Work begins on refurbishing Walworth Town Hall

9 March 2022

Work begins this week to refurbish the historic Walworth Town Hall and return it to use as a new flexible work space and community hub.

The Grade II listed building on Walworth Road, which once housed the Newington Library and Cuming Museum, has been out of use since it was devastated by fire in March 2013.

Since then, Southwark Council has opened a new and thoroughly modern Southwark Heritage Centre and Walworth Library, just a few doors away on Walworth Road, which includes many items from the old Cuming Museum alongside a new permanent heritage exhibition and a state-of-the-art library.

Now, the old town hall, which has been on the Heritage at Risk Register for nine years, is being restored and refurbished. 

The scheme is being delivered by developer, General Projects, in partnership with Southwark Council. When complete (scheduled for the end of 2023) the town hall will reopen and feature a mix of flexible studio and work spaces. This will be ideal for start-ups and small businesses and will sit alongside a new community space, on the ground floor of what was once the Newington Library. 

The refurbishment includes a new third floor and mezzanine level within the former council chamber and a new ground floor entrance onto Walworth Square. There will be cycle storage and the memorial garden, running along the Walworth Road frontage, will be relandscaped.

General Projects will operate the town hall on a 125year lease from the council, once restored. A new independent management board chaired by local resident Manisha Patel and comprising other members of the Walworth community, has been established to help shape and oversee the new community space. 

This new community space will be operated by a third party, to be chosen by the management board, and will be available to the public all year round for a variety of uses such as meetings, events, talks, performances, arts and crafts, workshops and classes.

Conamar, a contractor with substantial experience in heritage projects, is undertaking the refurbishment, which began on Monday 7 March. This will involve demolition works, structural frame installation, façade restoration, roofing and internal fit-out, before completion with the external landscaping works.

Cllr Helen Dennis, Cabinet Member for the Climate Emergency & Sustainable Development said: “I’m delighted at this latest milestone in the restoration of Walworth Town Hall. This much-loved heritage building is the jewel in Walworth’s crown. Bringing it back into use, with both work and community space included, will give it new purpose and a new lease of life which means it can continue to be enjoyed by many more generations to come.”

Manisha Patel, Chair of the Community Space Management Board said: “It is truly an honour to Chair the Community Space Management Board. My fellow board members and I understand the great responsibility that we hold. We are committed to ensuring that the new community space is open to everyone and reflects the richness and diversity of Walworth. We are ambitious in our vision for the space in terms of use and accessibility and we want to see a thriving community hub that delivers something for every resident.”

Frederic Schwass, Development Director at General Projects, said: “After having spent the past three years working tirelessly with our devoted team and the council, we are delighted to commence the construction phase of the project. This milestone marks a critical step in bringing the iconic heritage buildings back into active use. Once completed, the new workspaces and community hub will provide a vibrant and diverse amenity for Walworth and its surroundings.”

Page last updated: 10 March 2022