John Avery Heritage
Member Southampton Heritage Federation
 Sharing local history with the community
In 1967 the Queen Mary set off on her final voyage to Longbeach, California. This watercolour by Eric Crompton records the farewell.A stone carving on the RSH Hospital Chapel.An afternoon stroll on Plymouth Breakwater
John Avery is a Fellow of the Huguenot Society of Britain and Ireland, a member of Southampton
Heritage Federation, City of Southampton Society [Honorary Life Member], Friends of Southampton Old Cemetery [Honorary Life Member],  Friends of  Town Quay Park, National Federation of Cemetery Friends, The Southampton Fryatt Plaque, Devon Family History Society, West Country Historic Omnibus & Transport Trust , Landmark Trust, National Trust
Copyright 2018

   Home      Central Hall Southampton

The Central Hall has been owned by the New Community Church since 1989, and the alterations to the interior are part of an ongoing renovation project. With a seating capacity of up to 800, the tiered venue has seating blocks at both sides of the stage, as well as raised seating at the back of the hall. The outside of the building however remains very much a local landmark in an area with modern bypass roads and nearby modern shopping centres. The CoSS Planning and Environmental sub committee considered applying to get the building listed with English Heritage. Listing introduces greater [and more expensive] planning consents and can be more onerous on the owner. We felt that we did not want to impose unnecessary expenditure on the New Community Church [a charity] and the committee decided not to go for formal listing.

Central Halls in England were built between 1886 and 1945, in most major British towns and cities mainly by the Wesleyan Methodist Church. Situated on wide main thoroughfares they are camouflaged churches looking somewhat like a cinema, often with a dome, - a stark contrast to traditional churches with a cruciform plan and Gothic detailing. The Southampton Central Hall was opened in 1925; the Architect was Arthur Brocklehurst of Manchester.

The best way to get a seat was to attend the service as films were shown after the service. The projector room very much part of its identity of promoting religious and educational films produced by the Rank Organisation still remains within the building. Through a combination of social work, entertainment and Methodist fellowship, the Central Hall attracted weekly congregations from the nearby working class housing usually with large families. Tuesday evenings, at an entrance fee of 2d, silent films such as Felix the Cat and Chaplin were shown to the audience.

The Hall was the focal of several large evangelical preachers including George Jefferys and his "South Coast Conquests" and Billy Graham the famous American preacher who preached his mission in 185 countries throughout the world. Billy Graham was spiritual adviser to two American presidents. Additionally in 1960's Harold Wilson gave an election speech at a mass meeting of Labour supporters.

In 1965 it was sold to Hampshire County Council Education Service and used as an annexe to the City College and passed to the present owner in 1989. The building in 1989 was in need of repair having been neglected whilst in local government control and on taking specialist advice from an organ restorer the vandalised grand organ was removed and used as spares on other projects.

During WWII the building was damaged and repaired. It was used as a mortuary during WWII.

snowfall Southampton Old Cemetery courtesy FoSOCSeamen's strike at Southampton 1966Royal Blues at Bournemouth c 1949 photo by Derek Amey local historians Jim Brown and John Avery deep in thought. Image Ann MacGillivray Veronica Tippetts addressing Court Leet Oct 2nd 2012. Image Will TempleJohn Melody Southampton Town Crier at Court Leet 2012. Image Will Temple