The London Open House weekend gave Croydon residents a chance to peek inside the workings of the £30million refurbishment of the Fairfield Halls.
Already months late for completion, and with suggestions that it is also running over-budget, plans for performances and exhibitions at the Concert Hall, Ashcroft Theatre and Arnhem Gallery have been kept under-wraps, despite assurances from council leader Tony Newman two months ago that they were about to be revealed “in the very near future”.
As was exclusively revealed last month by Inside Croydon, a “Grand Re-Opening Gala” in the presence of patron the Earl of Wessex, has been announced for June 12, 2019 – almost a year later than was originally planned. That may not be the very first event after the builders move out – though it may be that the Concert Hall, which is undergoing very little re-building, is ready before the Halls’ other venues.
The works – which are being overseen by the council-owned house builder, Brick by Brick – were supposed to take just two years from the Halls’ closure at the end of June 2016.
There have been visible signs of progress recently, with scaffolding going up across the front of the building and large steelwork finally appearing in the hole in the side of the structure where the Arnhem Gallery once was.
But this progress has only been made in the weeks since the original re-opening date has come and gone.
And visitors to the building site during London Open House weekend were pointedly not told the rescheduled re-opening date might be.
“We were not given a definite opening date, which I personally found disappointing,” said Inside Croydon’s loyal reader, among the visitors on Saturday.
“It was an interesting tour, though lots of imagination was needed to see the final result.
“But they are certainly going in the right direction. If it ends up as described, I will be very pleased.
“Some parts will look like they did when the Fairfield opened in 1962.
“There was lots of scaffolding and girders and holes, but we were told progress will be much quicker from now on. If all that we were told will happen does happen, I will indeed be very pleased. But time will tell.”
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