the history of Hotham Hall by Melanie Backe-Hansen
The railway and Hotham Villas
Up until the mid-19th century large parts of Putney were still open fields and farming land, but with the opening of the railway through Putney in 1844, it soon began to expand into a booming London suburb. The small village by the banks of the Thames was transformed by this easy access to the centre of London and new houses began to appear across the farming fields. It was at this time that Hotham Road was initially laid out and first named Hotham Villas Road for the eight large detached villas that were built here at the time (between today’s Charlwood Road and Gamlen Road, where Hotham Hall and Hotham School are today).
The Putney Velodrome
With the expansion of The Metropolitan District Railway (today’s District line) in the 1880s, Putney saw another boom in building development as it became easier for people to commute into London. Building continued in Hotham Road, but on the southern stretch, between today’s Earldom and Erpingham Roads, was the first cement cycle track in England – the Putney Velodrome. It was the headquarters of the Putney Athletic Club and also had additional facilities for tennis and bowls. It was first used in August 1891 and was an immediate success, but the desire for new building development was too strong and the last cycle meeting was held in August 1905, when the track relocated to Herne Hill.
Map of West Putney 1894
St Mary’s Hall
In 1911, the land where Hotham Hall is now located was donated to St John’s Church by Blanche and Elma Grace Miles for the building of a public hall. The new hall was designed by Douglas Wells and was opened as St Mary’s Hall by local magistrate, Mr Samuel Samuel in 1913.
Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden
The new hall was used for a variety of public meetings and community events, and it was in the 1930s that politician and later Prime Minister, Winston Churchill addressed an annual meeting of the Primrose League, where he spoke about the future of India. The following year, another renowned British politician and later Prime Minister, Anthony Eden addressed a meeting in support of the Putney By-Election candidate, Marcus Samuel (nephew of Mr Samuel Samuel).
The Rolling Stones and The Who
Along with political meetings and community groups, St Mary’s Hall was also the location for music concerts and in 1963 it was the location for a performance of the now iconic, The Rolling Stones, as part of their first UK tour. The Rolling Stones were supported by The Who, who again played at St Mary’s Hall in 1964 when they were supported by The Tremeloes.
‘Some of the best contemporary design’
By the mid 1980s, St Mary’s Hall had fallen into disrepair and by the 1990s it had been purchased for redevelopment. It was completely redesigned into nine luxury ‘loft-style’ apartments by The Raven Group. It was renamed Hotham Hall and new residents moved in from 1997 when it was said to be ‘some of the best contemporary design you are likely to come across.’
Historian for Chestertons Humberts
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June 9, 2011