Archer Hall

Laindon Road

Archer Hall just before demolition
Ian Fuller

The Archer Hall was built just before the Second World War in Laindon Road where Emanuel Church now stands. For over 50-years it was the main entertainment centre for the town. A highlight for the year used to be a Christmas pantomime performed by some of the town’s characters. Many other events were held there including dances, plays and amateur operetta; while Chris Barber presented a jazz concert there in the 1970s. Daytime activities included antique fairs and retail sales.

A kitchen was added to the rear of the building during the war to provide meals for soldiers billeted in the town. Several single story annexes were also added, shown on the left of this picture. The first provided dining facilities for the soldiers. The lantern in the centre of the roof carried a weathervane, already removed in this picture. A soldier took a pop-shot at it in the war. When the building was demolished, in the late 1990s, it was found to have a bullet hole.

A firefighter wondering why I was hanging around in front of the fire station with a camera asked ‘Can I help you?’ I explained that the Archer Hall was due to be demolished and I was looking for the best place to take a photograph. My suggestion that I could get its best view from the station practice tower met with the response ‘far too dangerous for access by the public’. However if I left my camera with him he would take a picture for me. He was a good as his word and returned my camera the following week. I finished the film, no digital in those days, and his resulting picture is shown here.

For several Saturdays just before it closed it was hired by a tool retailer. He suspended an advertising banner across the front the building that left a mark that remained until it was demolished.

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  • I just found out the Archer Hall was demolished, my father Richard Keeble, one of the four local builders at the time used to do the maintenance on the building. As a teenager in the mid sixties I worked there quite often, one of the biggest jobs we did was repair and replace the lead flashing around the tower on the roof, it was a major job constructing scaffolding around the tower to work on it and I remember it was mid winter and freezing cold and every morning when we arrived for work the scaffold boards were covered in ice and very slippery. We would flip the boards over as the ice wasn’t on the underside. Yes I remember the bullet hole in the weather vain. I’m pretty sure the 4th Billericay cubs used to meet there as well on a Tuesday evening, I was in that for a while. I now live in Australia.

    By John Keeble (19/05/2019)
  • I used to go to the youth club held in the annex during the late sixties. It was run by David at the time. Happy memories. Some names: Bernie Cooper, Alan Fisher, Timothy Doyland, Hazel Tooze, Biddy……..

    By Steven Copper (12/04/2019)
  • In the run up to the 1970 General Election, I attended a rally there. Bob McCrindle, the new MP for Billericay spoke to a full house and to add some gravity to the meeting, he was supported by Lord Hailsham, otherwise known as Quentin Hogg, who came on stage waving his stick about!

    By Terry Lockhart (28/11/2016)

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