After visiting Hornsey Town Hall in Crouch End for a show last year, I became interested in this beautiful building, and was keen to explore it in more depth. I signed up for a tour, organised by Crouch End Walks, to learn more.
We met in the building’s foyer at 2pm and our guide began the tour by taking us outside to observe the front of the building and its beautiful façade, which harks back to the area’s rural past. Inside, we admired the modernist style of the foyer, which still has the original ticket desks and glass panels designed for function rather than form. The building was designed by R. H. Uren, a New Zealand-born architect who was only twenty-seven at the time of the design in 1933. It was influenced by European modernist architecture and radically broke away from the traditional Victorian design of previous town halls.
We were taken through the building, starting with the ground floor space currently being used as a cafe, into the large hall which has been used for concerts, dances and shows. The Kinks were one of the bands who played here in their early days. Our guide told us of her own memories attending a pantomime here as a small child. Today, the hall is very cold and clearly needs work done to it, but it’s easy to see that with a bit of TLC it could be a lovely space once again.
The open staircase and foyer spaces of the building are lovely, being ornate but spacious, well lit and stylish. The Art Deco influence is particularly strong here. We were able to see inside the former Mayor’s parlour, a very comfortable-looking room indeed.
Along the corridor, we found ourselves in a large space with a fine view over the front of the town hall. This room can be divided into three, or left as one large space. We also got to see inside the council chamber, which still has the original (very comfortable) seats.
The future of the Hall is uncertain: it is currently used by a variety of arts organisations, but whether it continues to be used for performances and events or sold off to be converted into luxury flats, only time will tell. It would be a shame if it stopped being a public building, as it is beautiful and unique, a valuable community asset for the people of Crouch End and beyond.