Assembly Hall Bar Refurbishment

Having been a visitor to the Assembly Hall over the years, I was very pleased to win the contract to refurbish the bar at Tunbridge Wells Assembly Hall recently. The bar was in desperate need of a facelift and I wanted to address the Art Deco features evident inside this building which were hidden in the existing décor.

The brief was specific and practical, lots of people using this space from the WI meetings drinking tea and coffee in comfortable surroundings, young children buying ice cream and sweets during a matinee, to the several thousand strong audience in the Auditorium demanding speedy alcoholic refreshments during the interval.

I wanted to make the public feel it was a stylish venue to arrive when going out for an evening of entertainment. During the day the council use this space for various events and meetings, so I also felt the staff should feel they were working in pleasant surroundings.

Refurbished art deco bar at the Assembly Hall, Tunbridge Wells

As budget was limited and the main bar is so large we refurbished the existing bar, added a stainless steel wrap to the top and a kick plate and painted the bar dark grey. The coffee bar was rebuilt and fitted with a new Corian worktop.

This was a much more practical space for coffee, ice cream and confectionary sales and with the addition of a new Perk and Pearl coffee machine, I think this bar will be a very popular addition to the space.

The coving and architraves were picked out in contrast paint colours, the original Bakelite bar made more prominent with the addition of new black radiators and black bar stools. I wanted the original windows to become a more definite feature as well as dress them to allow maximum light into the bar. The windows were dressed with deco shaped pelmets. Glass ceiling chandeliers above the bar grouped to give a striking focal point, creating a glamorous atmosphere.

We wanted to reinstate the original marble walls in the Foyer with a feature wall in the bar we used large porcelain ties to one wall, lit with led lights to create a soft lighting feature creating a more intimate seating area with contemporary upholstered seating fitted to the outside walls.
The addition of sofas and small footstools has also allowed flexible seating but created more sociable seating areas near to the coffee bar. With the addition of some bright coloured fabrics, checks and plain blocks in the upholstery we added brightness and interest to the area. The carpet was designed and made for us inspired by original Art Deco textile designs, this was also selected to continue through to the Auditorium and Circle which has really made the space look really special and works very well with the new Auditorium seating.

It was the official opening last week and the feedback was really very positive from staff, press and the public. I hope the public will now feel, when they buy a ticket for a show, that they will have a very positive experience, they will enjoy the bar area and will want to meet their friends pre theatre, as well as feel the Auditorium is a special place to enjoy their theatre experience.

If you have any feedback or questions please do not hesitate to contact me at: