A Twickenham Cultural Hub. Well, Will It Be?

You’ve probably seen this building loads of times. Perhaps you walk past it every day on your way to the station. Maybe you’ve even pondered on how it’s possible to put so much scaffolding against one single structure? But what exactly is it?

Brewery Wharf, Twickenham

Brewery Wharf, Twickenham

Why, it’s the new ‘community and cultural building’ for Twickenham of course! It’s part of the large Brewery Wharf development that’s going up on the old Royal Mail sorting office site. It’s a big site and will include over one hundred new flats and houses with a very light sprinkling of shared ownership homes too. Part of the deal for the development was for some kind of community building that would benefit the town. It’s not a bad idea even if, according to us here at twickerati HQ, it’s in the wrong place. Wouldn’t it be better located right, slap bang in the town centre, possibly even as part of the Twickenham riverside development? We think so, but what do we know.  Anywayyyyy…

The building will house a live performance space which will seat up to 320 people. Think theatre, films and, more boringly, conferences and rooms for hire. Will it work? We hope so. Building work is drawing towards completion but, as far as we understand it here at twickerati HQ, the Council has yet to do the ‘big reveal’ and announce who is actually going to run the place. It’s likely to be some kind of ‘partner organisation’ (i.e. for that read ‘anyone but the Council itself’) and that means there’s still some variability in how things might play out.

In an announcement last autumn, Council Supremo, Sir Lord True aka The Blue Baron of Sheen said, “This new building will bring more entertainment to people of all ages in the borough, giving arts and culture a welcome boost. It will also be a venue for the annual Music and Drama Festival”. Sounds good.

Perhaps there’s scope for the Twickenham Theatre to move in after their short tenure on London Road where The Shack 68 now is?  Meanwhile, one group that definitely wants to get a look in is the Twickenham Cinema Club who have been tweeting about running a community focused cinema club there showing the sort of films that people, people like you, might actually want to see: film noir double bills, Hollywood and British classics, foreign films (but not the mucky sort obviously) and probably Get Carter or Star Wars (just the good ones of course). You get the idea and we have to say that we like the cut of their jib. What does all this mean? Well, it means that whoever takes over the running of this building is going to have a challenge of making it financially viable whilst also being responsive to what the local community actually want to see.  Good luck to ’em.

Meanwhile there’s some agitation on Facebook over a new path that’s being created as part of the Brewery Wharf site taking out a wooded area beside the River Crane. You can read more about that on FB here.

With all the heated debate taking place about the town square and the riverside, one key question has remained unanswered on twickerati until now, namely: What would you like to see happening with this building? Over to you, you culture vultures.

* Richmond Council (Key issues in Twickenham)
* St James Brewery Wharf
* Twickenham Cinema Club (on Twitter)


Filed under Council, Local Issues & News, Random Stuff, Twickenham Action Plan

32 responses to “A Twickenham Cultural Hub. Well, Will It Be?

  1. barryedwardsukip

    It was obvious at the time of the decision and its still obvious today that this should have been adjacent to Heatham House; and provide an essential annex/ performance space for young people to give them something to do. But El Brute, in its wisdom, choose to locate it on the wrong side the site for that and now you will have front row (98db) for the trains going by every 15mins during any activity.

    Some of us campaigned for this performance space to be a ‘real hub for the community’ with cinema, leisure centre, Ice Rink and the “Rugby Way” pedestrian underpass to stop the congestion on the A316 etc. This site should have been for leisure for locals and to attract visitors to discover Twickenham with far less housing.

    But as usual no-one listen to common sense and knowing El Brute they will now flog it to the highest bidder, probably a Gala Bingo or Casino; only the best entertainment for the new residents of Twickenham Towers (3 x 9 storey blocks on their way soon, which the LIb Dems changed policy for and the Tories voted for)!!

    • There is a plan of the site at: http://www.berkeleygroup.co.uk/new-homes/london/twickenham/brewery-wharf . The ‘cultural venue’ is at the east end of the site next to the road. There will also be 2 restaurants and a public piazza. All 82 flats have been sold and Phase 2 (28 gated houses) is under way.
      Barry: The council couldn’t compel the developer, who owned the site, to put the venue next to Heatham House. As usual you greatly over-estimate the power of the council to get others to do what you want. If one day there are UKIppers on the council this will become much clearer to you.

