Wilton’s music hall gets £1.8m Heritage Lottery cash to stop it ‘falling down’

Inside Wilton's Music Hall

Inside Wilton's Music Hall - Credit: Archant

The world’s last surviving grand music hall in London’s East End is getting nearly £2 million to “stop the building falling down.”

Wilton's run-down entrance in Grace's Alley

Wilton's run-down entrance in Grace's Alley - Credit: Wilton's

The Heritage Lottery Fund is handing Wilton’s Music Hall £1,850,000 to secure the five Georgian houses that make up the front of the building in Grace’s Alley, near the Tower of London.

This will complete the full preservation, following the re-opening of the Grand Hall in February, which finally saves the Grade II-listed internationally-significant building from ruin.

The Lottery funding is a major contribution towards the total £2.6m cost of the project.

It means Wilton’s can start work on repairing the building under the guidance of Tim Ronalds specialist firm of conservation architects, while keeping its unique quality that lies at the heart of its popularity.

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“Charities like ours would take years to raise these kinds of monies without the support of the Lottery,” explained Wilton’s managing director Frances Mayhew.

“This Lottery decision means we can finally take permanent steps needed to stop this much-loved building from falling down.”

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The two-year preservation work now getting under way will open up a further 40 per cent of the building which is currently derelict, bringing the unused spaces back to life after decades of neglect.

It also secures Wilton’s future as a prestigious arts and heritage centre just half-a-mile east of The Tower, in Grace’s Alley off Cable Street, for community activities and schools.

Heritage Lottery’s Sue Bowers said: “This unique project will enable the rebirth of one of London’s most remarkable theatrical buildings.”

This new chapter in the life of Wilton’s follows a chequered history as one of London’s earliest music halls, the home of the original Can Can dance and where stars such as Champagne Charlie regularly cut their showbiz teeth.

It later become a Methodist mission that retained the Mahogany Bar—but serving tea and cocoa rather than ale and porter.

Wilton’s fortunes sank when it was taken over as a rag trade warehouse. It survived fire, the Blitz, riots and strikes, then finally dodging demolition during the East End’s slum clearances of the 1960s through a campaign led by Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman.

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