Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Catch Me at the Open House Weekend!

This coming weekend, 17-18 September, is Open House Weekend here in London.  For those two days, lots of buildings of all sorts open up their doors to the public, and all are free to access.  Some of the best buildings require pre-booking (and ALL those were snapped up immediately, I can tell you) but lots of them require you to just show up on the day.  The variety of buildings is fantastic - there's really something for everyone, whether you're into historic buildings or the most modern in design.

I've been volunteering as a guide for the past couple of years, and I'm at it again this time.  I try to do somewhere different each time, and this year I'm going to be taking groups on tours around the Hackney Empire.  

Hackney Empire in its early days (Image source)

And today, following refurbishment (Image source)

The Empire was built in 1901 as a variety theatre by the architect Frank Matcham and was recently refurbished after having served some time as a casino, following the decline in theatre attendance in the second half of the 20th century.  It's described in the programme as "the most perfect example of Edwardian variety theatre remaining in London".  So, if anyone in London fancies checking it out, you should aim to be there on Sunday morning, because that's when I'll be on duty!!

The auditorium (Image source)


  1. Love the look of your building in the old photo. What a skyline! But what have they done with that modern bit? Does it crash one's senses as much in "real life"? Inside is quite beautiful, even though extravagent. How lovely to be a part of the Open House Weekend. An honour.

  2. Oh! What a clever symbol - the key and the way it's cut. I do like it.

  3. The modern bit works well in real life, I think. I might have tried to capture it better than this picture shows but I foolishly left my camera at home! Next time I'm over in Hackney, I'll try to grab some shots.

    Open House really is a great thing to volunteer at - and I'm not just saying that because you get priority entry to most of the buildings. There's always a great vibe and people really appreciate visiting and hearing about the buildings - so it's lovely to be able to be able to be there leading the groups.