This is a small park in Bermondsey that used to be the site of a Victorian music hall, the Star of Bermondsey, and an adjacent pub-hotel.

The area was heavily built up with terraced housing, but facing onto the main road, at the time Neckinger Road, but today an extension of Abbey Street, was a large pub and hotel, the Star and Garter Hotel built in the 1830s.

A few decades later, the building next to it was redeveloped into the Star Music Hall, and that opened in October 1867, right in the middle of the enthusiasm for music halls. It was a modest-sized hall, with seating for around 400 people, but plenty for the local market, although its proximity to the Spa Road railway station would have probably helped as well in attracting acts to perform.

By 1908, the music hall was also showing early films, and these seemed to be so popular that it was renamed the Star Kinema, and removing the stage seems to have allowed them to fit 750 people inside.

In 1920, the Kinematograph Weekly described the cinema as being run by a former army officer, and that the audience had a preference for films “heavy in sensation and pathos”. Each evening, a Red Cross nurse would be in the cinema to deal with any cases of fainting or illness.

However, in 1924 it changed owners after struggling to pay debts and started showing talkies in 1930, by when it was known as the Star Cinema.

However, times were changing, and the cinema closed at the onset of WW2, never to reopen. The housing in the area was developed into blocks of flats, and somewhat derelict, the cinema and pub were demolished in 1963 with the land turned into the park that’s there today.

The park is made up of a series of shallow mounds, possibly rubble from the demolition that give it a bit of character, and a couple of slightly sunken curving paths through the sides. A large paved space to the far end is rather shabby these days, and sitting next to a boarded-up community centre building doesn’t really help the decaying atmosphere.

A few stones in odd locations, some bushes around the edges complete the park.

Although there is a sign put there by Southwark Council about the general area, no mention is made of the Music Hall that stood on the site for a century.

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One comment
  1. Susan Ainsworth says:

    The map doesn’t come up this week nor did it last week. Has anyone had this issue?

    Thanks for suggestions.

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