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intimate theatre palmers green sept 2018

St Monica's Large Hall aka the Intimate Theatre

There may soon be one fewer historic building in Palmers Green following news this week of plans to demolish the Intimate Theatre and replace it with a new parish centre and flats.

There have long been rumours that the Intimate’s days were numbered. St Monica’s, who own the site, first made a successful planning application to replace the theatre (also known as the Large Hall) with a single storey parish centre in 1992.

This week’s parish newsletter announces plans to demolish it and to also sell the current parish centre on Cannon Hill – which is a Grade 2 listed Regency villa.

As you may be aware, the Large Hall and Parish Centre at Cannon House require major investment. Even after such investment they remain, in design, a theatre and private residence. Existing expenditure on maintaining these building is costly and will continue to be in the future. The buildings are not energy-efficient and some areas cannot be accessed by those with impaired mobility. To meet the present and envisaged future needs of the parish, it is proposed to build a new Parish Centre, one that will be a legacy for future generations.

david bowie at the intimate theatre palmers green

David Bowie appeared in Pierrot in Turquoise for four nights in the late 1960s

Of course, the Intimate already has a legacy, and was successfully nominated for Enfield Council’s Local Heritage List two years ago. The site of Sir John Clements’ famous theatre company, the first play ever to have been broadcast live on television was beamed from the Intimate and it is one of the last surviving local theatres in London. Those who have trodden the boards include Richard Attenborough (making his stage debut), Irene Handl, Anna Wing, Nicholas Parsons, Roger Moore, Arthur Lowe, Bill Owen, John Inman, Dad’s Army writer Jimmy Perry and his wife Gilda, Tony Blackburn, Stephen Berkoff, Davy Graham, David Bowie, The Wurzels, Joe Brown, George Melly, Tommy Trinder, Hinge and Bracket, and, in panto, Bill Pertwee, Ruth Madoc, and John Noakes.  Many of those have of course passed now. And it seems that so too will our old Intimate.

St Monica’s are holding a parish meeting about the plans on 18 September at 7.30. At the Intimate Theatre.

This article was originally published on Palmers Green - Jewel in the North and in republished with permission.

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David Eden's Avatar
David Eden posted a reply #4050 13 Sep 2018 09:11
When was the last time this was used as a proper actual theatre? Understand not for years. Redundant as a theatre and not fit for purpose as a community space/parish hall.

Therefore best of recycled for better use, helping satisfying much needed housing demand for young people, with the funds extracted to build a brand new fit for purpose time-resilient space. Win-win.
Sue Beard's Avatar
Sue Beard posted a reply #4051 13 Sep 2018 09:54
I do have some sympathy with that view David and with St Monica ‘s .

but there is a bit of me that also thinks we are in danger od’developing’ away everything that has any historical interest or culture and leaving pg just another identikit suburb.

I don’t think every oldish building is precious by any means but It would be good to try to protect what is unusual and distinct and has meaning for us through it’s story. I know that the new building will take on meaning for the congregation but there will be another bit of the past gone probably to be replaced by something more functional than attractive . Some sadness at least about that is in order ...

And,come on, Sid James...! Stewpot...! Clive Dunn...!
Karl Brown's Avatar
Karl Brown posted a reply #4052 13 Sep 2018 17:24
I guess if you close it as a theatre, rename it as a “hall”, and then rip out the seats its chances of continuing as a theatre are reduced. Then make it a real uphill challenge to book it for performing arts events and its little wonder it sat underutilised.
For current demand, The Park Theatre shows what can be done, as surely will the revamped Alexander Place Theatre, while as Basil says, the small theatre in Friern Barnet ticks along nicely. The Intimate could have been a performing art centre / base of real excellence for PG, indeed for a big swathe of Enfield. Imagine, cinema, theatre, music, eats, dance and more. I thinks it’s a colossal lost opportunity, but doubtless very financially positive for some.
This absolutely huge, world leading, part of the UK economy is being attacked (hard) at school curriculum level and with moves like this, further up the line too.
I don’t think we’re getting the mix of “other” to balance the necessary focus on housing. All those people in houses need things to do outside of their front doors, while our leading creative sector needs the space to breathe. Amen
PGC Webmaster's Avatar
PGC Webmaster posted a reply #4056 19 Sep 2018 17:31

PGC member Garry Humphreys has started an online petition to save the Intimate. To read and sign visit .

In the Why is this Important? section of the petition Garry writes:

The Enfield Local Heritage List describes the building as having landmark status, rarity value, historical association and social value in the local community.

The Theatre was the home of the John Clements Theatre company, and the site of the first play ever to have been broadcast live on television. By the end of the 1960s it had become the last repertory theatre surviving in London. The theatre still plays host to a range of dramatic and operatic societies, and local events.

