Friday, 1 March 2013

The Great Hall

The Theater where all the entertainment went on and show were put on for both staff and patents from the look it was one of the original buildings. The photo above was taken in the 1980's and shows and extension on the end that is not there in any of the aerial photo's from the 1930's

 Cropped photo showing the hall, note there is no extension on the end by the road.
The hall was use all types of entertainment including plays and concerts.

This is one of the older photos from the Forgotten faces project, it says concert but I think t may well have been a play.

Pantomimes were very popular with both patients,staff and people from the village who came along. I remember going to a few.
Band concerts were another popular thing though I think this little lot may well have been a staff group putting on a concert.
Cholsey Silver band were also very popular and would always put on a good show I might add a few of the staff were part of it like Peter and Wilf Marshall  along with my neighbor Wally Hare. Most of them came form the Village so were only too pleased to be there.
 Dances were another attraction there and the balls they had were always well attended, I remember going to a few. 
This bunch of revelers is most likely at one of the balls.
 The last time the hall was used for anything was when they laid on an exhibition fro the work which was going to be done to Fairmile  since then it has been unused.

The hall back in 2010 when I first saw the place in years
Note the badminton court, something I used to play here in the 1970's

Looking back towards the sliding doors. The small opening near the ceiling was for a projector to show films but is an addition the original was behind the stage.

This is the bar area near the hall though I think this was built yeas after I stopped going to dances because I worked a couple of bars for a pub and this was not there in the 1970's.

Entrance to the hall, it never looked like this when I was young.

Lots of faded photos of some of the functions and Fairmile.

On stage some of the scenery was still there from the last pantomime  which was put on.

The lighting was also still there 

Along with this impressive piece of stage gear,

Though I was warned against going under the stage  still had a look and took this from the stairs where you can see the floor has rotted and collapsed 

Soon enough the bar area was stripped to start relieving its past.

Two glass sky lights I never knew existed.

 What a shame they had been hidden from view.

They could be see from above though. You can also see the added projection room.

The hall became used for storage of some of the building materials for a while 

 Then one day I came in and saw this view of the hall.

 The original stage reviled itself, behind you can see the original projection windows, by this time the room outside had been removed.
The roof trusses you see here I feel were a hidden treasure, what a loss for all those years.
 Outside the hall this addition had me puzzled, the door at the top of the steps was locked and could not be opened.

Months later the building had been demolished and I never had a chance to see inside but the lower shuttered windows told me it was originally the projection room

There would have been to projectors so the films could be swapped over like in a real cinema.

And most likely looked like this 

The last two photos were taken from Derelict places forum so my thanks to the guy on there who took the photo's, hope you don't mind. 
When I last saw the hall it was full of scaffold like this and the glass sky lights in the room behind me had been removed for what I presume is refurbishment. 
When the scaffold came down this is what was reviled

All this wooden scene and lighting equipment was removed

  To leave a clean stage area which will have lighting added in the new year

The hall is having the floor stripped for varnishing

A week later just before the sneak preview of the  hall it was looking like tis
 The place was looking how it should be

The sliding doors are bing pained

The reception area behind had the floor laid

The door beyond leads to another room for use and to the left are the toilets. To the right of the entrance is an office.

This is where the step lead up to the projection room had been in an earlier photo

The back of the building now looks like this after it was cleaned up

The Hall days before the offical opening

 The official opening of the hall with invited people waiting

Children's cakes on display for Mary Berry to Judge

Hugh Thomas the director of Thomas Homes introducing Mary Berry
 Mary Berry about to open the Hall
The Hall with everyone in waiting for me to do a talk on the Hall

I'll add a new Hall photo when I get the chance to take one.


  1. An amazing Story of this old building. I love the Stage ... Cause I was years ago playing Theater in Augsburg.
    Dear Bill, I wish you a nice wednesday

  2. «Louis» enjoys historical tours like this!

    The decor on the entrance doors (11th photo from the top) remind «Louis» of Matisse drawings.

  3. Hi Bill
    Love this site. My 3 great Grandfather was the Chief Superintendent at Cholsey and is also buried near his patients. If you look to the right of the angel, you will see a small blocked gravestone, probably covered in ivy again. Joel Harrington Douty was his name. You have also taken a picture of his quarters - the old house by the chapel that lay empty for ages and is now sold off. It sits side-on to the main building up a short drive. You mentioned this was probably the superintendent's house/important doctor's house and you were right. Joel lived there with his wife and young son and was the youngest Super to be assigned to the asylum (as it was then) at 29. Unfortunately, he contracted a quick and fatal illness and died at only 34. His widow married his Deputy Super 6 months later and they left for Canada shortly afterwards. Hugh Atwood Beaver signed his death certificate and made pretty short work of whisking off his wife within the mourning period, far away from the disapproving families! I would love to know what the old house looks like now. Did this become part of the development or was it restored? It was looking in a sorry state, rented out, when I saw it last. Kind regards Annie

    1. Oh dear Annie I'm afraid it has gone. It was demolished quite a while ago and now a block of flats are on the site. I did manage to go inside and get a few photos before it was demolished though.

  4. Oh, the wonderful Mary Berry. She is quite queen-ly in her demeanor. Part of the charm of TGBBS is the contrast between the respectful yet strong Mary Berry and her co-host who, sadly, often reminds me of one of our current American leaders.