This Grade II* listed Georgian building requiring significant investment had, for decades, been a private golf clubhouse now reinvited as an artistic and community hub including 8 resident solo artists, a sewing school and a multi-use space for yoga, dance, youth theatre and more.
Who is the developer/client of the project?
Describe the context of this project and its contribution to the urban life and user experience of the place.
Beckenham Place Mansion [BPM] is a Grade II* listed Georgian building requiring significant investment in Beckenham Place Park in the London Borough of Lewisham. In 2016 we took on the responsibility of BPM from Lewisham Council [LBL] on a Meanwhile Tenancy. BPM had, for decades, been an out-of-bounds golf clubhouse. 80-90% of its space was inaccessible to the community aside from a basement cafe.
Whilst LBL was awarded Heritage Lottery Funding for a regeneration project for the park, BPM fell outside of this scope, with our brief to develop a space to support the park’s regeneration.
We reinvented BPM as a diversified artistic and community hub. It has grown into a thriving asset where people come together, access culture, community markets, and learn creative skills. Pre Covid-19, BPM was open, free of charge, 350 days p.a. for walk-ins - the public is finally able to access to enjoy its architectural features.
BPM supports the creative sector via tenanted studios: including 8 resident solo artists (photographers, painters, upholstery, mixed media) plus a Sewing School with 70% of tenants are within Arts/Culture.
We also have multi-use space for hire; events and broad-ranging classes typically promote the Arts and wellbeing including life drawing, writing, film making, mindfulness, Early Years music/art. Our fitness/wellbeing space hosts yoga classes, meditation, dance & youth theatre.
We also deliver on larger scale events, such as markets and open days, partnering with different organisations as well as producing our own cultural happenings which are documented in Q2.
How has this project, event or installation enlivened the place in a creative way?
We play a vital role in enhancing local creative skills and developing talent pipelines and increasing participation within local culture. BPM has housed 21 artists & 6 creative businesses whilst offering 100s of classes/events p.a. Our activities range from small educational classes and creative workshops to large scale markets and events (see Q4 for data).
Since 2017, we have developed many free-to-attend community focused events in partnership with local businesses. This includes; an annual children’s reading festival with award-winning Lewisham bookshop, a family film festival with Bromley Film Club, and a community flower show and Festival of Lights with Lewisham Council, most reaching over 2k visitors.
Our markets, each with 20-30 stalls, provide the opportunity for local creative microbusinesses to trade wares: e.g. art/craft, vintage, plants, produce.
Our cultural network is expanding, adding exponential value each year. Recent partnerships - despite C19’s challenges - include: Create Without Borders, a creative space centering refugee voices, Orisun Productions, a black-led NPO theatre, TAPE Collective, black women fighting for inclusivity in film and Queens & Rudy J Media, who support businesses from the local black and minority ethnic community.
For 2021, we have been working with charities and local community groups, including Mind and Age UK, whilst continuing our work with developed partnerships including Lewisham Schools’ Festival of Books, Greener and Cleaner Bromley and Successful Mums.
The building is filled with original features perfect for film/photography: the attic, coal tunnels, cellar. TVCs, music videos, student shorts, and editorials have been shot here.
What do you see as the greatest success of this project?
Our greatest success is economic and social impact through space utilisation - revitalising an unloved space - alongside the provision and growth of local culture and creative skills.
“Since 2017, this 260 year-old stately pile has shimmered into view, thanks to its reinvention as a hub for all manner of community activities” Lewisham Ledger, August 2019
BPM had been an empty, deteriorating building; now transformed into an accessible space for culture. Our team has put BPM firmly on the map in Lewisham.
We are a rare example of a self-sufficient organisation bringing life to a historic building; we are proud of this as they are notoriously operationally challenging). Few examples of listed buildings exist operating within Arts/Culture/Community not primarily funded through Historic England or National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The Mansion plays a role in giving small businesses the opportunity to flourish. In addition to low-cost class hire, marketing drives visitors; delivering economic impact to the businesses & cultural impact to the locality.
We believe Arts/Culture strengthens communities so our aim since the beginning is to have BPM used by everyone. Alongside classes/events, we offer community groups free space to enhance their engagement locally.
By utilizing BPM this way we have hugely supported Lewisham Council’s regeneration ambitions by providing an authentic cultural project.
Please share any data or figures that support your entry, for example increased footfall, happiness surveys, event attendance and/or observed changes in behaviour. Did it make a positive economic, social and environmental contribution? You may also attach any news clippings, testimonials, or additional images or documents to support your entry.
In 2016 BPM was largely unused with no cultural activities on record, but by 2019 our activities data (no. of classes/events) reached 500+ per year. Our 2021 projection is 700+.
BPM is a considerable asset to Lewisham Council’s regeneration of the park; not only revitalising the property but actively promoting events and bringing 100,000s of visitors.
- After one year of our operation park visitor numbers had increased by 100%, before the park officially reopened
- 2016 park visitor estimate - 226, 800 visitors. 2021 estimate - 425, 616
Visitor and activation data for large scale free events
- 4 annual winter ‘Festival of Lights’ events; total 7k visitors
- 2 annual summer Flower Shows, including local artists exhibition & free workshops; total 8.5k visitors, venue space donated for free
- 17 vintage markets from So Last Century retro fair; estimate 20-30k visitors from the first market in 2017. (c.1.5k visitors in summer, c.600 in winter)
- Lewisham Schools’ week-long Festival of Books, run by a local children’s bookshop; over 2k child visitors from local schools,- venue space donated for free
- 3 Bromley Family / Small World Cinema Film Festivals; total 5k visitors
- Music performances in collaboration with local music school Blackheath Conservatoire
- TAPE - Pop up exhibition and market of Black creatives and makers
- Marketing: 3.5k mailing list and 47 mailers. 21k social media followers (Facebook, Instagram): weekly reach ave. 35k.
- Web data: monthly sessions up from ~400 to ~12,000 in 2019