The Rivoli Ballroom timeline

November 1st, 2007

Brockley Central reports that the Rivoli Ballroom is up for sale at £10m

November 11th, 2007

Transpontine reports that the Rivoli ad has mysteriously disappeared.

November 12th, 2007

Brockley Central rings the estate agents and asks what's happened to the ad. We are told that the ad was withdrawn from the site at the request of the Rivoli's owners, but that it is still on the market, just "in a more low-key way."

November 13th, 2007 (ish)

Brockley Central rings the owners of the Rivoli, to seek clarification.

Rivoli: "Oh, you wrote that. It should never have been leaked!"

BC: "It wasn't leaked, it was advertised."

Rivoli: "Yes, but the ad should never have been published it's not really up for sale, we're still considering our options."

BC: "OK, so do you want us to publish a clarification?"

Rivoli: "No, it's OK thanks."

December 7th, 2007

The Independent: "Is it the last dance for London's Rivoli Ballroom?"

Bill Mannix told local newspaper, The Mercury, "We love this place and Jeanie is so passionate about it. For us it is all about glamour, sophistication, etiquette and beautiful dancing. But ballroom dancing is dying out. The Rivoli was really well used but times and cultures have changed and now we have to import an audience to fill the place."

Mr Mannix added: "It is really my health that is moving me on. The long hours become antisocial. You are working and worrying while people are having fun all around you. I am always running out of money for repairs and always praying for a good function. We have to do maintenance all the time. We have two offers of £10m for the place. I'm sad about the whole situation. Jeannie will shed a tear when we leave and we will both miss all the stars.

19 comments:

Brockley Jon said...

I am curious that they want the place on the market "in a low key way", and the more cynical part of me thinks that it is probably an attempt at keeping the future of the ballroom quiet before too much support to preserve it can be drummed up.

Mannix goes on to say:

"I don't want the place knocked down for flats and houses. The council says it's a jewel in the crown and it really is just that."

...so at least there is some nod towards the fact that the place will more than likely be flattened once the new owners get hold of it.

Unless, of course, that we the people of Brockley can flex our community muscle - we don't want another Elephant House on our hands, do we!

Brockley Jon said...

Although having read the comment from 'dub' on Transpontine, perhaps I should be a little more positive!

Sue Luxton said...

A 'Save the Rivoli' Facebook group has been set up, I've just noticed: http://tinyurl.com/3237ff
It would be judicious for someone to apply to English Heritage to get the building listed, but I'm not aware of an amenity society in Crofton Park. I'm sure Broc Soc and Ladywell Soc members could offer advice, as Ladywell Society have had some success in getting buildings listed in the past (eg Ladywell Playtower). Anyone up for taking a lead on that one?

spincat said...

I have just been reading up about getting buildings listed, and I have just contacted Lewisham Council which I understand is a first stage in the process.
One thing I am slightly worried about, with regard to the listed building issue, is that it is important the ballrom is able to carry on as a living, breathing, dancing space - and I wondered if listing it actually could make that more difficult. For example, could it put off someone like Brucie buying it as a fabulous nightclub and dancing school because he couldn't alter certain things that would make it viable in the future?
Brucie, we are counting on you!

Rosie H said...

Having seen the Facebook Rivoli Ballroom group and learnt about the plans for its demise, I emailed English Heritage.

Sent a message at noon this morning about applying for listed status and had a call back two hours later saying they thought it was important enough to merit calling about it. Good to know they clearly think the Rivoli Ballroom is an important cause too.

I've been given details of where to send an application for listed building status and need to get hold of some supporting documents in the meantime.

These include current photos of both the outside and the inside of the building from as many elevations as possible, so perhaps people could post these here or we could find a way of pooling them via on an online photo gallery for whoever submits the listing application to download and have printed.

We also need an Ordnance Survey map extract from a 1:1,250 scale map, the name and address of the owners so the English Heritage site inspectors can contact them to arrange a site visit, plus information about when the Rivoli was built, when it became a dancehall (its floor was laid in 1959, I believe), details of why the Rivoli is important/near unique and, crucially, details of the imminent threat that it is under.

When I outlined the situation of property developers circling round now that the owners are about to retire and are offering a reputed £10 million apiece, I was told this is a very important part to stress in the application.

Rosie H said...

Having seen the Facebook Rivoli Ballroom group and learnt about the plans for its demise, I emailed English Heritage.

