is the most atmospheric venue in the City.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has turned down our application for funding to save Wilton’s – the rarest and most special building on the edge of the City. Why this most special of building which is on the World Monuments Fund Watch List of buildings in danger does not merit a small proportion of the millions HLF distribute annually is not clear. They say the application is commendable but they just don’t have the money.
Wilton’s now needs desperately a City sponsor – a company or individual with the heart and spirit to adopt the place and provide the anchor funding needed to get the vital repair work underway. For, behind the bare brick and peeling plaster of this found space, there are some fundamental problems that if not solved will lead to Wilton’s closing. The floors are collapsing, the drains don’t work, the building is at risk of burning down. Not a huge amount is needed - £2M would get it underway.

This place has total appeal – wonderful creative work, world class heritage, social roots in the East End and an unforgettable atmosphere. We love it, our audiences love it, surely there is someone out there who has the vision to adopt it as their charity and come to the rescue?

Yours sincerely
Frances Mayhew

If every Londoner gave a couple of quid...
Please help to save Wilton's from collapse, text;
wmht18 £2 to 70070 (or more if you like) it's easy!

Please do what you can. For more information and some nice pictures of Wilton's Music Hall, please have a look at an article by the Gentle Author at Spitalfields Lifehere

And, of course, Wilton's has a website

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