Save the Woolwich Grand Theatre

Proposed replacement for the Woolwich Grand from the planning application
Proposed replacement for the Woolwich Grand from the planning application

As expected a planning application has been submitted to demolish the Woolwich Grand Theatre and replace it with 46 flats and a cafe. The application description says:

13/2798/F | Demolition of existing buildings and the construction of a building comprising a lower ground level with 6 storeys providing 163sqm of A3 / A4 / D2 space on the ground floor and 46 residential units comprising 15 x 1 bed units and 31 x 2 bed units with associated disabled car parking, cycle storage and refuse storage. (REVISED DESCRIPTION) | 38 WELLINGTON STREET, WOOLWICH, LONDON, SE18 6PE

The application was submitted on behalf of a company called Secure Sleep Limited, which was incorporated just this year, on 14th January and a company called 38 Wellington Street Limited which is in administration. According to the current Title Register at the Land Registry the Grand Theatre is owned by 38 Wellington Street Limited who bought it on 13th March 2003 for £900,000. The register says that an agreement was made on 9th May 2013 to sell the property to one of the named directors of Secure Sleep Limited.

The application makes barely a nod to comments at the consultation event in September about the importance of the Grand as a cultural hub in the Bathway Quarter of Woolwich – an area that the Woolwich Masterplan says should have “bars, galleries and artists’ studios together with other uses such as a jazz club and creative industries such as architect’s studios.” The Design and Access Statement, which contains most of the details of the application, includes the plan below purporting to show how the proposed commercial area at the front of the new building could be used to screen films. I’m surprised they bothered – it’s not very convincing.

Plan showing use of cafe area for film screening
Plan showing use of cafe area for film screening

How can we help to save the Woolwich Grand? Well firstly we can sign the petition started by Stewart Christie calling on Greenwich Council to List the Woolwich Grand Theatre as an “Asset of Community Value” under the Localism Act 2011. It’s got over 200 signatures already, in less than a week.

Secondly we can object to the planning application. This can be done very simply on-line through the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s planning pages. If the link doesn’t work then use the simple search to find 13/2798/F. Or we can object by letter, quoting reference 13/2798/F,  to:

Georgina Galley
Directorate of Regeneration, Enterprise & Skills
Woolwich Centre, 5th Floor,
35 Wellington Street,
London SE18 6HQ

Comments need to be submitted and letters arrive before 17th December.

The third way to help the Woolwich Grand survive is to go along to their events. They have a number arranged for the next month, listed below, and their Facebook page and web site are kept up to date with new ones.

“Gentlemen of Horror”
27th 28th 29th of November
7pm Red room. £7.50 plus concessions

Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee defined an era of British horror, starring in Hammer Horror films together for 26 years.
When they first worked together in “The Curse of Frankenstein” and “Dracula”, Peter Cushing was one of the most famous actors in Britain, while Christopher Lee was unknown. For the next quarter of a century, these two killed each other again and again and became firm friends. As Christopher Lee became internationally famous, Peter Cushing gradually retired into a life of quiet obscurity. And yet neither quite lost their taste for blood…
In the Peter Cushing centenary year, The Gentlemen of Horror takes you backstage on Cushing and Lee’s relationship, into the dressing rooms of the films they made together. The play will be followed by a screening of Dracula A.D. 72, starring Cushing and Lee.
Actors: Simon Kane and Matthew Woodcock
Writer: James Goss
Directed by Kate Webster

Hansel and Gretel
1st December 1:30pm and 4pm

A Family Adventure packed with life-sized puppets and interactive storytelling.
Abandoned in the woods, Hansel and Gretel must escape the clutches of a hungry witch with their courage and cleverness. Follow the breadcrumb trail to the gingerbread house for interactive storytelling, live music and a set good enough to eat.
‘If you think there is nothing new to be found in traditional tales, this approach could surprise you – they’re well worth seeing’

King of Comedy night
6th of December at 7pm

Comedy again on the 6th of December at 7pm till 11pm in the red room in the form of King of comedy night.
The principle is simple 10 acts battle it out for the prize of king or queen for the night the audience decides who the winner is. This interactive principle is proving very popular among acts and audience members alike.
So come down and enjoy the show, get involved and have a laugh on us.

Roller Skating
7th December

The next roller skating event which will take place on Saturday 7th of December in the main hall. The evening will be split into two sections, from 3pm to 6pm there will be a family skating session followed by the adult session from 7pm to 11pm.

