Iconic building back in business

The Britannia Hall, Society Street. INLS3915-102KM
The Britannia Hall, Society Street. INLS3915-102KM

One of Londonderry’s iconic buildings, Britannia Hall, is open for business once more.

In its heyday in the 1960s, the hall was one of the top places to go for dancing and over the years also served the community well as a social space, band hall and even as a business outlet.

Victor Wray pictured in one of the rooms in the Britannia Hall. INLS3915-101KM

Victor Wray pictured in one of the rooms in the Britannia Hall. INLS3915-101KM

In latter years, however, Britannia Hall was closed for health and safety reasons and fell into disuse. Neglected, the building became a dowdy matron on Society Street.

Happily, an extensive facelift, which got underway properly in January 2014, has seen the hall radically transformed, with three spacious, versatile units complete with separate kitchen and toilet space which can be crafted into bespoke facilities.

Among those who oversaw the refurbishment on behalf of the consortium of owners is Victor Wray.

Mr Wray said this is the first refurbishment of the buildings since it was established in 1938.

“It was originally built as a band hall for the Britannia Band and was built by voluntary labour,” he said.

“Then it was sold to the UUP when the party had a strong city following in the 1960s and was used for different things over the years, including as an outlet for Henderson Pianos and Ken’s Electrics, who occupied the ground floor. A church used the upstairs space for a number of years too.

“One of the uses was for the Rugby Hop on a Saturday night with music by The Strangers. That also would have been in the 1960s. Then it fell into disrepair and had to be closed.”

The rejuvenation of the Britannia began in January 2014, at which time the entire building was gutted, and building work then began on creating a comfortable, bright and spacious new interior.

“The budget was blown very early in the process and around twice as much was spent on the building as originally thought, but the Hall really has been lavished with attention and the three generous units are ideal for office, IT or large multi-purpose use, can be used for sports, social events, music or even as a furniture showroom.

“It is a prime city centre location, an iconic building that has been brought back to life and is now ready for community or commercial use,” said Mr Wray.