New flush of youth: derelict Clapton toilets to become ‘village hall’

'Liberty Hall', Clapton

‘Liberty Hall’, Clapton. Photograph: Benjamin Mortimer

The disused public toilets on Clapton Common are to be converted into a café and ‘village hall’ for the area in a project put forward by a new community group.

Hackney Council has given its approval to proposals from Clapton Commons – an alliance of Clapton Terrace Residents’ Association and St Thomas’ Church – to bring the building, dormant for thirty years, back into use as a community space serving food and drink.

“The sour-dough loaf has marched through Hackney and Clapton has fallen a little behind,” said Father William Taylor, vicar at St. Thomas’ and spokesman for Clapton Commons.

“In most parts of Hackney these days you’re never more than ten minutes away from a café latte, and here we’re about fifteen minutes away. So we’re trying to bring a bit of that to Clapton as well as providing something with a social purpose.”

Erected in the 1950’s, the building’s mock-Tudor look has inspired the project’s working title of Liberty Hall. As well as hosting the café, Liberty Hall could also act as a venue for classes on financial literacy and affordable cookery, with the possibility of happy hours inspired by its vintage, serving food and drink at 1950s prices.

The journey from water-closet to watering hole could be a tough one. Katie Harris, who converted a former block of loos in Homerton into the Convenience bar, a home for her social enterprise NANA, said, “We didn’t want to pretend the building was never a toilet.

“So the design challenge was: how do you make people want to eat food in a toilet? We made the urinals into a bar where you can have a drink, and we replaced the tiles as they were a bit piss-yellow. Otherwise, it was making the most of a small space.”

Clapton Commons is still looking for a ‘food champion’ to run the café and will be making a final selection at the end of April.

Interested parties are advised to submit proposals through the Clapton Commons website as soon as possible.



Real news stories don't come cheap.

The Hackney Citizen is the borough’s only independent newspaper, and is now in its tenth year.

Our hard-hitting journalism has uncovered fire safety failures in tower blocks, revealed plans to criminalise rough sleepers, exposed dodgy letting agents and reported on many other issues of public concern.

We’ve always been totally free in print and online, but advertising revenues are falling.

That’s why we’re asking for your help.

Hackney Citizen’s high quality journalism is produced by a small team on a shoestring budget, so we’re asking you to make a monthly contribution to fund our work, enabling the paper to survive and thrive.

Support the Hackney Citizen from as little as £2 per month.

Can you spare £4 a month or more? Get the paper delivered direct to your door each month! (UK only)