The Old Library, Bath and Wash-house (OLBAW)

Revitalise the old library, bath and washhouse
library building
Passmore Edwards library Neate Street.

Inspiring future uses for the buildings

FOBP want to see opportunities for local residents groups to be involved now and in the longer term future of the building. There are two spaces: the old library and next door the bath and washhouse. The ideas for the buildings are to:

·         Maintain the old library space as a “village hall”

·         Art studios in the bath and washhouse

·         A new entrance facing onto the park

·         Upgrading access and internal lifts

·         The art studios help fund the overall running costs

These points set out a way forward and are supported by two feasibility reports -details below.

Passmore Edwards 200 celebrations

Installing the plaque on the celebration Rowan tree

 Sunday 26 March 2023. Read more about the Passmore Edwards and his philanthropic activity. 

Old sepia image of the library and overwritten with event details

The old library meanwhile use

2021 – 2022  Bear Studios used the old library as a photography studio space .

July 2016 – 2021 Theatre Delicatessen rehearsal space; drama, comedy, music, and regular monthly “theatre from scratch” performances. Theatre Deli sadly left the old library due to the Covid pandemic.

Council support OLBAW plans

Southwark Council have completed their own study into the future for the old library bath and washhouse (OLBAW) which broadly agrees with the FOBP report.   The report by Michaels and Partners is here. 

In spring 2019 the council intended to seek a development partner to come on-board to bring the plans to life and take forward fund-raising for the £4.4m estimated cost of refurbishment.  The development partner will shape the final scheme with their own ideas. Unfortunately this was not taken forward due to the Covid pandemic.

FOBP vision for the future of the old library, bath and washhouse

The FOBP feasibility study for the old library bath and washhouse (conducted by Plincke) has been completed (July 2016). The council the current occupants; Lynn Boxing Club and the church were all consulted. The report has now been published (approx. 150 pages).

 Key points from the report:

·         Maintain the old library space as a “village hall”

·         Art studios in the bath and washhouse

·         A new entrance facing onto the park

·         Upgrading access and internal lifts

·         The art studios help fund the overall running costs

 Further consultation and more detailed development work will be needed. The total cost of repair is about £1.5 million rising to £1.8m with the new entrance. The Plincke report proposes an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund –enterprise fund which the Council will lead.

Colin Burden of consultants Plincke presented  their  programme of work so far and went through the draft documents: condition survey, floor plans and potential changes. Summary of key points:
– Social heritage value for what it represents and the contribution to the area history and value to the local community.
– New uses for the building will mean it will need new toilets and accessibility and to be opened up to the park.
– A mixed use approach recommended 60:40 split commercial:social. Keeping both buildings identity.
– Creative arts hub is proposed.
– Questions and discussion followed this with particular discussion on: café, other features such as cinema, car-parking, management arrangements.

A new community hub at Burgess Park is one step closer

Friends of Burgess Park wins Heritage Lottery Fund support

 The Friends of Burgess Park have received £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project to develop new uses for the old library, baths and washhouse on Wells Way in Burgess Park.

Led by volunteers from the local community, the project will work with consultants Plincke to identify new uses for the building that will support a range of local groups and organisations.  Consultation will make sure the proposals to be presented to Southwark Council in early 2016 meet the needs of local people.

Sam Tilling, local resident and committee member of Friends of Burgess Park said: “The Friends of Burgess Park want this building to have a long term future as an important building at the heart of Burgess Park. We are working closely with Southwark Council and the current building occupants, Wells Way Pop Up, Lynn Boxing and the RCCG Faith Foundation.  Any plans for the building will involve the current building occupants as well as other community groups and residents. This is a local landmark which must be preserved.”  To stay in touch with this project sign up for the newsletter

FOBP OLBAW press release 21Oct2015 

FOBP Collection of photographs of the interior and exterior of the buildings 

Passmore Edwards heart of the park

The new master plan designs including proposals for buildings in the park. The image below is a visualisation or suggestion of one way that the Passmore Edwards building could be re-designed and made more accessible. This was included in the council’s masterplan consultation for Burgess Park in early 2015.  During 2015 FOBP are working on a business plan to get the building back into use and rejuvenated – details below.

