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Fairfield Halls’ archive reveals rare pictures of actors

Arthur Lowe in one of Fairfield's dressing rooms before appearing in 'Home at Seven' in 1982. This was one of the last pictures taken of Lowe as he collapsed and died one week later. Photo: Frazer Ashford
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Croydon’s Fairfield Halls has compiled more than 2,500 items for a new online archive the venue claims provides “an illustrated history of post-war British theatre”.

The arts centre in Croydon incorporates the Ashcroft Theatre, Arnhem Gallery and a concert hall. Its archive features photographs, programmes and posters of productions and acts that have been at the venue since it opened in 1962.

Head of marketing at Fairfield Halls, John Spring, who worked extensively on the project, said: “This is a celebration of Fairfield but it also puts [the venue] into historical context. Making the material globally available online will hopefully strengthen that.”

The archive is made up of material collected and held by Fairfield Halls and Croydon Council. The public has also been urged to contribute to the project, which has so far resulted in the discovery of rare photographs of the Beatles performing at Fairfield Halls in 1963.

It has taken a team of history graduates, volunteers and apprentices three years to complete, and has been made possible thanks to a £30 million investment from Croydon Council, to be spent over the next three years.

The grant has already funded the redevelopment of the venue’s foyer and a new box office system and website, which incorporates the archive. As part of the redevelopment, Fairfield is also launching a new studio space, which opens at the end of September. Capable of seating up to 100 people, the studio will host comedy acts, children’s shows and cabaret.

Spring said: “We have a very diverse audience base and programme at Fairfield. The archive celebrates that as well as the calibre of people we get, and we’re very proud of that.”

View the archive online at www.fairfield.co.uk

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