      We are getting blocks of flats on the station because it is national policy to develop the suburbs more intensely to reduce the demand for new green field building sites. The Inspector who approved the Local Plan said we must have tower blocks somewhere and the best places for them was close to the railways stations. A sensible choice.

      Councils have to do what they are told by government: this would be as true for a future UKIP council – or one of sturdy bloody-minded Independents – as it is now for the Lib Dems and Tories. When they show some sign of understanding this, then perhaps residents will start listening to their ‘common sense’ aka utopian fantasies.

    • illiad1

      Barry, I think you worry too much about the noise… I used to go to an all night ‘cult film’ cinema near Euston station, and the trains passed directly under it!! only thing you heard was a ‘low rumbling’ that seemed strange until told it was trains! 🙂
      I do hope the walls are well sound proofed, you do not want a quiet opera disturbed by “the train on platform 5 is for…” 🙂 😛

    • anonymouse

      I’m sure the young people can manage the 100m walk from Heatham House to the cultural centre next door but one. After all, it’ll ‘give them something to do’ for a minute or so!
      I’m baffled as to how a sorting office site underpass could have stopped congestion on the A316. It’d have to be a mile long.
      Keep up the Barryisms, it makes every day seem like the 1st of April!

    • Ex-Twickenham Resident

      “But as usual no-one listen to commonsense…”
      Something like that Mr Edwards.

    • A. Robot (Mrs)

      A mile-long underpass does sound very expensive but perhaps Mr Edwards could apply for an EU grant.

    • Rufus McDufus

      To A. Robot (Mrs) – with due respect, the A316 is quite wide, but not a mile wide.

    • illiad1

      some people think it is EASY to ‘just build an underpass’ ..
      have you SEEN how much happens under your street???

    • barryedwardsukip

      In your very assured and unfortunately wrong opinion you have blamed national legislation for a local issue. This site was owned by the Post Office and St Vince was head of the department that ran the post office. At the time he was the MP for Twickenham, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out it was his decision. It was your man that let Twickenham down and this was the reason why your voters voted for me. I did not take any Tory votes and Labour also took votes from the Lib Dems. You are very knowledgeable about election results (I will give you that) so you know I am right about the maths. The poor local decisions about the Riverside, about the station and national education u-turn was why he lost. Even though it seems Tania in her first year has been rubbish, he had to go.

      I’m afraid and to dare I say, possibly assist you, you are going to have to return to your Liberal glory days (David Steel’s era), or even further back to your origins as Roundheads, for anyone to ever trust you again.

  2. Twickenham cinema club

    Thanks for the introduction and kind words.
    Our plan is to curate on behalf of all of Twickenham a cinema club with films for members chosen by members.

    Perhaps a brief intro of why you chose the film. What to look out for and a review after. Where possible we will have special guests with Q and A sessions. A film lovers dream.

    At the moment we are Twitter based only collecting interested parties and suggestions. The council are aware of our success to date with over 360 members so we are hoping we can’t be ignored. They seem very supportive of the idea and we provide regular updates to the arts team. At LBRUT.

    Twickenham deserves a cinema. Let’s do this. Don’t sit back. Join in, suggest a film.

    Twickenham cinema club

    • Sally

      It sounds terrific . I am sure it would find favour.You only have to look at the popularity of film showings locally such as at Arthurs on the Green. Please consider other ways of spreading the word such as posters at the Library etc, for those of us not too flash at Facebook.

    • illiad1

      Surely, Brewery wharf is meant to have *bigger* films than a place like Arthur’s can handle?? Like New Releases… 🙂
      It would be great to see a film on the BIG screen in Twickenham again, as well as not have to go to Richmond for a good stage play, that they are promising Brewery wharf will do… 🙂

    • Sally

      It would be wonderful to have a theatre/cinema with some charm and character . Twickenham has several ghost cinema/theatres , now sadly neglected . We have the remains of a music hall . The council building next to Shell and likely winner of most hideous municipal building in Twickenham (filthy , mirrored windiws etc) is another. There were several others.
      We still have the excellent Mary Wallace theatre, thank God and long may it thrive.