Image of Passmore Edwards with new entrance. Image from LDA masterplan designs
Architect’s drawing of possible future rejuvenation of the building. LDA master plan designs  2014.

Wells Way Pop-Up

Passmore Edwards library is back in use!

The temporary use of the Passmore Edwards library is taking place October 2014 to March 2016. The Wells Way Pop-up have space available to rent for arts groups, regular creative events and family activities. Wells Way SE5 7TW

in September 2014 Southwark Council announced that two theatre companies have been offered the opportunity to take up temporary residencies in the Old Wells Way Library in Burgess Park. Just Jones and Tearaway Theatre will be working together to offer a range of creative programmes throughout the autumn, including performances and workshops. 

PE Project working group

In response to lobbying activities during 2013/14, Southwark Council have proposed a one year window to allow FoBP to lead/progress a Business Plan for the future community use of the Passmore Edwards Library.

In order to achieve this, FoBP will focus in early 2015 on identifying partners and supporters, inviting expertise and funds from interested and concerned individuals and organisations.
We need assistance with business planning, community action and fundraising, and welcome any offers of skill and knowledge from the local and wider community.

In 2015 we will draft a business plan for a mixed use community space. This plan will present ideas for the specific use of the Library Rooms, and within the context of the adjoining old washhouse building located on Wells Way. This plan will also support FoBP suggestions for the greening of Wells Way, featuring this striking community building as a hub of activity at the heart of Burgess Park.

In April 2014 we set up a group of people meeting regularly to look at possibilities for the long-term future – all are welcome to join us. The aim is to lobby the council to consider ways of using the building the suit the position at the heart of the park.  In the short-term different raise the profile of the building, get it into use and show what could be possible.

Consultation Did you ever visit the buildings when they were in use as a library or bathhouse? We want to hear from you! Tell FOBP your ideas for the future use of this Victorian landmark building in Burgess Park!  Ideas put forward at the Open House consultation.

Community Asset application Passmore Edwards library, bath and washhouse

The Friends of Burgess Park community asset listing made to Southwark Council has been approved. FOBP now  wish to work with other groups to retain these Grade II buildings  to be used for activities which contribute to Burgess Park.

Paper to Burgess Park Board March 2014

Community Asset application Feb 2014

Press release website February 2014

Southwark Council Listing Decision Feb2014

Feasibility-Study-Passmore Edwards Library and Baths-c2008

ideas for re-use of the basement area
ideas for re-use of the basement area
ideas for use of the library

Open House

FOBP, with permission from the Council, opened the Library section of the building in September 2013 for London Open House weekend. It was a great success, and over 400 people took this rare  opportunity to see inside the Passmore Edwards library, as well as the wash-house/laundry basement.

The Library was open 2014, on Saturday, 20 and Sunday, 21 September from 1 pm to 5 pm each day. Over 300 people came and contributed to our consultation on new uses for the building.

Open House 2014 Ideas for future uses

Open House 2013, the Library made a fantastic space to show the Picture Burgess Park photographic exhibition, alongside historical pictures and maps about the library and the canal. The event has generated a lot of local interest in the future of the buildings.

Passmore Edwards Library and Bathhouse

We took this opportunity to ask people for their ideas on the future use of the library and basement, and took these forward to the council. Several visitors also suggested that we should register the building as a “community asset”, which was successfully achieved in February 2014.  Friends of Burgess Park thank Southwark Council for allowing the use of the building.

The library was built together with slipper baths and washhouse in 1903. The facilities were updated several times, but as the local population dwindled from the 1960s onwards with the creation of the park, the building closed some time in the 1980s. It’s still owned by Southwark Council, is Grade II listed, and parts of it are occupied by Lynn Boxing Gym and a church, but it’s somewhat under-used. We think it has great potential, and are working to bring it back into full use as a Park/Community facility. See history for more about the building.