Leyton Town Hall, 1A Adelaide Road, Leyton, London E10

Above: “…the red brick and Portland stone (a style nicknamed ‘streaky bacon’) replacement was built next door…During the 2012 Olympics, part of it became a ‘pop-up’ public house called ‘Leyton Technical’.” Alan Patient

From Wikipedia:

“Leyton Town Hall is a municipal building in Adelaide Road, Leyton, London. The building, which includes Leyton Great Hall, is a Grade II listed building.

The building was commissioned to replace an earlier town hall designed by John Johnson in the Italianate style which was located at the corner of High Road and Ruckholt Road and which had been completed in 1882. After the area became an urban district in 1894, civic leaders decided that the old town hall was inadequate for their needs and decided to procure a larger building: they acquired some open land immediately to the north of the old building and converted the old building into a library.

A design competition was held for the new building for which there were 30 entries.

The new building, which was designed by John Johnson in an enriched Italianate style, was built by F J Coxhead and completed in 1895. It was officially opened by the Duke and Duchess of York on 18 March 1896. The design involved an asymmetrical main frontage with twelve bays facing onto High Road; the right-hand section of three bays featured a portico with Ionic order columns and finial above on the ground floor; there were three stone-lined niches flanked by pilasters extending from the first floor up to the second floor with a single decorative gable above; a timber and lead spire was erected at roof level. The design for the side elevation of the building, which consisted of six bays along Adelaide Street, was similar but with windows where the niches had been. Further along Adelaide Street, a two-storey technical institute block was erected as part of the complex.

Internally, the principal rooms in the town hall were the great hall and the mayor’s parlour on the first floor. The building was later described by Nikolaus Pevsner as “fussy but enjoyable, in an eclectic and enriched Italianate style”. A series of sculptures of gods and goddesses designed by John Lawlor were placed at the top of the pilasters on the side elevation of the building.

The building was extended to the south west by a side wing, from the back of the technical institute down to Ruckholt Road, in 1910; this extension, designed in a Baroque style, created additional offices on the ground floor and a council chamber on the first floor.

The great hall was used for the showing of silent films in the pre-war years.

“Frank Herbert Muir CBE (5 February 1920 – 2 January 1998) was an English comedy writer, radio and television personality, and raconteur. His writing and performing partnership with Denis Norden endured for most of their careers. As a television personality, Muir’s unofficial trademark was a crisply knotted pink bow tie. In later years, whenever his dignified speech patterns caused listeners to assume that he had received a public school education, Muir would demur: “I was educated in E10, not Eton”. He attended Leyton County High School for Boys.” (Wikipedia) “Leytonstone Public Library had a small theatre attached to it used by a flourishing play-reading society which read a play (aloud) every Thursday evening to a loyal and appreciative audience of OAPs and vagrants sheltering from the weather. I joined the society and much enjoyed myself, but there was an inherent problem in reading a play rather than learning it by heart, a problem never solved by me, which was how to play either a passionate love scene or a fight to the death whilst reading from a book held in the left hand.
I provoked much merriment when playing love scenes as for some reason all amateur actresses seemed to be short in stature and I was then well over 6 feet, which meant that I either had to woo the beloved by sagging down at the knees like a chimpanzee enjoying his cup of tea, or by leaning forward with my behind stuck out at an acute angle.
I wrote, I think, five one-act plays in all for the society to perform. Shrewdly, love scenes and fights did not occur in any of them, so that the producer could cast me in the lead if she was so disposed.” (A Kentish Lad, by Frank Muir)

The complex became the headquarters of the Municipal Borough of Leyton when the area secured municipal borough status in 1927.

An opportunity for further expansion came in September 1938 when Leyton Technical Institute amalgamated with Walthamstow Technical Institute to form the new South West Essex Technical College at Forest Road in Walthamstow: the council converted the area vacated by the technical institute to municipal use at that time.

The complex ceased to be the local seat of government when the enlarged London Borough of Waltham Forest was formed in 1965. It was subsequently used as additional workspace by the council but, after being found surplus to requirements, it was sold to a developer, Lee Valley Estates, in 2006. The building benefited from an extensive programme of restoration works before re-opening as a business centre in 2010.”

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