Portslade Community Forum

Portslade Town Hall 'It does what it says on the tin'

  There can’t be many local readers of this Portslade Community Forum website who aren’t familiar with this advertising tag line, but perhaps only the older ones will know that it is now being used to sell products which were once made here in Portslade, or can associate with the building in Victoria Road, now known as Portslade Town Hall, but was built in 1923 as the Ronuk Hall; a recreation facility for the employees of the firm whose name it bore.
From 11th June,2014 sections of the Portslade Town Hall have now found new uses

PCSOs Town Hall
Housing  Dept. Offices
New Town Hall Facia
Town Hall 3
Town Hall 2

  At that time, Victoria Road must have had one of the largest concentrations of employment in Portslade, with the Southdown bus garage opposite the Hall and the Fryco Soft Drinks factory further along.

  “Ronseal” and “Colron” Wood Dye were the two principal wood finishing products made the Ronuk, which are still made to this day by another company, but were originally made by Rounk when under its original ownership. The firm also made floor and Redtile polish, also furniture polish and cream. In those days, the factory had its own railway siding for the daily despatch of finished goods, also incoming rail tanker loads of white spirit from the Esso refinery at Fawley. There are still scale models of the spirit tanker available to this day.

As part of the refurbishment of the Town Hall and re-launch on 11th June '14, place has now been found for pictures to associate the building with its original use as a recreational facility of the workers of the Ronuk factory which once stood behind the Hall. these are to be found in the foyer of the building

Town Hall Pic 1
Town Hall Pic 2
Ronuk Railway Tanker

   Ronuk Ltd, originally a private limited company, was sold to the firm of Newton Chambers (the makers of Izal products) in 1959, who then built a new factory in Thorncliffe, Sheffield, whereupon the factory in Victoria Road was closed in 1964. The Ronuk Hall which wasn’t part of the deal, was bought then by the old Portslade Urban District Council.

 The now Portslade Town Hall is a very much under-used asset, which has recently received some much needed stuctural repairs, and the kitchen area has now been divided and completely re-equipped

The building has now been refurbished to accommodate the Neighbourhood Policing Team and Brighton and Hove City Council Housing Department. The main hall, two community meeting rooms and the community kitchen will all be available for hire.

The mural below,in the main Hall, was commisioned by the Council from the late Portslade artist Barry Huntbach.

Barry Huntbach Mural

This is now a historic view of how the kitchen area once looked.
To see how it now looks, click on THIS LINK.

A Food Bank now operates out of the kitchen area on Friday's from Noon unitl 2.00 p.m

Ronuk Concert party0001

Below is how the main hall looked when feeding the workers at Ronuk before WW2 and further down, is how it looks today when set up to feed the clients of the Food Bank each Friday

Ronuker Dining
Rounk Hall tables


  One feature of the hall when built, was a pipe organ, but what you see of it today is only the facia of the old instrument and what now lies behind are the ‘innards’ of three old cinema theatre organs, which where rescued from the Regal (ABC) Cinema in Ilford (Compton) in the 1980’s by David Houlgate and Michael Maine, who also added other parts from those at the Castle Cinema, Merthyr Tydfil (Christie), and the Queen’s Cinema, Cricklewood (Christie). One Wurlitzer rank of unknown origin was also added.

  Back in the 20’s and 30’s, every large town would expect to have at least one cinema which could boast having, either a 'Mighty Wurlitzer', Compton, or a Christie theatre organ

  For over 20 years the South Coast Theatre Organ Society has hosted monthly performances in the hall by visiting organists on the afternoon of the 2nd Sunday of each month. I recently attended my first, and for me, and for those other attending ‘of a certain age’ it brought back memories of the days when performances were a regular feature between and 1st and 2nd feature films.

  To read all the technical stuff about the organ, click on either of these two links. Portslade Theatre Organ  or The Cinema Organ Society. I know that the audiences who come to these performances travel from some distance to attend, but I’m happy to encourage local residents to try at least one. The music you will hear certainly isn’t Rock and Roll; it mostly consists of light music and selections of show tunes, but none the less enjoyable for that and you will be amazed at the sound which comes from that slumbering beast, lurking over the stage.

  David Houlgate kindly gave me access to the very crowded area into which all ranks of pipes and percussion instruments are crammed.

  The Portslade Community Forum is keen on promoting the wider use of the hall which is a very much under-used asset, and attending events such as those above, is one way it can be done.

The Hall has a history; and after vote taken at the re-launch event on 11th June. it was decided that the Main Hall will henceforth be known as the Ronunk Hall

Organ 1
Organ 2
Organ 3
Organ 4
Organ 5
Organ 6

A personal footnote:-
I worked at Rounk from December 1957, until just before the factory closed. After the sale of the firm to Newton Chambers there was no longer a need for sales and accounts staff, and the factory only despatched goods to distribution depots around the country. Has any one else any memories of those times or before, they could share? Contact;- Robin Hurst at PortsladeCF@aol.com 

Ronuk Outing to Southsea 2

It was great to meet up with so many Ronukers at the re-launch event. To see pictures of that day CLICK HERE