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Transforming heritage: AHF makes significant new investments in projects across the UK

13 July 2018
UK

At the AHF’s June Credit Panel a total of 4 new loan offers were made, totalling £595,000 of new social investment into the heritage, culture, arts and community development sectors. 

Citizens Theatre in Glasgow has been offered a working capital facility of £400,000 for a major restoration of Britain’s oldest fully functioning professional theatre. The theatre has been working on redevelopment proposals for a number of years and has secured major grant offers from a number of public funders including the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Glasgow City Council, Creative Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland. The Category B listed theatre is situated in an area of Glasgow experiencing significant change in terms of new housing and commercial development. Citizen’s Theatre is committed to enhancing the lives of people in Glasgow and to producing theatre and a range of participatory events for, and by, children and young people. It is hoped that the theatre’s redevelopment will enable this vulnerable building to become an essential creative and cultural hub for the Glasgow community. For further information on the project, click here.

Oxford House in Bethnal Green, London has been offered a working capital loan of £85,000 by the AHF as part of a wider HLF-funded project to redevelop the Grade II listed building to help increase community use.

Oxford House is a three-storey red brick building constructed in 1891-2 by Keble College, Oxford, to the designs of Arthur Blomfield. It was built as residential accommodation where students and graduates from Keble College, Oxford undertook a period of residential volunteering to learn first-hand about the realities of urban poverty. Volunteers provided practical support to alleviate or remove the impact of poverty to the local community by creating projects such as youth clubs, a ‘poor man’s lawyer’, labour exchanges and adult education classes.

Oxford House is still based in the original building, but it suffered from considerable water damage which led to it being put on the national ‘At Risk’ register. Roof repairs were undertaken in 2016 with the help of an Historic England grant, but leaks still persisted, causing damage to the panelled chapel. This prompted a more widespread review of the building’s usage, where the ground floor will be used more widely as a welcoming community space with café and heritage centre.

The heritage of Oxford House embodies the diverse heritage of communities in Bethnal Green. The ongoing project explores strands of this heritage, including the role of the Webbe Institute (its youth arm) and the development of youth clubs and their impact on childhood, sport (especially boxing) and performing arts. Oxford House currently provides a diverse range of services, either directly or through its tenant organisations, to the communities within East London, ranging from healthcare to legal advocacy - the project will help facilitate the ongoing delivery of this significant local impact.