Rivoli listed by English Heritage

The Rivoli Ballroom on Brockley Road has been listed by English Heritage (the government's statutory advisor on the historic environment), which has awarded the building Grade II status, which gives the Rivoli significant protection from developers who might want to change or demolish the building.

Kate's already posted this news in the comments section, but we now have confirmation from English Heritage and a copy of report (dated December 21st), which gives the reasons for its listing as being:

* special architectural interest for the highly-unusual interior of 1958, the total effect of which luxuriant, exotic and deeply theatrical

* special historic interest as an eloquent and unusual witness to the era of American jive and swing bands, Lindy Hop, Jitterbug and Rock'n'Roll, alongside the continued popularity of traditional strict tempo ballroom

* a rare surviving example of a once common conversion of an early C20 cinema to a
ballroom.

Grade II buildings are of special interest, warranting every effort to preserve them. Listing is not intended to fossilise a building. A building's long-term interests are often best served by putting it to good use, and if this cannot be the one it was designed for, a new use may have to be found. Listing ensures that the architectural and historic interest of the building is carefully considered before any alterations, either outside or inside, are agreed.

The report also includes some interesting historical background:

The Rivoli Ballroom was built in 1913 as the Crofton Park Picture Palace to designs by a Henley Attwater. Like the great number of local cinemas built in the early C20, it was a simple structure comprising a barrel-vaulted auditorium, accessed through a foyer from the street. The Picture Palace was refaced in the inter-war period - the Art Deco-style stepped parapet and decorative urns dates from this time - and a café was added; it was renamed the Rivoli Cinema in 1929.


The widespread popularity of television and the tendency for cinemas to be managed by chains led to the closure of many small or independent cinemas from the 1950s onwards. A great number of auditoria were converted to dance halls and subsequently to bingo halls or nightclubs as tastes in entertainment changed over the second half of the C20. On Boxing Day 1959, two and a half years after the screening of the last film (The Nat 'King' Cole Musical Story on 2 March 1957), the Rivoli Cinema reopened as the Rivoli Ballroom. The refurbishment had been carried out by a local businessman and dancing devotee, Leonard Tomlin, whose relative had been a lesee of the cinema in 1917. The original plans, approved by the local authority in September 1958, survive and reveal Tomlin's ambitious scheme for the interior which included a Canadian maple sprung dancefloor, crystal balls hanging from the ceiling, fixed seating around the auditorium and a side bar with booths. The makeover was clearly a success and in 1960 permission was sought for extension of the premises to include a member's bar. The building has been little altered since 1960, aside from an extension to the rear, and is still in use as a dance hall. In recent years it has become increasingly sought after by popular musicians for concerts (White Stripes) and video shoots (Elton John); attending a dance at the 'spectacular Rivoli Ballroom' is listed on Time Out's list of 101 things to do in London.

The listing is a commendably swift response from English Heritage and a great result for local campaigners who have done a fantastic job of highlighting the threat to one of the area's most important venues. As the report notes:

There are likely to have been later additions to the building and to the décor and without a site visit it has not been possible to ascertain the precise nature of these changes. The photographs used for the assessment, the original plans of 1958, and information from local historians and residents, however, has revealed that the majority of the decorative scheme and its most significant components described above, date to the original scheme of 1958.

Listing is not the end of the story, of course. The long-term future of the Rivoli depends on it being able to demonstrate a long-term future and that means, among other things, the support of the local community in which it stands.

29 comments:

JAMES said...

Top news and some speedy work by English Heritage to get it Listed before the house-builders (or Tesco) get their hands on the place. If it is actually up for sale in the first place!

Amanda Wickham said...

Phew, well this provides some breathing space. I spent a very pleasant evening (lovely atmosphere, great people) at the Rivoli for NYE, specifically to support it. I'd heard of the party because of an online mention (Moira - thanks for the heads up). This leads me to think about how events at the Rivoli are promoted. If good things are happening we all need to know... that local magazine SE4U might be a way to do it.

Kate said...

... or on here? I was thinking about the possibility of organising a Brockley Central readers' night out at the Rivoli sometime, what do people think? Is there any particular upcoming event that might be good to go to?

Sue Luxton said...

great news, v pleased.

Brockley Nick said...

@Amanda - that's the point of this site - to let people share information about what's going on. If anyone wants to let me know about local events, please email me at the address on the site.

Brockley Nick said...

@Kate
Yes, that's a good idea - definitely hope to do another readers night soon. From what I hear, the Rivoli is often hard to hire out for small scale one-off events, but I'll see what the options are.

Darren said...

Couldn't be happier to hear that the future of the Rivoli is secure in the short term.

The issue now is making sure that a future occuppier and use is in place that is compatible with the history and character of the building and provides a viable business and strong local amenity.

Pete said...

What sort of things do people think it should be used for? A venue for live music? A nightclub?

I can't believe there is a much money in old fashioned dance halls anymore. Or am I wrong?

Kate said...

no no I didn't mean to hire it - I meant to go along to an event they have on at some point. Just thought it could kill 2 birds with one stone by having a BC readers' night - at the Rivoli.

