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shaftesbury hall after rebuild view of entrance

 

The transformation of a semi-derelict "tin tabernacle" in Bowes Park into a modern facility for use by the Samaritans in their life-saving work is now complete.

North London Samaritans moved into new offices in the rebuilt Shaftesbury Hall in Herbert Road, immediately adjacent to Bowes Park station, in October. And this month fitting out of the main part of the building was completed, providing a handsome new community hall which local community groups and individuals can hire at reasonable prices for a wide variety of purposes.

The project cost around £650,000, with the largest contribution, of £545,000, provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Other contributors included the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Foyle Foundation, the Laing Family Trust and the Clothworkers’ Trust, and on top of this there was a Just Giving campaign and a series of local fundraising events, making good use of the excellent community spirit in and around Myddleton Road.

A rare survivor

The "Tin Tabernacle" was so-called because it began life as a chapel provided for railway employees. Built in the 1880s, it's a rare survivor of a type of metal self-assembly church that was common in the Victorian era.

shaftesbury hall in derelict condition wikimedia commons Stephen2810The final days of the "Tin Tabernacle" (Source: Wikimedia Commons Author Stephen2810

The former chapel has belonged to North London Samaritans since the 1970s, but some years ago its condition had deteriorated to the point where it was unsafe to use. In 2008 and 2011 the Samaritans applied for planning permission to replace the chapel by a purpose-built facility plus four two-bedroom flats to pay for the work. Following local opposition, they eventually changed tack - deciding to retain the chapel building, but bring it up to modern standards.

shaftesbury hall after rebuild interior of hallThe smart interior of the rebuilt hall with its characteristic windows

This idea too had to be abandoned. The former chapel was in such bad condition that it was decided to rebuild it - creating a building that looked to same but used modern construction materials and methods. The result is stunning: a unique and very smart chapel-like building, retaining the "corrugated" exterior and with a brick-faced extension at the rear providing additional office space.

shaftesbury hall after rebuild interior of extensionModern offices in the extension at the rear of the hall

samaritans logo

Every six seconds someone in need contacts the Samaritans, and volunteers respond to more than five million requests for such help each year. From 2016 to 2017 the number of telephone calls where support was sought and provided rose by three per cent. The Samaritans also responded to over five per cent more emails in 2017 and 42 per cent more SMS messages.

North London Samaritans provide emotional support 24 hours a day to people experiencing anxiety, distress,or suicidal feelings across the boroughs of Enfield, Haringey and Barnet. As a branch it is entirely self-funding, receiving no money from the central organisation.

Until last month North London Samaritans operated from shared premises on the North Circular Road. At Shaftesbury Hall they not only have much more modern and comfortable offices to communicate with people in distress or despair by phone and email, but are now able to talk to people face-to-face.

The new Shaftesbury Hall will also operate as a local hub, anchoring North London Samaritans in the community.

Links

North London Samaritans website

Shaftesbury Hall booking enquiries

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