At the Teddington Lock end of town, stands a magnificent, if somewhat incongruously large, 19th Century former church, once nicknamed ‘the cathedral of the Thames Valley’. Originally the Church of St Alban the Martyr, the building was designed in the French Gothic style by architect William S Niven, who lived locally and had once been a pupil of Sir George Gilbert Scott.
Landmark Arts Centre
Tel: 020 8977 7558
When the railway came to Teddington in the 1860s, the town’s population increased tenfold and it was decided that a major new church was needed. Following substantial fundraising the new church was built directly opposite the much older parish church. However there wasn’t enough money to complete the original design with the result that the nave was significantly shorter than planned, a 200ft tower was never started and the ‘west end’ had to be closed off by a temporary structure which survived until the 1970s.
The building was declared redundant in 1977 and neglected for years, suffering vandalism. Then a vigorous local campaign saved it from demolition and since 1995 it has been open as the Landmark Arts Centre. An independent charity, the Landmark has evolved into a vibrant arts space offering a stimulating mix of activities including classes, concerts and exhibitions. Taking part in the arts is a very important part of the Centre’s activities and on most week days there are classes for children and adults involving music, dance and visual arts such as painting and drawing. Visual arts & crafts have always been a major element in the Centre’s programme with two fine art fairs plus the Contemporary Textile Fair the best known. In 2009 the Landmark Gallery opened offering opportunities for artists to show their work over a longer period than an art fair, and later in 2010 the Landmark Studio will open as a purpose-built teaching space for art classes.
Another new feature that has become a firm favourite are the regular comedy nights, organised in association with The Comedy Works. Comedians who have appeared at these relaxed, live stand up evenings include Kevin Bridges, Milton Jones, Arthur Smith and Jack Whitehall. The Centre team aim to programme as broad a range of concerts as possible so an average season might feature Barry Cryer or Stacey Kent alongside local music societies such as the Twickenham Choral Society and the Thames Philharmonia. None of this would be possible without the volunteers who support the Centre’s small team of three permanent staff. Volunteers serve behind the bar, meet and greet visitors and help look after the grounds. Details of all the volunteering opportunities can be found on the Centre’s website together with all the latest events and activities.
Countless activities, shows and fairs have been held at the centre over the years including being the location for filming such as A-Ha: The Sun Always Shines on TV.