The History of Central Hall, Southampton

The building was opened as a Methodist church on February 18th, 1925. The cost was £41,000 and much of the money came through the generosity of Joseph Rank, father of J. Arthur Rank, the founder of the Rank Organisation.

The activities that the new Methodist congregation would be engaging in from Central Hall included:

  • Sick nursing among the poor
  • Food depot and clinic
  • Maternity & baby care
  • Benevolent societies
  • Boys & Girls Life Brigade
  • Legal advice bureau
  • Moral clinic
  • Evening classes
  • Organ recitals
  • Brass band and orchestra
  • Cast off clothing store
  • Children’s play hour

In the early days a banner hung from the entrance to Central Hall saying ‘For Southampton and the World’.

In 1927 George and Stephen Jeffreys, conducted a mission in the building. Over 1000 people made commitments to Christ with many reported healings.

The evangelist Billy Graham spoke here in 1954 and Harold Wilson addressed a meeting of Labour Party supporters in the 1960s.

By 1965 the Methodist congregation had dwindled to such an extent that the building was sold to Hampshire Education Authority. It was put to use as an annexe of City College, however only the classrooms and Small Hall were occupied and the Main Hall soon fell into a poor state of repair.

So it was very run down when it was purchased by New Community Church in 1990. After much hard work by church members, the first meeting took place on April 21st, 1991. Central Hall again began to serve its original purpose.

In 1996 the BBC’s Songs of Praise was recorded at Central Hall and the BBC received more feedback from that event than for any previous event.

By the early 2000s it was clear that substantial work was needed. The original work done following the purchase had been largely cosmetic and much of the underlying infrastructure had been untouched since the 1960s.

Nearly 100 years later we are echoing the vision of those that laboured to build this amazing building. Our vision for the future of Central Hall is very much in line with its original purpose.

Historic events

Central Hall continues to serve the community right up to the present day. In fact we have hosted a wide variety of events in the past few years. Our focus is now to secure bookings that promote wellbeing and fitness, and are in line with our charitable objectives.

We have partnered with Polaris to bring Grappling to Central Hall. We also host regular professional boxing matches in our Main Auditorium. Local bands, such as the Band of Skulls have proved very popular. Peter Andre and Gazza have also visited to do “an audience with” style events.

We have worked with the NHS, Dementia UK, various First Aid organisations and the RNLI for outreach and training.

The venue is used by numerous educational organisations for exams and training including the local Universities and the ACCA.

Central Hall Today

Central Hall is owned by New Community Church, a charity that provides help and support to the local community. All of our profits are used to support outreach projects and community activities.

Based in the heart of the city, Central Hall’s location offers easy access for the local community and a wide southern catchment area; while our first-rate facilities ensure the perfect setting for a whole host of events. We offer high quality spaces and services for a diverse range of organisations.  Our aim is to meet the needs of our clients, so that they, in turn, can meet the needs of their guests and host successful, effective events.

With our 750-seater capacity Main Hall, our 180-seater capacity Small Hall, on-site cafe, commercial kitchen and multiple meeting rooms – Central Hall offers contemporary space for events of all sizes.


Our purpose is to help and support the community. Therefore all of our profits directly fund community activities. Our Community Café feeds over 100 people every Sunday. It has served those that are homeless, vulnerable or in need of a hot meal since it was established in 2007.

Our community hub delivers a variety of activities to the local people of Southampton. Our bake club and creative English classes run every week and prove to be very popular. You can read more about our outreach projects HERE

Hope Community School

Central Hall is currently the temporary accommodation for Hope Community School. As a school partner, New Community Church provides support, volunteers and chaplaincy.

Further details on Hope Community School can be found HERE