Thursday, 2 June 2011

Fe Fie Fo Fum...

We have cleared up after the street party and have been fighting on all fronts for the last month.  We have been granted the premesis licence, which allows us to put on plays, dancing, a live band (once a month) and run a film club on a Monday, only classics though (Terminator 2, Ghostbusters, Rio Bravo and Fight Club).  This is huge, we are an art house and like the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz we have the paperwork to prove it, thank you Lambeth.

We have the planning approval, this was tricky as we had started work before we got permission, and could have gone terribly, terribly wrong.  I sat for three hours and observed the workings of the planning committee meeting.  It was fascinating, objections, supporters and applicants came and went arguing over public space, rights of way, and the direction and growth of an urban area.  The committee is made up of local councillors supported by council officers from the different departments (planning, transport, environment) some of the people involved have sat on the committe for thirteen years and actually seemed to care about the living conditions in this borough and defended the encroachment of building projects into green spaces and ancient rights of way.  My cynicism about local government was arrested, the checks and balances of councils actually work, who'd have thunk it.

We have building control approval.  This has been our greatest concern.  I have mentioned in other blogs about doing things right and that includes, the pipework, drainage that goes on in the fabric of the building to create a safe public environment.  We have delayed for over a month to get this right and we have dotted the Ts and crossed the Is and it is worth it.  We want to be here for the next hundred years.

We mentioned that our war chest was getting low, but we have rented Fred to the RSPCA as a test subject and all our finances are now in place. 

Permission, the money and the will.  We have broken the back of the building work, the interval is over, the bell has been rung, drink up and retake your seats, please turn off your mobile phones, here comes the meat and potatoes.

Here are some pictures...


What was then



What is now


The chimneys are a problem.  This is a very old building (opened 1887) but we are going to persevere and get as many working as possible.


We have built a lobby as a wind break and this will also double as the box office for the theatre events.  The old fire door has been completely replaced with a brand new window in its original frame, hand carved stonework and freshly milled tongue and groove. It is the one on the left in the picture.


This fireplace has been completely re-lined, with a Celtic arch insert, italian slate hearth and antique surround, fully certified and will be a joy to light come winter.



Oxford blue, first coat.  Tea House Theatre will be written on the fascias at the top and the graphic will go above the doors.  A septuagenarian man sat outside on a bench, bemoaned our lack of alcohol and said we looked like a chemist.  He wandered off muttering to his dog.  Change is a difficult thing, and to loose your old pub is terrible.  But we aint no Rat and Carrot chain of fast food.  The first tea garden in Great Britain opened on the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens in 1720.  Our provenance is well established.  I hope he comes back, we will allow dogs and always have a copy of the racing post.  Everyone needs a cuppa.


This is the second time we have built this wall.  They used metric red bricks the first time, which caused the Governor to start smoking again (his wife was not a happy lady), this time the correct yellow imperial bricks have been used and it doesn't look like a mini skirt on your gran anymore (he's still smoking).  We are going to darken the new bricks so they look even better.  Talking of imperial, your tea will be available to take away, freshly wrapped by the ounce.  If anyone doesn't understand what that means we will have a conversion table from English to French to help you out.


This is the ladies lavatory, not quite finished.


On the far left is the disabled WC and baby change area, in the middle is the Ladies WC and baby change area (yes, we have two) and on the right is the gents (down the stairs, mind your head).

Met a chap called Hugh, scraggly beard and writes notes on his hand.  He is a director who loves his Shakespeare, just the kind of chap we want to get to know and join our company.  We wish to facillitate, support and invest in the art of others, this is a base of operations.

Work beckons, the website has to be reformated, we are once again involved in Cultivate on 16th and 17th July at the Country Show at Brockwell Park http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/Country-Show/index.htm we will run a tea stall and do a bit of street theatre, run the Tea Dance and Henry V on the main stage, see you there.

3 comments:

fromthechalkface said...

I visited yesterday, and it was utterly marvellous. I even scribbled a blog post about it too: http://wp.me/pFYqx-f6

Hope to be back very soon.

The Bittersweet City said...

Looking forward to visiting you properly. Was given a delightful mini-history of the building and the neighbourhood by one of the proprietors whilst passing by on a bike the other evening. I shall return on the weekend!

Anonymous said...

Sadly, I doubt that "septuagenarian" will ever return as a pint of ale in one of the many overpriced pub in the area, is cheaper than a cuppa here! This place has nothing to offer locals, unless they are "blow-ins" with more money than sense. £4.50 for a pot of tea for one is a joke - a larger pot is £7.50!! Lets not forget that no matter how good and expensive the tea is, it is only boiled water and one or two spoons of dry leaves, with an optional splash of milk and / sugar - there is no excise duty to pay on a cuppa.

I am really impressed with the transformation. The service was impeccable - it felt like a truly Victorian experience. The cakes I saw being served looked very nice and large, and the "doorstep" sandwiches showed that some things remained from the previous incarnation, although the quality now looked much better - who knows how much these were. I settled on an Apple and Peach juice, but after a long wait was told that there wasn't any. I chose a standard apple juice, which appeared looking like the Value juice sold at the local supermarket - it not only looked like it but tasted like it - a bargain at £1.50 a glass!. They also have some very nice, expensive looking drink mats, which like the cheaper versions are used to level the tables. Overall I found the service excellent, a wonderful location, but ridiculously overpriced - this is Vauxhall, not Knightsbridge. I paid, and didn't leave a tip ,,,,,,,,,,, the last time I left a pound tip in this establishment, I left rather surprised, now I just felt somewhat disappointed.