Family Skate Session:
With Skate Hire – £7.50
Without Skate Hire – £5.00
Spectator – £3.00

Roller Disco:
With Skate Hire – £10.00
Without Skate Hire – £8.00
Spectator – £3.00
Our aim is for everyone to enjoy both these fun events, see the flexible space available at The Woolwich Grand and have a great time as well as taking in other events that we’re staging at The Grand.

“A Boy who Cried Wolf”
7th/8th December
21st/22nd of December

Gem and Ren take you on a journey to a perfect town where nobody lies at all… Or do they? We need future superstars, ballerinas, firemen and teachers to help us sing, dance, shout and shimmy our way through the story of A Boy Who Cried Wolf… Or did he?
To book tickets fellow link:

I suspect it’s not going to be easy to save the Grand, but what’s the alternative – a Woolwich of flats and betting shops?

The Woolwich Grand - under threat of redevelopment
The Woolwich Grand – under threat of redevelopment

Grand Plan

bptw partnership and whiteroom architecture Proposed Scheme for 38 Wellington Street
bptw partnership and whiteroom architecture Proposed Scheme for 38 Wellington Street

The Woolwich Grand Theatre will be demolished and replaced with a six storey block of flats with room for a café at the front if current proposals are implemented. There will be 46 one- and two-bedroom flats of which 20% will be “affordable” according to the consultants from bptw partnership and whiteroom architecture at the consultation event last week.

Their original plan was for a seven storey building, but this was reduced to six following discussion with council planners. The design of the proposed red-brick building aims to harmonise with the adjacent Town Hall, with strong verticals and horizontal lines which continue the Town Hall’s. The flat’s are arranged around a central courtyard which also mirrors a space in the Town Hall.

The consultants said that the “commercial space” at the front of the building could be used as a café, and that it could be let to the Grand’s impresario Adrian at favourable rates to continue as a cultural space. They also said that it is larger than the current Red Room café at the Grand, and that it could be arranged to show films to people sitting at café-style tables. This seemed to be stretching things to me, and there is no getting round the huge reduction in space available for performance compared to the Woolwich Grand as it is now.

The developers had wanted to hold the consultation event at the Town Hall but were refused permission, and their time at Gunnery House was limited. There had not been a huge number of visitors, and I was the only person there with the consultants when I dropped in. They sent out a pdf containing the consultation displays today, and indicated that I could communicate them to people who could not attend. The two images in this post are taken from their pdf.

Planning permission will be applied for in a few weeks; we’ll get another chance to say what we think then.

bptw partnership and whiteroom architecture Lower Ground Floor Plan for 38 Wellington Street
Lower Ground Floor Plan for 38 Wellington Street from bptw partnership and whiteroom architecture

Woolwich Grand Under Threat?

The Woolwich Grand - under threat of redevelopment?
The Woolwich Grand – under threat of redevelopment?

Is the Woolwich Grand Theatre under threat of redevelopment? Yes, it is, if the leaflet sent to people living nearby is true. It is an invitation to a consultation event about  a proposal to redevelop the site. The leaflet I saw said:


Proposals for 38 Wellington Street

You are invited to view and comment on proposals for the site of the former Grand Theatre and Regal Cinema at 38 Wellington Street for a mixed use development incorporating commercial on ground floor with residential uses

Event details:

Thursday 26th September 2013 from 2pm to 5.30pm at 9-11 Gunnery Terrace, Room 22 Gunnery House, Woolwich Arsenal, London SE18 6SW

The leaflet I saw had no indication who had produced it or who was running the consultation event. I couldn’t find any application for planning permission for the redevelopment of the site, so I guess this must be an early stage consultation before permission is applied for.

What a set-back for Woolwich town centre this would be – removing one of the few places where cultural activities such as  film, music and other events can and do take place. And how discouraging for the people who have worked hard to bring such cultural activities to the town.

Also it doesn’t seem consistent with the Woolwich Master Plan which states that the cultural use should be promoted in the Bathway Quarter where the Grand is located. It also says:

The protection of the town centre’s important heritage value should continue. This will be enhanced by the refurbishment and bringing back into use of historic buildings within the Bathway Quarter. This area should also be given additional heritage protection to conserve its distinct character, as should Powis Street and Hare Street.

I wonder what happened to that additional protection, and the proposal to designate the Bathway Quarter and Powis and Hare Street as Conservation Areas?

It’s a shame that the consultation event is during office hours, but I hope that won’t stop people going along to support the Woolwich Grand.

