St Peter’s Hall to go

The Bournemouth Civic Society has criticised the decision to demolish St Peter’s Hall.

The building, in Hinton Road opposite St Peter’s Church, is now due to be replaced by student accommodation and a cafe.

Civic Society chairman Ken Mantock says: “We are very disappointed, this is clearly a very historic and interesting building.”

He feels that the building could have been converted.

The hall, designed by local architects HE Hawker who were also responsible for Westbourne Arcade, was built in 1908.

Three years later Beatrice Webb spoke in the hall at a meeting sponsored the Poole & Bournemouth branch of the National Committee for the Prevention of Destitution.

Mrs Webb was promoting her Poor Law Commission minority report which called for preventative measures and a basic wage. This was the seed which later in the century became the now widely accepted welfare state.

The best seats in the hall that September night cost half a crown but gallery seats were free.

The campaign had the support of poets Rupert Brooke and James Elroy Flecker who both had local connections.

The hall had for many years a branch of SPCK bookshop in the basement with a shop window and door in the lane at the side. The adjacent small hall was the meeting place for many organisations including the Bournemouth Model Parliament.

The front of St Peter’s Hall, which has been covered over for  along time, is very attractive. A solution would have been to retain the front and so preserve the Hinton Road streetscape seen from St Peter’s churchyard which is popular with visitors.

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