A Building for the 21st Century


Patrick Hamill talks about early changes which transformed shoreditch town hall

Patrick Hamill, a founding Trustee of Shoreditch Town Hall Trust and currently on the Board of Trustees, talks about early changes to the building to save and modernize it.

What you see now is what we saw then. Facilities have been put in to make it more useable and attractive to hirers, but it’s not been fundamentally changed from the original building. When we got in, the entrance hall was totally encased in wood-board lining and doors into the Council Chamber had padded leather frontages. What the council had done over time was add layers over what was already here so the simplest thing was to remove these layers, and go back to what was underneath. That’s what we did. The role was to conserve it.

I had one view on this building. I just wanted to stand at the bus stop on the other side of the road and see the lights on and think ‘there’s something happening in there, let’s go and investigate.’ As opposed to a building which had all the windows blocked out or dull, or not lit. That’s where we have got to now.

There’s always more work to do, but there’s a lot going on, the doors are open, the lights are on. It’s about keeping that going. Now a lot of people across London, and wider, will come here. It’s put itself in the middle of a different map. It’s still keeping links with the local community, but it still always will come back to the balance of paying the bills at the end of the day.

Now it’s a building for the 21st Century, not like the one we inherited. It’s got all the investment in the theatre, both space and equipment, and it has begun to achieve a position where people know about it

This lets us give space and support to younger companies. Again there is that balance between the bigger events, helping younger companies, and continuing to think about how we can serve the community. It’s all about getting the place used!

What’s always interesting is how places like this sit in people’s social memories. I’m sure there are people who remember coming and registering their children, remembering being married here. It’s that kind of layer of history that gets lost. it’s that layer that clearly meant a lot to people when they said ‘it’s our Town Hall!’

It will be nice to capture some of that before it gets lost entirely… The reasons why this place meant so much to those individuals will be great to hear and celebrate!

If you have a personal story or connection with the Town Hall please get in touch by emailing, calling 020 7739 6176 or writing to us at Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old Street, London, EC1V 9LT.