Project aims to restore and reopen Edmonton Charity School as an education space for vulnerable people and venue for community groups
A project to restore a 230-year-old former school building in Edmonton Green and turn it into a community hub has taken a big step forward after being awarded nearly £325,000.
Grade 2-listed Edmonton Charity School in Church Street – first opened as a girls’ school in 1793 – has lain derelict for a decade, but plans are now being drawn up to reopen the building for the community again.
The so-called ‘Life in the Community’ project comprises a number of groups interested in restoring the building, along with its adjacent school mistress’ cottage, and has now secured a first-round National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £289,838, plus a further grant of £33,650 from the Architectural Heritage Fund. If a second-round lottery bid is successful, the project will be fully funded with a £1.8million grant.
Led by London Historic Buildings Trust (LHBT) and Enfield-based Learning for Life Charity (LFLC), the project aims to bring the school buildings “back to their former glory” and enable them to become an education space once more. Proposals include providing learning and training opportunities for young people in Enfield with special educational needs or who are disadvantaged.
The project will also benefit the wider community through the creation of a local hub. Over the next 15 months, further design work and surveys will take place before a planning application is submitted, alongside more engagement with the community. If permission is granted, it is hoped to complete the restoration work by the end of 2026.
Georgina Nayler, chair of LHBT, said: “We are very pleased that this important project is making good progress, and this is down to a truly collaborative effort involving our great partners and the really important involvement of the community.
“At LHBT we are celebrating our 30th anniversary, and I can’t think of a better initiative that shows our long-standing commitment to transforming places for local people and finding innovative ways to bring new life to London’s endangered historic buildings.”
Renee Flourentzou from LFLC said: “LFLC is very excited to collaborate with the London Historic Buildings Trust to restore this special building in Edmonton and create an innovative community space, that provides much needed training and employment opportunities for young people in Enfield, including those with special education needs and disabilities.”
Edmonton Charity School is currently on Historic England’s at-risk register. Its restoration has been in the works for several years, with LHBT and LFLC receiving support from Enfield Council and The Enfield Society to help take their proposal forward. A public consultation has also been held to discuss what features the restored building might include.
Ideas have centred around helping vulnerable people and providing training and work experience opportunities for them, alongside a community café, garden and venue for local events. It is also hoped the project will support economic recovery and further regeneration of Edmonton Green.
The school and cottage buildings are currently accommodating six artists from the Florence Trust as ‘meanwhile users’, as part of an artist mentoring and residency programme.
Stuart McLeod, a director from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “We’re pleased to support London Historic Buildings Trust with their Edmonton Charity School project. It will bring these historic buildings back to life and offer a much-needed space for the community in Enfield.
“Enfield is an area of focus for us, meaning we see real potential for heritage in the borough. It’s fantastic that this project will be a flagship for our work in this community and offer a place for creativity and learning for the people of Enfield.”
Laura Williams, from the Architectural Heritage Fund, said: “These buildings are a rich part of Edmonton’s history, but were at risk of being lost. This project will not only restore the old school and cottage buildings and garden, but reopen the whole site to train and support young people and really benefit the local community.
“It is exactly the kind of vision our town and city centres need, and that we are proud to fund.”