Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Goodbye to the Hatcham?
The Hatcham Liberal Club (also known as the Hatcham Social Club) in Queens Road is the latest New Cross music venue under threat, with 'For sale' signs up outside. The building pictured is an old working men's club and is apparently a listed building. Probably not listed, but a great space in its own right is the hall out the back where many gigs, parties and film shows have taken place (including among the latter a great Exploding Cinema show I went to where Mark Perry ex-Alternative TV performed).
Ben Gidley of Goldsmiths has written of the development of a ‘proletarian public sphere’ in 19th century London, with working people developing their own clubs and institutions where they could meet, talk and socialise on their own terms. Among the examples he gives is the Hatcham Liberal Club 'one of the largest working men’s clubs, where Fabian and SDF socialists debated with secularists, progressives and radicals’ (see The Proletarian Other: Charles Booth & the Politics of Representation). The Hatcham was also, incidentally, the venue for Charlie Chaplin’s mother’s last public performance (she had been a music hall singer) and of course has given its name to a current indie band - Hatcham Social. It has a past - but does it have a future?