A group of petitioners launched a campaign last July entitled ‘Save the Coronet’ in protest of property developer Delancey and Southwark Council’s plans to close the iconic Elephant and Castle club.

The South London music venue, located on New Kent Road, has been home to a range of performers for over 100 years including Justin Timberlake, Oasis as well as silent movie star Charlie Chaplin, who is said to have performed at the venue as a young child when it was known as the Elephant and Castle Theatre.  The events space was even used as a shelter throughout The Blitz – a rather stark contrast to being renowned more recently as the host to some of the biggest club nights in the capital.

Sadly, the Coronet now finds itself under threat due to plans for the redevelopment of the shopping centre as well as the surrounding area.

The plans for the Coronet’s impending closure once its lease expires in November 2015 have been met with anger from local residents, the venue’s 100-strong team of staff as well as some of the club’s average 250,000 revellers per year.

The building’s proposed closure is under further scrutiny as the building itself boasts a whole range of art deco features, which were initially designed in 1932 by William Riddell Glen, one of the leading theatrical designers of this period.  Designs including the highly-decorated ceiling and fluted pilasters have since been restored and add a wonderful balance to the club’s atmosphere by blending such a colourful history with the modern suburban setting of ‘The Elephant’.

Many attempts have been launched in order to prevent the closure of the historic entertainment site including a Change.org petition, which has received just over 4,000 supporters – unfortunately still short of its 10,000 target.  Some of the Coronet’s defenders have heralded The Coronet as a ‘historic and amazing venue’ and have said it ‘adds hugely to the quality of life’.

I contacted Simon Hughes, local Liberal Democrat MP for the Bermondsey and Old Southwark Constituency, but his office was unfortunately unable to comment on the matter of the Coronet’s closure.

I was however able to talk to Richard Littman, Director of the Coronet who has championed the campaign from the start and I posed some questions to him regarding the impact on the surrounding area if the closure were to be effective.

1) Why do you think it is important for the Coronet to remain open?

With such history and architecture and the fact it is a trading business and brings thousands of people to the area to use the local amenities all year round, I feel The Coronet is more than capable of fitting in with the redevelopment without being closed down in order for there to be a sense of new and old within Elephant and Castle. It would be a shame to lose yet another classic venue from the 19th Century, as so many are disappearing from modern environments up and down the country.

2) How do you think the closure of the club will affect the local residents?

I imagine that the local residents will benefit from the redevelopment although losing the Coronet will certainly impact on the heritage of Elephant and Castle and one may worry that the shopping centre will just simply become another commercial Westfield.

Several members of the community visit the Coronet whether it is for live music, dance or even sporting events, and I’m sure many of the locals can even remember when the club operated as a cinema in the 1980s too.  Subsequently, several of the younger residents may have to travel further afield to be entertained if the closure goes ahead.  The Coronet is one of many features that adds to the eclectic mix of activity in the area and losing it will result in the loss of some great importance for the residents too.

You can support the #SaveTheCoronet campaign by signing the petition here: https://www.change.org/p/southwark-council-save-the-coronet

Sophie Allen, Sydenham High School

A spokesperson from Delancey said:

“Our proposed redevelopment of the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre forms part of the substantial regeneration under way in the area.  We have always been clear that the best way to achieve this is to redevelop the whole shopping centre, including the Coronet.

“This will deliver real benefits for both the local and wider community with the creation of a new town centre that will  incorporate culture, retail and leisure, alongside increased housing and enhanced transport facilities.”