Tom Sutton-Roberts, the general manager of London’s Troxy, is ready to welcome back guests. (Courtesy venue)
London club reopening Saturday after major restoration project
One of London’s most beautiful art deco venues, the Troxy in the east part of the city, unveiled a major restoration project just ahead of its 88th birthday, which was Sept. 11.
The first stages of the transformation have been completed, including a new stage, enabling larger productions; a restored foyer and entrance area; and new facilities for visitors to the venue, who on arrival will immediately see the return of the travertine floor in the foyer. It’s in line with the building’s original design, thanks to the removal of the 1990s box office and renovation by stonemasons.
Work on the stage exposed the original fly tower within the original proscenium arch, not seen since the 1970s — updated with state-of-the-art production tech.
What is more, the stage was moved back to where it was situated in the 1930s. The nonauthentic rear wall has been removed to expose the huge original stage area, behind the proscenium arch. Now one huge stage area with wings, it enables rapid changeovers for large-scale productions.
Ventilation systems have been overhauled, creating much improved airflow and conditions for concerts and club nights. The venue has eliminated any recirculating air, so it now runs at a 100% fresh air supply.
Troxy’s general manager Tom Sutton-Roberts told VenuesNow, that the renovations “have given us an insight into some of the hidden 1930s grandeur and original features. The building looks amazing, and I can’t wait for people to see it!” The grand opening takes place this weekend, Sept. 25, with legendary ska band The Specials.
Historic building specialists Ian Chalk Architects have led the project with on-site management by M. Bradbrook Electrical Services. The owners of Troxy have invested heavily in the refurbishment with significant support from Arts Council England. The works have been championed by the Theatres Trust and Tower Hamlets Council, ensuring every element is in line with Troxy’s Grade II listed status, which designates it as a particularly important building of more than special interest.
“We are really grateful to the Arts Council for their support,” said Sutton-Roberts, “not just to us as a venue but to the sector as a whole. We were lucky enough to receive funding which was integral to helping us survive as a business, and also meant we were able to invest in the building.”
He said the restoration project marked “our first major refurbishment since 2006 and is the first stage of a multiyear plan to restore many of the venue’s original features and improve the experience for audiences and performers.”
Focusing on the building’s development has been one of the main sources of motivation for Sutton-Roberts and his team during these past months, which were challenging for everyone. “We are a small team but we all love the venue and with that comes a responsibility for its future. As with everyone in the events and hospitality industry, we are also hugely thankful to the hard work of the likes of the Music Venue Trust and ‘Light It in Red’, and all they have done for us during the past 18 months. The Theatres Trust also stepped in with advice and support this year, which was wonderful.”
He said that with organizations moving “from survival mode towards recovery mode” in the coming months, “there is a critical need to make clear decisions about the future of the industry. Turning adversity into opportunity is an important part of driving progress and there is a sense of optimism at Troxy about the future. It is now time to show how we have learnt from the experiences of the last 18 months and how we are genuinely taking action to evolve how we work for good. We will all remember those who helped us through this difficult time and will make sure to continue to support each other.”
The refurbished Troxy recaptured much of its original charm, which only the grandeur of a 1930s cinema can provide. It has been through a number of incarnations since opening in 1933. Aside from its original purpose as a cinema, it was also used as practice rooms for the Royal Opera House and a bingo hall and then brought out of disuse and reborn as the versatile live events venue it is today, as Sutton-Roberts said, adding, “As much as possible we are returning them to their original design and intention of the building, while improving accessibility and audience experience, whilst combining a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system and grand hall that make us truly unique.”
The lineup at Troxy in the last quarter of this year and beyond includes Backyard Cinema, the aforementioned Specials, Osees and DJ Harvey. Said Sutton-Roberts: “Whether it’s a music concert, corporate conferences, weddings or indoor sports event, there is nothing like a night at Troxy and we look forward to welcoming you all back!”