If you travel to Bowes Park station, walk up the stairs from the platform and turn right (towards Bounds Green), the first building you encounter when leaving the station is Shaftesbury Hall, a former chapel now known locally as the "Tin Tabernacle". It's a rare survivor of a type of metal self-assembly church that sprang up the Victorian era, but is now in a state of disrepair.
Shaftesbury Hall aka the Tin TabernacleSince 1974 the Tin Tabernacle has belonged to North London Samaritans, who bought the site in order to use it as a call centre for their life-saving activities, but also as a community asset for wider use. However, attempts at partnerships with private developers to redevelop the site fell through because of local opposition to the idea of demolishing the former chapel and building new flats to provide the necessary finance. Three years ago the Samaritans changed tack and decided to redevelop the site themselves, retaining the original building but completely refurbishing it to modern standards. In 2013, after consulting the local community about its views, the Samaritans applied for and received planning permission for their proposed refurbishment.
The main outstanding obstacle to completing the project is, of course, money - of the order of £200,000. It is hoped that the BIG Lottery will be one source of funds, but other fundraising efforts are also underway. Next weekend, for example, there will be a special concert at the Dugdale Centre by Great British Boogie, an offshoot of the celebrated ENJO English Jazz Orchestra, which rehearses in Southgate and other North London localities.
Iris Ederer sings with Great British BoogieGreat British Boogie works with smaller band formats, trios and quartets up to a full ten-piece ensemble, playing a range of jazz-centric material, including boogie-woogie, blues, gospel, R&B, ska styles and more. The Great British Boogie Gala Night on 18th October will feature local vocalists Iris Ederer and Andy Harris and all profits will go to the Tin Tabernacle project.
For more information see the North London Samaritans website and Bowes and Bounds Connected.
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