Jazz at the Grand

Woolwich Grand Theatre
Woolwich Grand Theatre

Those of us who didn’t make it to the Jazz Evening at the Woolwich Grand Theatre last Friday missed a real treat, as you can see from the video below. The music was performed by the Nick Ereaut Band, who the Grand describe as:

Hosted by The Nick Ereaut Band with Rachel Bennett – Voice, Theo Erskine – Tenor Saxophone, Sam James – Piano, Nick Ereaut – Double Bass, Harry Pope – Drums
The Nick Ereaut Band formed early in 2012 and have since been taking on London with their unique sound. Their influences include Miles Davis, Beethoven, Jimi Hendrix, Nik Bartsch, Ahmad Jamal and Jean-Michel Basquiat. They are currently planning a tour for January 2012.

I hear that they may be playing at the Grand again in the future. That will definitely be an event not to be missed.

Nick Ereaut Band Live at the Woolwich Grand

Grand Events

Woolwich Grand Theatre from the Woolwich Centre
Woolwich Grand Theatre

A talk by actress Emily Lloyd and a screening of  “Wish You Were Here”, the BAFTA-nominated film that she starred in, kick off a regular series of events at the Woolwich Grand Theatre next Wednesday, 27th June. Emily Lloyd won Best Actress awards from the Evening Standard and the National Society of Film Critics for her role in the film, and was also nominated for the BAFTA Best Actress award. She later starred in the film “A River Runs Through It” directed by Robert Redford.

This is the culmination of a lot of work by the team at the Grand, including  a successful appearance before the Greenwich Council licensing committee and the sourcing and erection of a 20×25 ft cinema screen. The erection of the screen in the main hall by Woolwich Grand Director Adrian Green and volunteers  Scot and Sean is graphically described and pictured on the Grand’s Facebook page.

Adrian intends to host a regular weekly sequence of events at the Grand, as he says:

…. we will be holding the following in the Red Room:
Wednesday- Film Screenings and Talks.
Thursday- Cabaret/Quiz Evening.
Friday- Music Night with a mixture of bands and soloists.
Saturday- Comedy Nights including stand-up and sketches.
Prices for these events will vary, so please e-mail us at to enquire about tickets. Tickets can be bought through our paypal account or at our box office.
We will also be holding larger events in main hall once a month and these will be announced on our website and Facebook page.

These will be great evenings and we look forward to seeing you there!

The talk by Emily Lloyd on Wednesday starts at 6.30pm and the  film screening at 7.00pm. Tickets cost £10.00 and can be bought on the door or by contacting the theatre by e-mail, Food is available and there’s a bar ’till 12.00. The quiz on the 28th is looking good too, previous music nights were excellent and I can recommend the lunches at the Arts Cafeteria.

Update: Adrian has now confirmed the other three events for next week on the Grand’s Facebook page:

28 June at 18:30  Quiz Night and Cabaret ?
29 June at 18:30  Live music
30 June at 18:30  Comedy open mic night
All in the  Red Room Bar at the Grand.

Grand Gig Friday

Grand Poster
Grand Poster

The Woolwich Grand hosts another evening of music next Friday, 17th February. If it’s anything like the last one it will be well worth dropping in to.

Friday’s line-up is Katy Carr, Nigel of Bermondsey, Bromide and Joey Herzfeld & his so-called friends. Katy Carr, who  has been described as evoking Kate Bush and P.J. Harvey (and even Edith Piaf), has had three CDs – Screwing Lies, Passion Play and Coquette, with a fourth, Pazsport, in the pipeline. Coquette includes the track Kommandant’s Car which is about the escape of Kazimierz ‘Kazik’ Piechowsk from Auschwitz, where he was interred by the Nazis in1940  for being a boy scout. Katy later met Kazik in Poland and recorded a documentary about the meeting. As she says in this interview, she:

“…  has since then through an Arts Council grant been able to bring Kazik to England to elaborate further on his experiences. At one event in March at the Polish Embassy in London he made an official address and the film was screened, and at another at Baden Powell House he was presented with a special letter of honour from the Chief Scout, Bear Grylls.”

Nigel of Bermondsey
Nigel of Bermondsey

Nigel of Bermondseydescribes his work as:

Psycho-geographical songs and stories from Bermondsey, South London. Also songs and tales of Wapping, Rotherhithe, Walworth. Now incorporating Covent Garden and Bloomsbury. Soon to be  adding The Strand.

Nigel also has three CDs: Nigel of Bermondsey, London Dream Time and Bermondsey Folk.