  3. The Council agreed that this building would be an acceptable substitute for the affordable housing that they should have required the developer to provide on the site. This will help the developer to get a premium price for the properties and fits the council’s tacit strategy of discouraging the ‘riff-raff’ (Cllr Arbour’s charming label afro anyone not as well-off as him).

    There was no market research or consultation with prospective tenants to find out what they needed and what they could afford to pay for it. So the building may turn out to be a white elephant, un- or under-used but still requiring maintenance and security. Let us hope not . .

    • Dr NHS

      Look here !
      It’s a video of a passionate chap talking about the need to avoid ‘Town Hall, Top Down’ imposition of Council plans on an unwilling community. He’s standing in front of the results of a popular referendum showing a resounding lack of support for the El Brute plan.
      Who could this campaigning man of the people be, pouring his heart out for a popular solution, drawn from the people of Twickenham ?
      Surely the Riverside needs the likes of him ?

    • Purple Haze

      There is no true “affordable housing” in London unless you choose the shared ownership option.
      According to this government £450,000 is regarded as affordable in London. Most of it is small apartments on short leases too.
      Even Zac Goldsmith slapped this one down as it’s utterly ridiculous.
      Ok that’s a distraction from discussing the new community and culture building, but the issue of affordable housing is almost irrelevant in cases like this until national and local government make proper provisions for it.
      And we all know that won’t happen as they will continue to let market forces dictate how property ownership, private landlords and the rental market works.
      So in the meantime we should be glad we have a new building that will hopefully benefit the local community.

    • It’s not the new building that will bring the benefits but the team that will run it. It may be that El Brute is hoping for something like Teddington’s Landmark Arts Centre ‘ . . (which) has a small paid staff supported by a team of volunteers . . (who) assist in: café & bar; event & exhibition set up & delivery; ground maintenance; and office support . . We are always keen to welcome new volunteers . . we only ask for a minimum commitment of one event per season . . ‘.

      Any takers?


    • illiad1

      Dr NHS: ah, great way to avoid the youtube embed!!! 🙂
      But the video was added back in sep 2009! – He talks about the election (may 2010?) but not much else is clear… Not many *recent* youtube vid either… :/

    • illiad1

      waitaminte… :O :O

  4. Rene Bach

    Would love it to a hub for local societies to have a space to grow and engage with local people. But also work together rather than against each other to make the most of people spare time. It would include ‘affordable’ space for meetings and events.
    Would like it also to include ‘rent-a-table’ entrepreneur space with super fast internet. Mini cafe/ meeting area. Perfectly located for commuting client and freelancers.
    Love the cinema club ideas – competition to Arthur on the Green ! Not an Odeon but more Curzon type stuff.

  5. illiad1

    Have you details of who has bought/ rented the building?? otherwise just speculation….

    • Along the lines of: Built by St James the developers as part of the conditions of developing the site, to be handed over to LBRuT, with LBRuT now looking for a partner to run it on their behalf (‘our behalf’).

    • Sally

      Will these be any concrete conditions which the prospective tender will have to meet? Without them what is to stop some corporate concern taking the space with the claim that-honest-the community will benefit from it? And then when they have the tender running it as they damn well please ?
      Unenforcable promises are to be approached with caution.. (“We will use the money to build a new ice rink”. “The only way to improve the swimming pool site is to cover it with housing” “Sure,we will give you a town square. “)
      Beware any mention of a hub. This term is much in vogue in social care services as it is nonspecific, gives no promise of a designated, permanent building or space for any service, and can be a small space over which larger more profitable concerns take precedence.
      Could we have a “spot the ball” for the community space? Which tower of flats contains it?

    • A. Robot (Mrs)

      Agree about the avoidance of ‘hub’ talk. The price of democracy is eternal updating of one’s bullshit detector.

  6. illiad1

    Miranda Mindlin, your FB has a nice photo (link above in article! ) BUT It would be nice if a basic map was supplied, so we can see WHERE it is… 🙂

    If you have looked at the planning site ( it was passed early 2013 ) there are page after page of documents about environmental concerns…

  7. Alan Winter

    Twickenham Centre of Creativity

  8. twickerman

    And what will it be called?

    ‘Richmond’ Community Centre if the unimaginative college/school naming convention is continued.

    I hope not.