Old Waiting Room

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Local residents campaign for social enterprise multi purpose venue Dec 2010

Old Waiting Room: multi purpose venue?

The Community Council applauded at their 8th December 2010 meeting the latest reports and pictures about the Old Waiting Room, and discussed suitable commercial uses to make the best of the wonderful space. Further funds are being sought to continue the restoration to the external staircase, & to improve the station walkways. This would be the public entrance to the space and make it useable for public activities. Local residents are developing a social enterprise project to bid for the lease for the Old Waiting Room from Network Rail as a multi purpose flexible venue. For more information, see brief here, and and blog here. If you want to get involved in this exciting project email oldwaitingroom@gmail.com

Student workshop in the Old Waiting Room May 2010

Student workshop in the Old Waiting Room 28 May 2010

Over 40 students from the 2nd year Canterbury School of Architecture came to Peckham on 28th May 2010 to show their designs for the area around the Peckham Rye Station. They met in the Old Waiting Room at the station.

For the last two years the school’s spring term design studio has focussed on Peckham’s town centre, in particular the open spaces in front of and behind the station. Many of the students come from south London.

The event was held at the enormous former waiting room at the Peckham Rye Station, which has been unused for more than forty years. This remarkable, grand, space is one of the highlights of Peckham’s architecture and is being restored by the local architect Benedict O’Looney, with the help of Southwark Council. Benedict is a conservationist active with the Peckham Society and a design and history teacher at the Canterbury School of Architecture.

Southwark Council’s community-oriented ‘Cleaner Greener and Safer’ fund has put forward several grants to unblock the windows and restore the floor to the former waiting room, which was used as a billiard hall from the 1890s to 1960. This room was bricked up and closed off to public use when the station’s southern platforms were rearranged in 1962. The Peckham Rye Station was designed by the eminent Victorian architect Charles Henry Driver in 1865, and this large and lofty waiting room was the building’s principal interior space. The Peckham Society has been campaigning for the restoration of this prominent local landmark and was successful in getting the station listed grade ll in 2008. It is hoped that the former waiting room will one soon find a new life as a community meeting space, gallery or cafe. The large student gathering on Friday made clear the space’s excellent community potential.

Contact: Benedict O’Looney, architect, teacher, Committee, the Peckham Society 07981 - 785 950 Kristina Kolotov, Second Year Coordinator, Canterbury School of Architecture 07977 - 038 105

Using the Old Waiting Room as a cafe

Peckham Rye station old waiting room Illustration © by Lettice Drake & Paloma Gormley Oct 2009

extract from Rye Lane & Station Action Group October 2009 minutes:
item 2.2 Use of the Old Billiard Hall/former Waiting Room
Lettice Drake and Paloma Gormley presented some ideas for using this historic space. They were responsible for the initiation, design and building of Frank’s Café, the temporary café on the roof Rye Lane’s multi story car park from July to September 2009. They worked with Southwark Council and Hannah Barry with a budget of only £4,500. Its success was overwhelming - attracting people from across London to visit it. The success of Frank’s Café highlights the role creative thinking can play in Peckham’s future. Their proposals included the following:

  • Significance of the space: The old waiting room has exciting potential. The space, as with Frank’s Cafe, is unusual and offers a unique opportunity to do something spectacular. Right in the heart of Peckham, between two platforms linking it to the rest of London. Peckham Vision’s aims for the room to go back into public use as either a restaurant or community facility are encouraging. The proposal is an attempt to marry sustainable regeneration, conservation and a viable business proposal. The significance of the space, as a gateway to Peckham suggests a use that has its roots in, and represents the existing community, serving a simple menu of high quality and affordable food offering a sustainable approach
  • Collaboration: The proposal would be to collaborate with a local chef or business. Running as a restaurant in the evenings and a café during the day, serving coffee and snacks to commuters through a hatch to platform 3, the space offers a viable business opportunity. There would also be the potential for the space to function as a venue, for community meetings, live music and events.
  • Access: They would propose to work alongside the Peckham Society and Peckham Vision to raise funds to continue the conservation work in order to make the room and external stairway fit for public use, creating street level access to the Waiting room independent from the station.
  • Design: The café and kitchen would be designed to be sensitive to the historic importance of the building and celebrate its heritage. The installation of the café and its kitchen would be reversible and non-invasive. Like Franks the design of the cafe would be informal, warm and welcoming. The space is so beautiful and full of character it would require minimal intervention to make it inhabitable. An open kitchen would retain the integrity of the single large space and add theatricality to the preparation and cooking of food. As with Frank’s, good design does not require large investment.
  • Summary: This proposal would mean this magnificent and forgotten space would open its doors again in a manner that is truly public. It would change people’s perception of Peckham. The involvement of local people provides an opportunity for Network Rail and Southern Rail to continue their work with Community Rail Schemes, and to lead the way in supporting innovative, locally rooted development. This space deserves to be used and should play a key and active part in Peckham’s future.

Old Billiard Hall comes back to life! April 2009

Daylight now floods, just as it used to, through large Victorian windows into the magnificent huge Old Billiard Hall above the ticket hall at Peckham Rye station. This huge room above the ticket office was originally the old waiting room and then for many decades a billiard room, but has been derelict for many years. The recent restoration is the successful result of collaboration between The Peckham Society, Rye Lane & Station Action Group, Southwark Council, Southern Rail and Network Rail. The Peckham Society have now secured some funds from the Community Council for the next stage see proposals – to restore the wooden floor and make the room fit for community and public use again. This is a significant contribution to the transformation of central Rye Lane (see here). Read more here and here.