Since last week’s blogpost, the new/old window in the Lower Hall Foyer has been uncovered. It’s an example of something key to the project: that we’re restoring much of the building to its original layout and grandeur, and using as many original features as possible.
We use a storage facility near Cambridge for anything we need to keep off-site for any long period of time. Here in Battersea we tend to use every available corridor, corner and cranny for performance, so it’s always hard to find space here. However, underneath the Grand Hall is a long basement extending the width of the building, from Town Hall Road to Theatre Street. It holds everything from maintenance equipment, set, furniture and original features form the building that have been taken out over the last 50 or so years. This includes doors, street bollards, lighting, handrails and windows and frames. There’s even an ancient hydraulic lift which would have risen up to the Grand Hall itself to allow chairs and tables to be quickly transported between the two floors.
This means that the window frame which has gone back into the north end of the building is one brought back from storage in Cambridge, and is original. We think this was removed around the 1970’s when the rear entrance was moved further west to create space for a bar serving the Lower Hall. It’s exciting to see the entrance in the same way as visitors to the building would have between 1893 and the second half of the 20th century.
The floor mosaic which was carefully restored from underneath a layer of concrete screed and several layers of industrial lino shows how the outside and inside doors to the Hall lined up in 1893.
In the Lower Hall itself, although we’ve had to cut it in half with a temporary wall to create office space for our staff during the building works, we have a brilliant workshop space which is now in full use.
Finally, in handing over the centre of the building to Gilbert Ash, we have also lost all the public toilets serving the Grand Hall. To allow for that, although there remains an access WC by the Grand Hall, we have added external toilets at the rear of the building. They come with heating and hot water, 3 accessible toilets, and were on site at the Olympic Park for 2012, so who knows what achievements you might be inspired to whilst taking a wee visit? (Pun intended)