By Kate Woodhouse
60 years ago Watney’s Brewery was the biggest employer in the area, with many people working there all their lives. Mortlake High Street was the bustling centre of the community with lots of shops and the road busy with deliveries.
Sadly the heart of Mortlake was ripped out in the 1960s with the demolition of the shops and the building of the dual carriageway. We want to put the heart back. We need a vibrant and energetic Community Centre where everyone, whether young or old, long-term resident or newcomer, is welcome.
At present the Mortlake Community Association works from five different locations, providing a huge range of community services, but with no focal point. We are currently drawing up plans for a Community Centre and its management, to be based in the ground floor of the Maltings, the tall warehouse on the river.
There is some way to go in securing agreement from the developers and the Council, so we welcome your support in calling for a new Mortlake Community Centre. In our proposal, the centre overlooks the river and also opens inwards to the new development, bringing together the old and new. A café is always a good starting point and we propose including a community café in the centre, where residents can chat and socialise over coffee and simple meals. We would like to have several rooms, separated by movable walls to accommodate classes, groups or large meetings. The rooms would be available to local community groups like the Mortlake and East Sheen Society, the Barnes and Mortlake History Society or FiSH, and to private hirers for children’s parties or classes.
There is a shortage of space for the many voluntary organisations in the Borough and we would also welcome groups like Richmond Mind or Age UK to bring their work to Mortlake. And we are also planning space for exhibitions of Mortlake’s extraordinary history and work by present-day residents. It won’t be difficult to fill the space.
Mortlake no longer has a brewery employing hundreds of people but we still need to feel that there is a heart and a centre in Mortlake, that it really exists. Help us to make this a reality and please speak up for the Mortlake Community Centre in the brewery redevelopment plans!