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Disused south London pub to be regenerated as theatre and community venue

The Fellowship Inn in Bellingham The Fellowship Inn in Bellingham
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A new performance space is being created as part of the £4 million restoration of a historic pub in south London.

Building work is expected to begin on the Fellowship Inn in Bellingham in September, with the project led by landlord Phoenix Community Housing in partnership with pub operators Laine’s London.

Plans include the renovation of the upper hall of the pub into a theatre space and live music venue, as well as building a cinema, cafe, music studios and microbrewery. The performance space will seat 150, or have the capacity for 250 people standing.

In addition, the main bar area will be fully restored and will remain open, and the pub will be home to charity Lewisham Music, which provides music lessons to young people.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has contributed £4 million towards the full restoration of the historic pub, which is where boxer Henry Cooper once lived and trained ahead of his 1963 fight with Muhammad Ali.

The lower hall, which will become the cinema
The lower hall, which will become the cinema

Built for First World War veterans and their families, the original Fellowship Inn comprised two bars, a 200-seat dance and music hall, a 2,260 sq ft function room, an off-licence and family accommodation.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the Fellowship Inn hosted many well known music acts including Fleetwood Mac and Eric Clapton, but since the 1980s it has fallen into serious disrepair.

Phoenix Community Housing has said it hopes the renovation will help with the regeneration of the area, and as well as offering a new community venue, it will create 70 new jobs along with at least 45 apprenticeships over the next 15 years.

The landlord has also announced three arts and heritage projects that will be developed alongside the building works, including a performance piece by Greenwich and Lewisham Young People’s Theatre. This will involve lantern parades, immersive theatre across the building and a final performance in the large theatre space at the Fellowship Inn.

The Greenwich and Lewisham Young People’s Theatre giving a performance at the venue earlier this year
The Greenwich and Lewisham Young People’s Theatre giving a performance at the venue earlier this year

Jim Ripley, chief executive of Phoenix Community Housing, said: “This is the best news Bellingham has had in decades.

“We’re so proud to have the opportunity to restore this historic pub and create a thriving venue for our residents and the wider population of south London to enjoy. This project will bring new jobs, new investment and new hope to our area.”

Stuart Hobley, head of Heritage Lottery Fund London, said: “This fascinating historical building has long been at the heart of the community.

“What makes this project particularly exciting is its innovative and commercially focused approach to securing a sustainable future for this much-loved local landmark. It is exactly the kind of project for which the Heritage Lottery Fund created Heritage Enterprise.”

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