When it opened in 1866, Shoreditch Town Hall was known as one of the grandest Vestry Halls of its time and its ambitious founders wanted the building to embody their progressive values. Until the 1960s, the Town Hall operated as the centre of local democracy and civic life in the borough of Shoreditch.
Throughout the building the motto ‘More Light, More Power’ can be seen beneath the crest of Shoreditch. This motto, together with the statue of Progress on the front of the tower, commemorates the borough’s reputation for pioneering bold ideas such as the building’s revolutionary 1897 Refuse Destructor, which generated electricity and powered street lighting in the borough.
The building has a rich history. It played an important role in East End working-class culture, first as a Music Hall in the late 19th and early 20thCentury, and as a boxing venue from 1955 – 1975. In between, it survived a huge fire in 1904, and two World Wars, before neglect in the 1980s and 1990s led its inclusion on English Heritage’s Buildings at Risk register.
A campaign to save the building was founded shortly afterwards and Shoreditch Town Hall Trust took over the lease in 2002, upgrading the space and forming an events hire business. In 2012, the Trust adopted a more dynamic vision to recognise the building’s full potential as an arts, events and community space. Since then, £2.3m of capital investment has transformed the capability of the building, enabling the development of a distinctive contemporary arts programme, firmly establishing the Town Hall as a vital and unique space on the London cultural map.