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Learn all about Wandsworth’s old cinemas, music halls and even velodromes at this festival

Bobby Palmer

You might have supped in the pubs of Summerstown and Southfield; you may even have friends who live in Battersea or Balham. But how much do you really know about Wandsworth? Even if your answer is ‘loads’, the nicheness of knowledge on display at this heritage festival means even the most clued-up of Wandsworth-heads will leave having learned something.

Taking place over two weeks across the borough, it’s made up of mostly free lectures, tours and walks, all focusing on Wandsworth’s rich history. This year’s theme is ‘Entertaining Wandsworth’, exploring how Victorian and Edwardian music halls, turn-of-the-century cinemas, sporting events and local festivities enthralled the borough back in the day.

Join a tour of Tooting’s former Granada Cinema – a gorgeous art deco building (now a Buzz Bingo hall): in 1931 it opened with a screening of ‘Monte Carlo’ and went on to stage shows by Frank Sinatra and The Rolling Stones. Learn about Putney Velodrome from author Pat Heery: it was inundated by tens of thousands of Londoners when it opened in 1895 as track cycling reached its heyday. Or take a look at the remnants of the funfairs and attractions that filled Battersea Park during the 1951 Festival of Britain.

If that’s not enough, there’s also tours around the Antique Breadboard Museum, magic shows and literary-based murder mysteries to join in. Now, that’s entertainment!

Images: Wandsworth Cycling Club, c1890 and The Junction Cinema Battersea, both courtesy of Wandsworth Heritage Service.

Wandsworth Heritage Festival takes place at various locations across the borough until Jun 9. Prices vary. 

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