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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We did try some years ago to get it listed.  But English Heritage said No.

Attached are three pages of the report they sent - Sorry it in is 3 files, but at least you can read it!

Interesting report even if answer was depressing.



News this week that squatters have moved into Shaftesbury Hall - The "Tin Tabernacle" in Herbert Road at a time when refurbishment is about to commence.

North London Samaritans reported via their Twitter feed that the building had been squatted - locally there were reports of people moving stuff in from the back of a rented transit van.

North London Samaritans were unable to persuade the squatters to leave so have begun action in the high court for a legal eviction.

This is crummy news & I expect the last thing they need while trying to raise £150k to develop the place

I saw 2 Eastern european men wandering about there inside the compound last week .. clearly up to no good (poking around and with a beer in each hand).  So I'm guessing they were the scouting party...

So frustrating.  

Good idea Tom. So how long will a high court eviction take I wonder? What's concerning is the damage that will be done to the interior of the building because of this.

The plans for the redevelopment stated that there was little that could be salvaged of the interior anyway - a quote from the consultation forum from NL Samaritans in April last year: 

"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."

This evening BBC London 94.9 broadcast a report by locally based radio journalist Anna O'Neill who got inside the Tin Tabernacle took some photographs and recorded an interview with "Victor" one of the group currently squatting the site.

Anna has has been following this story of Shaftesbury Hall redevelopment over recent years as she explained in her report broadcast earlier - you can hear it on the BBC iPlayer here (fast forward to 18min:12sec) for the next seven days.

How about letting the local media know? I'm sure they be very interested.  I suspect even groups that support squatters would be embarrassed at people squatting in a building owned by the Samaritans and that was about to be redeveloped as a facility for the community.  I'd be happy to attend any vigil, protest etc, depending on the day.

A news item was published online today by local press journalist, and member of this site, Ruth McKee.

Read the full article online

I've emailed the Enfield Advertiser with this link.  I hope they will take up the story.

We walked past on friday and someone with a backpack who was opening the padlock said hello to us. The lights were on and it was 9pm. What do the local residents on Herbert Road think? It's not right that squatters are costing a charity money to get rid of them. What about a letter from the local community to them to ask them to leave. Would they take any notice?

Yes. I'd like to do something to persuade them to leave.


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