A historic building on the grounds of Loughton’s first railway station is set to face major renovation work in the new year.

In 1856 Lopping Hall’s location was the short-lived terminus of Eastern Counties Railway line to London.

However only nine years on the extension to Epping and Ongar had opened and the High Street station was moved to the location of the present one. 

Opening in 1884, Lopping Hall, which is owned by the people of Loughton and held in trust for them by a body of Trustees, was built to compensate residents for the loss of their ancient rights to lop wood in Epping Forest.

This privilege, which was supposedly granted by Queen Elizabeth I, had been under attack by the lords of the manor for much of the 19th century.

When the landowners began carving up the forest for development, a public outcry meant that the City of London Corporation stepped in and bought the Forest in 1878.

A trust of local worthies, which was set up in 1881 to oversee the construction and furnishing of Lopping Hall, used £3,236 of a £7,000 compensation sum given by the corporation following the loss of the lopping rights to build the hall.

Inside the building large and small halls for public assemblies and performances, a library and reading rooms were erected.

From 1895 Lopping Hall was used as the seat of civic authority.

Loughton Urban District Council met there until its abolition in 1933.

In 2011 part of the frontage was converted into Loughton Arts Centre, so that for the first time in 130 years the hall catered for the visual arts and well as the performing arts.

Today the building is showing its age, and planning is underway for renovation.

In 2013 the restoration work began in shape of the of the bell chime, which has been silent since the 1950s and essential infrastructure work, such as rewiring, upgrading fire alarms and heating systems, and replacing the roof, which has now all been completed.

The interior itself will be refurbished from January 2015, plans to retain the best of the building’s Victorian and Edwardian features while making it fit for the 21st century are in place.

The refurbishment will include modernisation to the interior of the main hall, which has been occupied by Loughton Operatic Society for over 100 years, the Willingale Room, which is named after a lopper from Loughton who depended on wood cut from the trees in the forest to survive, a bar and a smaller hall.

Chairman of the board of trustees at Lopping Hall Mike Walker said: “we hope that the work will be completed within the next five years.

“There is a lot to be done, it’s a 130-year-old building and over the last 50 years it has become run down.

“The building is the heart of the community.

“It belongs to the residents of Loughton however it is run by a board of trustees.

“In the last five years we have worked hard to bring the building back up to standard without ruining its history.

“These renovations will bring the hall into the 21st century for the community and we hope gradually then it will be used more.”