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‘Where’s our Henry gone?’ protesting OAPs at Raine’s House in Wapping call to Tower Hamlets Council

PUBLISHED: 12:26 03 April 2018 | UPDATED: 11:33 04 April 2018

Pensioners protest outside Raine's House social club in Wapping to get back the keys to their social club. Picture: Mike Brooke

Pensioners protest outside Raine's House social club in Wapping to get back the keys to their social club. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

Pensioners demonstrated to get the keys back to their social club in Wapping and demand to know where Tower Hamlets Council has taken their ‘Henry’.

OAP Kathy Bracken, 70, in the back yard where the pensioners' social club gazebo and most of their garden furniture have been taken away by Tower Hamlets Council. Picture: Mike BrookeOAP Kathy Bracken, 70, in the back yard where the pensioners' social club gazebo and most of their garden furniture have been taken away by Tower Hamlets Council. Picture: Mike Brooke

They went to tidy up after their Saturday night social and found their two ‘Henry’ vacuum cleaners had been taken from the premises, along with other cleaning equipment.

This followed the two computers with all the club’s membership files being removed and garden furniture donated by City businesses and a gazebo they used in the summer.

Sunday’s protest outside the listed building in Rain Street was part of a long-running dispute with the council which wants to close Raine’s House in September and turn it into a neighbourhood ‘hub’ to be hired out for £35-an-hour for each room.

“We’re no longer allowed to clear up after our socials,” campaigning pensioner Kathy Bracken, 70, told the East London Advertiser. “They’ve taken away our two Henry vacuum cleaners that the club bought.

Club secretary Harry White, 78, whose office computers and files have been removed from Rain's House where he has been running the Wapping social club since 1973. Picture: Mike BrookeClub secretary Harry White, 78, whose office computers and files have been removed from Rain's House where he has been running the Wapping social club since 1973. Picture: Mike Brooke

“We can’t even get back in to tidy up when we have a function because we now have to be out by midnight and they took away our keys—we need our Henrys which were bought with club funds.”

The pensioners have also had two computers removed and have had office furniture taken out which they say were smashed and dumped in the yard.

The club which has been going since 1973 had also been given garden tables and chairs by Bloomberg’s financial business consultancy in the City which have vanished, along with a gazebo which the club paid for.

Club secretary Harry White, 78, said: “They took our computers, three desks and two filing cabinets with all out club files. We’re left with nothing.”

Pensioners protest outside Raine's House social club in Wapping to get back the keys to their social club. Picture: Mike BrookePensioners protest outside Raine's House social club in Wapping to get back the keys to their social club. Picture: Mike Brooke

The town hall is paying for cleaners to do what club members did for four decades with their mops and their two ‘Henry’ vacuum cleaners.

A security guard is now employed to open up and lock up afterwards, whenever the pensioners want to hold bingo or a tea dance, who remains on the premises while the OAPs are on the premises.

The council “resumed management” of Raine’s House on January 21, after it says it gave the club six months’ notice to remove possessions, while allowing members access “as required to hold regular and special events”.

It has promised to replace the garden furniture, but didn’t mention what happened to the two Henrys that were taken away.

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