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Iconic Chat's Palace celebrates 100th birthday

PUBLISHED: 15:00 22 May 2013

Chat's Palace in 1913

Chat's Palace in 1913

Archant

A former library and iconic Hackney landmark which has seen the likes of music stars Leona Lewis, Labrinth and Rudimental come through its doors, will turn 100 this month.

Now known as Chat’s Palace, the building was opened as Homerton Library on May 31, 1913 – funded by famous Scottish-American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie for the “betterment of the people of the East End”.

Today, it still retains many of its original features such as parquet floors, a glass roof with leaded lights and a marble floor.

The imposing Victorian building in Brooksby’s Walk, which was renamed Chat’s Palace in the mid-1980s, is now used for community projects such as dance, drama, cabaret and music gigs.

It also collaborates with schools on literacy and creative projects and other local organisations such as Homerton Hospital.

Artists such as spoken word poet Benjamim Zephaniah and poet John Hegley have performed there, while Leona Lewis used to come for dance lessons as a child and a few Rudimental members DJ’d there in their early teens. Singer Labrinth also popped in when he was younger.

And a few weeks ago, singer and director Plan B chose the venue to launch his new charity Each One Teach One, which will work with disadvantaged young people in east London.

Centre director Candy Horsbrugh said: “It’s really exciting. It’s the beginning of a new era. We’ve had ups and downs over the last few years but it’s getting busier year on year. It’s a place which belongs to the community.

“We are working on projects with local schools. My view is that it’s important to work with our young people as they become our future.”

A six-month centenary celebration will kick-off on May 31 with live music and an exhibition of posters and prints followed by storytelling workshops on June 1. Other events throughout the year include a summer ball, a lectures series, a cabaret night, a ceilidh, a series of children’s shows.

n For more information, visit www.chatspalace.com.

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