The community well-being open day at Ashburton Hall, Saturday 20th January 2018

By - Monday 22nd January, 2018

A colourful community event on a dark and dreary day

Photo author’s own

Saturday 20th January was cold and dank. The string of bunting hanging outside Ashburton Hall looked bedraggled, as did a number of the visitors who’d made their way along through the sad grey drizzle. But this event was worth it when they got there.

It was billed as a ‘well-being open day’ with taster classes and street food, hosted by the Friends of Ashburton Park, and offered a remarkable range of free activities. Try-outs ranged from ‘intergenerational creative dance’ to hula-hooping to play-writing to yoga for pregnancy. Sessions in iPhone photography, ‘body harmony and Aikido’, ‘intuitive painting’, and singing were also on offer. To have a go at everything would have taken the whole weekend.

Introduction to poetry with Charles Barber.
Photo author’s own.

Ashburton Hall is Croydon’s newest community hub and arts centre, to be run by Deshi Arts following its successful bid until GLL takes over management of all the council’s leisure facilities in March. I don’t know what the library looked like before (the building had stood empty for ten years after closure when asbestos and other hazards were discovered) but the refurb features clear walls facing out on a terrace at the back and glass-ceilinged corridors, all part of its recent million pound refurbishment by the council. The place feels a little like a labyrinth, but these new features fill it with light.

Space has been used cleverly and the building now contains two halls, one seating 240 people and one 80, four smaller rooms for workshops and meetings and a café which will seat 150. It’s a venue for art shows, live performances, classes and other community events. One to look out for is ‘Mozart To Malabar’, a collaboration between the London Mozart Players and traditional Indian dancers, to take place on Saturday 10th February in the Byculla Suite.

For anyone who had not seen inside the former Ashburton Library since its opening by the mayor of Croydon in July 2017, Saturday was a chance to look round, as quite a number did. There were several polite interruptions to workshops in the Longheath Studio as well-meaning visitors stuck their heads round the door.

Photo author’s own.

Attendance was difficult to guess in the hall’s winding corridors, but the sessions looked busy and the place had a buzz. Premises of this quality are a valuable new resource to the Addiscombe community. If everyone had as much fun as the groups introduced to poetry by tutor Charles Barber or able to develop their playwriting skills with Steve Kuleshynk, the open day was a very big success.




Liz Sheppard-Jones

Liz Sheppard-Jones

Writer and editor. Views personal, not representative of editorial policy.

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