Category Archives: Building

The Pepper and The Palace

Fragile Archivists would like to wish everyone all the best for 2016 – the 40th anniversary of the start of Chats Palace.

Look out for our anniversary exhibition later this year. In the meantime here is this month’s Red Pepper magazine’s feature on 40 years of Chats Palace (click on the link to read the full article)!

24 in pictures chats _124 in pictures chats_2

Available half-price from Chats Palace!


Happy 100th anniversary – May 31st

Launch of poster exhibition from the Fragile Archivists

**You are welcome to see the exhibition throughout the summer and autumn – please contact for opening hours**


community arts / free form / chatsworth road market / kingsmead estate / music hall / inclusive theatre / homerton grove adventure playground / pensioner’s club / christmas shows / social benefits / disability arts / cabaret / gigs / political campaigns / hackney marsh fun festival / muppets / notting hill carnival / silkscreen printshop / workshops

The Monkey Stomp Blues present live and direct from the eastern corners of Norfolk the Americana folklore stylings of the Vagaband
in a rare Hackney visit – from 7pm till 11pm ‘ish

Saturday 1st June

An exhibition of stories by pupils from Kingsmead, Daubeney and Rushmore School celebrating “The secrets of Chatsworth Road”

Storytelling workshops throughout the day – families come and celebrate

Coming up in the autumn from the Fragile Archivists

a programme of screenings and talks

films about Hackney by John Smith –

Somewhere in Hackney (1980) film and discussion

‘Hackney Captured’ form the Rio Cinema projection room

Miners’ Strike, GLC abolition, the Wapping dispute and more

Some enchanted evenings

Brian Walker recalls the days of Music Hall at Chats Palace:

In the early days of Chats Palace, Mike Grey, a local historian and stalwart of the community, was instrumental in getting a Blue Plaque placed on a house in Graham Road where Music Hall superstar Marie Lloyd once lived. To celebrate this historic occasion Chats staged an ‘Old Time Music Hall’, and so it began. So popular was it that it was decided to make it a regular event.

Unveiling of the Blue Plaque to Marie Lloyd, 1977 © Mike Gray / Chats Palace

Soon regular customers and people from all over London turned up every month, and a group of local families became involved in supporting the shows and in time formed The Homerton Volunteers. This support continued for nearly 16 years. Eventually the Volunteers were responsible for running the Music Hall.

At first all performers were professional, but local and would be entertainers were encouraged to take part. However the success of the shows meant that many professional artistes asked to appear and eventually Chats had a reputation for fun and audience participation. It became so popular that at one time that Saturday night shows were repeated on Sundays as well.

Many famous people came to perform, faces seen on TV brought a bit of glamour to Homerton, amongst these were the legendary Clive Dunn of Dad’s Army fame, and believe it or not, the whole Muppet Company. Many old Variety turns found a place to perform their nostalgic acts bringing a lot of traditional skills that younger people had never seen before, but our local performers still had a chance to get up and do their bit.

The Homerton Volunteers with Animal the Muppet, 29 March 1980

The Music Hall was taken to many local festivals and venues, working at The Hackney Show every year, The GLC shows and even on the back of a lorry in The Easter Parade at Battersea Park. When The Hackney Empire was reopened, Chats Palace Music Hall put on one of the first Traditional Variety shows to be staged there.

What wonderful happy days!  Marie Lloyd would have loved it!

See here for a selection of posters publicising Music Hall nights.

Happy New Year

Newsletter front

What has been done so far?

We started the weekly blog in September. It has been well received, with an average of 30 people viewing it daily. Many social history and local organisations have been extremely supportive:  

What is Chats Palace? is a great new website covering the history of the venue
The Radical History of Hackney”

…This archive is a real treat and a true part of East London’s design heritage…
Rob Alderson from “It’s nice that”

…The images will fascinate social observers, illustrating not just alternative society advertising styles but reflecting local political and social issues of the time…
David Altheer from “Loving Dalston”

Whilst a wide range of people have contributed stories and anecdotes…

…It (The Chambermaids) was an epic, joyful production…participants told me how good it was to be involved in something that was about people like them. Anyway, fond memories and I’ve still got the t-shirt, fading now, but…Kathleen

…I often reflect upon how getting involved in directing and writing at a young age has helped me transfer my skills on many different levels. The urgency to support and empower women and artists in the local community was totally needed but very rewarding…Iesha

…These are marvellous. What a nice Friday surprise. I remember some of those gigs. Brilliant. Thanks so much for making me smile today…Lesley


coming up in 2013

archival footage on super 8 and VHS
articles and artwork covering Music Hall, International Women’s Day, Senior Citizens, Carnival
interviews with the founders of Chats Palace and community activists

100 years since the foundation stone

At the start of the 20th century, Hackney Public Libraries Committee commissioned three new libraries, to be paid for by the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

One of the ideas put forward by competing architect Edwin Cooper (1874 – 1942), for the Brooksby’s Walk project was that the land at the rear of the site could be used either as a lecture room or a slipper bath!

Nevertheless Carnegie and the Committee were impressed with Cooper’s plans for Homerton Library, describing it as a “building designed in a simple, classical manner, expressing its purpose.”

The estimate of £4,500 by Stoke Newington Firm A&S Wheater was accepted and work began in August 1912. The foundation stone was laid on 19th October and the Library was officially opened on 31st May 1913 (by no means slow by modern standards).

Almost 100 years on it remains an imposing building. Fronted in a neo-classical styled façade of Portland stone, with a portico flanked by two Doric columns.

Sir Thomas Edwin Cooper by Howard Coster, half-plate film negative, 1930
© National Portrait Gallery, London

Edwin Cooper specialised in public building throughout his career and was knighted for his achievements. His other work includes the 1928 headquarters of Lloyds of London, the Port of London Authority Building on Tower Hill, Marylebone Town Hall (more recently the location of some high profile pop weddings), and the Tilbury Dockside Baggage Hall where the Empire Windrush passengers disembarked.