Tucked away down Grace’s Alley in Tower Hamlets stands the world’s oldest surviving Grand Music Hall. Wilton’s Music Hall’s rich history begins in the 1850s where it joined the first generation of public house music halls in London. It started when John Wilton came into ownership of the Mahogany Bar. From there the music hall was built in the house behind the facade of the bar front.
As the music hall lifestyle started to fade out in London, so did the presence of the music halls around the city. Wilton’s itself has had many transformations throughout the years, but has now returned to being a place of entertainment. The building is currently semi-derelict, although it does continue to put on events. It is now owned and run by the Wilton’s Music Hall Trust after being given a grade II* listing in 1971.
Wilton’s Music Hall Trust have been attempting to raise money for years to stabilise and restore the building. In June 2007 the World Monuments Fund added the building to its list of the world’s “100 most endangered sites”.
To hear more about Wilton’s Music Hall’s rich history here is a voice report by East London Lines reporter Nikki Marra
At the moment, the small group of very dedicated staff at Wilton’s have applied for a capital appeal from the Heritage Lottery. This new fundraising initiative will not be settled until November. If the appeal is granted Wilton’s representatives say the money will go towards restoring the four Georgian houses that are extremely unstable.
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) donates around £180 million a year to invest into various projects. HLF takes a share of the income from the National Lottery and distributes the money to projects aimed at preserving and making accessible the nation’s heritage. It is administered by the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) and given the responsiblity of allocating the money raised by the National Lottery to good causes.