Toynbee Hall returns to Whitechapel roots following £5m renovation work

PUBLISHED: 12:10 20 September 2018 | UPDATED: 13:29 20 September 2018

Toynbee Hall has undergone renovation work. Pic: Toynbee Hall

Toynbee Hall has undergone renovation work. Pic: Toynbee Hall


The world’s first university settlement is returning to its original home in Whitechapel following three years of renovation work costing £5million.

Toynbee Hall re-opens after restoration. Pic: Toynbee Hall Toynbee Hall re-opens after restoration. Pic: Toynbee Hall

Toynbee Hall, a charity based in Commercial Street, will be hosting a new free and permanent exhibition ‘A Powerhouse for Social Change’ which showcases stories of community-led social action from across its 134 year history.

The exhibition shows the extent of the charity’s contribution to defining moments in London’s social history from the role of its co-founder Henrietta Barnett and former residents William Beveridge and Clement Attlee to the involvement of the Bengali Community.

Toynbee Hall is still tackling poverty and inequality such as insecure employment, poor housing, debt and access to justice.

Jim Minton, chief executive of Toynbee Hall, said: “It is appalling that today so many Londoners still face real challenges which keep them in poverty.

Toynbee Hall re-opens after restoration. Pic: Toynbee Hall Toynbee Hall re-opens after restoration. Pic: Toynbee Hall

“Community-based organisations like Toynbee Hall have a huge responsibility to help people meet those challenges, but also to amplify their voices advocate for change, locally, across London and beyond.

“Our redeveloped home will ultimately bring together a shared space for our advice and other services; community businesses and partnerships; research and innovation; and new open space for everyone.

“Opening up the exhibition is the first step – and we are determined that by learning from the history of the local community we can together shape a better future.”

Photographer Keith Greenough, who helped to put the exhibition together, said: “The redevelopment will help bring Toynbee Hall back into the public gaze and breathe life once again into its wonderful old building. I hope that my photographs do justice to the fantastic transformation that’s taking place.”

Toynbee Hall is hosting a history exhibition. Pic: Toynbee HallToynbee Hall is hosting a history exhibition. Pic: Toynbee Hall

The redevelopment of Toynbee Hall, which was designed by Richard Griffiths and Architects, and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) contributed £1.7m towards, is one phase of a £17m regeneration project which will see the charity expand and improve its services.

Stuart Hobley, head of HLF London, said: “Toynbee Hall is an extraordinary place, rooted in the history of its diverse local community, and thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the future of everyone to get involved, from apprenticeships to an exciting programme of activities and events.”

Toynbee Hall will reopen this Saturday as part of the Open House Weekend.

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