One of Nigel’s psycho-geographical interests is the Cross Bones graveyard on Red Cross Way in Southwark, in the shadow of the Shard, which I used to walk past regularly on my way to work. It’s not normally accessible to the public, but the large double gates are festooned with ribbons and messages commemorating the outcasts who were buried there. Perhaps Nigel will talk on Friday about the prositutes, known as the Bishop of Winchester’s Geese whose bones are there.


is london-based, essex-born, capri-owning, cat-worshiping, singer-songwriter simon berridge and anyone he can con into playing with him.

bromide plays mid-fi acoustic/electric folk pop. people have likened his music to elvis costello, american music club, ray davies, the only ones, lloyd cole, robyn hitchcock and kevin ayers. bromide has no idea so will take their word for it.

Bromide’s CDs are iscariot heart, and ‘the trouble with.. bromide’.

Joey Herzfeld is, I think, this guy:

After 5 years writhing and screaming in cabaret/rock band Hooverville ( Mr Joey Herzfeld has strapped on an accordion to deliver his mix dark humour and psychosis on mainly acoustic instruments. Formed at the end of 2010, Joey Herzfeld and The Haunted have been gigging regularly and have already recorded most of an album. Storytelling songs of murder, lechery and insanity are interspersed with the odd instrumental – spooky waltzes, toe-tapping blue-grass, and gypsy stomps.

Though I guess that will be confirmed on Friday, and also whether his so-called friends are the Haunted.

Sounds like another great evening at the Grand.

Grand Tour

The Woolwich Grand Arts Cafeteria is Now Open
The Woolwich Grand Arts Cafeteria is Now Open

The Woolwich Grand Theatre is open for Grand Tours tomorrow (28th January) – providing an opportunity to see the parts of the theatre that the public rarely see. As Theatre Director Adrian Green explains in his Facebook message:

The Woolwich Grand Theatre will be holding an open day on the 28th of January from 10am to 4pm for everyone to come and have a grand tour of the building, boiler room, the upper circle projector room and other areas of interest to you. Come and join us and have a lovely cup of tea. We will be charging £6 per person.

This follows the musical fund raiser last Friday and the opening of the Arts Cafeteria on Wednesday.

The music last Friday was superb. An excellent  acoustic Candythief unplugged set, including songs from the Partisan CD was followed by a rumbustious Mr Ron Jetson on a very expensive piano accompanied by violin and saxophone. The evening concluded with the amazing voice of the Falsifiers’ Liam Ings-Reeves, whose deep, gravelly, bluesy versions of the chain gang song Another Man Done Gone and the spiritual Wade in the Water contrasted with a gentler Jess Hannar solo. The whole evening well lubricated by Adrian’s jokes.

Adrian said that he will invite these musicians back to the Grand in future. I’ll be looking out for that; they’re definitely worth seeing and hearing again.

Next at the Grand is a music and poetry evening on Friday 17th February:

The next event will be Friday 17th February, we will be holding a comedy and music evening featuring warm up comedians, two bands and a poet, details to follow. After being allowed to open this will be our last free performance evening for now.

It’s great to see the Grand getting going.

Inside the Woolwich Grand Theatre
Inside the Woolwich Grand Theatre

Grand Opening on Friday

Vision of the Woolwich Grand Theatre

Some excellent news from the Woolwich Grand Theatre. Following a successful sound check by Greenwich Council last Wednesday evening, they will be opening this Friday (20th January) with a Music Fund Raiser Night. Here is the FaceBook invitation from the Grand’s Director, Adrian Green:

Dear friends,
As we warm up to what I hope will be our opening soon we are having another music fund raiser night on the 20th January at 7.30 Three different acts who have given their time to help are cause

Candythief: Drawing on alternative, folk, rock and indie influences, the songs are melody-driven and eclectic in style, lyrical and direct, coloured by the unusual song structures typical of Candythief arrangements. Thematically, it deals in an uplifting way with the possibility that modern culture has sold us a bit of a lemon.

The Falsifiers: Liam, Jess and Adam. Tom Waits, hill-billy edgy sweetness combining guitar, fiddle and washboard for not-so-rickety yet rickety song.

Mr Ron Jetson: A three piece version consisting of Ron as himself and this time on piano, with Luke Barlow providing saxophone and Jess Hannar on violin. Songs for all the ages strangely combining Waits with the Dan.

Please come down and support us and change Woolwich for the better.
Many thanks

Candtyhief was started by singer-songwriter Diana de Cabarrus on vocals/guitar/sandwiches, and at full strength comprises Jem Doulton on drums, Jason Dickinson on fiddle and Jason Simpson on electric & double bass.Their latest, and third album is Partisan,  embedded below. Mr Ron Jetson‘s latest album is Danger Danger.

Sounds like it will be an amazing evening of music, at  a great venue!