Ladywell Playtower to be returned to use

The Ladywell Village Action Group reports:

Council and English Heritage monies have now been earmarked to weatherproof the building and start to bring it back into use. 

The work is scheduled to start in March and will include refurbishment of the 'superintendant’s flat' to allow it to be occupied. A Charitable Trust has been established which will oversee the refurbishment of the building and long-term use as a community hub. The Trust is currently applying for funding to take the project forward.

Needless to say, the fact that one of the area's outstanding buildings will be brought back in to use after being left to rot is great news. The Playtower has enormous potential and there have been many creative ideas for how it could best be used for the benefit of the community.

Congratulations to everyone who has worked to reach this point. LVIG is keen for anyone who would like to be involved in the building's future to contact them at


RS said...

Thanks for posting this, Nick. Minor point perhaps, but we're very specifically the Ladywell Village IMPROVEMENT Group. 'Action Group' suggests militancy which isn't really our style - though of course we're not averse to taking action as and when required!

mollhench said...

I am so pleased about this. I drive past it every day and drove my husband mad as I couldn't help talking about what a tragedy it was that it was just left to rot. He banned me mentioning it the end.

Now, hopefully we can see life being breathed back into it.
Such a shame the adhesives factory disappeared though - there are/were a lot of intriguing, almost portmerion-like buildings in Ladywell. I'm thinking Dressington and that turrett over the shops opposite the fire station, and of course the Playtower. I hope it becomes something the whole community can enjoy and not just flats - although anything to restore the building is positive.

James Jennings said...

Hello all

Just to inform everybody that I am the Chair of the Trust which is leading on plans on bringing the Playtower back into use. A lot of work is going on at the moment ( the Trust is now a charity), particularly scoping work on potential usages of the building. The community in Ladywell and Lewisham Central wards as well as the wider borough( where the building is located) will be consulted on potential usages. I have to be honest in that it is very much a long term project but I am and fellow trustees/directors extremely committed to getting the building open and available to the community.

If you are interested in the project, there is a yahoo group site with information Last year I spoke to the Ladywell Village Improvement Group and Ladywell Society and I am hoping to do the same this year. I'm happy to come to other groups and organisations in the area and inform them on what is going on. I will also make updates on my twitter feed.

There will be many opportunities for people to participate in the project both passively and actively.

Kind Regards

James Jennings
Ladywell Tower Development Trust

Anonymous said...

FINALLY! Thank god. The council have been so slack on this, letting it sit and crumble away for years.

Timmy2wheels said...

Hurrah! At last! Thanks, James, and all concerned.

max said...

Well done everyone involved!

oryx said...

I've often driven past this and wondered about what was happening with such an unusual and historic building - it's really good news that it's saved and won't be turned into/demolished to make way for 'luxury' flats.

Anonymous said...

Hi James
Great news, well done. I think you should say a bit more about the groups involved and what the plans for the future are, as it really is an exciting project . . .

Anonymous said...

I am sad EVERY time I go past

Anonymous said...

is it true that it will be used exlusively by the traveller community when they move into the plot at the end of church grove?

Anonymous said...

knock it down, more anonymous developments to fund developers bank balances would be more than welcome

James Jennings said...

Hi Sue

Good to hear from you again. The Trust is a collaboration of four organisations all Lewisham based- Volunteer Centre Lewisham, Lewisham Disability Coalition, Voluntary Action Lewisham and the Tabernacle.We have eight directors/trustees and a co-optee.

We have commissioned architects, RCKa, to do an initial feasibility study of the building and that is ongoing. A element of that work is obtaining views of the 5th user, the community. We are not at that stage yet but watch this space.

The Council has commissioned consultants,Drury McPherson Partnership, to carry out a Conservation Management Plan on the building which consists of two parts; the first part - a historical narrative, survey and the areas of architectural significance which would need to be preserved in any restoration. We met with the Partnership last November to put forward our ideas. They are currently working on the second part of the plan; the option appraisal. This should be completed in March.

We have quarterly meetings with the Council ( which have been useful) and we will be establishing contact with English Heritage next month.

There has been progress since we last met, but these last couple of months have been manic but all positive.

Look forward to seeing you soon


Anonymous said...

Does that fact that one of the members of the 'trust' is the tabernacle (in lewisham presumably) mean that the Playtower will have a religious element to its functions when reopened?

James Jennings said...


The answer to your regarding the Tabernacle is no. The Tabernacle ( based on Algernon Road in Ladywell) undertakes a lot of outreach programmes for NEETS and disenfranchised young people in the borough and is desperate need of space carry on these programmes.

This is an area that needs further discussion. What I will say is that any user of the building will have to make sure that any activity they carry out does not promote intolerance or hatred to an individual or group.

I hope that answers your question.

Anonymous said...

thank you for your answer James - and of course we would not want a non-web-based forum or facility in our midst that promotes 'intolerance or hatred to an individual or group' - surely legal proceedings would inhibit that anyway.

But does this also mean that you would allow or encourage groups to use the facilities that were promoting a particular religious following?

aero-static said...

I've always wondered what the round indentations are in the bricks under the windows on the front of the Playtower; they seem too regular to be natural weathering.

I'd like to think that they were made children polishing pennies in years gone by, like at the bottom of this Spitalfields Life post.

Anonymous said...

Great news. Would make a fantastic community centre.

I wish people woudl stop calling it a 'playtower' though.

It was Ladywell's first swimming baths and was a 'playtower' for a very short time in comparison.

How about calling it Ladywell Bath's?
The more modern swimming pool is called Ladywell Leisure Centre.
But if that is too confusing then why not call it Ladywell Victorian Bath's? It was built in 1884 so it is Victorian and not Edwardian.

Also the original baths had a tiled conical spire or cap on the tower. I hope that that is brought back as part of the restoration.

Anonymous said...

I agree, I've always known it as the Ladywell Baths. Once it was home to the Ladywell Gymnastic team founded in 1967 at the old baths. For a brief period the team was a force to be reckoned with in national and international competitions, and featured Suzanne Dando who was a pupil at Catford Girls. The Ladywell club shaped modern gymnastics,Olympic gymnast Avril Lennox OBE travelled from her home in the Midlands to train in Ladywell. For a while they moved to the Leisure Centre, but then moved back to the old Baths. They're now based in Bellingham

Anonymous said...

So Suzanne Dando practised gymnastics at Ladywell Baths? Oooh a claim to fame for Ladywell.

Rob Sheppard said...

I look forward to some volunteer sessions this Spring/Summer to tidy up the site esp. front area and maybe plant a nice garden.

Emma said...

Hi there! I pass this building often and everytime it makes me angry and sad that such a beautiful building is still crumbling away... Does anyone know what happened to the regeneration plans?! I still think it would make an amazing community space...

Anon said...

This building came in discussion last week and I got the feeling the money wasn't there or the building is in to poor a state to fix.
There appears to be no news about the site since 2012 the Ladywell Tower Trust also seems to have been dormant till 8 Sep this year when accounts were filed and a new director appointed?

The Ladywell Assembly meetings aren't helpful as there don't to have been any notes kept online.
Could it be The Tabernacle group have pulled out in favour of the Riley Snooker Hall on Lewisham High Street?

Lottie Chou-fleur Rainger-D'In said...

Any news on this yet? I fear it may meet the same fate as the old glue factory (have you SEEN the monstrosity they've built there?!)... :(

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