Former Temperance Billiard Hall, Fulham

From: the Historic England entry:

“EXTERIOR: The building occupies a corner position and makes use of its prominence in the streetscape. The architectural detailing is concentrated on the facades to the two streets, and the entrance, on the apex, is a through a circular portico surmounted by a small dome with flagpole…

The façade to Church Row is of six bays with full-height bows to the second and fifth bays. Each pilaster is decorated with a diamond pattern of red and green tiles set within specially-cut bricks. The middle four bays have elegant shallow bow windows with five-light mullion and transom casements and Art Nouveau stained glass. A course of green glazed bricks runs beneath the windows, which sit under a deep overhanging stringcourse. This is surmounted by a parapet decorated with dentils on all but the second and fifth bays, which are slightly higher and adorned with plasterwork, including a waterleaf cornice, cherubs’ heads and garlands. There is a small cupola to the roof…

INTERIOR: There were originally two halls, divided by a wooden partition, though there have been subdivisions of these spaces and the partition has been removed. The first hall is vast and although a mezzanine level has been inserted into the rear section of the hall, the sense of space is maintained and the iron roof trusses are visible across the length of the building. The second, to the south, is smaller and has segmental curved braces. This has been more intrusively subdivided by the insertion of a staff room and toilets to the rear of the hall, although the roof structure is intact across the length of the building. Both halls have good natural light, from the dormer windows in the first and from the row of bay windows in the second. There are flourishes of Art Nouveau detail in the roof structure, for example, where the trusses meet the piers there are scrolled brackets decorated with acanthus leaves or cartouches.

HISTORY: The building dates from 1910 and was designed by Norman Evans, company-architect to Temperance Billiard Halls Ltd. The firm was founded in Manchester in 1906 at the height of the Temperance Movement; perhaps in response to the success of the world convention on Temperance held in London in the same year. The company built around seventeen billiard halls from 1906-1911 when Evans was architect; five were in London and the rest in Manchester.

The Temperance Movement aimed to combat alcoholism by building ‘dry’ recreational halls and hotels which rivalled the architecture of the opulent public houses of the late C19. The buildings often used the same decorative materials as pubs, such as tiled facades and stained glass windows, to create the congenial atmosphere of a public house without the pitfalls of available alcohol. The Temperance Billiard Company Ltd targeted the suburbs in London, where many new pubs had been built in the late C19.

The site in Fulham was made available by the widening of Fulham High Street to accommodate trams after 1908. It had previously been occupied by houses.

SUMMARY OF IMPORTANCE: The Fulham hall has historic interest as the best surviving London example of the type. The building contains hints of Art Nouveau, through which Evans portrayed the temperance movement as respectable and fashionable, in contrast to public houses of the period. With its exuberant range of eclectic features and carefully-designed facades, it represents Edwardian street architecture at its liveliest and is of special architectural interest, despite some alterations to the exterior. The most obtrusive of these, the flat roof extension at acute angle to main facade (which includes 90B Fulham High Street) is of no special interest…”

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