CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Can you help save our mission hall?

17 January, 2020

• BESIDE the Highgate Newtown Community Centre is a small, late 19th-century, community hall, a non-conformist chapel, discreetly tucked away in the narrow streets.

As the name suggests it was built to bring God (and the social cohesion as envisioned at the time) to the mainly very poor and disadvantaged residents of Highgate Newtown. Not just through religion, abstinence and song but magic lantern shows and family events.

This simple, small, building (pictured) is remarkable for its acoustics, which mean no shouting, no microphone or electronic gadgetry is necessary within the building, already equipped with a small stage.

We are trying to save the building for use as a music rehearsal, performance and recording venue for aspiring young people from London’s diverse cultures and to preserve it for education and arts in the district. It has wonderful atmosphere, catching glorious daylight on the dullest days of winter.

Sadly the congregation that gathered for services of hymn singing and worship, and returned for slide shows and family entertainment, have long since gone and the hall was given to Camden for community use by the philanthropist Angela Burdett-Coutts when the congregation no longer attended.

Even more sadly it is currently scheduled to be the goose that lays the golden egg for the Highgate Newtown Community Centre redevelopment.

It is to be turned into two town houses to raise a hoped-for £1.5million towards completion of a project to create private and public housing and a new community centre behind.

To save this little gem from being irrevocably converted into luxury private housing Camden requires £1.5million. It is clear to us that we cannot unaided raise such a substantial sum between now and their deadline of the end of January.

Is there anyone out there who has perhaps a deep attachment to music, who would like to give back to the community this little gem, so that people may have the pleasure of hearing the human voice and musical instruments not amplified by electronics but in the clear air?

Such a person would be continuing the spirit of the early occupiers of the building, helping to encourage young singers and musicians develop their talents.

If there is such generous person please get in touch. We understand there are many demands on the generosity of Camden’s residents but enabling the use of this little gem to continue for generations to come would be a fantastic legacy for our community.

We can be discreet or shout your name to the universe. What a gift to the future. Out there, in Camden, in Highgate, or beyond, surely there is someone with the vision (and the ear!) to save this gem and provide a special, unique multicultural music space?

MARY CANE
On behalf of the Save Our Mission Hall Group

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