Next up in the Bethnal Greeners series is the Mayfield Hall Community Interest Company, set up to re-imagine a disused space in the heart of E2. We caught up with Chris Thorn to hear about their hopes for the space, and to hear how we can all get behind the project..
The Mayfield Hall Group Community Interest Company was setup by Bethnal Green residents Chris Thorn, Mo Wong and Punya Sehmi with a singular ambition: to promote and facilitate the reuse of Mayfield Hall for a community, cultural-based purpose. The group of friends had been passing by the decaying social hall at the corner of Cambridge Heath Road and Old Ford Road since it was boarded up in 2015 and wanted to see this iconic building return to use and become an active part of its civic setting.
We began by visiting the Tower Hamlets archive library to look into the history of the building. We managed to come across historic photographs of the social programs it was originally home to. This included the Bethnal Green music library, recital hall, public laundry and a number of historic articles about the civic and social principles on which the building was conceived. This was the start of our journey to campaign for the reuse of Mayfield Hall and reinstate its original socially driven purpose.
After a year of spending our weekends and spare time meeting, speaking with people, making contacts and digging around for information we decided to take the plunge and form the Mayfield Hall Group. We’ve created a Spacehive crowdfunding campaign to promote and gain support from the community to get the project off the ground.
Your passion for the area
We have lived in Bethnal Green for 17 years and have worked here for the past 7. This not only means that most of our social network is in east London but also those people and organisations we work with are based here too. We love Bethnal Green for its diversity, vibrancy and its history, along with its challenges and its struggles. It is a continual inspiration for us and we hope this project will add to this dynamic mix.
We want to create something for the local community that reflects the heritage and civic pride of Bethnal Green. It is a shame that such an iconic building has been left to decay for so many years. Our vision is to repair and re-open Mayfield Hall so it’s able to accommodate a community, with plenty of culture-driven use, and also create a space for people to learn, engage and celebrate.
With the backing of our Spacehive crowdfunding campaign, we will run workshops with the community and local organisations to understand what is the best future use for the Mayfield Hall. We plan to test the outcomes from the workshops by running a series of free events and get feedback from visitors. We also need to commission a condition survey and feasibility study of the hall so that we can understand what repairs, adaptions and works would be required before Mayfield Hall can be brought back into public use.