Do You Love the Tin Tabernacle? Redevelopment plans for Shaftesbury Hall.

We have often discussed Shaftesbury Hall on this forum, particularly in respect of the proposed developments over recent years. The statement below, from North London Samaritans, outlines their new proposals for this local landmark:

There is a great opportunity for the Bounds Green community to take a stake in the future of the much-loved ‘Tin Tabernacle’, by the Bowes Park Station in Herbert Road.

North London Samaritans – the owners of the hall and the land since 1974 – want to renovate it as a community asset, a hall for the use of the whole area.

In the process North London Samaritans want to include a much-needed new and improved space for their operation which supports everyone in the local community who finds themselves in a state of distress, despair, or possibly suicidal.

The local Samaritans branch is run by dedicated volunteers, operating under the national policy guidance of Samaritans’ General Office, but it has to generate all the money it needs through local fundraising efforts.

This means funds raised are always for survival – rent, electricity, gas, telephones and an increasing amount on stopping the hall deteriorating further – with nothing left to spend on making it fit for purpose again.

In the past without funds, renovating the hall has been impossible despite their desire to do so. Previous attempts to redevelop the site, ongoing since the late 1970s, have always involved a developer prepared to provide Samaritans with a ‘no-cost’ solution for the space they need. Necessarily, each developer has needed to build new homes on the site rather than just a community asset, in order to recover the cost of delivering the Samaritans’ accommodation.

Understandably, many within the local community did not like these plans as they wanted the hall saved. Fortunately for everyone, the plans have not gone ahead. The local Samaritans have always tried to listen to the concerns raised and now there is a fantastic opportunity for the local community to get involved in the future of Shaftesbury Hall via a possible innovative crowd-sourcing model for raising the necessary funds.

North London Samaritans have decided to deliver the redevelopment and renovation project themselves. A dedicated team of volunteers has been assigned to make the project work and already a talented team of professionals have been assembled. The team comprises architects, surveyors, engineers and so on, offering their services at hugely discounted rates because they believe in the project and its intended purpose. The Samaritan volunteers are really working hard to make this happen for the least amount of money possible and the best return for the community as a whole.

In order for the revitalised Shaftesbury Hall to be a truly valuable community asset, North London Samaritans need to have as much of the community as possible involved from the beginning of the new project.

Samaritans want to work with all interested people and community groups – anyone and everyone who is prepared ‘to get in the boat and row’ – to refurbish the hall and create a 21st century facility; same look, shape, and form!

Get involved! Contact us:
Shaftesbury Hall discussion forum:
‘Like us’ on Facebook: North London Samaritans
Twitter: @nl_sams

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I think this is tremendous news! 

What a fantastic local community story & great news!

Really pleased to hear this. It is a wonderful hall. More good news for Bowes park!!

What really great news!

It is a very special little building, local people have said it and the English Heritage Inspectors said so too.

It will be wonderful if the Samaritans can indeed make it suitable for their own modern uses and available for the wider community to use and love.

Happy to put on working clothes and do what I can.  And to shake a collection box on the station bridge for a few hours.

great news - the last development plans were awful with high density housing with doors opening onto the alley and offices proposed.  This is hugely better!

Finally got round to looking into the proposal and thought I'd copy and paste it from their forum here, so more people might read it:

"All of the surveys that we now have in relation to the structure of the hall confirm that there is nothing of the existing external or internal fabric (timber walls/windows/ceiling/floor and external corrugated cladding and asbestos-based roof cladding) that can be salvaged for the new hall. This comes as no surprise to us as we already knew, for instance, that the original timber flooring is completely rotten and has been covered up (by the previous owners) with a new tongue and groove floor that just hides all of the problems. There are large holes in the timber walls and gaps in the roof - all of which have been with us since we first owned the property in the 1970s.

The surveys do suggest, however, that the timber framework that forms the structural support for the cladding remains sound (for the most part) and we hope that all it needs is to be strengthened in places. It also seems that the foundations will be sufficient for any new build on top of them, so long as we pay due regard to weight and loading (i.e. use appropriate modern materials). Thus, we retain the integrity of the hall framework and the base upon which it stands. The size, shape and form will not be changed so that it covers the same floor 'footprint'. The materials used to clad the framework will be very similar in looks to the existing materials (i.e. retain the same aesthetic design and thus give the impression the old 'tin tabernacle' remains) but will obviously comply with building regulations in terms of thermal retention, 'sustainability', heating, lighting, health and safety, etc., etc. The new materials will be sympathetic to the building's current looks both inside and out.

The current hideous extension to the rear (the area that English Heritage determined detracted so much from the character of the building) will be demolished. A new, more appropriately designed and sited extension will be added to accommodate North London Samaritans' call centre. It will not impinge as the current building does on the neighbouring property in Herbert Road and neither will it detract from the integrity of the hall in its own right. We are trying to be very careful about reintroducing a hall building that can act as a 'stand-alone' feature if it needs to. Thus, we would have what we hope the community wants, the salvaging of a local building of interest that can double as a hire-out facility for all local interest groups and retain the vitally important service that the local volunteer Samaritans have been giving for the past 40 years.

We hope to advertise a public meeting shortly (we are just trying to find a suitable venue) whereby we will invite everyone interested to come and pose their questions and offer their thoughts in relation to what we believe will be in the interests of the majority of the local community. Although we have a certain amount of funds to invest in this project we know we shall need more; only when we have the majority of the local community on our side will we feel ready to go for planning permission and thereafter we shall have a better understanding of how much additional funding we shall need.

Please do not hesitate to ask as many questions as you wish - we feel confident you will not be disappointed by the answers!"

Good to note about the forthcoming public meeting. 


Our much beloved Tin Tabernacle featured in a radio broadcast on BBC London 94.9 by reporter and local resident Anna O'Neill. You can hear part of the discussion here:

Anna also shared some photographs from inside Shaftesbury Hall:

On Sunday May 5th BBC london 94.9 reporter Ann O'Neill reported from Shaftesbury Hall, the "Tin Tabernacle" on plans to redevelop the site for community use.

Anna interviewed Nigel Thorne and Lesley Ryder-Davies from Nort London Samaritans and Caroline Simpson from the Bowes Park Community Association, you can hear the interview, as broadcast, below. 

Special thanks to Caroline for promoting the Bowes and Bounds Website at the end of the interview!

This is really fantastic news.! 

So pleased that the building can be renovated.  And we are really missing a local community hall.  I can foresee so many uses!

oh how wonderful i remember my grand mother going to old time dances there in the 1950's  and I myself in the 1960's went to the youth club there and the Temperance meetings every week. It has always been a much loved building  think I have some old photos of my grand mother dancing there AHHH memories

It was great to hear the story of the Tin Tabernacle and North London Samaritans from Nigel last night at the BPCA AGM and even better than the meeting seemed broadly supportive of the new proposals. 


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