Ralli Hall is situated in Denmark Villas, close to Hove Station. It was originally built in memory of Stephen Ralli, a prominent local philanthropist of Greek origin, for use as a community centre for All Saints Church, on The Drive. There is a plaque to Stephen’s memory on the north elevation, dedicated by his widow… Read more »
Ralli Hall is situated in Denmark Villas, close to Hove Station. It was originally built in memory of Stephen Ralli, a prominent local philanthropist of Greek origin, for use as a community centre for All Saints Church, on The Drive. There is a plaque to Stephen’s memory on the north elevation, dedicated by his widow and grandson and dated 14th April 1903. It is considered to be a “fine structure of local architectural interest” and was granted Grade II Listed status in 1992.
When completed at the start of the First World War, the Great Hall was used as a recreational centre, for locally stationed soldiers, as well as for local recreational use and was also granted cinematographic and theatrical performance licences. Unusually, it was built with rooms of varying sizes over three floors, including a large gymnasium, which was apparently used as a Drill Hall.
Over the years church use declined and the building was used primarily by local organisations. By 1973, all rooms bar the basement were closed. At that time, presumably in order to test the market, planning permission was obtained for a block of 24 flats. However, the trustees apparently preferred that it should not be demolished and, in May 1975, it was put up for sale by sealed tender.
Two organisations bid to purchase it: Hove Borough Council, as a community centre, and the newly-formed Brighton & Hove Jewish Youth Council, as a youth centre. The latter organisation was able to purchase it for £65,000 and, within a year, more than half of the £100,000 needed to buy and renovate it had been raised, including a very generous donation by Harry Franks, a retired jeweller, after whom the Great Hall was named.
On 30 June 1976, singer Frankie Vaughan formally opened Ralli Hall as a Youth Centre for the local Jewish community and it continued mainly for that use until the late 1990s when youth clubs, except for those in deprived areas, started to fade away generally. A portacabin in the car park was used by the 15th Hove (Jewish) Scout Group for many years, until this also closed.
Since its earliest days, the Jewish Centre at Ralli Hall has hosted friendship clubs for senior citizens, as well as facilities for the younger community. Between 1981 and 2008, as many as three dozen amateur musical book shows, plays and concerts, were performed on the stage, mainly by the Ralli Hall Amateur Theatrical Society.
Since then, with the name of the charity which runs the building being changed to The Brighton and Hove Jewish Community Foundation, the emphasis has been on providing facilities for senior citizens. The lunch and social club is held on two days per week, plus the Monday social club and various other diverse activities mainly, and quite successfully, funded by the letting of rooms to the local wider community. It continues in this format to the present day.