The wheels have been set in motion to restore a long-forgotten Grade II-listed theatre in Notting Hill. Music and arts charity, the Aspect Foundation, have submitted an application for planning permission to bring the 20th Century Theatre on Westbourne Grove back to life in the form of a 175-seat concert hall.
The theatre (which was – rather misleadingly – built in 1863) started out as part of an arts complex called Victoria Hall. It wasn’t given its own name until 1866 when it officially became the Bijou Theatre. The Bijou impressively hosted the premiere of Oscar Wilde’s ‘Salome‘ (which ran for a groundbreaking… two performances). The building later became known as the Century Theatre and then eventually; the 20th Century Theatre. Yep, it was long-winded but we got there in the end, folks.
The venue has dabbled in other (non-theatrical) things over the years. It was used as a cinema for a short period of time, and in the 60s, it did a complete U-turn and became an antiques warehouse. It’s reassuring to find something that’s even more indecisive than I am, that’s for sure. Since the 60s, the Grade II-listed building has lain dormant in its prime Notting Hill position. Until now.
The Aspect Foundation aims to breathe a new life into the theatre. They wish to transform the building into a community space and concert hall aimed at small-scale chamber music and educational work. With plans to rename the theatre (yet again) to the Aspect Theatre; the restored venue would also feature wheelchair-accessible adult and youth educational facilities, rehearsal rooms and a school function space. The idea is for the building to serve as both a performance venue and a rehearsal space.
There’s no guarantee that the application will be approved and no specific timeline for the renovation. Aspect feel, however, that their application is a responsible use of the space and that the restoration will be a significant opportunity for the Notting Hill community. Bravo, indeed.
Find out more about the Aspect Foundation’s plans for the theatre and share your thoughts about it here.