02 – HISTORY
THE VICTORIA HALL THEATRE
Bury Road, Old Harlow, CM17 0ED
The Victoria Hall Theatre is a special community theatre, set in a beautiful historic building in the heart of Old Harlow. It was built in 1888 and funded by public subscriptions, managed by The Victoria Hall Company. The main hall accommodated 300 people; additional rooms were added upstairs c. 1911.
In 1920, the hall was purchased by the Parish Council, and with the development of the New Town, was under the ownership of Harlow District Council from 1955-1964. It was sold to Essex County Council in 1964 and run as Mark Hall Youth Centre, with the basement being used as a disco venue.
In 1995, the Harlow Playhouse temporarily ceased functioning and consequently local amateur theatre companies had nowhere to stage productions. It was suggested that Victoria Hall might be adapted to form a community theatre.
With the aid of keen volunteers and a generous donation from Longman Publishers (now Pearson Education) the conversion was begun. The Victoria Hall Performing Arts Association was formed to run the building and subsequently registered as a charity. When Essex County Council decided they wanted to sell the building, the VHPAA set about fundraising in order to raise the money to purchase it – which it did in 2010.
Many local theatre groups, entertainers and children use the theatre for their productions and all the money is ploughed back into improving the building for the users and audiences. With approximately 24 productions a year, the theatre is almost constantly in use and still run by volunteers.
If you would like to get involved with volunteering at the theatre, please get in touch via our Facebook page or by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org