Many famous people appeared on stage here, including Richard Attenborough (in his stage debut), Irene Handl, Anna Wing, Nicholas Parsons, Roger Moore, Arthur Lowe, Bill Owen, John Inman, Dad’s Army writer Jimmy Perry and his wife Gilda, Tony Blackburn, Stephen Berkoff, Davy Graham, David Bowie, The Wurzels, Joe Brown, George Melly, Tommy Trinder, Hinge and Bracket, and, in panto, Bill Pertwee, Ruth Madoc and John Noakes. Local resident Stevie Smith attended regularly. John Clements was knighted for his contribution to film and stage - Bristol University holds an archive in his memory. This is one of the last local theatres left in London.

The two-storey frontage is in red brick with stone quoins and window surrounds and seating for an audience of up to 406 people.

While the parish clearly has plans to redevelop, if they see the local and national opposition this will create they may look to revise plans to include some theatre usage.

To make this happen, please sign this petition now! Thank you!

PGC Webmaster's Avatar
PGC Webmaster posted a reply #4057 19 Sep 2018 17:38
Dave Thomas, one of the main organisers of St Harmonica's Blues Club, attended yesterday's meeting at the Intimate and has provided the following account.

I arrived later than intended at around 7.50 when Father Mehail Lowry was presenting the case and the plans. The meeting consisted of Parish Members, St Monica’s Players and ‘others’.

There is a pretty large body of support amongst the parish members for the plans to develop a new Parish Centre on the site of the Intimate Theatre using proceeds from the sale of the current Parish Centre at Cannon House, 6 Canon Hill N14. The new centre would prioritise the needs of the parish and have increased office space and meeting rooms next door to the church as well as flats which can provide some revenue stream and which could be used to house refugee families and retired priests amongst others. In the process the aim is not to have time without either building. What is not clear is the time scale involved with obtaining the necessary planning permission or the sale of Cannon House. The suggestion was that planning could take around 12 months and that selling Cannon House would be undertaken ‘fairly soon’. We heard from the headteacher that a local authority application to extend St Monica’s Primary School into 3 forms of entry by building upon the car park adjacent to the school and Cannon House was rejected because of a tree preservation order on the trees on the site. The expansion of the school is no longer required but the tree preservation order, along with Cannon House being a grade 2 listed building which sits in a conservation area, does question its appeal to potential developers. In the meantime teachers, staff & visitors can still park their cars.

As this project takes shape users of the Parish Centre, such as Centre Stage School of Performing Arts and St Harmonica’s Blues Club, cannot plan to use the centre beyond Christmas when it may be that bookings for a 3 month block may be taken; the users will be informed as and when the situation becomes clearer.

Meanwhile there will be another consultative meeting at the Intimate Theatre on Tuesday 2nd October, when St Monica’s Players have asked to make a presentation about the value and heritage of the Intimate as a local theatre.
Neil Littman's Avatar
Neil Littman posted a reply #4063 20 Sep 2018 13:57
My view for what it is worth, is that the present building is really ugly and completely out of date inside as a theatre. I have been to events there when it was used for community meetings (perfectly OK for that) and for a dance event (felt like going back to a much earlier era). I thought the acoustics were dreadful. I also have a friend who acted on stage there several times and didn't think it was as good as most theatres. My solution would be to demolish it and replace with a modern arts centre, incorporating a main venue, a 'studio' one and a concert venue for the blues club and contain all under one roof. There are many venues like this in the UK. Several of which I have played at in various bands. They normally include a cafe and have a range of events for all ages from children to adults. The Jacksons Lane community centre is a good example of this kind of place though they don't promote music and the one at the Willesden Library complex which does have live music. It would also give the area of Southgate, Palmers Green and Winchmore Hill a much more central focus and could be a great success and put us on the map so to speak. It is all very fragmented at the moment. I do understand it is down to costs but there must be a way to develop this site while selling off the other and it would cost less than the cycle lanes and be a lot more popular!
Maire Harris's Avatar
Maire Harris posted a reply #4065 21 Sep 2018 11:41
I understand the Church owns the site which makes this development very different to a Council-owned property where the needs of the whole community could be considered. St Monica's is addressing its needs for a functional parish centre so I don't think talk of a modern arts centre(nice as that would be) will come into the equation.
PGC Webmaster's Avatar
PGC Webmaster posted a reply #4067 26 Sep 2018 00:24
A report in the trade paper The Stage quotes Steven Berkoff as saying

To lose the Intimate, Palmers Green, where I have also played as a young man, would be more than just a shame


Nicholas Parsons :

It would be so sad to see the Intimate Theatre disappear as many artists learned their trade there, perfecting their craft, not only in acting but also how ‘to walk a stage’, as they say.

The full report is at