Amanda Wickham said...

Kate you've made my point, few know what's on at the Rivoli. I went to its website, for listings to reply to you, and the info isn't easy to come by.

Nick certainly blogs and this blog are a part of promoting local events (I heard about the NYE through facebook though). But I was thinking in addition to that approach, (it was happy coincidence I heard about it) I'd like old school methods, I like to read things on paper sometimes, well mostly actually. That magazine seems to have real potential to do this. The latest issue had a monthly calendar layout for events (it was empty).

Brockley Nick said...

Fair point. I don't know if you've seen the latest couple of issues, but I have started writing for it, so I will put your point to the editor.

Anonymous said...

The website www.therivoli.co.uk lists the ballroom and latin nights as well as the Art of Theatre - Act II on 26 Jan. For the salsa dates contact www.salsavida.co.uk

These are the only regular events on at the Rivoli as far as I know unless someone can correct me.
Moira

Anonymous said...

Meant to say jive instead of latin nights.
Moira

patrick1971 said...

Great news that it's been saved, but, as others have said, it's hard to see what it could be used for. Presumably it's not profitable now, otherwise the owners would have been trying to sell it as a business rather than a building. I hope a suitable use is found that preserves it.

Monkeyboy said...

I thought The Rivoli was full off nice old folk doing a bit of the old ball room stuf. I had no idea this kind of disgusting debauchery happened there! Don;t know about you but I think some of the 'ladies' shown in this link may not be kosher... http://www.flickr.com/photos/magic-theatre/

Someone should call the authorities, or the Dailey Mail

...now where can I get a man sized PVC evening dress, some size 10 stilettoes and a ticket....

Kate said...

Monkeyboy, I'm getting a strong sense of hormonal neediness from your direction. Would you like me to call Streetmate for you?

الشريف / جمال طة said...

فضيحــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــة بالسعـــــــودية


مــــــــن المجتمــــــــــــــع الدولــــــــــــــــــــى



الـــــــى الملك / عبدالله بن عبد العزيز (خادم الحرمين ) بابا الفاتيكان بيسلم عليك ويقولك عيب رجعوا للمسلم حقه

وملكــة بريطانيا بتقولك عيب خلوا عندكم شوية ديمقراطيـــة وحقوق انســـــــــان مش انتم بتقولوا انكم مسلمين أعطوا المسلم حقه

أما الرئيس الأمريكى بوش بيسلم عليك وبيقول لك خلص المشكله ديه ورجع للمصرى جميع حقوقه وهو مش عايز يتكلم فى الموضوع ده تانى

أما الكونجرس ألأمريكى يقول لك احنا متابعين قضية المواطن المصرى ولن نتخلى عنه حتى يأخذ جميع حقوقه

أما ألأمين العام للمنظمة الدوليه لحقوق الانسان يقول لك الشكاوى منكم يوم عن يوم بتزيد وسوف نضطر لرفع ألأمر الى ألأمم المتحده ومجلس ألأمن للنظر فى فرض عقوبات اقتصادية عليكم قد تصل الى تجميد أرصدتكم فى خارج السعودية بعد خصم جميع حقوق المواطن المصرى وخاصة انه بيقول انه مسلم زيكم


برجاء الاطــــلاع وشكرا

http://gamal51.blogspot.com/

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http://kalam3eal.blogspot.com/2007/12/blog-post.html

jon s said...

(Kate) A good way to start more of a social network is to meet a couple of nights a week for last orders at a pub. It works on any MBA courses I've had and where I have lived before.

All, I've been reading this blog for for a while and will be moving to the area in Feb, buying 6-12 months later. - I sort of know the place.

spincat said...

The Jive events ('Jive party') are listed at:
http://www.jiveparty.com/listings.html

Wilbur said...

If you want to experience a really good night come along on Saturday the 19th of Jan for the Jive Party.

It's a real mix of people, some get dressed up others dress down. Some dance Jive, others Lindy, others swing and a lot just dance as they please. It really is a fantastic night.

Monkeyboy said...

On my way back from Babur with my friday night(11 Apr) curry I spotted three large film unit trucks with lots of cable snaking into the Rivoli...

What's going down?

sue said...

They often film there we should all be proud that its been saved....though I do think it is underutilized and a new owner with fresh ideas and inspiration is what may be needed in order that it is maintained ( the running costs must be horrific).
When I went up there for the Brockley Society meeting ideas of what the venue could achieve, was discussed but unfortunately the owner was not present due to ill health and the barman/manager was keen but had had no real authority to implement any of the ideas.

Anonymous said...

They're filming a porno.

Monkeyboy said...

"Monkeyboy does Brockley"

Danja said...

"... An Italian Man Gets 'Gentrified'"

Monkeyboy said...

Not sure where that one is going but I'm feeling nervous....

andy pandy pudding & pie said...

"Hugh and the case of the stolen Van Gogh" by the brockley street rappers

spincat said...

They are filming for a 2009 release "Me and Orson Welles" http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1175506/

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