Sent a message at noon this morning about applying for listed status and had a call back two hours later saying they thought it was important enough to merit calling about it. Good to know they clearly think the Rivoli Ballroom is an important cause too.

I've been given details of where to send an application for listed building status and need to get hold of some supporting documents in the meantime.

These include current photos of both the outside and the inside of the building from as many elevations as possible, so perhaps people could post these here or we could find a way of pooling them via on an online photo gallery for whoever submits the listing application to download and have printed.

We also need an Ordnance Survey map extract from a 1:1,250 scale map, the name and address of the owners so the English Heritage site inspectors can contact them to arrange a site visit, plus information about when the Rivoli was built, when it became a dancehall (its floor was laid in 1959, I believe), details of why the Rivoli is important/near unique and, crucially, details of the imminent threat that it is under.

When I outlined the situation of property developers circling round now that the owners are about to retire and are offering a reputed £10 million apiece, I was told this is a very important part to stress in the application.

Brockley Nick said...

Thanks Rosie, if you want to email me witn your address, I will happily forward any photography of the Rivoli that people send me.

Anonymous said...

If you want an opportunity to take photos of the inside, the Rivoli has a New Year's Eve event. It's a fantastic night. Tickets £18 and go on sale on 31st Dec, or you can contact the owners and arrange to buy some.
Moira

spincat said...

I have some pictures and will send you tomorrow morning, Nick - tho' think I will need to try to get some additional ones (which will need few extra days to do)

Rebecca said...

Hello all
We need to put up a realy good fight to save the Rivoli- and looking over the facebook campaign and this page it seems like a couple of individuals are making a good effort- but perhaps we could have a small meeting in Brockley of people who are both concerned and actually have time to do something to allocate jobs- aproaching possible buyers, liaising with English Heritage, working out if a co-op approach is really viable. I want to help but I don't want to dupliacte things people are already doing.
Rebecca (Crofton Park Resident)

spincat said...

Rebecca, that is a really good and sensible idea. I feel the same way - it seems like there are a lot of concerned individuals who want to act but it needs to be done in a coordinated way.
I also think that this action should involve contacting/involving the present owners. It sounds as if they would support it becoming a listed building and we don't want to seem as if we are negating what they have done in the past or sidelining them - after all they have preserved it so well up to now and the problem now is illness and retirement.

The time of year is a problem as I am about to go away - is there anyone around the next few days who could organise a venue for right at start of new year when likely to be more of us around?

Kate said...

the good news is that it has been listed by English Heritage so it should be safe. hopefully that won't interfere with us all going down there and dancing our socks off - which we will all need to do in order to keep it going and stop it from becoming a white elephant for whoever the new owner is.

Rebecca said...

That's great- how did it happen so quickly? Who is responsible? Well done - whoever! Does this mean we don't need to panic so much and don't need a meeting etc- I guess short of miraculously raising tons of money and having commmited individuals willing to run a co-op ballroom interest (Which seems highly unlikely!) there is a limited amount more that we could do- or do people think differently?

Kate said...

A local resident who knows how to do such things did it. someone aparently registered with English Heritage back in November but the nrumour that Sainsbury's had bought it seems to have shifted them along a bit quicker. good for them.

Kate said...

I can't seem to find the Rivoli discussion on Transpontine so if someone knows how to post messages on there, please let those people know too.

Kate said...

A local resident who knows how to do such things did it. someone aparently registered with English Heritage back in November but the nrumour that Sainsbury's had bought it seems to have shifted them along a bit quicker. good for them.

spincat said...

Thank you Kate. I have posted a comment on Transpontine - i think that English Heritage have had a lot of calls last few weeks as result of the publicity. Well done, whoever did the application

Anonymous said...

Out of interest, how big is the site and is it worth £10m?

In 2004 a 24 storey tower block of 144 flats at Deptford was sold to Berkley Homes for £10m and became the Z tower with the addition of another 5 floors, a total of 29 floors.

I don't see a tower block being permitted on the Rivoli site, how would a developer make a profit from the Rivoli site valued at £10m?

Brockley Nick said...

Thanks for your sleuthing, Kate. What a great result. I'm actually amazed that EH moved so quickly - they have a reputation for being fixated on trying to block tall buildings, rather than actually preserving our heritage, so it's nice to see them being so responsive.

To anon's "why is it worth £10m"? It's possible that there's a bit of hyperbole in those reports, but it's a decent-sized plot of land, near a station in a relatively affluent part of South East London, that would require far less investment than something like the Z Tower, to make it profitable.

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