‘A home for solidarity’: Lewisham’s first ever community owned music venue to open in Catford

The regeneration of Catford is set to receive another boost as the borough’s first community-owned music venue will open in an old working men’s club.

Sister Midnight is the brainchild of Lenny Watson, Sophie Farrell and Lottie Pendlebury, the lead singer of Peckham punk band Goat Girl, who say the space will become an affordable music venue but also have something to offer the whole community.

Crucially, the space will have a membership system, allowing those from the nearby community to help decide how it can be best used.

The facade of the former Brookdale Club in Catford, the new home of Sister Midnight (Picture: Sister Midnight)

Lenny Watson, one of the founders of Sister Midnight, who used to have a record shop in Tanners Hill, Deptford, said it had been a “long road to finding the space”.

She said: “The aim is to create an affordable live music venue with the local community at its heart – a space that functions as a home for solidarity.”

The collective had initially managed to raise £250,000 to buy the disused Ravensbourne Arms pub in Romborough Way, Lewisham, but the owners refused to sell it for that price.

Sister Midnight worked to secure a “meanwhile space”, for which 99 per cent of the original campaign contributors were keen to continue their support.

With help from Lewisham council, The Brookdale Club, in the Catford Centre, became an option.

An artist’s impression of the live music venue (Picture: Sister Midnight)

Lenny added: “We started speaking with Lewisham council about the The Brookdale Club and negotiated a 10-year lease with a minimum of seven years guaranteed.

“We won’t be paying any rent but we have to use the money we raised to renovate the space to a high standard. The council have been very generous.”

The collective raised the money through community investment and donations, with more than 800 investors, and any profits made will be reinvested into the venue.

Sophie Farrell said: “We can’t wait to get stuck into bringing this building back into use again.”

The space is expected to have capacity for 250 people capacity, a community cafe space and affordable space for rehearsal and recording artists.

Mayor of Lewisham, Damien Egan, said: “I’m delighted we’ve helped Sister Midnight to secure this space and establish Lewisham’s first ever community-owned live music venue – a fantastic legacy for our year as London Borough of Culture 2022.

“This will provide a valuable use for the building which can be enjoyed by all the community, support our local arts and music scene and help grow our night-time economy.

“I hope this will serve as an important stepping stone towards a permanent home for Sister Midnight.”

Pictured top: The Sister Midnight collective, from left, Lottie Pendlebury, Lenny Watson and Sophie Farrell (Picture: Sister Midnight)

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