Galleries 24
Collections 0
Groups 1
Blackheath was (and remains) a well-to-do suburb keen on singing, acting and painting. Through the C19th. a number of venues served as venues for amateur choral and orchestral societies. The hall of the Blackheath Literary Institution (now Martin House) from 1845, the Alexandra Assembly Rooms (now Lloyds Bank) from the 1860s, Rink Hall in Blackheath Grove (now Royal Mail sorting office) from the 1870s were either not large enough or unsatisfactory in other respects.

In the early 1880s, local residents, led by William Webster worked to improve provision. In 1881, a conservatoire of music and an art school successfully opened in private houses, followed by the Blackheath Art Club in Bennett Park.

In 1885-86, Webster and colleagues developed plans for what was probably London's first 'arts centre' on the corner of Blackheath Park and Lee Road in the heart of the Village.

The Blackheath Concert Hall opened officially on the 26th October, 1895 with a performance of HMS Pinafore by the Blackheath Amateur Operatic Society.

At its peak, prior to the first world war, the Blackheath Concert Halls attracted outstanding artists and capacity audiences of over 1000. In April 1915, the Blackheath Concert Hall was commandeered by the army authorities as offices to handle the pay for the vast number of men enlisted for the Great War. In 1920 it returned to civilian use, with a performance by the Blackheath Amateur Operatic Society in 1921.

With the lack of any kind of public arts subsidy, the inter-war years were difficult for the Halls. In 1940 the Concert Hall was taken over by the Ministry of Works and used as office space. (See the gallery of splendid photos by Stephen Moreton Prichard at 03001.​ Hall as Gvt Offices - SMP.) In 1945 there was little political will, nor funds to reopen the Halls and it remained in government use, latterly by the DHSS, until 1976.

By this time, the Halls, badly in need of serious building restoration, faced serious threats of demolition and redevelopment. An intense public relations campaign, largely orchestrated by Neil Rhind, frustrated the redevelopment plans, funds were raised and the Blackheath Concert hall bought by the Blackheath Preservation Trust, of which Neil was Secretary. Further funds were raised, the Halls restored, and reopened as a concert venue. The Recital Room was reopened in 1986 and the large Concert Hall in 1991.

Many great artists have performed since 1986 including the Allegri, Medici and Lindsay String Quartets, Tom Allen, Elisabeth Soderstrom, Felicity Lott, Antony Rooley, Emma Kirkby, Willard White, Ann Murray, Philip Langridge, Melvyn Tan, Steven Isserlis, John Lill, Radu Lupu, Robert Holl, Barry Douglas, Humphrey Lyttleton, Tommy Smith, George Melly, Richard Rodney Bennett and Marian Montgomery, Philip Simms, Jamie Cullum, Sir Simon Rattle, Paco Pena, Courtney Pine, Stan Tracey, Humphrey Lyttleton, George Melly and the Thomas Tallis Society.

In 2003 it was acquired by Trinity College of Music. With the merger of Trinity and Laban, and undergoing a continued programme of repair and refurbishment, it remains after a hundred years a vital part of the creative sector in this part of London.

This series of galleries shows the history of and some of the performances at Blackheath Concert Halls. There are 20 galleries in chronological order showing the trials, tribulations and triumphs of the Blackheath Concert Halls.

30000. Halls - External

Visitors 15
21 photos
Created 2-Mar-21
Modified 2-Mar-21
30000. Halls - External

30001. Plans & prospectus

Visitors 17
33 photos
Created 2-Mar-21
Modified 2-Mar-21
30001. Plans & prospectus

30002. Opening

Visitors 6
3 photos
Created 2-Mar-21
Modified 2-Mar-21
30002. Opening

30003. Performances 1895-1900

Visitors 10
27 photos
Created 2-Mar-21
Modified 2-Mar-21
30003. Performances 1895-1900

30004. Performances 1900s

Visitors 13
47 photos
Created 2-Mar-21
Modified 2-Mar-21
30004. Performances 1900s

30005. Performances 1910s

Visitors 17
22 photos
Created 2-Mar-21
Modified 2-Mar-21
30005. Performances 1910s

30006.Performances 1920s

Visitors 12
54 photos
Created 2-Mar-21
Modified 2-Mar-21
30006.Performances 1920s

30007. Performances 1930s

Visitors 4
44 photos
Created 2-Mar-21
Modified 2-Mar-21
30007. Performances 1930s

30008. Halls in Disuse

Visitors 13
55 photos
Created 2-Mar-21
Modified 2-Mar-21
30008. Halls in Disuse

30009. Halls as Gvt offices

Visitors 9
33 photos
Created 2-Mar-21
Modified 2-Mar-21
30009. Halls as Gvt offices

30010. Saving the Halls & Restoration

Visitors 9
105 photos
Created 2-Mar-21
Modified 2-Mar-21
30010. Saving the Halls  & Restoration

30011. Exterior 1985 onwards restored

Visitors 3
62 photos
Created 2-Mar-21
Modified 2-Mar-21
30011. Exterior 1985 onwards restored

30012. Recital Room up to Nov 1985

Visitors 3
15 photos
Created 2-Mar-21
Modified 2-Mar-21
30012. Recital Room up to Nov 1985

30013. Recital room from 15_12_85

Visitors 13
80 photos
Created 2-Mar-21
Modified 2-Mar-21
30013. Recital room from 15_12_85

30014.. Webster room, bar

Visitors 4
27 photos
Created 2-Mar-21
Modified 2-Mar-21
30014.. Webster room, bar

30015. Concert hall under repair, Summer 1991

Visitors 2
34 photos
Created 2-Mar-21
Modified 2-Mar-21
30015. Concert hall under repair, Summer 1991

30016. Concert Hall Reopening 1991

Visitors 8
112 photos
Created 2-Mar-21
Modified 2-Mar-21
30016. Concert Hall Reopening 1991

30017. Performances 1980s

Visitors 5
128 photos
Created 2-Mar-21
Modified 2-Mar-21
30017. Performances 1980s

30018. Performances 1990s

Visitors 12
79 photos
Created 2-Mar-21
Modified 2-Mar-21
30018. Performances 1990s

30019. Performances 2000s

Visitors 7
69 photos
Created 2-Mar-21
Modified 2-Mar-21
30019. Performances 2000s

Blackheath Halls Advertising - Tom Butler

Galleries 4
Modified 2-Apr-21
245 photos
Blackheath Halls Advertising - Tom Butler