- Subject: Oral History
The inception of Stanley Halls. Penny recalls St. Mark’s Players and Judith talks about the concerts of the Endurance Steel band.
In this audio you can hear Judith, Jewell and Penny.
The audio is 4 minutes and 28 seconds long.
The only public building that wasn’t a school hall or a church hall, was the public hall in Station Road. And it was a time when South Norwood’s community was expanding, and there was a thriving artistic section, sort of professionals, doctors, JPs that sort of things. Pharmacists, qualified pharmacists. And they all played the piano, they all played instruments, they all sang. And the facilities in South Norwood were getting too small and Stanley recognised the gap in the…the sort of buildings and by that time he’d sold part of his business and got enough money. He financed, designed, engineered and commissioned the builders to build the Stanley Halls and then presented them to the community as a space for non-religious and non-political events, that he didn’t want any political or religious preaching going on in the halls. He was quite happy for meetings but not for campaigning.
And I used to come to Weight Watchers, I was very big. I went to Weight Watchers and lost it all. Became skinny. I have three children, two boys and one girl. And the children used to come to the Christmas party.
The Saint Mark’s Players used to put on shows and pantomimes, and they came to…and they were called the Saint Mark’s Players cause they originally started in Saint Mark’s Church. But they’d, you know, they dispersed sort of thing, but they still, I think actually I think they still do rehearse in the church hall. But…what…what would it be? 29 years ago, they came into the school and they were looking for some children to be in their pantomime and so they, the head headmistress said, did I mind if Richard went to, you know went “No, that’s fine” I said. So, he was part of the Saint Marks Players and they used to do their pantomimes in the Stanley Halls. And so, he was in that pantomime. He was some kind of red Indian or something [laughs]. And then he was now in it. So he was in various shows and then as he got older, he did sort of the tech and the backstage stuff. And so, during that period was when it kind of got, you know, more and more dilapidated, but I know it’s, you know, getting better and better again now so that it’s like a…a kind of circular thing. I don’t know if other little towns or little areas are the same, but in my lifetime of being here, it’s been, you know, a lovely place with all sorts of things. Then it’s gone downhill dramatically [laughs], everywhere has fallen to pieces, and now it’s come back up again.
I do have one memory shortly after we moved, must’ve been the 70s of a Hindu wedding that was held at the Halls. And that the doors to the main hall were wide open, so, you could see in. But South Norwood Hill was swarming with people in red and gold sarees. In well, in wedding finery, but it was…everybody was wearing red and gold and there must have been a couple hundred people sort of milling around up and down South Norwood Hill.
I used to come to Stanley Hall and dance. We used to do the jive, the waltz. We did it all when we were younger. Music was good, very good. Band was lovely band. The place was…used to be full, big bands. They’re all on the stage, the band. Yeah, they were good.
The Endurance Steel band, they are not just a band, they are an orchestra, steel orchestra and they started with a fairly small group, and it’s expanded. And at the last concert in the last Christmas…oh and it’s a fantastic way of starting Christmas off. A family event… the perfect family start to Christmas, going on to their concert. It’s a wonderful occasion, you…everybody ends up dancing in the in the aisles for the last half of the programme.
South Norwood High Street Stories is funded by Historic England’s High Streets Heritage Action Zone programme delivered by Croydon Council. For more information visit www.croydon.gov.uk/
Image Credit: Chris Redgrave @ Historic England
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