Regeneration Photo Blog – From the ground upwards
By Graham Fisher and Keith Greenough
By Graham Fisher, Chief Executive, Toynbee Hall
The vision behind our regeneration has been well documented and
you can find more about this here. This first blog focuses on the ground floor. The photographs shown below are of the ground floor of the halls, the venue for the meetings, lectures, debates and discussion of the last 130 years.
The ground floor will become the focus of our heritage and learning activity, primarily through our new Heritage Exhibition Space which will bring our history and heritage to life for the local community and international visitors alike. Restoration of both Ashbee Hall and the Lecture Theatre will also allow us to build our successful venue hire business, creating revitalized spaces that provide a meeting point for our local community and others.
By Keith Greenough, Photographer Toynbee Hall regeneration
I am very pleased to be working with Toynbee Hall to document this key phase in its long history. This first set of images essentially documents the place as it is today.
I am particularly fond of the night-time photograph of Toynbee Hall taken from Commercial Street. It says a great deal about Toynbee Hall and its position in East London. For over 130 years it has been a shining beacon on Commercial Street in Whitechapel offering help to the disadvantaged of East London. But it also shows is that the ‘shop front’ is a little worn – not unreasonable for a charitable organisation – better to spend the limited funds on services rather than cosmetics. However, when inadequate facilities get in the way of delivering these services there comes a time for regeneration.
From the beginning Toynbee Hall has actively created a forum for debate on issues of poverty and how these might be addressed through public policy. It has been a source of inspiration for generations of social reformers. Today however, this history is largely hidden from public view and, as the photographs show, where it is on display is a little bit tarnished. It is wonderful that the new Heritage Exhibition Space will bring the history and influence of Toynbee Hall back into the public gaze.