Q&A: Vincent Hayes, founder of Brick Lane Music Hall

PUBLISHED: 09:00 06 September 2017

Brick Lane Music Hall

Credited with restoring and reopening the run-down St Mark’s Church as Brick Lane Music Hall, Vincent Hayes speaks about his love for the community and need for more river crossings

What’s your connection with the borough?

I have lived and worked in Newham since 2003, when I began the renovation of the former St Mark’s Church in North Woolwich. In 2004 the venue re-opened as Brick Lane Music Hall, and now plays to audiences of up to 200 people with live entertainment, bar, and catering, but we have never altered the integrity of the building which had Grade II status. It was actually upgraded to Grade II* in 2012 because of the sympathetic nature of the restoration and its fitting use as a music hall theatre.

What’s the best thing about working or living in the borough?

I love the sense of community. I was born in Galway and was drawn to the East End because people here actually communicate with one another. Out shopping or walking in Newham there is always a chat to be had or perhaps just a smile.

What one thing would you change?

The most important thing to change would be the river crossings. In Newham, we are landlocked without any bridges between Tower Bridge and Dartford Crossing. As Mayor [of London], Boris Johnson cancelled the opportunity for a new one.

Use three words to describe the area?

Interesting, inclusive, involved

Who is the most inspiring person you have ever met?

I once met the late Sir Noel Coward after the opening night of a play at the Queen’s Theatre. He was holding court at the after-show party held at the home of the producer Binkie Beaumont. Sheridan Morley, who wrote A Talent to Amuse, was there and Sir Noel captivated everyone recounting amusing episodes from his extraordinary life.

What new law would you introduce if you were the prime minister?

I would introduce a law that would see all fly-tippers have their vehicles confiscated and their licenses endorsed accordingly. Their activities are a blight on Newham.

If you were the editor of this paper, what issues in the borough would you focus on?

I would introduce a weekly item about the people who make a

real difference to the lives of residents in Newham and those heroes who contribute to the community by their selfless actions.

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