Wimbledon Community Centre Was a Local Hub for All – Michael Norman Smith

Our home in Wimbledon has been part of the family for several generations, and places like the Wimbledon Community Centre have been an integral part of our community. Throughout its physical existence, the Wimbledon Community Centre was a local hub that allowed different groups of people to come together in one place.

Granny’s 1966 diary entries showing one of her many visits to the Wimbledon Community Centre

From the beginning, my granny frequented the community centre on St. George’s Road for meetings and their much-loved jumble sales, and years later, I attended the centre. Sometimes I would visit on behalf of local community groups to display their posters on the noticeboard. Sometimes, I would discover a great read in the second-hand book area near the double doors, and at other times I’d rehearse with the Carlton Theatre Group.

I had been into Dramatics for years, and Carlton’s rehearsals at Wimbledon Community Centre were conveniently close by, so I joined the group in 2002 and have been a member ever since. Some of my favourite memories of the centre were with Carlton and included rehearsals for my lead role in the Carlton production of Habeas Corpus by Alan Bennett. For this particular show, I rehearsed at the community centre twice a week over a period of a couple of months, so I was very much at home there. In Februarys, we (Carlton) performed our annual showcases in the hall, which were often followed by after-show parties which continued until clanking keys signalled our time to leave.

Michael Norman Smith in costume for a Carlton production
Carlton Theatre Group Newsletter showing their Christmas Party at Wimbledon Community Centre at 7.30pm on 13th December 2003

Despite the old flooring which had seen better days, the canvas and metal stacking chairs which weren’t known for being particularly comfortable, and the rather odd, coloured walls, Wimbledon Community Centre continued to be a place that was dear to me. It was a real asset to the local community, and it’s unfair to say that we have a community that no longer requires a centre. Whilst I’m fortunate enough to have countless memories of Wimbledon Community Centre and can recall how great a community hub it was, I often ponder on where one should go if feeling displaced nowadays.

Story submitted by Michael Norman Smith, a frequent visitor of the Wimbledon Community Centre.

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