More about Beecholme

Beecholme is also the first postwar "mixed development" housing scheme in Hackney, with a mixture of houses and flats with the taller block having five storeys and containing one-bedroom and bedsit accommodation. It is featured in Volume 15 of Hackney History and was the site of Beecholme House, the family home of Maj. John André (d. 1780), who was executed as a British spy in the American War of Independence.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Vision for Tram Depot at heart of Clapton Cultural Quarter

A new exciting vision has been launched for Clapton’s 160 year old Tram Depot in Upper Clapton Road, E5.

The Old Tram Depot (currently under threat of part demolition) would become a recognized “Centre of Excellence” for both the creative industries and learning - the “jewel in the crown” at the heart of a major new Cultural Quarter for Clapton, encompassing some six hectares.

“This move is well supported by all sections of the Clapton community and could lead to a resurgence of community spirit and the flowering of the current arts community here,” said Ian Rathbone, Chair of Clapton Arts Trust.  

“The Depot is Integral to the new “Clapton Cultural Quarter”, and in step with the Government’s aim to build new media, IT and creative centre’s of excellence in the East End, generating jobs and wealth. The Tram Depot as it is now could have been purpose built – it just needs refurbishing and a little ingenious conversion.”

David White, Secretary of CAT added: “Surely a vision with such obvious and overwhelming merits, widely welcomed and practical, that you’d have trouble arguing against it - It's such a great way to sustainably regenerate the area. We have an abundance of local creative talent in need of and deserving support. It will pay huge dividends to Clapton culturally and in terms of quality of life in addition to attracting new media, IT and support businesses.

“The structurally sound series of historic buildings that make up the Tram Depot complex would be refurbished and the large, light filled studios and workshops (incl. some live/work studios) brought up to modern standards for local artists, craftspeople and bespoke manufacturers.”
He went on: “The current 30ft+ high ceilings are essential to create and exhibit public art and sculpture of the type now exported worldwide and needed by the Clapton Art Trust’s burgeoning education program. “

“Space for educational, entrepreneurial and recreational activities with everyone in the community, the young, the old and the less able catered for and made to feel welcome.”

New ultra modern studios would be added, to contrast and delineate them from the Victorian buildings, providing space for media education and access without the need to completely demolish any of the current locally listed complex of buildings.

At the front of the depot there would be a cafe, restaurant/bar and event space, providing entertainment and activities for a wide range of different audiences at different times of the day and week.

With exhibition and art shop space adjacent it would provide spaces for local people, resident & visiting professionals alike to both exhibit, perform or be entertained. There would be shops which would sell artists and other work, and offer other services. 

The new studios and refurbished workshops would provide the space for resident and invited professional artists to take a variety of educational workshops and courses.

The large floor space and high ceilings in the buildings throughout the depot are unique locally and ideally suited to their current use and therefore our proposed same and similar use. Many have full-length skylights and are in high demand, with a long waiting list. The atmospheric and historic “character” the buildings offer is another reason they are highly sought after by creatives.

“A Vision everyone wants made a reality”

The Clapton Arts Trust (CAT) has nearly completed a 12-month consultation process with residents and stakeholders. First stage findings are in and the result is overwhelming support for the Depot Vision as outlined here. Presentations were given to the Clapton Conference & the NE Neighbourhood Committee, a wide range of local organisations (listed below) as well as to leading politicians, artists & commentators.

Supported locally by:  B6 Sixth Form College, virtually all current depot residents and small businesses, “Antic ltd” (who have just bought the White Hart), the Hackney Society, The Victorian Society, Save Britain’s Heritage, members of the local Conservation Committee, all six local Hackney councillors (Leabridge and Hackney Downs wards), the FCCT, the Beecholme & Casimir TRA, the (Hackney Homes) Clapton Residents Panel, Upper Clapton Rd shops and over 300 other local residents who have signed the paper petitions.

Other supporters: Jennette Arnold (Greater London Assembly member and Patron of CAT), Diane Abbott (MP) and Guy Nicholson (Cabinet Member for Regeneration & 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games) and Ceryl Evans, Head of Museum & Culture for Hackney Council have voiced their support, adding to support from leading artists such as Conrad Shawcross, Myles MacInnes “MYLO”, Tom Hunter (Patron of CAT), and artists groups and art galleries like Vulpes Vulpes & Purge Projects, and commentators like Professor Ken Worpole.

“A sustainable community non-profit business”

The Clapton Arts Trust will continue talks with the owners of the depot to negotiate its sale or lease and has gone some way to ensure that everything needed to create a sustainable community business is in place. Nearly all of the current residents would stay and continue to pay rent in the current buildings once refurbished.

The full-length colonnaded hall would become largely multi-purpose with a live music (acoustic) cafe and exhibition/event spaces, providing income and once more revealing the full splendour of the Tram Depot’s main building.

The trust would offer a variety of art, design and music “adult ed.” classes, workshops and short courses for beginners, the more experienced as well as advanced workshops and short courses for professionals, all taken by working, professional artists and musicians, many well known and internationally successful. The Educational Programme has the potential to generate a substantial income within a year or two.
The Trust is currently working with B6 Sixth Form College to supply both educational workshops and the studio space for its new B7 Art Foundation (Access) course, due to start this Sept. 2011. As in the college, the depot offers the 30ft+ high ceilings and large spaces needed for the fine art subjects especially but also stage and set decoration & exhibitions.      

Below - an early stage "artists impressions"

For more information, please contact Ian Rathbone on 07890 654 068


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